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The Raven King, The Raven Cycle, Book Four - Maggie Stiefvater
I cannot write much about this book because I don't want to spoil any of it for anyone. It's one more book by Maggie Stiefvater that I loved thoroughly. The main characters have grown, are getting ready for graduation. The story felt even edgier, if that's possible, with more adult language, much creepier than the earlier books. New things happen, new people appear, old familiars return. Deepening the layers of the characters feels comfortable because they are maturing, and they each have new ideas to consider about life, and the magic that surrounds them. The extraordinary complexity of the plot thread makes close and enjoyable reading. (FYI-my friend reminded me that across the four books in the series really only nine months have passed, and I didn't remember that. It does seem that through all that has happened, years have passed, but also considering the events, they have matured in their judgment of what is really important in life.)
These first two, both wordless, tell stories full of details, forcing the reader to look so closely, find what is there that surprises and delights.
the Whale - Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow
Wow! It’s a wordless picture book, told in incredible pencil sketches, and beginning with a collage of parts of newspaper stories. A boy and a girl return from an ocean adventure, claiming to have spotted a “magnificent spotted whale”. Those older headlines question the truth, as do the current ones: “Giant whale or giant hoax.” But these later ones issue a challenge, to prove the story. A boy and a girl decide to try for it, a hurricane is coming, and the story of their search is such an adventure that holds excitement, daring, and big surprise. What a juicy book to pore over, again and again.
Spot, the Cat - Henry Cole
This is a favorite of the week, remembering Henry Cole’s A Nest for Celeste and Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad, too. The illustrations are so filled with wonderfully detailed pen and ink sketches as the reader tries to imagine this wordless story. We look and look to spot the cat along the way as he wanders through all kinds of places, like a farmer’s market and a park. He’s escaped through a window and his owner, a little boy place “lost” ads on telephone poles, is missing his pet very much. Finally, back home, all is okay!
The Cat With Seven Names - Tony Johnston and Christine Davenier
Beautiful watercolor sketches tell a story of a wandering cat who surprises several people by visiting and having a bite to eat, then moving on. He brings cheer to an older, lonely man, a librarian, a homeless man, and others. There is a surprise ending which will cheer readers, too.
What Can You Do With A Paleta? - Carmen Tafolla and Magaly Morales
You can do funny things, sweet things and messy things, all with a paleta, which is similar to a popsicle. Color-filled pages show well the joy of hot summer days and cooling off. The story shows a little girl walking from home through her barrio of good smells floating from the windows, celebrating paletas and helping others enjoy them by sharing a few with them, too.
Breathe - Scott Magoon
With a few words of encouragement, a mama whale takes her baby on an adventure to “explore”, “swim”, and once in a while to “breathe”. The illustrations fill the page with ocean deep and on the top as the baby learns about his home. It’s a story that can add to beginning knowledge of whales for the little ones, and a metaphor for new life of any animal, including humans.
Teeny Tiny Toady - Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamaguchi
Oh, my! Teeny Tiny Toady’s Mama has been caught in a bucket by some people collecting toads and other creatures. Teeny runs to get help from the other larger toads, “wishing she could be a bigger, stronger/hero kind of toad.” Written in rhyme with pages filled with emotion and action, the story is one with a message, being little doesn’t mean one can’t contribute in a BIG way. Very fun story for the little ones, with a happy ending!
Where’s The Elephant - Barroux
The book is well done, but I think it must be good for older children because the message is clear, this is about cutting forests in order to use the land for other things, like growing crops or building homes. It’s wordless, but looking for the elephant, the bird and the snake becomes easier because as the pages progress, the forest becomes smaller, and the part gone is filled with other things. The ending is a sad one, too. It was fun to read for a while, but as I read it to a young granddaughter, there was a lot of explaining to do.
Next: I've started and am enjoying The Memory of Things by Gae Polisher, still reading Day's End, the book about night.