Set in tenth century B.C.E., Bilqis is the daughter of one of the most beautiful wives of the King of Saba, also known as Sheba (located in modern-daySet in tenth century B.C.E., Bilqis is the daughter of one of the most beautiful wives of the King of Saba, also known as Sheba (located in modern-day Yemen). After her mother passes away, she is targeted by the new wife and forced to flee to her mother’s homeland of Punt (the actual location is disputed, but we’ll say that it is in modern-day Ethiopia). She takes on a new identity and becomes Makeda. Once she becomes eighteen and her father is gravely ill, she is taken back to Saba and successfully regains the throne. King Solomon of Judea, famous for his hundreds of wives which provided many alliances and his wealth, starts up a correspondence with the Queen and this continues for awhile until he demands she send an emissary. Lonely and intrigued by this man, she decides to go herself to see him. What happens next is written in the Bible, the Qu’ran and other texts.
I will admit that I originally picked up this book after reading Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus book The Ring of Solomon, which briefly mentioned both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Also, I did an art talk on Ethiopian Orthodox art and happened upon the origin story The Glory of the Kings, which describes the Ethiopian kings being descended from the mythical Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, made me curious to know more about her. It reminded me of something of both Ancient Egyptian history and the Arabian Nights. I love books about strong historical women and this book did not disappoint in that regard. I love that she conquered Solomon with her words and by not revealing her face for most of the storyline! I was glad that she managed to find some true love, despite the tragedy in her life. I think I liked and respected her more because she did not grow up a privileged brat but rather had to fend for herself and fight to be independent as a ruler and lover. Highly recommended, 5 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this advanced reader’s copy book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. ...more
I will say that this was a very long book to read aloud, with not that many illustrations, but the ones it did have were pretty detailed and spectaculI will say that this was a very long book to read aloud, with not that many illustrations, but the ones it did have were pretty detailed and spectacular! Finding out that this author was the same author that did another Caldecott Honor winning book "Journey Cake, Ho!" makes more sense, as this was another odd duck book. The parts of the story that I didn't get were in relation to St. Lucy's Day, where Anna chases chickens around a yard and sings a song while doing it, to encourage to lay eggs throughout the year. It just seemed out of place. Plus there was that whole thing with the talking dog on Christmas Eve.
Ruth Sawyer obviously researched quite a bit to create this book, which was about a Hungarian family during a war. This book won a 1945 Caldecott Honor. It explains a lot about the Christmas traditions celebrated in the Russian Orthodox Church, as carried out by Anna and her family. The story starts off with a visit from St. Nicholas himself, who asks Anna and her brother what they want for Christmas. Soldiers have already cleared out most of their harvest and food, and even though they don't have the ingredients, the one thing that little Anna wants for Christmas is a Christmas Cake. She finally gets her wish when her very own Christmas Anna Angel (who looks just like her except with angel wings) makes magical Christmas cakes for the whole family to eat. Recommended for ages 7-10, 3 1/2 stars. ...more
Normally I hate it when books like this and songbooks win the Caldecott, because there is usually not any skill involved, you are just selecting partsNormally I hate it when books like this and songbooks win the Caldecott, because there is usually not any skill involved, you are just selecting parts of other people’s work. Cases in point, anything selected by Marjorie Torrey and illustrated by Opal Wheeler. This book won a 1944 Caldecott Honor. However, like “Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book” illustrated by Dorothy P. Lanthrop, which won the very first Caldecott Medal in 1938, this had charming little illustrations done by Elizabeth Orton Jones. It’s not that I have anything against kids reading Bible verses (I read a toddler Bible to my son occasionally), but I feel that by selecting text from a pre-established source you’re taking away an award from somebody who actually came up with a real story from scratch. Rant over. Recommended for ages 2-7, 3 stars....more
I totally think this book should've won the Caldecott Award in 1967, instead of a Caldecott Honor. Of course, I'm a bit biased because I think "Sam, BI totally think this book should've won the Caldecott Award in 1967, instead of a Caldecott Honor. Of course, I'm a bit biased because I think "Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine" is one of the worst children's books ever written/illustrated. This book was way better illustrated, with beautiful whimsical woodcuts and pages in bright happy colors. The story is based off an African-American spiritual on Noah's Ark, and the song is included with music in the back of the book. Recommended for ages 2-7, 4 stars. ...more
I found this to be a really interesting look into Mexican culture at Christmas, even my son was fascinated by the pictures. The story was a little lonI found this to be a really interesting look into Mexican culture at Christmas, even my son was fascinated by the pictures. The story was a little long-winded in places and kind of went off-topic, but overall was well-done. It reminded me of Disney's "The Three Caballeros," as this tradition is mentioned in there. This book won the 1960 Caldecott Award. The story is about a girl in kindergarten named Ceci who is finally old enough to have her first posada, which is the search that Mary and Joseph take when looking for a place for Mary to have baby Jesus. After they do their procession around, they have a party and celebrate with a pinata full of candy, citrus and toys. Ceci picks a golden star-shaped pinata but is sad when her partygoers must destroy it. The star tells her not to be sad because it has turned from a pinata into a real star, and it is all thanks to her. Recommended for ages 4-8, 3 1/2 stars. ...more
I'm always on the lookout for Bible picture books to read to the kids in the Nursery and my son. It was interesting to find out that Katherine PatersoI'm always on the lookout for Bible picture books to read to the kids in the Nursery and my son. It was interesting to find out that Katherine Paterson was a missionary for four years, as well as being married to a minister and the child of missionaries before she became a writer, especially as her book "Bridge to Terabithia" has caused so much controversy for its subject matter. Anyways, the book is basically a well-done summary of the life of Jesus from conception to his death. The book is greatly enhanced by the gorgeous paintings of Francois Roca, who actually makes Jesus and the rest of the people in the book look like the area they came from and not lily-white like most stories like to portray him. Recommended for ages 3-8, 4 stars. ...more
The text, taken directly from the Book of Genesis of the King James Bible, is quoted at the top of the pages. The story tells about how God wanted toThe text, taken directly from the Book of Genesis of the King James Bible, is quoted at the top of the pages. The story tells about how God wanted to punish mankind but spared Noah and his family, as long as they built an ark to house two of every kind of animal/insect in the world. Paintings completely circle the text, then it is followed by several two page full-color spreads of incredible detail. The paintings are a mix of tempera, watercolor and pencil on watercolor paper. The back of the book features a blurb about the author and the story. I think my favorite illustration is of the building of the ark itself. Recommended for ages 3-7, 4 stars. ...more
This is a very short board book which explains the Christian prayer "Hail Mary", in a way that can be explained to young children. The illustrations aThis is a very short board book which explains the Christian prayer "Hail Mary", in a way that can be explained to young children. The illustrations are simple but effective in further breaking down the text. I am very interested in checking out the author's second book on the "Our Father" prayer as I think both of these books would be excellent to have in the Nursery at the church where I work. Recommended for ages 1-5, 3 stars. ...more
This is another book I probably never would've picked up if it weren't for the fact that it is a 1940 Caldecott Honor award winner. It is a very unusuThis is another book I probably never would've picked up if it weren't for the fact that it is a 1940 Caldecott Honor award winner. It is a very unusual book in many ways. First off, as another reviewer has said here (http://liblaura5.blogspot.com/2012/01...) it is a full-color book, something that was rare for that period in time, when most books only had every other or a couple of pages illustrated in color. Also it is made to look like an illuminated manuscript. It is very clear from the letter to her goddaughter Nina, at the front of the book, that the author is very against the Renaissance and its humanist approaches to life and religion. She is, however, very much for the medieval age as exemplified by her artwork and subject matter. She has chosen to create a "manuscript" with Gregorian chant in Latin, which explains the life of St. Anne (mother of Mary), the Virgin and Jesus's early life. The main picture, facing the chants, show the participants in a contemporary setting of 1939 New England. The setting is incongruous with the medieval feeling to the rest of the book. If you check out the above website, you can hear the blog poster's mother singing one of the chants from the book, which is pretty cool. Recommended for ages 7+, 3 stars. ...more
This book won a 1947 Caldecott Honor award, and that is the reason for me checking it out. Apparently the author made a point of creating songbooks abThis book won a 1947 Caldecott Honor award, and that is the reason for me checking it out. Apparently the author made a point of creating songbooks about famous composers, and these hymns are no exception. It is interesting that she includes a story about the composer and why they wrote the song. I had heard of some of the songs. Once again Marjorie Torrey's illustrations make a boring book better, but I preferred the illustrations for "Sing Mother Goose" more than this. Recommended for ages 7+, 2 stars. ...more
It is the Biblical story of the prophet Miriam, her brother Moses and Exodus as seen through the eyes of another young girl named Miriam during PassovIt is the Biblical story of the prophet Miriam, her brother Moses and Exodus as seen through the eyes of another young girl named Miriam during Passover. The girl is about to get ready for the Seder meal when her mother takes her aside to tell her about her namesake and her Passover gift, which is a crystal goblet meant to symbolize Miriam's Cup (the story of which is explained in the author's note in the back of the book). "Miriam's Song," based off the book of Exodus itself and written by Debbie Friedman, is included on the back cover of the book with music. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations are done throughout the book, and the background of each page and text is made to look like a sheet of papyrus. Recommended for ages 4-8, 4 stars. ...more