And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS for more reviews. Visit as many blogs as you can to find your next terrific read!
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Remember - today is Multi-Cultural Children's Book Day! Celebrate by finding books from multi-cultural backgrounds and authors!
It's been a good week of reading, some discoveries, and some finally found at the library that I've wanted to read for a while.
What a day this is, full of excitement over the awards to be given today. As I write, some authors and illustrators are very happy because they've received "that" call. We're having a Newbery party Mon. morning to see if OUR favorite is going to have a shiny medal on its cover. HERE is a link to the ALA press releases!
Here are my reviews for the week!
The Deer Watch – written by Pat Lowery Collins and illustrated by David Slonim
This book is reminiscent of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon, but this time it’s daytime in woods by the ocean, and a father takes his young son for a walk along the beach, and into the woods to look for deer. The boy worries that outside noises might scare away the deer, but the father reassures that it will be okay. The illustrations are paintings, beautifully filling up the page with additional details. We see the boy balancing on a fallen log, the father steadying him, and other sweet moments between father and son. The story captures a memory worth keeping.
Penguin in Love - written and illustrated by Salina Yoon
Penguin is back with all his sweetness, looking for love, but this time finds a mitten. While looking for the owner, he meets another penguin, Bootsy and this time they carry on their adventures through helping others by knitting what is needed. (Rather funny to see birds with beak warmers!) When their yarn disappears, they follow the ‘stringy’ trail while meeting all kinds of animals, helping out too! I was a little confused since they lost their yarn, but began knitting again. In the story, they find they’ve lost sight of each other, and the rest of the story is a lovely surprise. Brightly colored pictures in a snow setting is not easy to manage, but Salina Yoon does in quite creative ways. This could be a gift for your Valentine!
Beatrice’s Goat – written by Page McBrier and illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter, afterword by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Published by the Heifer Project, this story is about a real nine-year-old girl from Uganda. She yearns to be able to attend her local school, even standing near the school as the students gather in a group and pretending she is one of them. How much our children in America take for granted! The story tells of the amazing arrival of a goat to this family, but first they must prepare a shed and begin growing the food it will eat. The goat arrives and is named “Mugisa”, meaning “luck”. And as the story grows, luck also does in the form of twin kids, which mean more prosperity for the family, all from a donation of one goat. The story is one of many that The Heifer Project shares, and this time in a beautifully illustrated picture book.
Knock Knock – written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Wow! This is a dream of a book, pages filled with brief text slowly becoming bittersweet, but then lightening to what can be despite loss. The collage and watercolor mix is so filled with images that it takes more than one look to see all that Bryan Collier introduced into his story art. This is about a boy whose father greets him every morning in their game of “knock knock”, until the father and the game disappears. The boy searches, finally receiving a message that the ‘game’, I think of life, can continue to be played by himself, with the father watching over him from afar. It’s a book to savor, and a book that helps us understand the many sorrows of children who are growing up without a parent.
Kite Flying – written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Many people I know go to a general store, or if lucky a kite store to buy a kite, but this book shows the steps that one family takes to create their own kite. It will take a little time, but the bonus is that it’s creative, and Grace Lin has also shared many kinds of possibilities of the kind of kites one can make. To see those, you can look on the back pages to find quite a few. There is also good back matter that shares about the history and tradition of kite-flying in China and elsewhere.
This family decided to make a dragon kite, and while I won’t share all the steps, I will share that adding streamers, which they call ‘whiskers’, added to the kite so that there is a beautiful sound when it’s flying. The pictures, bright and bold are happy pictures, and I loved that each family member played a part in the kite creation.
Blossom Comes Home – written by James Herriot and illustrated by Ruth Brown
This book has the warmest of colorful and realistic illustrations that enhance Herriot’s beautiful story of Blossom the cow that manages to stay in her home quite unexpectedly. Like all Herriot’s sweet stories, this one too has the enticement of wanting to know ‘what happens?’ Blossom the cow has given her owner good milk for years, but she is aging, and isn’t earning her keep. Her farmer owner decides to send her to market, but an unlikely scenario happens at the end. Don’t want to give it away, but it is a fun surprise. I loved all the books by James Herriot and have recommended them often to my middle school students, who loved them also. I didn’t know until recently that some of the stories have been made into picture books. This is a good story to read for the plot and will bring up conversation about life’s decisions, the reasons, the results, and the impact on all concerned.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy – written by Karen Foxlee
I have had the pleasure of reading this book a little ahead of publication; it comes out Tuesday, the 28th! And I loved it for all those fantasyloving readers, especially middle grade children. This is an exciting and loving story about Ophelia whose mother has recently died, and whose father is wrapped up in preparing a huge sword exhibition at a museum in a city far from home. Ophelia has an older teen sister who, with the father, seems unable to talk about their mother and their grief. Yet, who could understand the events that are about to occur in this museum that is filled with artifacts, but is cold, a real puzzle? In her exploration, Ophelia, who considers herself a scientist, looks for answers to why the museum doesn’t seem quite right. She discovers a boy, a boy locked up who shares a fantastic story of a quest to find a special sword and to defeat the Snow Queen before a certain time when the world will come to an end. Thus the adventure begins, and dear Ophelia, with her “puffer” along allowing her to defeat her asthma when she is frightened, begins the tasks that surely will save the world. Because it’s not quite published I cannot share any of Karen Foxlee’s beautiful language in this tale, but it was a “marvelous” read, poignant and real and sometimes really scary!
Next— A pile of good picture books from the library, and something from the #MustReadin2014 list. I’m sure it will be good! And perhaps it will be a Newbery or Printz winner? Or, even better, maybe I’ve already read the winners!