Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 I Want That Love


There is a scene in the move "Beastly" during which Kyle tells Lindy about a film he saw at the zoo when he was a child. It told the story of a mother elephant who lost her calf to illness, and later found his bones and mourned over them. "Can you imagine that love?" Kyle asks. When I saw the title for this book, I immediately thought of that scene. And it turns out that there is a similarity. Both stories deal with the transformative power of love. 

In this latest book from Tatsuya Miyanishi, a Tyrannosaurus believes that power and strength mean everything. His belief is reinforced by the way all the other dinosaurs let him do whatever he likes and hide from him in fear. But one day he meets a baby Triceratops who doesn't recognize him and treats him kindly. This new experience starts a change in the T-rex, a change for the better. Years later, when that little Triceratops is a father and has little dinosaurs of his own, he tells them the lesson he learned from that Tyrannosaurus - "Love is stronger than violence." And one of the kids says, "Will you give me that love? I want that love."

Children who love dinosaurs may enjoy the stories for the characters alone, but adults will be glad to see the life lessons that are gently conveyed in each of the books in this series. Even for young readers who are not dino fans, the illustrations are colorful, and the sound effects are fun - chomp, crack, snap! Highly recommended for all ages.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Fall Reading 2016 Grumbles from the Town: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist


The writing duo of Yolen and Dotlich, authors of Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist, have done it again. This time they have taken on nursery rhymes with their unique approach of writing a pair of poems from different viewpoints from the original rhymes. From the hundreds of Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes, they have chosen 14 to focus on for our entertainment. For "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" we hear from the shoe itself, as well as one of the children who lived in it. The plum from "Little Jack Horner" shares how it feels about being poked with a boy's thumb. Even the sock from "Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling" speaks up.

The illustrations add another layer to the experience. The opening note to readers is shown as being tacked to a wall, and underneath are ads for Peter Piper's Picked Peppers and a notice that some sheep have been found (call Bo Peep). One of the funniest pictures is that of the bleary eyed dog who can't get any sleep because of the snoring in "It's Raining, It's Pouring." All around him are birds sleeping in nests, frogs and squirrels snoozing, and the old man asleep in his armchair. They are all snoring away while the poor dog is tossing and turning in his doghouse, wide awake.

Whether you want to find out how the pail felt about the trip Jack and Jill made up the hill, or have always wondered how the rosebush felt about kids dancing round and round it - this is the book for you. And, as the authors suggest, once you are done reading, you should pick a rhyme and write your own new companion piece. Perhaps you would like to expand on "Georgie Porgie" or "Simple Simon." Whatever you choose, make it fresh and funny to go along with Grumbles from the Town

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 The Music in George's Head


I love all the wonderful picture book biographies that are being created now, and I really wish they had been around when I was a child. (Does anyone else remember reading those Childhood of Famous Americans books?) Suzanne Slade's new book on George Gershwin is captivating in its presentation of how Gershwin grew up to become one of America's most famous songwriters. And Stacy Innerst's illustrations take the coloring from George's "Rhapsody in Blue" and use it as a signature palette throughout the book.

Key events from George's life are shared with the reader, things like his fascination with "Melody in F" after he heard it at a nearby penny arcade, or the way he taught himself to play the piano by copying the movement of the keys on a player piano at a friend's house. Many of the illustrations show Gershwin either playing an instrument, or thinking up a song with musical notes dancing around him. I especially like the double-page spread that shows the influences he included in his "Rhapsody in Blue." Slade describes the concerto as a "musical kaleidoscope of America's melting pot." Innerst has pictured New York in the background, along with a jack hammer, a train, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, a clarinet player in Orthodox Jewish clothing, and a couple dancing. Tying the figures together is a stream of musical notes coming from George's piano keys and sheet music blowing from his piano and then twisting and floating through the other scenes. It truly captures the feel of how everything he experienced became an influence on his work.

The word choices also carry a lot of the weight in conveying the story clearly. When the text states that "A clarinet fluttered softly, like butterfly wings on a morning breeze," or that the song was "daring, and razzmatazz dazzling" readers can imagine how those first audiences reacted to his music. Young readers will enjoy the way that the story comes full circle. It begins with "George heard music all the time" and ends with "He'd been hearing beautiful music all his life." The Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, timeline, and bibliography all give added details to support the story.

Highly recommended for school libraries (particularly elementary), and for music teachers who enjoy sharing biographies of famous composers and performers with their classes.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 this ORQ. (he #1!)


Orq is a caveboy who has the perfect life. His pet Woma ( a woolly mammoth) loves him. Orq can run fast, climb high, throw far. Everyone thinks Orq is #1...until Torq and his giant sloth Slomo move in next door. Suddenly Orq is not the best at everything and all his admirers turn their attention to Torq. What can Orq do to reclaim his place in the hearts of the community?

This is Orq's third book. He has dealt with bullies, convinced his mother that a woolly mammoth is a good pet, and now he has to figure out a way to get back on top. It is especially annoying that Torq loves his own success so much and even does a taunting victory dance. But when Torq has an emergency, it is up to Orq to save the day.

Young readers will enjoy the text with it's "caveman" way of talking. "This Orq. He #1." And Orq's plight is something that everyone can relate to; we've all had the experience of being bested at something. His mother's advice will also sound familiar to many of us. This is a story to share with anyone dealing with setbacks and disappointments, or those having trouble making friends with a new classmate or neighbor.

For teachers and librarians working with Makerspaces and STEM, it will be especially appealing to have a caveboy inventor to share with their students and patrons. 

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 A Number Slumber


Is it a counting book? A bedtime story? How about both? Suzanne Bloom has created a fun look at bedtime while counting down from ten to one. Readers are invited into the book by questioning them about their own bedtime habits. Do they ask for a story and brush their teeth? Do they wait until they are feeling sleepy before they put on their pajamas? And then she takes us through an assortment of animals all preparing to turn in for the night. 

This would be a great book to use for a vocabulary lesson, with words such as warble, nimble, and exhausted. It would also be a good mentor text to use in teaching descriptive writing or alliteration. Phrases like "Ten terribly tired tigers tiptoe to their beds," show the power of repeated sounds. My favorite is probably "Seven slightly stinky skunks somersault into their bunks." Another activity that would tie in well with this title is to research the different animals that are shown. Obviously skunks don't catapult into bunks using a circus springboard, so where do they sleep in real life? 

The illustrations will have readers chuckling over those somersaulting skunks, exhausted elephants, and weary wombats. It would be fun to see how many items appear in common within the various scenes - pajamas, stuffed animals, and blankets, for example. The pastels used to create the pictures lend each vignette a warm and cozy glow, perfect for snuggling up at bedtime.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 Drive


Books featuring vehicles of any kind are always popular in my library, and some kids prefer big trucks over cars and motorcycles. This board book takes readers through a day as a truck driver leaves home and hits the road. The driver's child narrates the story, talking about Daddy driving carefully, stopping for lunch, and finally coming back home.

There are only a few words for each double-spread illustration and the pictures themselves have just enough detail to keep them interesting without being overly fussy. This is a book that shows a parent leaving for work, but returning home in the evening - a topic that fascinates preschoolers who are still trying to make sense of daily routines and object permanence.

Great for truck enthusiasts and kids whose parents drive for a living, whether it is a big rig, a UPS or FedEx van, etc. 

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 Whose Shoes?


This board book is full of sharp, clear photographs. The text begins with the statement that "Most people wear shoes." There is a photo of an infant wearing soft baby shoes, then it talks about shoes for different kinds of weather and shoes in favorite colors. The heart of the book is filled with photos of shoes for specific occupations and the reader may guess what job is begin shown, then turn the page to see if they are correct. The photos include everything from a ballerina to an Army National Guard soldier. And the book brings the whole thing full circle by showing children dressed up as different professionals that they might someday become.

The photos are nicely done and show a mix of men and women in the various careers. I wish there had been more of an effort to show different cultural backgrounds. The only African American is shown playing soccer, which some readers might feel leads to stereotyping since the man is shown in sports and not some other occupation. The children playing dress-up are more of a mix of backgrounds, which is nice to see.

The guessing game portion of the text has the predictable question, "Whose shoes?" for every new type of footwear shown. That will make it easy for beginning readers or pre-readers to chime in at the correct time with the right words. Overall this is a fun look at something we take for granted every day.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.