Children's Books discussion

48 views
Caldecott Archive > November 2016: Caldecott Honors, 1993 - 1997

Comments Showing 1-50 of 117 (117 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3

message 2: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Nov 01, 2016 03:09PM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
Interestingly, some of these are familiar because we've read them before, in themed months... and some are absolutely brand-new to me. I look forward to our discussion!

Due to library issues, I'm going to be reading most of these fairly early in the month, and not in any particular order. Please don't be reading the thread until you're done if you're concerned about spoilers... not likely an issue in any of these, but I do know that even picture-books can be 'suspenseful' and we want to be aware of that.


message 3: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone
I love the beautiful illustrations in this book. They fit the tone and the time frames wonderfully and definitely help tell the story of a young boy struggling in a new country to help feed his family. However, I don't like the story. I think Peppe's father is a jerk and it doesn't really make sense why he is so angry with his son for taking a job to help the family. I understand if he were sorrowful at the necessity, but standing about yelling and slamming doors won't help the situation. Overall, underwhelmed with what could have been a lovely look into the lives of immigrants.


message 4: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
A fun little book that uses rhyme and onomatopoeia words to tell about the different animals that live in a small pond. The illustrations aren't my favorite, but they do fit with the tone of the book. I especially love that the frog is in each picture, giving young children something 'extra' to look for.


message 5: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
This is a beautiful wordless story of a bird who is flying through a dinosaur exhibit in a natural history museum. Of course, as the bird flies along, imagination begins to take flight and the dinosaurs become "real." I love the twist when (view spoiler) Fun story and gorgeous illustrations.


message 6: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams
This is a beautiful book that tells the story of a family of migrant workers. I especially love the author's note about the necessity of fixing a broken system where children must work in the fields to help their family survive.


message 7: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Tops & BottomsHere's my review:

June 2014: I have loved this book since I first read it, while I was in college, probably a year or two after it was published. At the time, the orientation of the book seemed quite unique and I loved (and still love) that the illustrations for the book were created on paper made from vegetables. While I think the story is good, a fun trickster type tale, the illustrations are the best. Despite loving this book (and having read it to my students), I had apparently never read it to my own children until this past week. They really loved how clever Hare was...although we all kind of felt like the third time, when he promised the Bear the tops and bottoms, that he could have and should have planted some vegetables that grew on the top or bottom...so bear could have at least SOME vegetables. That would have been more kind and fair, they said.

Reread November 2016: A few more thoughts I had as I read this again today. First, I was really struck by the beginning which said that Bear's father had been a hard worker and a smart business bear and had given all his wealth to his son. But bear just wanted to sleep. I've spent most of my teaching career working with children in poverty (17 years) but the past two years I have been at a school where many of the students come from privileged, even wealthy backgrounds and some (certainly not all, not even most...but some) are very entitled. Much like bear. These children need to learn to work and be responsible..and it can be challenging to help them develop a work ethic and take responsibility.

Because bear was lazy and entitled and Hare's family was destitute (due to Hare's poor decision making/gambling), it reminded me a bit of a Robin Hood tale. Not entirely but at least some element of the poor deserving the riches...particularly since Hare and his family worked the land...and bear was a poor caretaker of his land...He never once woke up to supervise or made any agreement about what would be grown or anything. Perhaps Hare even sort of learned his lesson now that he is working so hard (although he clearly still makes agreements that border on bets.)


message 8: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments The Faithful Friend by Robert D. San Souci
This is a wonderful re-telling of the Faithful Friend story. I especially enjoyed the author's note at the end where San Souci lists his sources and tells why he chose this particular setting/retelling. I love the way that the boys' kindness and thoughtfulness is repayed to them at a later date.


message 9: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments The Faithful Friend I also really liked this retelling!
Here's my review:
This is a wonderful folk tale based on a retelling from Martinique. I appreciate San Souci's author's note explaining the background of the tale. In this tale, two friends set off so that Clement can court a beautiful young woman, Pauline, the niece of Monsieur Zabocat. Zabocat is wicked and jealous and uses three zombies to attempt to kill Pauline and Clement but Hippolyte is a faithful friend and saves them three times despite the personal cost. I love that this friendship is a shared friendship. Hippolyte is a faithful and self-sacrificing friend...but Clement is just as faithful and self-sacrificing. I love the wonderful illustrations and the interesting setting and details in both the text and illustrations.


message 10: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
This is a fun story about the difference between deciphering parts and understand the whole of something. Each day, a differently colored blind mouse explores one of the facets of the new item by the pool. Each day, they report to the others what they think the thing is. But it is not until the seventh day when the white mouse runs over the whole thing that all the mice finally "see" what the object is. I love the fun yet simple illustrations and they way that each mouse color coincides with the item that they think the new object is. And the moral at the end is wonderful.


message 11: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments John Henry by Julius Lester
This is a great retelling of the tall tale that is John Henry. I love the illustrations that fit so beautifully with the retelling of the Appalachian steel driver. Also, I really enjoyed the way the story included so many similies, imagery, and metaphors. Phrases like "a mountain as big as hurt feelings" and the way the author keeps mentioning the sun coming up early to see what is going on really add to the magic and majesty of this wonderful tale. I also really enjoyed the author's note on his sources.


message 12: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka
This is a fun, very simple book that tells a great story about the value of making new friends. I love kids and the way they will simply run up to another kid and ask if they want to play and be friends. Often, they don't even ask names, they're just content to play together. It usually makes me wonder how much better we'd be as adults if we were more willing to get along without having to know every detail about each other.


message 13: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
The fun, whimsical illustrations match the flowy, sometimes jazzy mood of a chamber symphony. I love the way the rhyme fits together with the concept of music without becoming clunky or annoying. I do find the cats, dogs, and mice a little out of place, but I loved reading through and seeing which instrument would come next, as well as learning some new terms (like nonet, for a group of 9).


message 14: by Manybooks (last edited Nov 19, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Our Library is doing renovations and getting books from the library is at this time rather a pain in the proverbial backside (the location has switched to the middle of nowhere and ILL is currently only limited). I have read and reviewed a few of the books previously, so I will post those reviews, I just do not know if I will be able to get to the ones I have not yet read (although I do own Raven and am thinking of purchasing Swamp Angel and The Faithful Friend, just do not know where I have my copy of Raven at present).

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

This fun little picture book about musical instruments and the sounds they make has an engaging, poetic text, combined with wonderful illustrations (I can certainly understand why this is a Caldecott Honor book); it is an informative and fun way to introduce children not only to ten important musical instruments, but also to the numbers one to ten (and solo to a chamber group of ten musicians). While the text itself is not spectacular, I think it would work very well as a read-aloud, either at home or in a Kindergarten or grade one classroom. The only problem I, personally, had with this book is the font size and the fact that the text is curved, which somewhat distracted me while reading. I would be afraid of misreading or accidentally skipping parts of the text, if I were reading this otherwise excellent picture book aloud to a child or a group of children.

Tops & Bottoms

While I most definitely enjoyed Janet Stevens' Tops & Bottoms (and do understand why and how it won a Caldecott Honour designation), on a purely personal level, I actually find the illustrations a bit too brash, bold and in-your-face for my tastes (and having to turn the book on its side, really rather majorly annoyed me at first). That being said, I can appreciate that this cumulative and often slyly humorous folktale adaptation will likely be a hit with most youngsters, and that the illustrations truly both compliment and complement the narrative (text and image certainly do work exceedingly well together).

Tops & Bottoms rather strongly reminds me of the numerous European folktales where a usually male peasant or farmer trickster like personage makes a deal with the Devil (or some other kind of an evil entity) to share his crops (and of course, wins against the same, always picking the choicest parts of the harvest, leaving the Devil with the chaff so to speak). With that fact in mind, I think that for me, the biggest issue with this otherwise excellent offering is the absence of a detailed author's note showing the tale's origins and which specific tale or combination of tales the author used for her adaptation. I would be interested knowing whether Janet Stevens had adapted her narrative from one of the "outsmarting the Devil folktales" with which I am familiar, or whether the original tale or tales she used as a source, feature animal trickster characters (like Tops & Bottoms itself does). I guess the absence of an author's note is not all that essential for the enjoyment of the story itself, but I think it would have been a helpful addition, as I always tend to think that if you are going to be adapting a folk or fairy tale, you really ought to be providing information as to its origin, genesis, history and the like (and considering I have now discovered that this tale is actually considered to be an adaptation of an African American folktale, this makes the lack of an author's note even more of an issue for me, as it would have increased the folkloric value to have compared and contrasted the different types of tops and bottoms like tales, the European outsmarting the Devil ones with those that deal mostly with animal tricksters and are seen as primarily African in origin).


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "The Faithful Friend I also really liked this retelling!
Here's my review:
This is a wonderful folk tale based on a retelling from Martinique. I appreciate San Souci's author's note e..."


I think there might be a Brothers Grimm tale that has a similar theme (although without the zombies of course).


message 16: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Manybooks wrote: "I think there might be a Brothers Grimm tale that has a similar theme (although without the zombies of course). "

Yes! San Souci writes (with sources) in his author's note that he gathered stories from several places, including the 'Faithful John (or Joannes)' by the Grimms. He picked the Martinique setting because it was unique with the zombies and he really liked them. Incidentally, even if your library doesn't have a copy right now, Gundula, you should see if you can find a picture of the zombies: they are gorgeous women with very dark skin and flowing black hair. Not your typical zombie depiction at all!


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I think there might be a Brothers Grimm tale that has a similar theme (although without the zombies of course). "

Yes! San Souci writes (with sources) in his author's note that h..."


So I was right! I have not gotten around to reading this (I have downloaded it on my iPad and HOPE that the author's note has also been transferred, I would be livid if it had not).


message 18: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I think there might be a Brothers Grimm tale that has a similar theme (although without the zombies of course). "

Yes! San Souci writes (with sources) in his author's note that h..."


But all the more nefarious and deadly ...


message 19: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

As much as I enjoy (and even love) Peter Sis' glorious illustrations (they are bright, descriptive, detailed, and with a sense of the imaginative that I believe Galileo himself would have appreciated), the accompanying text (well, actually it is more how the latter is presented, how it printed on the page) is simply much too vexing and frustrating for me to give Starry Messenger more than two stars (and yes, those two stars are ONLY for the illustrations and while I feel a bit guilty about this, I firmly stand by my rating). Aside from the fact that this type of non fiction picture book simply screams for a bibliography, a list of suggestions for further reading, I am actually and patently UNABLE to decipher ANY of the information presented in cursive script (not only due to its cursiveness, but also and more to the point because it is too minuscule to read with any ease even WITH my reading glasses). And thus, I have basically given up on Starry Messenger, and while the main part of Peter Sis' narrative is indeed mildly interesting and informative, it really only tells a very small part of Galileo's story as a whole, the supplemental information presented of which I have not been able to even consider reading (due to my textual and scriptive visual issues with the cursive font of the additional featured details and facts). And that rather massive frustration is so irritating, is so large and all encompassing, that on an emotional and personal level I can and will only consider two stars for Starry Messenger, the brilliance of the illustrations, the fact that the book won a Caldecott Honour Medal and even my own interest in the subject matter notwithstanding.


message 20: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Time Flies

Wow! What glorious illustrations, and what a delightful and simple (not too involved) wordless story! Eric Rohmann with grace and descriptive acumen shows (imaginatively and beautifully) how a little bird flies through a dinosaur exhibit at a museum (how the dinosaurs come alive, and how he almost becomes a meal for a T. Rex, but that of course, it was all just imagination, no harm done).

While I as a rule, I do not tend to enjoy wordless picture books all that much (especially if they are convoluted and overly involved), the illustrated sequences in Time Flies are detailed enough to be interesting and simple enough to allow for an easy understanding (even for essentially textual individuals like myself). And while first and foremost simple a fun and delightful little fantastical romp, Time Flies also pays homage to the fact that birds are now considered to be the close cousins of the dinosaurs, basically a line of dinosaur like reptiles that strived the K-T boundary event, that survived the mass extinction even of 55 million years ago. Highly recommended!


message 21: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Nov 04, 2016 09:19AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
Hush! A Thai Lullaby is absolutely lovely. I defy a toddler to stay awake until the end, but that's all the more reason to buy the book so you can read it with them while they're awake, too. I wish this were more well-known - if not for this Caldecott club I never would have discovered it.

I like that it's a creative story, written by a Thai person, depicting animals, architecture, clothing, etc., familiar to the author's childhood... but is apparently *not* based directly on a folktale and therefore requires no historical note beyond the dedication.

Don't miss the detail, on some pages, of the baby's antics!


message 22: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Although I did personally enjoy the Caldecott winner for 1996, Officer Buckle & Gloria quite a lot, I have to admit that I actually think that The Faithful Friend is more deserving of that honour (but I am biased as I have always loved folktale adaptations and this is one of the best and most evocative offerings I have encountered, I have read to date).

Robert D. San Souci's The Faithful Friend presents an enchanting and exquisite Caribbean variant (well actually, more a French Caribbean derivation, from the Island of Martinique) of primarily folktale type 516 on the internationally known Aarne-Thompson registry (Faithful John, der treue Johannes, which is probably its most universally known title, as collected/presented by the Brothers Grimm). And being much familiar with the Grimm's tale, I immediately and with considerable pleasure did notice the numerous and striking similarities between it and The Faithful Friend. That being said, this Martinique variation of folktale 516 is actually in many ways a combination of two distinct folktale types, as there are also evocative and intriguing vestiges of folktale 505/506 present (The Grateful Old Man, The Grateful Dead) due to the fact that Hippolyte and also Clement are ultimately saved by the reappearing beggar to whom they had given a proper Christian burial on their journey to Pauline's Uncle's mansion (and who has now received express permission by le Bon-Die, le Bon-Dieu, the good Lord, to return to earth to demonstrate his gratitude by helping Hippolyte and Clement, and by extension Clement's bride Pauline, whilst also destroying Pauline's uncle, the evil magician Monsieur Zabocat and his power, his influence, once and for all). And really, as much as I have always enjoyed the Grimm's tale of Faithful John, I actually do now rather prefer the ending in The Faithful Friend, as the latter ending, with the rescue, the restoring of faithful servant John to life at first being contingent on the required blood sacrifice of the prince and his princess' two children (to which the couple does readily agree, and it is ultimately the simple act of agreeing, that mere willingness to sacrifice the children that allows faithful John to be released from his bondage) has always seemed a bit potentially gruesome and strangely Old Testament to me (reminding me of God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac).

Robert D. San Souci's adapted narrative reads smoothly and touchingly, harkening both to the European origins of The Faithful Friend (the whole basic scenario, the fact that Hippolyte saves Clement and Pauline three times, and must, after being forced to publicly speak of his actions, of why he has acted such as he did, be turned to stone) and to distinctly Caribbean (and with that, of course, also potentially African) themes and influences. The drumming, the zombies, the entire scenario of the returning deceased beggar at God's command to show his gratitude to both Clement and Hippolyte moves The Faithful Friend far beyond a mere reimagining of a European Faithful John like offering (combining not only different folklore traditions, but also the Roman Catholic concept that doing good deeds, being helpful, caring, even to strangers, to an abandoned and deceased beggar's corpse will have or at least can have positive consequences for ALL and sundry).

As to Brian Pinkney's illustrations, they are simply glorious and as descriptive, as stunning, and with that, as informative as the author's text (as the printed, the recounted words of Robert D. San Souci's narrative). Not only do the illustrations present an evocative, atmospheric feeling and scope of and for the Caribbean, of and for 18th and 19th century Martinique, they also and often rather expand on the narrative, the recounted plotline (showing visually what the text only hints at and and sometimes does not even actually portray). For example, Brian Pinkney's illustrated zombies are NOT the standard modern depictions of zombies as gruesome monster like entities with rotting flesh. No, they are depicted as three gorgeous and in many ways enticing looking young women, three witches perhaps, but really, they are basically three beautiful women who as zombies are completely under the spell of the sorcerer, the magician who made them into his acolytes, his minions. The three are thus not depicted, not illustrated by Brian Pinkney as physically demonic looking entities, but simply as human beings under the all encompassing zombie spell of Monsieur Zabocat (and really, truly, that is what zombies originally were considered, were believed to be, normal, everyday humans under the spell of a wizard, a sorcerer, living, but with no free will of their own, obligated, forced to perform their master's bidding).

A wonderful and magical, perfect marriage of text and image (highly recommended to and for anyone, both children and adults, and more than well deserving of the Caldecott honour destination it received), the detailed and informative author's note at the back is an added bonus (much increasing the folkloric, the teaching and learning value of The Faithful Friend). And although much of the supplemental information presented by Robert D. San Souci is, in fact, already known to me personally, I remain very much pleased and thrilled that there exists such an author's note, that such a vastly informative an author's note was indeed included. It provides much needed and appreciated information and details on the genesis and origin of this tale, and how a number of distinct folktale types were and remain successfully and beautifully, entrancingly combined in The Faithful Friend (in this in all things delightful and visually stunning Caribbean folktale adaptation, retelling).


message 23: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Hush! A Thai Lullaby is absolutely lovely. I defy a toddler to stay awake until the end, but that's all the more reason to buy the book so you can read it with them while they're awake..."

Thanks for your review, am now actually going to see if I can get this through ILL, as it sounds just lovely.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "John Henry by Julius Lester
This is a great retelling of the tall tale that is John Henry. I love the illustrations that fit so beautifully with the retelling of the Appalachian steel driver. Als..."


I love the metaphors and similes, too. And I appreciate the historical and author's notes. But I have to admit that I, personally, prefer the versions of the tale that have our hero being a more realistic person, a role model, as it were. According to Lester, JH was on his second task, and about a week old, when he killed himself.

When I was a child I would have read this the way I read my Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill stories - as silly fantasy only. The version of this that I did read emphasized that JH had made a career, and friends, on the railroad, and the steam engine was going to put a lot of men out of work. And the contest was described in detail: the steam engine needed men to provide fuel for it, and it broke down, and yet, despite that, it only lost to JH by a little bit.

I'd look for the book I read, but it was probably actually just an anonymous entry in an anthology. So, probably less "True" than this. Still, Pinkney does admit that there is no one real version, and so I'm comfortable admitting that I prefer the one I knew first.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
I've loved all the books I've read by Kevin Henkes, especially Owen, for years. This is probably my 4th or 5th read. I love the details, in pictures and text, that make the rereads worthwhile. Note, of course, that Mrs. Tweezers make a special effort to see over the fence and stick her nose into Owen's family's business. I have to admit that this is the first time I've noticed "The Scream" painting on the (living-room?) wall, though. Anyway, the solution is perfect, and I imagine many families irl have used it since.


message 26: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Nov 06, 2016 09:26AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
I've never been a fan of Peter Sís and Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei cements my opinion of his work. Even if I had sharp eyes I'd struggle with the art in this book. The story isn't interesting, either, imo: not much more than a list of accomplishments, hardly anything about the man himself.

And my son, born the year this was published, was never taught cursive well enough to read the handwriting here... when he was the target age he couldn't even read a letter from his grandma, who has much better handwriting than Sis.

I was surprised to learn how much of a celebrity Galileo was, before his house arrest, so that's one good thing.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I've never been a fan of Peter Sís and Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei cements my opinion of his work. Even if I had sharp eyes I'd struggle with the art in this book..."

Even those of us who were taught cursive writing would have trouble with that script (maybe not as much if the size of the font were a bit bigger, but still). Honestly, I could not read any of the supplemental material at all, and trying just gave me a massive headache. Really massively disappointing, and I kind of wonder why this was a Caldecott Honour books (yes, the illustrations are interesting and I did enjoy them, but there should still be a good marriage of text and image, and the text leaves everything to be desired, or rather, the annoying manner in which the narrative has been presented). Glad I am not the only one finding this book frustrating and lacklustre.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
The art in Time Flies is indeed gorgeous. Maybe there is such a thing as ancestral memory; at least we can imagine so.


message 29: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Nov 07, 2016 08:01AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
It sure is interesting how different all of our opinions can be. I, personally, did not enjoy The Faithful Friend. I do appreciate the author's note, and the fact that the white man was the sidekick to the black, but the story-telling and art both left me cold.


message 30: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "It sure is interesting how different all of our opinions can be. I, personally, did not enjoy The Faithful Friend. I do appreciate the author's note, and the fact that the white man ..."

I think this is a story one either likes or does not like. For me, I think that it helped that I have always really liked the Grimms' Faithful John (and that I appreciated the different and less potentially gruesome ending in the Martinique tale).


message 31: by Jenny (last edited Nov 07, 2016 02:53PM) (new)

Jenny | 722 comments The Graphic Alphabet April 2013: I found a few of the letters to be quite clever...such as the I Iceberg and G Gear but overall this book is not really my style. My 5 year old liked it quite a bit.

Reread November 2016. I think I am more impressed on my second "reading". Most of the letters are pretty clever...a few were less impressive...such as d for devil because other than being red, it didn't seem that the letter represented the devil in any way. But the concept of having each letter in the shape of that letter but also helping to show the meaning of the word is an interesting and unique concept. Graphic design is still not a style that particularly appeals to me but I can appreciate this approach to the alphabet book.


message 32: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Hush! A Thai Lullaby A mother keeps trying to hush animals near her home because her baby is sleeping. The text is repetitious with slight changes each time which will make this an ideal book for preschoolers. I found the illustrations engaging (although not personal favorites) and you could certainly point out some of the geographic/cultural references in the illustrations (such as the home and rice barn being on stilts, and the well and the water buffalo). My favorite part of the illustrations was the baby...who was not sleeping.


message 33: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Time Flies This is a wonderful wordless book! A small bird flies through a natural history museum when suddenly some of the prehistoric animals (pteranodons, camarasaurus, and albertosaurus to name a few) come to life. I love how Rohmann shows the transition from dinosaur skeleton to flesh and bone dinosaurs. What an adventure!

And I really like wordless picture books because they can be such a great springboard for imagination, creativity, writing, etc.


message 34: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments John HenryI really liked both the text and the illustrations of this version of John Henry. This retelling seemed to have more rich detail than versions I have read in the past. Figurative language was woven throughout. For example, "This was no ordinary boulder. It was as hard as anger and so big around, it took half a week for a tall man to walk from one side to the other." Or "What he saw was a mountain as big as hurt feelings." I love the inclusion of so many details such as him wrapping the rainbow around himself or how Ferret-Faced Freddy came to be known Frederick the Friendly. The story is truly painted in minute detail through both words and illustrations.

And I like what was whispered at this funeral..."Dying ain't important. Everybody does that. What matters is how well you do your living."

Cheryl, this version was quite different than the version or versions I grew up reading. I was startled by how quickly John Henry grew up and some of the details were definitely different. I liked this version but think John Henry: An American Legend (if memory serves me correctly) is closer to my earlier memories of this tall tale. Lester's version definitely makes it even more of a tall tale than the version I read when younger.


message 35: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments The Paperboy A sweet story of a responsible, young boy who gets up early every morning to deliver newspapers. I love the illustrations, particularly the illustration on the last page. Could be used to demonstrate responsibility in a character education lesson.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
Jenny, thank you, I'm sure I've never seen the John Henry by Ezra Jack Keats but I do like his art and so have requested that book.


message 37: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Cheryl wrote: "Jenny, thank you, I'm sure I've never seen the John Henry by Ezra Jack Keats but I do like his art and so have requested that book."

You're welcome. I haven't read that version for several years but I believe it is closer to the versions I read when younger...and I also like Keats' work.


message 38: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin Here's my reviews from two different readings. If you can get the Book and CD version of this, I recommend it.

April 2011: My two year old adored this book but my 7 & 5 year olds did not. It introduces ten different instruments and music vocabulary (duet, trio, nonet, etc.) in rhyme. It has whimsical illustrations.

Reread November 2016: This time I got the book with the CD. I really enjoyed the audio version because you can hear each instrument alone and then added to the other instruments. It adds an extra layer of information and enjoyment to this book. I like the rhyming text and think it is a valuable book. The illustrations are not a particular favorite however.


message 39: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 722 comments Alphabet City I have seen this book before but I don't think I have ever read it. I was really impressed. Johnson found the alphabet in a variety of locations around a city and then painted realistic pictures of each letter. I can imagine reading this with a young child and then embarking on our own search for alphabet letters as we are out and about. Even without young children, I suspect I will be more aware of letters I pass as I walk and drive around my city. What especially amazed me is that most of the scenes are objects I have seen many, many times and most I have never noticed that they are in the shape of an alphabet letter. (For example, E in a streetlight turned sideways...or B in a set of stairs on the side of an apartment building.)

For me, personally, this book is more appealing than The Graphic Alphabet.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
There's a lot to like about Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. The poetry of the text *almost* teaches us what the instrument sounds like, for example the clarinet with "its breezy notes so darkly slick." I'm sure the movement and color of the art appealed to the committee, too.

I have no idea if it's accurate. Is a trio usually those three instruments, and a quartet those four...? And is ten really enough for an orchestra? Without percussion?

Well, I looked it up. Percussion is required. And "A full-scale orchestra playing a symphony includes at least 90 musicians, while a smaller orchestra playing a chamber piece ranges from 15 to 45."

Any teachers out there? Could you please ask your school music specialist what they think of this book, or at least of calling those ten instruments an orchestra?

If the book had just stopped at Chamber Group I'd've been much happier.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
I wish Swamp Angel were a traditional tall tale. I admire Isaacs' and Zelinsky's creativity, but I just can't help being uncomfortable with an invented tall tale that looks just like a traditional one.

But then, I've heard that Paul Bunyan was invented, too. And I did find this:

"Debatable Origins. According to people who study folktales, Paul Bunyan was not truly a folk hero who emerged from the fireside stories of lumberjacks. Rather he was a deliberate creation of journalists and advertisers seeking to promote the lumber industry. For this reason, some folklorists consider the Bunyan stories to be "fakelore" rather than true folklore.

Paul Bunyan first appeared in print in a 1910 article in a Detroit newspaper. The author, James McGillivray recalled stories about the giant lumberjack that he had heard while working in logging camps. In 1914 W. B. Laughead, a former lumberjack who worked in advertising for a lumber company, used stories and cartoons about Paul Bunyan to enliven a booklet about his company's products. By 1922 the company was publishing handsome illustrated booklets about Bunyan that circulated to libraries and readers far outside the timber industry."

So, I guess I'll try not to be too cranky about Angelica Longrider. After all, we do need a heroine who says "Quilting is men's work."


message 42: by Michael (last edited Nov 08, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Michael Fitzgerald | 367 comments This is not easy to define. The size and makeup of an orchestra depends on what the composer requires and the conductor's artistic vision (and then on the funding!). If you go to a concert, you will often see players entering and leaving the stage for the next piece. Some pieces require no percussion; some require lots! Instruments also vary according to the history of music: for example, basically before Mozart, there were no clarinets in the orchestra. An orchestra in Bach's day would be very different from an orchestra from Mahler's. If today you attended a concert featuring pieces from both those composers, there would almost certainly be a big set change in between.

Chamber ensembles differ in that there is only one player for each part: 10 players, 10 different musical lines. A trio is one chamber group and could be any combination of three instruments. There are, of course, more standard groupings: for example, string quartet (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello); brass quintet (2 trumpets, 1 horn, 1 trombone, 1 tuba); woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon - yes, the horn is a brass instrument that is found in both standard quintets). The other difference is that chamber groups rarely have conductors. That's the (unstated) addition to the book for the orchestra page. Technically speaking, I wouldn't think of 10 players, one to a part, with a conductor as an orchestra, but it's a picture book....

As opposed to a chamber group, the typical orchestra has an abundance of strings, with a limited number of different parts. For example: ten first violins, ten second violins (but only 2 different parts), eight violas, ten celli, and six basses. There is plenty of variety again, depending on historical period, composer requirements, and available resources.

That information about 90 instruments etc. is just a rough idea, certainly not gospel. "Orchestra" is a term that does not have a firm meaning in terms of numbers. All this stuff is so variable that yes, there are orchestras with no conductor - Orpheus is the best known example.

Accepting that it is not a musical encyclopedia, Zin! Zin! Zin! is a great book. Lloyd Moss was a very well known voice in my house for decades: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/310746-lloyd-moss-wqxr-host-more-50-years-dies-86/

For another good look at the orchestra, see The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
Thank you!


message 44: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

I had purchased a paperback copy of Scott McDermott's Caldecott Honour winning Raven from Amazon a couple of years ago, mostly because I happened to find the cover image so visually appealing (and have always enjoyed folktale adaptations). However, as soon as I opened the book, I realised with much frustration that McDermott had once again (and like with his previous Caldecott Medal winning Arrow to the Sun) NOT really fully acknowledged either his sources or paid (at least to and for me) sufficient homage and respect to the Native American tribes from whom and from whose culture, lore and traditions he had gleaned his material, and thus, my original happy anticipation quickly turned to annoyance. And this irritation was then rather massively increased even further by the fact that at the back of this book, at the back of Raven, there are instructions on how to make a totem pole out of toilet paper tubes (a fun and engaging, diverting activity for children perhaps, but considering that totem poles are generally regarded as sacred family and clan symbols, really not all that politically correct, bordering on the potentially inappropriate).

Now I do realise that for Raven, Scott McDermott has, indeed, included a very basic and vague introduction to trickster tales in general. But be that as it may, McDermott's presented introduction is (at least in my opinion) in no way sufficient, as while it does feature the general concepts of trickster tales and what they are supposed to represent and demonstrate, it does in no way whatsoever show the specific Native American sources, the specific tales and traditions of the Raven legend, and which of these the author/illustrator has then utilised for this, or rather for his adaptation.

Now the storyline of Scott McDermott's Raven really only consists of the basic bare bones of the legend, and since most Native American myths are based on real existent (or at least in the distant past existent) places and specific tribal cultures (in other words, while the Raven legend is a common myth of the Pacific Northwestern Coast of both the United States and Canada, each Native American/Canadian tribe would have had similar, but always variable renditions thereof), this general and vague adaptation, with no specific cultural and tribal affiliations, well it reads like a rather uninspiring and imprecise miscellany (one that basically offers a vague introduction, but not very much more for me, especially as an example of Native American folklore, of Native American mythology and spirituality).

In fact, Raven's narrative, its text, actually quite underscores rather stridently its lack of cultural authenticity and that the author/illustrator, that Scott McDermott, has obviously refused to learn or even consider previous, prior lessons (as even with his Caldecott Medal winning Arrow to the Sun, there were legitimate issues raised with regard to a lack of cultural legitimacy, a lack of knowledge of Native American traditions, and that he had not acknowledged and described any of his particular sources, either literary or oral).

As to the accompanying illustrations, they are bright and visually appealing (and seem at least to my own untrained eyes as authentic seeming enough). And while if taken and if regarded by and for themselves, I can and do at least somewhat understand the Caldecott Honour designation awarded for Raven, Mcdermott's text, his adapted narrative is simply too generalising, too inauthentic and even potentially stereotyping for me to consider more than a two star rating (although I would probably have rated Raven with two and a half stars if half stars were possible). And thus, Raven is ONLY recommended for the illustrations, as the text leaves much to be desired (at least on a folkloric level).


message 45: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Thank you!"

I echo that thank you, I did not know any of this.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
I agree that the authenticity of Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest is questionable, and I don't trust McDermott to be respectful and careful. The edition I read does *not* have the totem pole craft. But goodness, the art is appealing. And the fact that Raven does for these people (if we believe McDermott) what Prometheus did for the Greeks is intriguing.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6442 comments Mod
I looked at https://americanindiansinchildrenslit... to get Debbie Reese's take, but didn't find this book. I suppose the awful taste of Arrow to the Sun was still in her mouth and she couldn't stomach reading this.


message 48: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I agree that the authenticity of Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest is questionable, and I don't trust McDermott to be respectful and careful. The edition I read does ..."

The art is appealing, and I know I bought the book just because I liked the book cover. The totem pole craft might be only in the paperback edition which is the one I have, probably a fun idea for children, but it does kind of rub me the wrong way.


message 49: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7680 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I looked at https://americanindiansinchildrenslit... to get Debbie Reese's take, but didn't find this book. I suppose the awful taste ..."

There is a rather scathing review of Raven in A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. I read it after I had posted my review and was surprised how similar it was to mine.


message 50: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Next batch from the library :)
Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson
I agree with Jenny that this is a very interesting and visually appealing book! I love this collection of illustrations that show the details commonly found in a city. I appreciated the author's note that he had rules for himself when it came to finding letters, and I really enjoyed looking for his inspiration in each painting. Beautiful alphabet and concept book.


« previous 1 3
back to top