Bruchac's decision to write this biography as if it were Thorpe's autobiography is somewhat problematic, but the 1st person narrative will appeal to yBruchac's decision to write this biography as if it were Thorpe's autobiography is somewhat problematic, but the 1st person narrative will appeal to young adults and it's a quick read. Due to the style of the book, it is important to read the interesting and informative source documentation and author's note at the end....more
A River of Words is a book to be read slowly - you need time to take in all the details of Melissa Sweet's illustrations. Sweet used watercolor, collaA River of Words is a book to be read slowly - you need time to take in all the details of Melissa Sweet's illustrations. Sweet used watercolor, collage and mixed media to create pictures where every bit seems intentional and meaningful. The illustrations vary from visual expressions of Williams' poems to vignettes of his life. The text and illustrations interpret Williams' life at a level that lower grade school students can understand and relate to, although readers from upper grade school (and older) will get the most out of the book. Addenda at the end of the book, including an excellent three-part timeline made up of the publication dates of specific poems, events from Williams' life and world events, make this more useful for reports than the main text would indicate. An author's note, an illustrator's note, and a list of further reading comprise the rest of the addenda. The only problem I see is that I'm not convinced kids are going to come to this book on their own. If an adult presents the book to them, I think they'll find it fascinating, but I don't see most picking it up on a whim, so I guess the moral of the story is handsell it! My favorite spread is focused on the "bird in the poplars" and the "leaves [like:] little yellow fish swimming in the river."...more
Neftali knows what it is to be different. He is not strong like his older brother. He is not cheerful like his little sister. He doesn’t like sports lNeftali knows what it is to be different. He is not strong like his older brother. He is not cheerful like his little sister. He doesn’t like sports like the other boys at his school. No, Neftali is a dreamer. He is a boy who gets lost in observing the natural world around him, a boy who is absorbed in listening to the sounds that surround him every day, a boy who thrills to the fire for justice he sees in his newspaper-writing Uncle Orlando’s verbal fights for the oppressed. Yes, Neftali knows what it is to be different – but Neftali’s father – Neftali’s father does not know what it is to be different and does not, will not, understand. Neftali dreads his father’s footsteps and the dissatisfaction that always follows: “Do you want to be a skinny weakling forever and amount to nothing?” Every time Neftali’s father tries to stamp out Neftali’s hopes and dreams there is that chance that they will be gone forever. Every time Neftali has to find the courage and inner strength to be true to himself – sometimes with more success than others – but Neftali keeps trying, keeps working to figure out who he really is instead of just being what his father wants him to be and in the end, Neftali finds that who he is, is someone truly amazing.
The Dreamer is the fictionalized retelling of famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s childhood. Written in green ink, just as Neruda wrote his poetry, Pam Munoz Ryan’s text is rich with details and imagery of the natural world that Neruda loved and Peter Sis’s soft, pointallistic illustrations offer the perfect complement to this quiet coming-of-age tale.
When I read this, it mostly struck me as being not my kind of book at all, but it's stuck with me better than I expected so I'm upgrading my rating by one star....more
Hmm. I found this to be middling. I wonder if part of the problem is that movies and physical comedy are such visual mediums that they're simply diffiHmm. I found this to be middling. I wonder if part of the problem is that movies and physical comedy are such visual mediums that they're simply difficult to transfer to the written format. The selected photos were excellent, but I didn't feel like I was ever able to get a real sense of the magic that Chaplin must have created on film to become so important historically. I think part of the problem here is that I wasn't overly interested in Chaplin to begin with; it's not a topic that I dislike, but not one I would actively seek out either. I did learn a lot about Chaplin which I didn't know before (I had no idea he'd been a victim of the Communist witch hunts in the 50s) and I always enjoy learning things I didn't know, but I just never really engaged which could be as much about my issues as a reader as it could be about the book. I do think after reading this that I would like to see one of Chaplin's movies soon as I've never had that honor....more
Non-fiction is not typically my thing, but I really enjoyed Fleming's exploration of Amelia Earhart's life and last flight. Earhart comes off as a verNon-fiction is not typically my thing, but I really enjoyed Fleming's exploration of Amelia Earhart's life and last flight. Earhart comes off as a very complex personality, both admirable and flawed. The interplay between the two alternating narratives works quite well to build tension, too. Revisiting this review to make predictions for SLJ's Battle of the Books 2012. While this is not my personal favorite, I think it has a distinct chance at going all the way....more
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the biggest parades in the entire United States. Every year, one of the highlights of the parade are theThe Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the biggest parades in the entire United States. Every year, one of the highlights of the parade are the giant balloon characters that fill up the New York City streets. But how did these giant balloons come to be? Who came up with the idea? The answer is Tony Sarg (rhymes with aargh!), a puppeteer and toy maker that Macy's first hired to do their Christmas windows and then to work on their Thanksgiving Day parade. Sarg loved puppets and marionettes from a very young age, so when Macy's asked for something spectacular to replace live animals in the parade, Sarg immediately turned to puppetry. His puppets so far had only been about 3 feet tall though, so he knew if he used those in the parade no one would be able to see them. How could they be bigger - much bigger? And if they were much bigger, where would the strings go? Soon Sarg was off and running with ideas and a parade legend was born!
Melissa Sweet tells the story of Sarg's life and accomplishments and accompanies it with illustrations that combine watercolors, paper scraps, bits of fabric, buttons and other small objects. You'll want to take your time over this picture book biography of a little-known, but fascinating, creative talent. Winner of the 2011 Sibert Award for best children's informational book.
I've never actually watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I still found Melissa Sweet's exploration of the life of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer originally behind the giant balloons used in the parade, fascinating. While I'd never contemplated how those giant balloon characters came to be, I think kids, particularly those who are crafty or mechanical minded, will be immediately drawn in. The text is great, but the illustrations are the true star here. Sweet packs in the details and her mixed media illustrations reward readers who take the time to pore over them slowly. Every bit is carefully selected and put together including some recreations of Sarg's actual toys and puppets. Sweet ends with an author's note, acknowledgements and a bibliography while the endpapers highlight two of her sources - Tony Sarg's Marionette Book and a 1933 New York Times ad for the parade. ...more
Great exploration of the Adams/Jefferson friendship and rivalry. I like the note at the front about "Can Presidents Be Pals?" but I was a little disapGreat exploration of the Adams/Jefferson friendship and rivalry. I like the note at the front about "Can Presidents Be Pals?" but I was a little disappointed by the other extras. There's a "Selected Bibliography" at the beginning but it looks like the majority, if not all, of the sources are adult materials. Also, the quotes that are used throughout the text are not specifically sourced. However, the text is really engaging and covers not just the facts of the friendship, but also the concept that people can be friends and still believe different, even opposing, things. I love Larry Day's illustrations (crayon and watercolor, perhaps? There's no illustration note to confirm). I think this would be great to recommend to kids who liked So You Want to be President?....more
Like Worst of Friends this covers the relationship between John Addams and Thomas Jefferson, but this focuses specifically on how the Declaration of ILike Worst of Friends this covers the relationship between John Addams and Thomas Jefferson, but this focuses specifically on how the Declaration of Independence came to be and ends there. I found the backmatter to be much stronger here than in Worst of Friends with a page-long Author's Note, a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, and direct and specific quotation sources. I thought the text was pretty good, but I found the main weakness to be the illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham. The style of drawing was appropriate with the people looking almost like caricatures, but the color palette of dark blue, red, white and gold was overwhelmingly heavy. I would have loved this as a kids though thanks to my obsession with the musical 1776....more
I love Marjorie Priceman's illustrations - the swirling lines, the bright, bright colors. I just want to jump into her paintings. I really like this bI love Marjorie Priceman's illustrations - the swirling lines, the bright, bright colors. I just want to jump into her paintings. I really like this book, but I'm not sure it's going to find any kind of an audience here at our library which is a shame. The text is rhythmic and jazzy although I'd definitely want to run through it a time or two before attempting to read it to a group....more
I had never heard of Sylvia Earle before I picked up this book. Nivola tells of Earle's life and her calling to explore the oceans of the world. ThisI had never heard of Sylvia Earle before I picked up this book. Nivola tells of Earle's life and her calling to explore the oceans of the world. This would be a great title to give to kids who are fascinated by Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.
The illustrations look like watercolors to me, but there's no illustration note to confirm. They are filled with tiny details to sift through and the varying layouts work well to pace the story.
Includes an Author's Note that is basically a call for oceanic conservation and a Selected Bibliography. There are obviously direct quotes in the text and I wish they had been cited as well. Also Nivola includes a pictorial glossary of the fish from throughout the book that could inspire some seek and find fun....more
Winter's text is fantastic - full of information, but also full of excitement and very readable. Winter uses the voice of a fan who's thrilled to sharWinter's text is fantastic - full of information, but also full of excitement and very readable. Winter uses the voice of a fan who's thrilled to share with the uninformed reader all the details of Mays' remarkable career. Terry Widener illustrates in acrylic on chipboard with an impressionistic style - faces are occasionally only vaguely formed. Looking again, I'm surprised by how many spreads incorporate bright greens for the baseball fields, because my original impression was that the palette was dark and rather muddy. Instead there's a nice balance of lighter and darker scenes. I love the placement and use of the informational boxes for facts that fall outside the main narrative. And oh the stats! I love me some stats - if I ever get into baseball it will be due to all the lovely numbers. The backmatter is excellent and includes highlights of Mays' stats, a glossary of baseball terms, source notes and information about the author and illustrator....more
This is the type of book I would want to take more time to savor than I currently have available, especially to read the poetry aloud. I was impressedThis is the type of book I would want to take more time to savor than I currently have available, especially to read the poetry aloud. I was impressed by how Powell incorporated quotes and biographical facts into the poetry without breaking the feel of the form. Robinson's illustrations are all about the angles and the bright, saturated colors - especially that sunshiney yellow that pops off the page. The whole thing makes me want to seek out some of Josephine's recordings to see her in action myself....more