Archive for August, 2009

THE LONGEST NIGHT by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Ted Lewin (Holiday House 2009)

longestnightWinter has the world in its frozen grip. Stark trees are sparse-leafed and covered with snow. The silver moonlit landscape show bear, moose, mice, and crow, each attempting to get the sun to reappear. “Not you, not you”, sighs the wind. But tiny chickadee with his little dee-dee-dee song awakens the sun and thereby, sets the stage for spring. Lewin’s three-color palate (ultramarine blue, Van Dyke brown, and the green shade of Winsor blue), is a perfect accompaniment to Bauer’s spare poetry. Only after the sun appears is the dark earth transformed.

Picture Book,  Recommended- Reviewer: Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

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August 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

OPERATION YES by Sara Lewis Holmes (Arthur A. Levine Books 2009)

operation yesEvery child should have a Miss Pointy (Sahara Special) or a Miss Loupe for a teacher at least once in his/her school life. Miss Loupe, the new sixth grade teacher at Young Oaks elementary school on an Air Force base in North Carolina, starts opening day by going on her hands and knees to tape a large rectangle in front of the room. By watching her crawl around, the children see her twelve-studded ear, a bird tattoo on her left hip, and a belly ring. “This space,” announces Miss Loupe, “is the Taped Space, or Theatrical Space, or Temporary Stage, the place where you can be or say anything.” Miss Loupe teaches the required subjects, but the real lessons happen when she is in the TS where imagination, teamwork, and saying yes to new experiences are conveyed. For Bo new experiences start immediately. His cousin Gari will be living in his house and going to his sixth grade class because her mother has been sent to Afghanistan. Neither cousin is happy by this arrangement. A short time passes and their magical teacher is devastated by news that her brother is missing in Afghanistan. When he is found, he has lost an eye and a foot. The class goes into action and raises money for hospitalized servicemen. The TS becomes their vehicle to express their commitment to art, to Miss Loupe, and to wounded soldiers. The Afghanistan war is far from the consciousness of most Americans. Holmes’ book raises the possibility for discussing what life might be like for children of soldier parents and what citizens owe to the military.

J Fiction, recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

August 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment

THERE written and illustrated by Mary Fitzpatrick (Roaring Brook Press, 2009)

thereChances are, most children have heard the ubiquitous statement “You’ll get there.”  This book launches one’s imagination into examining where and what “there” is.  The text is told entirely through questions, lending to creativity as the reader draws his own conclusions about what may happen “there.”  The painted illustrations are whimsical, interesting, and prompt the imagination.  This book will encourage discussion, and will be an excellent launching point in a storytime or classroom setting.  

Picture book, recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

WILD GIRL by Patricia Reilly Giff (Random House, 2009)

wild girlThis wonderfully written book conveys the story of Lidie, a girl who leaves Brazil for the United States to reunite with her father and brother after a five-year separation.  Told in the first person, the reader will empathize with Lidie as she tries to find her place in the family, who remembers and treats her like the seven-year-old girl she was when they left.  Giff integrates the third person view of a new horse bought by Lidie’s father, and through each other, they heal.  Giff deftly demonstrates the difficulties of fitting in at school.  Particularly painful is the part where Lidie wets her pants on the first day because the teacher doesn’t understand that she has to go to the bathroom.  While this is a story of immigration, the story will translate to children who feel like they don’t fit in.  This book, with its imagery and poignancy, is simply a pleasure to read.

J-Fiction highly recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:20 am 1 comment

MY PARENTS ARE DIVORCED, MY ELBOWS HAVE NICKNAMES, AND OTHER FACTS ABOUT ME written by Bill Cochran and illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (HarperCollins, 2009)

divorcedA positive but realistic view on a child coping with divorce is underlined in this picture book.  Cartoon-like illustrations show a normal boy with a messy room, who likes to walk around with a bubble Mohawk on his head, and who gets embarrassed when his mom yells “Go get ‘em sweetie” at a soccer game.  The text demonstrates a boy who is coping with joint custody, fear, and adjustment to his father’s new marriage.  The author and illustrator did an excellent job of showing how a young boy endures and thrives despite going through what can seem like the end of the world to a child.

Picture book, recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:18 am Leave a comment

PUZZLEHEAD written and illustrated by James Yang. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009)

puzzleheadPuzzlehead goes on a quest to find his own perfect fit in his world of shapes.  As he watches all of his friends find where they belong, he has a hard time finding just the right place for himself.  Minimalist illustrations depict characters that have arms, legs and a shape for a body, with puzzle pieces as heads.  Children will enjoy pointing out the different shapes in the background, and precocious ones might realize before the book’s conclusion that the shapes of the characters fit together.  Especially satisfying is the ending when the characters find that despite their differences, they fit together as a group.

Picture book, recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:17 am Leave a comment

A SMALL SURPRISE by Louise Yates. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

small surpriseThe story begins in the illustration on the hard cover when the book is first opened (the illustration will be obstructed by the book cover, though nothing crucial is blocked).  A bunny sights a job opening at a circus, but reads the sign that small animals need not apply.  The bunny spends the book endearing itself to the larger animals by demonstrating a unique skill in disappearing.  The illustrations are of popular animals for children, but the story would have benefited by some change in facial expression as the bunny shows off.  Nonetheless, the animals convey expression through gesticulation, and children will laugh as the bunny picks some very unique places to disappear to.

Picture book, recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

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