A beautiful, inspiring picture book about the librarian who saved the Basra Central Library’s collection from wartime destruction. The author describeA beautiful, inspiring picture book about the librarian who saved the Basra Central Library’s collection from wartime destruction. The author describes the context of war simply and realistically, and the illustrations are evocative without being overtly graphic. This powerful story of courage and dedication ends on a hopeful note.
Summary from SPL: In war-stricken Iraq where civilians--especially women--have little power, a librarian in Basra struggles to save her community's priceless collection of books.
SLJ: A positive review notes that the book “skillfully walks a fine line for sensitive readers.” SLJ says that “this suspenseful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful episode will help young readers to realize that courage in wartime isn't owned by just one side.”
Hornbook: Also a positive review, noting the author’s ability to represent a difficult subject in a way that is appropriate for the audience. This book will be “a good way to talk about war and demonstrates the quiet heroism of fighting for something important without using violence.” ...more
This book features an odd combination of dancing vegetables and cartoon Arabic numerals, set against a vegetable garden backdrop. Although the digitalThis book features an odd combination of dancing vegetables and cartoon Arabic numerals, set against a vegetable garden backdrop. Although the digitally produced illustrations are brightly colored, some of them are cluttered. More problematic is the disconnect between the illustrations and the counting concepts: for example, the cartoon numeral “2” is shown commiserating with *three* small rabbits, while the numeral “5” is shown dancing with three, not five, broccoli stems. These illustrations fail to support counting skills and will probably confuse young readers. Although the rhyming text is catchy, there is no overarching narrative here, and the chorus only appears twice—-no real pattern or repetition. This book does, indeed, introduce the Arabic numerals, but manages to do so without ever really attaching them to the counting/numeric concepts they represent. Martin's other counting books, such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, are a better alternative.
CIP: “Introduces the numbers one through ten as vegetables and numbers dance together at the king’s and queen’s garden party before jumping into the soup to be eaten by a crowned boy and girl.”
Mixed reviews from SLJ and Hornbook, which note the catchy rhymes but also some of the book’s shortcomings. ...more
A sweet, quiet story about being different. Estelita is caught between two cultures—at home, she speaks Spanish with her immigrant parents, but at schA sweet, quiet story about being different. Estelita is caught between two cultures—at home, she speaks Spanish with her immigrant parents, but at school she goes by Stella and speaks English. She feels this acutely on May Day, when her family makes her a rainbow costume and all the other girls are dressed in only one color. Mora incorporates Spanish words to reflect the story’s bilingual protagonist and shows that Estelita’s loving family helps her deal with being different. The illustrations are soft and beautiful, showing Estelita’s quiet mother in warm brown tones and Estelita, who loves color, in a more varied palette. This longer picture book is better for early elementary readers who can appreciate the story, and could be used in a multicultural unit.
CIP: “A Mexican-American first-grader experiences the difficulties and pleasures of being different when she wears a tulip costume with all the colors of the rainbow for the school May Day parade.”
Positively reviewed in Hornbook, LJ, and Kirkus, which notes that “Mora celebrates diversity, but provides a balanced view of assimilation as well.” ...more
The moving story of a young boy recovering from family tragedy, told entirely through a series of free-verse poems. Lonnie Collins Motion, nicknamed LThe moving story of a young boy recovering from family tragedy, told entirely through a series of free-verse poems. Lonnie Collins Motion, nicknamed Locomotion, has trouble communicating his feelings and dealing with his grief, so his fifth-grade teacher introduces him to poetry as a means of self-expression. Lonnie discovers a hidden talent and a budding love for various poetic forms as the reader discovers the nature of Lonnie’s loss and gradual recovery. Through Lonnie’s poems, readers see his personal struggles as well as his deft characterizations of the people who surround him, and the sadness of his story is tempered by his growth in faith and hope. A multiple award winner, including the Coretta Scott King Honor, this book will appeal to both boys and girls and is best for ages 9-13.
CIP: “In a series of poems, eleven-year-old Lonnie writes about his life, after the death of his parents, separated from his younger sister, living in a foster home, and finding his poetic voice at school.”
Starred review in Hornbook, which calls it a “finely crafted story.” Positively reviewed in SLJ (“masterful”) and was later listed as an SLJ Best Book. ...more