Archive for June, 2009

MY UNCLE EMILY by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Philomel)

uncle emilyPicture books about poets don’t always make both a good story and a good introduction to the writer—but this one accomplishes both.  It is a gentle story of a young boy who finds out that there is a better way to stand up for his beloved aunt’s honor than fighting AND—learns to “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—.“ And it is a charming introduction to Emily Dickinson and her poetry.  Young readers may be captivated by her warm relationship with her nephew and his calling her “Uncle Emily” and observing that it’s “as if she wants me to see the world one small bee and one small poem at a time.”  The afterword sorts out fact from fiction.  The only troubling aspect is that her nephew died a few years after the events in the story.  In this case, the author chose wisely by including just some of the truth in the story and saving the rest for later and at a slant.  Yolen‘s deft storytelling is complemented by Carpenter’s illustrations which fill in the period details in soft, muted tones.    

Picture Book, recommended- Judith (WLS)

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June 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

WHEN I WORE MY SAILOR SUIT written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz (FSG)

sailor suitA childhood memory is transformed into a charming period story (before WWII) about a little boy in a sailor’s costume who is brought back from his imaginative high seas adventure to reality by the threatening countenance of a man in picture that hangs on the wall.  While the dark side of imagination threatens to disrupt imaginative play, fear is overcome and the boy ventures forth once more on the high seas of imagination.

The first person account is echoed in the watercolor illustrations that capture the child’s perspective.  Reality and fantasy blend through the filter of memory—my favorite spreads—the boy climbing the steep mountain (stairs), and finding safety beneath the skirts of the table. 

Picture Book, recommended- Judith (WLS)

June 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

HARRIET’S HAD ENOUGH by Elissa Guest and illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press)

harrietHarriet, a young raccoon and her mother quarrel over the mess she’s made with her toys.  Tensions rise appropriately, and during a time-out, Harriet packs her bags and plans to run-a-way.  She runs into Grandma working in the garden, who kisses her and explains, “Well, I have to clean up these weeds.  That’s life.”  While saying good-bye to Papa, who is making Harriet’s favorite spaghetti sauce, he hugs her and explains, “I have to clean up these pots and pans.  That’s life.”  When she sees Mama on her way out, their hearts become heavy. Obstinate behavior and angry feelings on both sides diminish, and they offer each other an apology.  Everyone in the family cooperates to help each other out, and soon a festive dinner is enjoyed by all.  The illustrations of acrylic, watercolor and gouache are homey and work well together with a story that rings true.  A good addition to a parenting collection or picturebooks.

Picture Book K-2nd Grade, recommended- Anne Beier (Hendricks Hudson Free Library)

June 30, 2009 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

OK GO written and illustrated by Carin Berger (Greenwillow Books)

OK“Go,” launches the reader into inventive collages.  The number of cars and people multiply with each turn of the page.  The inevitable comes.  A big “Uh Oh!” looms in an ominous sky, smog-filled, and   hangs from heavy clouds in a double page spread.  Transportation stops and is re-thought.  People “GO” again as new, greener modes of transportation emerge and are illustrated in a spread that folds out with many clever suggestions; “Take a bus, Gus,”, “Ride a bike, Ike and Mike,”, “Don’t Pollute, Man-in-a-suit,”, “Save the Planet, Janet.”  This simple and creative picture book will surely inspire very young readers about recycling concepts and the importance of “going green.”  The outstanding artwork, almost a cousin to the “I Spy” series, is made of found materials; newspapers, magazines, buttons, tickets stubs, old letters and other found objects.  The author includes suggestions to help recycle at home, at school, and in the community.  Also provided are other interesting books and web sites.  An excellent choice to convey environmental issues for pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners.

Picture Book Ages 2-5, Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 30, 2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

1000 TIMES NO written and illustrated by Tom Warburton (Laura Geringer Books, An imprint of HarperCollins)

1000 timesIn this humorous tale, Noah manages to communicate “no” to his mother 47 times, (not including the endpages) in different languages and formats.  He spells it out on his dinner plate with peas, text messages, and transforms into a robot who says “Negative.”  This cute and simple story evokes the frustration of a parent when they are up against the unfailing determination of a child who doesn’t want to do something.  The outcome will provide a good belly laugh for all, and the opportunity to experience the down side of negativity.  Warburton uses the page space creatively.  Cartoon like illustrations are combined with a variety of fonts that capture the range of this toddler’s feelings. The book provides an interactive experience that will no doubt delight and engage children and adults.

Picture Book Ages 3-6, highly recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

ODDLY by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Patrick Benson (Candlewick Press)

oddlyThree endearing creatures, Lostlet, Stranglet and Oddlet search for something missing in their inner world, and seek to find it in their outer world.  Lostlet’s not sure of where he is and is hoping for something.  Stranglet is not sure of what he is and is dreaming for something.  Oddlet is not sure of who he is and is wishing for something.  Their questions and desires are realized after they befriend a lost boy who ran too far from home, and comfort him. Each offers him their most precious object; a leaf, a pebble and a shell.  The boy explains what he misses most; Mom, home and love, and what they mean.  The three adorable creatures are transformed as they understand that this is what they have been missing.  The illustrations are tender and engaging.  Using spare text this beautiful tale conveys themes reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz.  Great book for a storytime or sharing one-on-one.

Picture Book Ages 4-8, recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

MIRANDA’S BEACH DAY written and illustrated by Holly Keller (Greenwillow Books)

mirandaOn a hot summer day, Miranda enjoys a great day at the beach with her Mom.  She listens to the seagulls squawking, sits on a sandy beach as the surf washes over her feet, discovers a hermit crab, and builds a lovely sandcastle with other children.  As this delightful day comes to a close, Miranda learns that as the crab returns to the sea, the sandcastle dissolves to become part of the beach again, and Miranda must go home with her Mom.  Summery illustrations are done in watercolors, collagraph, and printed collage, and use a variety of hues that are bright and breezy.  The last page shows how the author/illustrator made some of the collages. A sweet and enjoyable story to share with a group or one-on-one.

Picture Book, recommended-  Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

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