I listened to the the abridged audio recording of this book, which might be why I didn't experience all of the irrelevant details that others are desc...moreI listened to the the abridged audio recording of this book, which might be why I didn't experience all of the irrelevant details that others are describing.(less)
A gritty, dark tale. One in which you don't really know what's going on ... and find yourself closing the cover with a lingering feeling of confusion....moreA gritty, dark tale. One in which you don't really know what's going on ... and find yourself closing the cover with a lingering feeling of confusion. Definitely a show, not tell novel that keeps you reading just to see if the shadowy secrets will be revealed.(less)
It is the promise of a trip to the barn that sets Little Mouse into a frenzy one day. It’s a great idea, but a mouse needs to get ready for such an e...more It is the promise of a trip to the barn that sets Little Mouse into a frenzy one day. It’s a great idea, but a mouse needs to get ready for such an exciting adventure. Little Mouse Gets Ready follows Little Mouse as he prepares for his excursion, from getting his clothes on just right (Check for the tag. That’s the back.) to anticipating the fun that awaits (Then I’ll find the horses and eat the OATS that they drop on the floor!) The book ends with a surprise that will shock the socks right off of Little Mouse and leave readers asking for more.
This easy-to-read graphic novel combines large illustrations with simple sentences, making for a book that is just-right for emerging readers. Young children will also be able to relate to Little Mouse’s struggles and triumphs in the arduous task of getting dressed. The illustrations are appealing, detailing the expressive mouse’s charming facial expressions and utilizing bright colors to bring his clothes to life. Little Mouse’s environment is illustrated in natural, muted colors, ensuring that the tiny creature doesn’t fade into the background. This Geisel Honor Book would be a great addition to any library and is recommended as an essential purchase. (less)
Imagine a world where a mere 34 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be hot and the inhabitants of the region spend the day sprawled on the ground, pa...more Imagine a world where a mere 34 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be hot and the inhabitants of the region spend the day sprawled on the ground, panting, in an attempt to cool off. So it is on our very own continent of Antarctica, where author, Sophie Webb took a two month expedition to study the residents of the area – the Adelie penguins. My Season with Penguins: An Antarctic Journal is exactly that – an illustrative journal of biologist and artist, Webb’s experiences studying the Adelie. While thrown into the adventure without being given any background information or purpose for the expedition, the reader soon gets caught up in the intricacies of a trip that few people get to take – a voyage to the uninhabited, designated for scientific research only, Antarctic region. Not only does Webb describe the idiosyncrasies of the Adelie penguins that she encounters, she also lets us in on what it is like for a human to live in one of the few areas of our Earth that have not been scarred by human progress. What really brings this journal home is Webb’s beautiful illustrations of the Adelie. She does an excellent job of capturing the day-to-day life and the expressive actions of the penguins on paper. By placing multiple stand-alone illustrations on a single page, the opportunity for comparison among the actions of the penguins arises, making for an interesting read. This award-winning book is an essential purchase for all libraries. (less)
We’ve all seen them – the big, colorful balloons floating over the streets of New York City every Thanksgiving Day. But how many of us have wondered...more We’ve all seen them – the big, colorful balloons floating over the streets of New York City every Thanksgiving Day. But how many of us have wondered how these fantastic creations came to be? Well wonder no longer because Balloons Over Broadway brings the magical history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon puppets to your hands! Tony Sarg, the mastermind behind the ingenious Macy’s Parade inventions, was interested in the movement of toys, trinkets, and devices from the time he was a little boy. This interest grew into a career as a marionette maker in New York City. Macy’s caught word of his magical creations and employed him to design store shop displays, ultimately leading to his biggest job of all – orchestrating the Macy’s Parade. But parades rarely go off without a hitch – this story of how Tony creatively adapted the parade over time is not one to be missed.
Sweet’s illustrations are what really bring this book to live. Using a combination of collage and paint, in addition to toys and object arrangements of her own creation, she masterfully brings to life the story of Tony Sarg. One can’t help their eyes from being drawn to all of the creative details that Sweet has slipped in between these pages. The work reads as a journal of sorts, capturing Sarg’s highly imaginative mind on paper. The illustrations complement the simple, but smooth, storyline perfectly. This highly entertaining Caldecott Honor book would work best as an individual read, and is an essential purchase for all libraries. (less)
She doesn’t even know her own name. An orphan, she spends her time scavenging towns and the countryside, just trying to keep herself alive. This is h...more She doesn’t even know her own name. An orphan, she spends her time scavenging towns and the countryside, just trying to keep herself alive. This is her life. Until a sharp-tongued midwife fetches her from a dung pile, gives her a name, “Beetle,” and also a new purpose – bringing forth babies into the world.
Only serving as an unappreciated apprentice in England in the Middle Ages, Beetle has to make friends where she can (with a cat), and combat enemies throughout the town. To them, she is stupid “Beetle,” who will never amount to anything. However, as her skills and confidence grow, she gives herself a proper name, Alyce, and begins to find her place in town, until she meets a personal and professional challenge and must rethink her present and future purpose. Rising up from the dung pile to a midwife’s apprentice to a midwife herself, this tale is one of perseverance and finding one’s way in the face of adversity.
When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. This is taught none better than through Alyce’s tale of courageously taking on the role of a mean-spirited midwife’s apprentice. This novel teaches that by grabbing opportunity by the horns, taking chances, and never giving up, our true potential and purpose will be revealed. Aside from the lessons taught, The Midwife’s Apprentice paints a vivid portrait of 14th century England, albeit a dark one. Life in the Middle Ages is in sharp contrast to the world in which we live today, and much can be learned through examination of this novel. This Newbery Award-Winner would work best as an individual read, and is an essential purchase for all libraries. (less)
Peaceful Pieces is just that – a work that combines poems about “peace” with “pieces” of quilt. The first thing you notice upon picking up Peaceful P...more Peaceful Pieces is just that – a work that combines poems about “peace” with “pieces” of quilt. The first thing you notice upon picking up Peaceful Pieces is the beautiful quilt work, which is a great complement to a book of poetry about peace, as quilts themselves have been used to tell stories and histories of people throughout time. Each “peaceful” poem combines with a quilted illustration, making for a unique and soothing, yet thought-provoking read.
“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” The words of John Lennon could be inspiration for this work, which contains poems not only about global peace, but personal peace, interpersonal peace, peace in nature, symbols of peace, conflicts with peace, and the very essence of peace itself. This work looks at the so complicated, yet so simple, subject of peace from multiple perspectives, providing for a well-rounded work that shows just how essential peace is to our lives. From poems about what life on a peaceful Earth would be like, to a sisterly argument that ends in giggles, to a recipe for peace, to inner struggles with anger and thoughts, to the peacemakers of Earth, this book shows us that peace exists in many forms and places. The author’s words help build an understanding of peace, and serves as inspiration for a more peaceful planet.
The illustrations of the work are simply remarkable, being constructed of actual quilt work. The illustrations make you want to reach out and touch them, just as peace often requires us to reach out to each other. The use of color in the various quilts complement the poems, sometimes using bold reds, blacks, and whites when dealing with the tougher issues, and often using softer colors when illustrating examples of peace’s existence on Earth.
This beautiful, thought-provoking book would work well as a read-aloud or an individual read. It is an essential purchase for its masterful artwork and inspiring subject matter. (less)
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night is a remarkable book of poetry featuring night creatures, animals and plants alike. Each poem is accompan...more Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night is a remarkable book of poetry featuring night creatures, animals and plants alike. Each poem is accompanied by factual information about the nighttime creature it features, allowing for not only a poetic experience, but a scientific one as well. This combination of literacy with science makes for a satisfyingly informational reading experience.
One aspect that makes this work outstanding is not only does one read about nighttime creatures, but one can actually feel the night through these poems. The mood of the work is dark, quiet, and mystical. The words of these poems work in such a way that the reader becomes one with the creatures and the night. These poems are beautiful, and they find beauty in the nighttime creatures as well. The addition of the nonfiction text on the accompanying pages makes this a well-rounded work and an excellent addition to any classroom library. What an intriguing way to introduce creatures of the night to children through poetry and then back up the poems with factual information.
This work would just not be the same without the addition of its stunning illustrations. The dark lines and colors of the illustrations complement the mood and substance of the poems so perfectly. Just as one has to search with the eye for the nighttime creatures in real-life, so does one with these beautifully deep and dark illustrations.
These magical poems definitely have a place as a read-aloud, for these beautiful words need a voice. Children would also enjoy poring over the illustrations and mystical words. This Newbery Honor book is an essential purchase as it deserves a place in every library. (less)
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse is one of those rare concept books of poetry that does not come along too often. What makes it unique is th...more Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse is one of those rare concept books of poetry that does not come along too often. What makes it unique is the technique of “reverso,” in which an initial poem is flipped upside down, with only a change to punctuation and capitalization, creating a different poem using the same words. In the case of this work, the experience involves the flipside of fairy tales – we all know one side of the story, but what about the other? Take, for example, “Cinderella’s Double Life” – the initial poem is read as follows: “Isn’t life unfair?/Stuck in a corner,/while they’re waiting for a chance/with the prince,/dancing waltz after waltz/at the ball,/I’ll be shining/these shoes/ till the clock strikes midnight.” The reverso reads, “Till the clock strikes midnight,/these shoes!/I’ll be shining/at the ball,/dancing waltz after waltz/with the prince/while they’re waiting for a chance,/stuck in a corner./Isn’t life unfair?”
These poems literally show that there are two sides to every story – not only in the reverso, but also in the arrangement of the poems on the page and the illustrations. The two poems are written side by side on a page split down the middle by a change in background color. The text of the two poems also appears in contrasting colors - one in red, one in blue. The illustrations are also divided vertically down the middle with each side showing its respective side to the story. Although the illustrations are split down the middle, they still work together to create an appealing whole image of the two tales. The use of vibrant colors and the effects of darkness and light, work well to give this work a “fairy tale feeling.”
While this work is innovative and appealing, the reverso technique may be difficult for some readers to comprehend. The writing is at times choppy and feels forced, which makes for a struggling reading experience. However, this work should not be overlooked because its creative elements are so unique. The book would likely work best as a read-aloud by a trained reader who is capable of creating flow to the poems. This multiple award-winning book is an essential purchase for all libraries.
Upon first glance and a scan of the title, Mother Poems, appears to be a book of poetry honoring mothers. While this assumption is correct, this work...more Upon first glance and a scan of the title, Mother Poems, appears to be a book of poetry honoring mothers. While this assumption is correct, this work is much more intimate than that, containing a collection of mostly free verse poems, detailing one girl’s relationship with her mother, whom she loves and holds tightly, yet ultimately loses.
This collection of 31 poems touches the reader somewhere deeper than the surface, reaching in to where innermost emotions and memories reside. These poems describe the tender moments, the intricate details, and the words of love and wisdom of mother/daughter relationships. The narrator’s mother is unique, yet not so distinctive that readers cannot relate the relationship to the one that they have with their own mother.
The first ten poems detail loving moments and lessons learned between mother and daughter; however the winds abruptly shift at “While I Was Sleeping,” with the unexpected death of the mother. This shift in mood and focus is just as sudden as death is in real-life, creating a feeling of surprise and loss. The remaining poems describe the narrator’s feelings about losing her mother, the memories and dreams she has of her, and the ways in which she attempts to come to terms with her death. The chosen words in these poems are so striking and true, they resound loudly long after the reading of them has ended. These poems go much deeper than surface mourning – they describe all the aspects of loss that one doesn’t typically think of, but do exist in the mourner.
Accompanying the poems are torn paper illustrations of mother and child, and later, just child. The narrator and her mother are faceless, creating a sense of anonymity that makes them relatable to more readers, as they could be anyone. This book of poems would be a great read for anyone who has experienced loss, but especially for children who have lost a mother. The work is recommended as a supplemental purchase, as it is of high quality but may not find a broad reading base due to its content. (less)
Emma Dilemma is one of those books of poetry that reminds you of what it is like to be a big sister … even if you never were one. The work features 3...more Emma Dilemma is one of those books of poetry that reminds you of what it is like to be a big sister … even if you never were one. The work features 34 chronologically-arranged poems detailing the relationship of Jessica and her little sister, Emma. From embarrassment at soccer games and the grocery store, to bedroom destruction and invasion, to bonding over tragedy, this touching book of poems contains a little bit of everything, encapsulating the special relationship that only happens between sisters.
From the moment you read the first poem in the book, “Soccer Game,” you are thrown in older sister Jessica’s shoes. The tension mounts as the poem continues – we go from learning that not only are Jessica’s friends laughing at her, but that they are laughing at her because a little kid who is outrageously dressed is yelling Jessica’s name from the bleachers. The author inserts wit and sarcasm so effectively at the end of the poem, as she does throughout the book, when Jessica states that she has never seen that kid ever before in her entire life. What continues is a series of poems about all the little moments that Jessica and Emma share – some embarrassing, some infuriating, some funny, some touching, some tender, some sad – all of which author, George captures so perfectly. The book carries a theme of big sister exasperation with a layer of admiration and love concealed underneath. Even when Emma is at her most frustrating, on the next page she demonstrates just how lovable she can be. The author handles Jessica’s emotions towards her sister expertly – her poems would be totally relatable to any child with siblings.
The author uses free verse in her poems, which works effectively to communicate the poems as Jessica’s thoughts and emotions. To emphasize certain feelings, the author places verses on lines of their own to give them prominence and punch. The illustrations are expertly done capturing the emotions and actions of the girls with exquisite detail, adding to the subject and mood of the poems. This high-quality book of poetry is an essential purchase for all libraries, as it captures sisterly relationships so true-to-life. (less)
Lon Po Po, the Chinese version of Red Riding Hood, puts a unique spin on the traditional tale. This version does not send the children to the wolf, b...more Lon Po Po, the Chinese version of Red Riding Hood, puts a unique spin on the traditional tale. This version does not send the children to the wolf, but rather the wolf to them. Being left alone as their mother leaves to visit their “Lon Po Po,” the Chinese word for “grandmother,” three children encounter a disguised wolf at their door. This cunning wolf tricks the children into letting him into the house by pretending to be the children’s Lon Po Po. What follows is trickery on the wolf’s part as he continues to find ways to keep the children from discovering his true identity. Eventually catching a glimpse of the wolf’s face, the children wise up and turn the tides on the wolf, devising a plan to deceive the wolf by playing on his greed.
The theme of the work - danger can be disguised as the most familiar - can also serve as a warning to children and also ties in to another theme - to trust your instincts. The children know that something is just “not right” with their Lon Po Po, yet they continue to trust the deceptive wolf until they catch a glimpse of his furry face. However, just as the children of the story should learn to trust their instincts, so should the wolf, who trusted three children to lift him in a basket to the top of the tree, ultimately leading to his demise.
The illustrations have a chalky, dreamlike quality, which adds to the mystique of the wolf and the danger that unfolds. The use of panels in this Caldecott Award-Winner is effective in connecting various parts of the text with the illustrations. They also draw the eye to segmented details within the illustrations, allowing one to focus on a few details at a time. The illustrations also bring the characters to life, as much detail is not given about them in the text. This style of writing depends much on the dialogue between characters to pull the plot forward, which flows from conversation to conversation over time.
The work would work well as a read-aloud or an independent read, and as a Caldecott Award-Winner, is an essential purchase for all libraries. (less)