Richard Egielski's Caldecott Award winning illustrations were wonderful - the drab one room apartment contrastingI've mixed feelings about this book.
Richard Egielski's Caldecott Award winning illustrations were wonderful - the drab one room apartment contrasting with the bright floating island - the picture elements escaping the confines of the border, the morphing - the Icarus-like illustration.
The story on the other hand I didn't really like. The bird filled paradise was a little weird... Utilising a janitor as the downtrodden character a little stereotypical... The emotional rollercoaster of an end all a little too neat......more
This book is split into three sections - The Faith, The People and The Conflicts. Each of these sections contains 4-6 chapters written by numerous conThis book is split into three sections - The Faith, The People and The Conflicts. Each of these sections contains 4-6 chapters written by numerous contributors. The chapters are re-publications of essays, magazine articles and book chapters - which leads to a slightly disjointed feel to the book. But in general the editors have done a great job in creating a very readable book.
The Faith provides a reasonable overview of the core beliefs and values of Islam.
The People provides a series of case-studies of the role of Islam in the lives of people from seven different countries. I felt that a key geographic region missing from this section was the Gulf states - an examination of the role and impact of Islam on Saudi Arabia is surely key in a book such as this. Similarly the role of Islam in Pakistan is covered in passing in this book, but would similarly hold much interest.
The Conflicts examines both the historic and current animosity between the West and Islam. This section was the weakest section in the book - I suspect primarily because it is the section that everyone has talked about for the last decade. While including the views of Bernard Lewis, this book included numerous references to Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilisations thesis - which would have been useful to include in this section....more
This is a lovely story, particularly for any child who is perceived as different.
Yoko is the daughter of Japanese immigrants to the US. The cultural dThis is a lovely story, particularly for any child who is perceived as different.
Yoko is the daughter of Japanese immigrants to the US. The cultural differences between her and her classmates leave her feeling ostracised. Rosemary Wells picks up on a common from immigrant kids - the food they bring to school highlights that they are different. The use of food in this book is really symbolic of the wider cultural differences between immigrants and their new home.
Mrs Jenkins, their teacher, is a sympathetic soul who creates an opportunity for Yoko to introduce everyone to her 'Yuck-o-rama' food - an International Food Day. My favourite bit of this is Big Frank who cooks up a pot of 'Boston franks and beans' as his international dish!
This international exchange of food sparks a friendship (like gold for Yoko) - and the beginning of a wider cultural exchange....more
I love that my library book version includes seven unrepaired rips - and one full page rip that some embarrassed parent has vainly attempted to fix. II love that my library book version includes seven unrepaired rips - and one full page rip that some embarrassed parent has vainly attempted to fix. I can just hear the "No, [insert child's name here:] - we don't tear library books!"
I love the idea of a re-imagining a book you've created in childhood.
But I'm not a huge fan overall. The evil looking child, the tokenistic cuddle at the end, and the overall negative attitude of the parent......more
The back of my Board Book version states that this is a "... classic, bestselling bedtime story" - for a bedtime story it is completely backwards. TheThe back of my Board Book version states that this is a "... classic, bestselling bedtime story" - for a bedtime story it is completely backwards. The role of a bedtime story for me is to take a wild and awake child and lull them to sleep - this book begins sleepy and builds in excitment to a wild climax.
So not a bedtime book, but it's still a wonderful book.
A simple repetitive cumulative tale. Muted, yet colourful illustrations through much of the book. Great puzzle element looking at where each animal is in each picture (in particular finding the flea can be tricky!)....more
This appears to be an American classic - but this is the first I've heard of it.
My first thought on openning this book was the similarity between MaryThis appears to be an American classic - but this is the first I've heard of it.
My first thought on openning this book was the similarity between Mary Anne and the Snort from P.D. Eastman's Are You My Mother?. It always struck me as odd that Eastman brought back what must have been ancient technology to his 1950s audience - but it makes perfect sense if his audience are used to this level of technology courtesy of this book, which was written at the time steam was overtaken by diesel engines.
It is interesting reading this book from the 1930's which portrays the idea that humans can overcome nature (using Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne and some others) from a time when we are increasingly attempting to minimise our impact on the environment - an many of those extremely large engineering projects wouldn't get off the ground because of environmental impacts.
Yes, this is regarded as a classic children's book in the US. Yes, it did win the Caldecott Medal and launch Ezra Jack Keats's career. Yes, it was innYes, this is regarded as a classic children's book in the US. Yes, it did win the Caldecott Medal and launch Ezra Jack Keats's career. Yes, it was innovative for the time by using a black protagonist, and an urban setting. Yes, the joy of new snow is reasonably universal for kids.
But I just didn't get into it. The illustrations would work as a reminder of the joy of new snow - but certainly didn't work explaining this concept to the unfamiliar. And I found the ending to be unfulfilling.
This would probably work best in an area like Ezra's home New York. Here snow happens regularly (so the idea of snow is familar), but is rare enough to cause excitment. It is also rare enough that the city essentially shuts down if they get snow - kids get Snow Days, mum and dad are urged to stay off the roads. Closer to the equator snow (particularly snow at home) becomes so rare it is out of the range of experience of the child reader. Closer to the poles and the joy of new snow simply becomes part of everyday life during winter. ...more
USA is one of Anno's Journey books - charting the journey of a small, nameless character (that's him - the guy on the horse with the blue clothes and hat) from the west coast to the east coast of the USA. The progress isn't via the most direct route (eg he travels from Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC then Boston). Time is also all mixed up. There isn't a simple progression of time through the story - and even within the one picture there are vignettes from throughout history. I thought it would be useful to have a little more of a narrative between each illustration to bring the story together more.
You'll need to know your US history and cultural references to 'get' this book. For example the Philadelphia picture includes references to: *Betsy Ross sewing the first 'stars and stripes' US flag *Benjamin Franklin conducting his famous kite experiment to prove lightning is electricity. *The Liberty Bell *The signing of the Constitution *Uncle Sam *Sesame Street characters and numerous other references which escape me.
Anno typically uses a number of large 'setting' buildings or landscape features - the Golden Gate and the Transamerica Pyramid building depicting San Francisco, the Alamo for Texas, the Capitol for Washington DC, etc. I have to say there are a couple of settings that I just don't get - the large cathedral, the park with the fountain, and numerous of the more rural scenes. Not really understanding the setting makes it difficult to interpret the more obscure vignettes.
When reading the book the comparisons with Where's Wally? (that's Waldo to those in the US, Willy in Norway, Walter in Germany, etc, etc) had to be made... It's been nearly 20 years since I've picked up a Wally book, so my recollections may be warped. This book generally seems to be more intellectual that the Wally books - many of the references require a much greater knowledge of history and culture than I remember from the Wally books. The Wally books focus more on the comedic value of the activities of the people featured than this book. The prime character is much, much, much easier to find in this book compared with the Wally books - the pages just aren't nearly as busy. The other comparision that could be made is that Anno, while critically successful, certainly didn't go on to be the mechandising and spin-off machine that the Wally series did.
Overall I found it interesting - but I think it will be a while before X-man can really get his teeth into this one....more
I must have been living under a rock - my first introduction to David Sedaris was last year when my wife began reading his books.
Her review of all sheI must have been living under a rock - my first introduction to David Sedaris was last year when my wife began reading his books.
Her review of all she has read to date: "a bit hit and miss", and I have to agree with her. I felt this book started well, was pretty ho-hum in the middle, and finished with a bang. If he was performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival I would have thought: $20 and 90 minutes well spent.
I'm not sure I'll be rushing out to read his other books - but if I'm bored, and there is nothing else to read it would be a painless way to spend a couple of hours....more
A fictionalised biography of Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The illustrations are amazing, the depth of feeling Kadir NelsonA fictionalised biography of Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The illustrations are amazing, the depth of feeling Kadir Nelson is able to portray in faces makes this book a deserving winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for 2007.
The story itself is deeply religious (you may have guessed with the title and the front cover illustration!). I'm not religious at all, but the power of religion shines through in this book - with Harriet obtaining courage and strength through her faith.
I received this book as a gift, so I thought it would only be polite to at least start reading it.
I think the review from Noel Malcolm in the UK's TeI received this book as a gift, so I thought it would only be polite to at least start reading it.
I think the review from Noel Malcolm in the UK's Telegraph sums up my general feelings about this book. While being moderately well read, and writing moderately well, Cullen Murphy doesn't say anything that rises above simplistic rhetoric....more
About half way through this book I was getting very irritated by Heidi's preoccupation with creating a kiss-and-tell chronicle of he sexual exploits aAbout half way through this book I was getting very irritated by Heidi's preoccupation with creating a kiss-and-tell chronicle of he sexual exploits across the globe. Then the "Black Hawk Down" occurred, and genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia left 100,000s dead and gruesome stories of depraved violence.
Probably the most memorable quote from the book is from Andrew: "If blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeepers show up in your town or village and offer to protect you, run. Or else get weapons. Your lives are worth so much less than theirs."...more
A lovely story of ducks bringing up their family in 1940s Boston.
While having briefly visited Boston as a tourist almost two decades ago (jeez I'm getA lovely story of ducks bringing up their family in 1940s Boston.
While having briefly visited Boston as a tourist almost two decades ago (jeez I'm getting old), I certainly don't remember enough to get a good feel for where the ducks are going. Fortunately PomeRantz did the work for me and put together a map of their route.
Is it reflective of US society that where the 'Corner Book Shop' was is now a 7-Eleven?...more
This story may be slightly controversial - illegal and extremely dangerous activities, the September 11 attacks - these are not the usual fare of chilThis story may be slightly controversial - illegal and extremely dangerous activities, the September 11 attacks - these are not the usual fare of childrens picture books. But Mordicai Gerstein does a fantastic job at treading the tightrope thin line between glorification and condemnation.
The illustrations are dizzying - if you have vertigo approach this book with caution.
I thought it was appropriate that the story doesn't mention why the towers are now gone - this will allow parents to explain September 11 in the most appropriate way for their child. Some condemn this book as coming out too soon after 2001 - but I feel that it could have been a useful tool in the grieving process for children who were old enough to remember the towers standing.
A truely deserving winner of the Caldecott Award....more
Follows the hopes and dreams of a young boy into realisation as an adult. A pretty inspirational story.
The darkness of the illustrations of Li Cunxin's time as a poor young boy in Qingdao hint at the Anne Spudvilas's previous work Woolvs in the Sitee. The change in format as Li arrives in the US is dramatic - and really changes the mood of the book....more
Everyone's heard of seemingly crackpot ideas of towing icebergs to warmer climes - grand claims are made, then nothing ever comes of the idea.
Well FreEveryone's heard of seemingly crackpot ideas of towing icebergs to warmer climes - grand claims are made, then nothing ever comes of the idea.
Well Frederic Tudor managed (eventually) to create a whole industry around (essentially) this idea. Instead of icebergs (except for one notable exception) his source of ice were the freshwater lakes around Boston - and instead of just attaching a towing rig he transported the ice, well insulated, in the holds of ships. The aim was to provide the tropics (West Indies, the South of the US and amazingly India) with the joys of ice and refrigeration. This natural ice trade was eventually killed off by the invention of refrigerators, and efficient artifical ice makers - along with increasing worries about contamination of natural ice sources.
A fascinating insight into an area most of us take for granted....more
A sequel to the Kate Greenaway Award winning Father Christmas, which I have yet to read. I think the key to the success of Father Christmas the innovaA sequel to the Kate Greenaway Award winning Father Christmas, which I have yet to read. I think the key to the success of Father Christmas the innovative behind-the-scenes look at what is a pretty ordinary man.
The behind-the-scenes view has now been done to death (The Santa Clause anyone?). This sequel is thus reliant on a great plot and/or fantastic illustrations. Well the plot is formulaic and predictable (as is so prevalent in sequels), the illustrations are acceptable - but not amazing. Thus a disappointed 2 stars from me. ...more