In lyrical prose, Stiegemeyer follows two African children Moyo and Japera as they walk a dusty road from their village to the baobab tree. Th...moreSummary:
In lyrical prose, Stiegemeyer follows two African children Moyo and Japera as they walk a dusty road from their village to the baobab tree. The children pass savanna wildlife in their journey, and the village life that daily mingles around "the tree of life" is vividly displayed. But, "who will gather today under the baobab tree?"
Then, Moyo sees the giant baobab.
Ten children with arms wide open couldn't circle it. The old tree looks upside down; its gnarled branches, like roots, brush against the heavens.
But, who will gather today under the baobab tree?
Stiegemeyer's answer: a Christian worship service without elaborate architecture or instrumentation, simple yet beautiful.
E.B. Lewis's watercolors imaginatively depict the villagers, wildlife, and African landscapes. His illustrations of the people gathering to worship were particularly enjoyable with varied bright hues of clothing.
I loved the simplicity and beauty of this picture book. Not only will children enjoy the illustrations and poetic writing, but they will imagine how church may look different and yet be similar in a unfamiliar ethnic context. The front page also contains additional information about the baobab tree for curious parents and children.
The story of the Stourbridge Lion, the first commercial steam locomotive in America, began when Horatio Allen traveled to England to purchase a locomo...moreThe story of the Stourbridge Lion, the first commercial steam locomotive in America, began when Horatio Allen traveled to England to purchase a locomotive to help transport coal over the Moosic mountains in Pennsylvania. On August 8, 1929, Allen tested the locomotive for the first time surrounded by skeptics. To the amazement of the crowd, the Stourbridge Lion completed its first run and successfully began to cart coal across the difficult passage. Now the locomotive remains at the Wayne County Historical Society in Pennsylvania.
Steven Walkers' oil illustrations beautifully accompany the text of this outstanding picture book. Children will love the imaginative landscapes and depictions of the Stourbridge Locomotive.
This picture book will not only educate young children on the beginning of steam locomotives in America but will also interest them in trains in general, history, and museums. Well written and illustrated, this new release should be seriously considered as an addition to any school or public library and would make a beautiful gift to the child who loves trains.
Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame Author: Lisa Samson Published: May 8, 2012 Publisher: Zonderkidz ISBN: 978-0-310-72795-8 Pages: 141 Illustrations: no il...moreFacing the Hunchback of Notre Dame Author: Lisa Samson Published: May 8, 2012 Publisher: Zonderkidz ISBN: 978-0-310-72795-8 Pages: 141 Illustrations: no illustrations Text density: approximately 30 sentences per page Age: 9-12
Summary: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame
Linus and Ophelia Easterday's deadbeat parents have left for a five year excursion to study butterflies on a faraway island, leaving the twins to the management of their eccentric Aunt Portia and Uncle Augustus. Since Aunt Portia and Uncle Augustus live in a home once inhabited by a mad scientist Cato, Linus and Ophelia waste no time exploring their new home. Soon they discover Cato's old laboratory upstairs, filled with odd looking powders and potions, obscure magical books, and a circle painted on the middle of the floor. One night, they stumble into a magical discovery when Ophelia accidentally drops her book The Hunchback of Notre Dame into the circle on the floor.
Smoke, faint and smelling more like baby powder than flame, fogged the room. And then with a swirling snap, it all disintegrated.
Ophelia rubbed her eyes and looked inside the painted circle on the floor.
She rubbed her eyes again. I must be seeing things!
A large figure sat hunched over in the middle of the circle. He raised his head, took one look at Ophelia with his good eye and then scanned the room around him. He inhaled a shaky breath and fainted, falling forward with a thud.
With a little research in the laboratory's library, Ophelia quickly realizes that she brought Quasimodo to life from the imaginary realms. He will stay in the "Real World" for three days at which point she must carefully return him to "Book World" in the same manner he came or else he will suffer a horrible death (similar to the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West).
Of course, figuring out what to do with a now real literary character is not the easiest of tasks. But Linus, Ophelia, and a street-smart friend Walter decide to make the most of it by sneaking Quasimodo around town and enjoying his company. Soon though, the friends realize that Cato still is alive and robbing the literature world of its artifacts. And this time, Cato is after Quasi with the help of Deacon Frollo (the hunchback's arch enemy). Can the children keep Quasi from the clutches of Cato and yet return him in time to "Book World"?
Comments: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame
Note: I read an advance review copy of Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame, meaning that my copy may contain misprints or deleted parts that do not appear in the final edition. As a result, I will limit my comments to themes that run throughout the book.
What I disliked:
The narrator (a book loving janitor) begins humorously by parenthesizing witty definitions of words and explanations of the art of writing. But, although enjoyable at first, the narrator soon irritated me as he continually interrupted the story (sometimes even with definitions to words my three year-old understands.) Several characters were described in detail (including the narrator) only to disappear almost totally from the plot of the book. Ironically, these characters were part of a literary lesson on creating secondary characters . . . maybe they will reappear in a future book? Other important characters seemed a bit flat. Some classic literature fans will probably cringe at the reincarnation of their beloved characters. It reminded me of the disappointment all book lovers face of watching the movie after reading the book. Rarely is justice done to the original work. The ending was anti-climatic.
What I liked:
Samson's writing was engaging and humorous and reminded me of the conversational style of E. Nesbit. The plot was imaginative. Samson's themes of kindness to others, loyalty, and perseverance The frequent allusions to classical literature
I thought that Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame was an enticing beginning to a new series, and I am interested to see how Samson develops her characters and plot in the future books. Christian parents will be delighted to find a new series for their children that is both wholesome and enjoyable.
Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop Author/Illustrator: Amy Lowry Published: 2012 Publisher: Holiday House ISBN: 978-0-8234-2400-9 Pages: 32 Illustrations:...moreFox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop Author/Illustrator: Amy Lowry Published: 2012 Publisher: Holiday House ISBN: 978-0-8234-2400-9 Pages: 32 Illustrations: Illustrations span page spreads Text density: 3-5 sentences per page spread Age: 3 and older
Summary: Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop
Amy Lowry cleverly combines four traditional Aesop fables in one story about a witty fox who ends up outwitted by the animals that he has taken advantage of. The four fables included are:
The Fox and the Grapes: It is easy to scorn what you cannot get.
The Fox and the Crow: Never trust a flatterer.
The Fox and the Goat: Look before you leap.
The Fox and the Stork: One bad turn deserves another.
Illustrations: Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop
This picture book is illustrated with gouache and pencil to create soft pastel scenes. I did enjoy the humor that Lowry interjects into her pictures (note: the frogs on the front cover and the stork with baby pictured on the wall).
From a story standpoint, I thought that stringing the four fables together did result in a somewhat disjointed plot. But, Lowry excels in her imaginative repackaging of Aesop's Fables in a fresh way that will appeal to children. We have an excellent illustrated collection of Aesop fables that Ben shows little interest in, but he let me read him Fox Tales multiple times. Also, I appreciated Lowry not interrupting the story with the morals, but listing them instead on the back page. In my opinion, this allows the child to simple enjoy the story and absorb the truth through the story.
This picture book would be an excellent choice to introduce children to Aesop's Fables.
What is prayer? (p.5) Praying helps us know God (p. 6). Thanking God for my family (p. 9) Thanking God for h...moreSummary: What Happens When I Talk to God?
What is prayer? (p.5) Praying helps us know God (p. 6). Thanking God for my family (p. 9) Thanking God for his good gifts to us (p. 10) Thanking God for his creation (p. 13) Talking to God as a friend in prayer (p. 14) God listens no matter what I pray about (p. 17). God listens no matter where I talk to him (p. 18). God listens no matter when I talk to him (p. 21). God listens no matter how loudly or quietly I talk to him (p. 22). God listens no matter how long or short my prayer is. I should pray with and for others (p. 25). When I do wrong, I can ask God to forgive me. He will always forgive (p. 26). When I pray, I pray in Jesus' name (p. 29). When I pray, I have faith that God will answer, and I patiently wait for his answer (p. 30).
Rather than reading the book as a whole, I would recommend reading a page at a time (perhaps at bedtime prayers) and discussing it. Splitting up the book into parts would help engage a child's attention and keep the breadth of content from being overwhelming. If used in this way, I think that What Happens When I Talk to God? would make an excellent guide for parents wanting to teach their children to pray.
Falcon Author/Illustrator: Tim Jessell Published: 2012 Publisher: Random House ISBN: 978-0-375-86866 Pages: 40 Illustrations: Illustrations span three quart...moreFalcon Author/Illustrator: Tim Jessell Published: 2012 Publisher: Random House ISBN: 978-0-375-86866 Pages: 40 Illustrations: Illustrations span three quarters of page spread Text density per page: approximately twenty words per page spread Age: 3 and older
Summary: Falcon A boy lies in a field daydreaming, "If I were a falcon . . . with the sound of tearing paper, my wings would slice through the air." Moments later the reader is enticed to join in the imaginary experience of rushing through air and scenic heights, listening and zooming over the roaring sea, and watching and teasing the people of a bustling city.
Illustrations: Falcon Tim Jessell's illustrations will delight small children. Large, colorful, and imaginative landscapes give the reader a literal bird's eye view of the world.
My Comments: Falcon This picture book captivated my three year old son's attention. He asked me to read it to him three times in a row and then spent the next hour pretending to be a falcon (which involved diving at me while I attempted some house work). I personally agreed with Ben's assessment of this book. Not only was Falcon delightfully imaginative, but Tim Jessell's extensive experience as a falconer gave his work a realistic touch.
Dialogue is witty and engaging - a great read-aloud choice! No images of Christ's face plus quality illustrations - We use picture bo...moreWhat I did like:
Dialogue is witty and engaging - a great read-aloud choice! No images of Christ's face plus quality illustrations - We use picture books with reverent pictures of Christ, but many of my friends do not. The quality of illustrations and story is significantly higher than any other of the Easter books I have seen that do not portray Christ. Warm familial atmosphere - Sproul shows a family where children love and listen to their grandparents, and grandparents are interested in and teach their grandchildren. The back of the book contains a useful index of questions and answers for parents wanting to teach their children about The Resurrection.
What I didn't like:
The didactic elements of the book overshadow the story Longer than necessary The emphasis on service to others takes attention away from the magnificence of the Easter story itself and could give the impression that Christ's sacrifice was merely an example. The story was a bit of a stretch in parts (but . . . maybe that's Grampa's fault)
If you have convictions against books that portray Christ, I definitely would recommend that you consider getting this book as it's quality is far above most other books in that category. For those who do allow for images of Christ, I would still recommend this book, but maybe supplemented with either Brian Wildsmith's The Easter Story or Mary Joslin's On That Easter Morning.
Ella is writing a book, and she knows what sort of book it will be. Her book will have pretty things, fairies, princesses, castles, f...moreSummary: No Bears
Ella is writing a book, and she knows what sort of book it will be. Her book will have pretty things, fairies, princesses, castles, funny things, exciting things and scary things but most importantly NO BEARS. After all, "Every time you read a book, it's just BEARS BEARS BEARS - horrible furry bears slurping honey in awful little caves."
Then follows Ella's delightful story including, yes, a princess (Ella who has donned a paper crown for the part), a king and queen (who look rather domestic), a fairy godmother (with pen, paint, and a magic wand) and a "scary" monster but NO Bears. Princess Ella peers into the illustrations of her spiral bound notebook while behind all the action a furry bear watches on (although he nicely refrains from slurping any honey). When the monster decides to kidnap the princess, the bear steps into action attempting to stop the monster on each page. Finally, when all other attempts have failed and the monster has grabbed the princess. The bear uses a quick wave of the fairy godmother's wand to right all wrongs and return the princess to her safe home. Ella's story ends with a bash for the fairy godmother who everyone knows saved Ella (after all there are no bears!). The poor neglected bear is left with a few straggling fairy tale creatures and no verbal credit for a job well done.
Illustrations: No Bears
Leila Rudge's illustrations in No Bears add a complex dimension to the simple storyline. I caught my son peering over the illustrations on his own trying to see every detail. If you are a reader (like me) who gets so excited at the chance to read a new book that you race through it as quickly as possible, slow down and enjoy. This picture book is one of those rare treasures where the illustrations and words blend together in perfect story-harmony. (Note: Due to the importance and size of the illustrations, this book may not be a good choice for a read aloud story time for a larger group.)
My Comments: No Bears
Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge's delightful book No Bears definitely meets my personal three major review criteria: well-written, quality illustrations, and encourages the imagination. My son and I enjoyed reading the book together multiple times. One caution, I did notice that even though Amazon has listed this book as for three and older, my almost four year-old did not understand the humor of the illustrations contrasted with the story until I explained it to him. (Of course, I enjoyed the cuddles and giggles while explaining!)
Best of all, No Bears, encourages creative storytelling and writing. Don't be surprised if your children want their own blank spiral notebooks for story writing after reading Ella's tale.
Writing and illustrations were excellent. By reading about this papa and son in Africa, children will learn that parental love transcends culture and...moreWriting and illustrations were excellent. By reading about this papa and son in Africa, children will learn that parental love transcends culture and place. Read my full review at http://www.notwiddletwaddle.com/2012/... (less)
This book sweetly tells the tale of love and forgiveness between a Little Monkey and Big Monkey even when both act badly. Read my full review with quo...moreThis book sweetly tells the tale of love and forgiveness between a Little Monkey and Big Monkey even when both act badly. Read my full review with quotes from the book and photos of the book at http://www.notwiddletwaddle.com/2012/... (less)
This book was well written with beautiful illustrations, but I like I Love You, Little Monkey better. Read my full review with quotes and photos at ht...moreThis book was well written with beautiful illustrations, but I like I Love You, Little Monkey better. Read my full review with quotes and photos at http://www.notwiddletwaddle.com/2012/... to find out why!(less)
I thought the poetry was boring in parts of the book, but the illustrations were beautiful. I have a full review that includes quotes and photos insid...moreI thought the poetry was boring in parts of the book, but the illustrations were beautiful. I have a full review that includes quotes and photos inside of the book at http://www.notwiddletwaddle.com/2012/...