The illustrations in this wordless picture book are exquisite. The story by Jon Arno Lawson, whose tale is brought to life by Sydney Smith's illustratThe illustrations in this wordless picture book are exquisite. The story by Jon Arno Lawson, whose tale is brought to life by Sydney Smith's illustrations is sweet and touching. A little girl, walking through the city with her father, who is distracted by a conversation on his cell phone, notices the world around her - a man's tattooed arm, a lady riding in a car, a woman crossing the street but most importantly, the small blooms of color that pop up in the cracks of the gray city's streets. She picks the dandelions and other wildflowers she sees blooming in the pavement cracks and soon has an entire bouquet. But it's what she does with her bouquet that makes this story so sweet and unforgettable. She begins sharing her flowers - she lays a small bunch on a dead sparrow, tucks a sprig in a sleeping man's shoe, and decorates a leashed dog's collar. As she shares her flowers through the city, the illustrations gradually grow more colorful. By the time she reaches home, where she adorns her mother's hair with some of the flowers, the gray tones of the city are gone and have been replaced with the soft spring colors of a garden. This is a wonderful book about noticing the small things in life, sharing with others and in the process, making the world a better place....more
This almost wordless picture book is absolutely stunning. In "The River," author/illustrator Alessandro Sanna gives us a look at four seasons along ItThis almost wordless picture book is absolutely stunning. In "The River," author/illustrator Alessandro Sanna gives us a look at four seasons along Italy's Po River. Each season is given its own section, beginning with a brief synopsis of the story that is to follow. From that point on, each season's story is told in a wordless sequence of watercolor paintings. There are hundreds of paintings in the book, each one an exquisite mini-masterpiece. The book begins in Fall with a story about a flood and the townspeople who gather to fortify the river banks and rescue those stranded by the rising waters. Winter is a tale of fog and snow and the birth of a calf, while Spring is celebrated with a story of a romance and a wedding celebration under a sky sparkling with fireworks. Summer tells the tale of a roaming tiger, escaped from a traveling circus, who becomes the model for a painter's latest masterwork. Most of the paintings in the book are done in a narrow horizontal format, suggesting a wide horizon, each one like an individual frame taken from a widescreen movie. There are so many beautiful details in these paintings, that kids should have fun studying them over and over and making up additional stories of their own....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this charming memoir by Julie Andrews, detailing her childhood years up through her early twenties and the birth of her first chiI thoroughly enjoyed this charming memoir by Julie Andrews, detailing her childhood years up through her early twenties and the birth of her first child. Many people probably think of Dame Andrews as having had a privileged childhood, but nothing could be further from the truth. She began working on the stage around the age of 6 or 7 as part of her mother and step-father's vaudeville act. It was a tough life and WWII only made things tougher. As she got older and her remarkable voice developed, her role in her parents' act became more central. Eventually, as her step-father and her mother slipped into alcoholism, young Julie was doing her best to hold her family together, much of her income being put toward saving the roof over their heads. Ted Wells, Julie's father, provides the loving support that Julie's mother couldn't always provide. Julie's devotion to her father is especially touching when it is revealed that he is not her actual biological father, that Julie was the product of a one-night stand at a party where her mother was entertaining. The book gives the reader a glimpse into how a star is made, showing Julie's slow rise to stardom, a stardom earned through perseverance and lots of hard work. Broadway fans will love the sections on her first Broadway show, "The Boy Friend," followed by "My Fair Lady," which catapulted Andrews into real stardom, and then "Camelot," where she had to put up with the antics of her co-star, Richard Burton. The book ends just as she is about to start the filming of "Mary Poppins." I'm already looking forward to her next book that presumably will follow her rise to Oscar-winning movie stardom....more
If I could have, I would have given the art in this book 5 stars. It is beautifully drawn, with the careful use of bright colors complimenting the preIf I could have, I would have given the art in this book 5 stars. It is beautifully drawn, with the careful use of bright colors complimenting the predominant grays and blacks. The art definitely serves the stories well, but, because I felt the writing didn't live up to the art, I'm only giving this book 3 stars. Many of the stories set up a creepy premise, but the resolutions, for the most part, are somewhat disappointing. It's still an enjoyable read though. In my opinion, the last two stories are the most satisfying. The final story, "The Nesting Place," is especially unsettling and disturbing. If you enjoy graphic novels filled with dark tales of monsters, ghosts and the supernatural, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book....more
I loved Chris Raschka's Caldecott Award winning, "A Ball for Daisy," so I was really looking forward to "Give and Take," his latest picture book. UnfoI loved Chris Raschka's Caldecott Award winning, "A Ball for Daisy," so I was really looking forward to "Give and Take," his latest picture book. Unfortunately, as far as the illustrations go, I have to admit I was disappointed. The design of the farmer, as well as the other characters, is so abstract and expressionistic in style, that at first glance it can be hard to make out what the characters are doing. In some of the illustrations, the characters are shoved to the margins and you have to hunt to find them amongst all of the dark line work. There are thick black, painterly outlines around most everything and the color palette Raschka has chosen is so muted and limited, that the illustrations come across as somewhat muddy. Rascha's expressionistic and painterly style worked in "A Ball for Daisy," where brighter colors were used and where each illustration had more room. Here the text takes up a lot of space, making each page look crowded and messy.
The story itself is a lesson in collaboration. A farmer and his dog meet two mischievous little elves, one named Give and the other Take. In turn, each little man promises the farmer that his life will be better if he would only listen to his advice. When the farmer follows their advice separately, it only leads to disappointment. It's not until he puts their advice together as Give AND Take, that things turn out happily. Raschka is a talented author/illustrator but I'm not sure how much appeal this book will have to the target audience of small children, due to the strange illustration style. ...more
Okay, I have to get this out front - I really dislike clowns. I’ve always found them creepy and not a bit funny. But with this sweet and touching pictOkay, I have to get this out front - I really dislike clowns. I’ve always found them creepy and not a bit funny. But with this sweet and touching picture book, author/illustrator Marla Frazee has just but a small dent in my opinion of clowns. The little clown in her wordless picture book, who gets separated from his family when he falls off of their circus train, is probably the cutest clown ever. His simple makeup consists of a plain white face, a relatively small red nose and a painted-on smile. When he’s found and taken home by a stern-looking farmer and washes off his make-up, we see underneath a worried and sad expression - the look of a lost child.
This book is all about finding a home, learning to feel at home, and the very essence of what home is. It could just as easily be the story of a refugee taken in by strangers, or about the adoption of a child. However you want to look at it, it’s a sweet and charming book. Considering that this is a wordless book, the author does a wonderful job of developing her characters. The farmer starts off seeming very stern and no-nonsense. Just from the expressions the author/illustrator has given him, we can see he is completely perplexed by this strange little person in a clown suit. But after the little clown washes off his make-up, we see from the farmer's facial expression that he is concerned about this lost child who he has brought into his home. Over the course of just a few pages, we see the farmer, while trying to make the sad child smile, loosen up and develop an affectionate bond with this little person. Along the way, each of the characters learns something new from the other. The farmer teaches the little clown how to milk a cow, while the little clown teaches the farmer how to juggle eggs. The farmer appears to be learning that all work and no play can make for a very dull existence. Marla Frazee conveys so much feeling and understanding in her illustrations with just changes in the body language of her characters and their facial expressions. This book is a great example of how to tell a complex story with no accompanying text.
I love how Frazee has used a limited color palette for her delightful illustrations. The farmer seems to exist in a world of soft sepia browns and charcoal grays. The little clown, dressed in reds and yellows brings color into the farmer’s drab existence. The clown’s suit really pops against the monochromatic backgrounds. More color is brought into the story when the circus train returns, bringing greens, blues, soft purples and oranges into the palette. At the end of this story, I had the feeling that the farmer had been changed forever by the little stranger who briefly became part of his life. And of course, without giving away the ending, the last illustration shows that the farmer’s adventures may not be quite over.
This book brought a smile to my face (the first time any clown has ever done that!) and I found it sweet and touching. I highly recommend this one!...more
The narrator of this funny and fast-paced story is six-year-old Dory (appropriately nicknamed Rascal) who has an active imagination and fills her daysThe narrator of this funny and fast-paced story is six-year-old Dory (appropriately nicknamed Rascal) who has an active imagination and fills her days attempting to get her older siblings to play with her, conspiring with her imaginary monster friends, and trying to figure out ways to vanquish the child-snatching Mrs Gobble Gracker (an imaginary being her older siblings invent to try and scare Dory into being good). This is a cute book and author/illustrator Abby Hanlon successfully gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a 6-year-old, reminding us of what it was like when fantasy and reality were intertwined and play was an integral part of our lives. With its profuse black and white illustrations, the book at times reads like a graphic novel and in fact many of the charming drawings have integrated dialogue bubbles. The illustrations, by the way, are delightful, filled with expression, action and funny details. This is a fast read and one that I think will delight young children and anyone who wants to relive those special years of childhood when playtime was ruled by imagination....more
This slim graphic novel might serve as an introduction to the work of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas but it is really too short to do jThis slim graphic novel might serve as an introduction to the work of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas but it is really too short to do justice to the ground-breaking work these women accomplished. The book’s subtitle is “The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas,” but the book isn’t so much about the science as it is about the roads they took and the battles they fought to do their studies. On another note, I wasn’t crazy about the art. The human characters are drawn on the level of a cheap Saturday morning cartoon and the primates aren't much better. I especially didn’t like how the orangutans were drawn. In my opinion, there should have been more texture and coloration in their faces. I was also surprised how the author basically skipped over the fact that Dian Fossey was murdered. Although I don’t think her killing has ever been solved, it is believed by some that poachers were responsible for the crime. The author basically states that she made some enemies, her life was a tragedy and then shows a picture of her tombstone with no indication of how she died. I know that this book is geared for kids, but the fact that they included some rather blatant hints about Louis Leakey’s marital infidelities, makes me wonder why they couldn’t be more honest about Fossey’s death. Anyway, this book is a fast read, and it is interesting and entertaining, but if you want any kind of depth about these three remarkable women, I would suggest looking elsewhere....more
The oversize, horizontal format and the amazing illustrations by author/illustrator Beatrice Alemagna make this picture book a fun read. With a minimuThe oversize, horizontal format and the amazing illustrations by author/illustrator Beatrice Alemagna make this picture book a fun read. With a minimum of text, Alemagna tells the story of a lonely lion, feeling isolated in the big city of Paris and how he discovers a place where he belongs and feels at home. Without being preachy, Beatrice Alemagna subtly demonstrates how a smile can cut through the fears of a lonely heart. The stunning, slightly retro style illustrations, which appear to be mixtures of collaged elements along with pen and ink and colored pencil, will surely have readers returning to this book over and over to savor their visual delights....more