Posts tagged ‘0-100 pages’

Half a Man

Half a Man.jpgTitle: Half a Man
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Gemma O’Callaghan
ISBN: 9780763677473
Pages: 53 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, text copyright 2005, 2006. Illustrations copyright 2014.

I would wake up then, shaking in terror and knowing that my nightmare was not yet over. For my nightmare would always seem to happen just a day or two before Grandpa came to stay. It was a visit I always dreaded. (4)

Michael’s grandfather was in the navy in the war when his ship was torpedoed and sunk. His grandfather considers himself one of the lucky ones since he didn’t die, but the burns have permanently scarred and affected his body. Told not to stare at his grandfather, Michael has difficulty connecting with a grandfather who doesn’t smile, doesn’t laugh, and doesn’t look like anyone else he knows. Eventually, they find common ground over silently fishing and reading when Michael visits his grandfather at his Sicily island cottage, and Michael may be able to use that connection to reconnect the rest of his family.

This is a quiet book, and one that may be better suited for adults or as a graduation gift then for middle school students, in the same way that Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is often given as gifts to adults. The obvious message is that, regardless of how his grandfather describes himself, he is not a “monster man” or “half a man”. It could be used to encourage conversation about what makes a man, or exploring their own family history, especially with the recently passed Veteran’s Day so closely preceding Thanksgiving. Symbolically the illustrations by Gamma O’Callaghan never show the grandfather’s current face and we only see a glimpse of what was in an old photo towards the very end of the book. It’s left up to the imagination to see the grandfather. The pictures sparsely depict the settings and invoke a reflective and melancholy mood with the primarily blue and gray drawings, accented by a specific shade of brilliant yellow and orange. The variety, from small insets to full double-page spreads, force the reader to slow down and absorb the short story and aid tremendously with the pacing of the book.

Pirate’s Lullaby

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Pirate's LullabyTitle: Pirate’s Lullaby
Author: Marcie Wessels
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
ISBN: 9780375973529
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, c2015.

”Yo, ho, ho! Me lad, heave ho! It’s time to go to bed,”
Papa Pirate told his first mate, not-so-sleepy Ned.
“But me mates are weighin’ anchor, sailin’ for the Seven Seas!
Can’t I play a little longer? Ten more minutes, please?”

Author Marcie Wessels weaves a surprising amount of pirate lingo into this story of a boy named Ned and his father getting ready for bedtime. With lines ranging from thirteen to fifteen syllables, a sing-song cadence quickly develops and only gets stronger as the story progresses. The rosy-cheeked rascal pulls all the stops with a search for teddy, a drink, and a story are all implored upon by the fast fading Papa pirate, until at last one of them is asleep (hint, it’s not little Ned). Enjoy the equally delightful aquatic themed details in the drawings, like the octopus sippy cup, the peg-legged and eye-patched stuffed animal, and the titles of the books on the bookshelf. You might have your own mutiny on your hands as pint-sized pirates request a second retelling.

My Leaf Book

My Leaf BookTitle: My Leaf Book
Author/Illustrator: Monica Wellington
ISBN: 9780803741416
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, published by the Penguin Group, LLC., c2015

So many trees, so many leaves.
When the trees change colors, autumn is here,
and I go to the park to see
how many different leaves I can find.

A young girl visits an arboretum with her dog over the course of several days collects leaves and creates an informational book. Wellington specifies in an author’s note that the pictures were made with collages and did not use a computer, which makes the detailed, boldly colored and textured pictures all the more interesting. It’s almost unbelievable how much time that must have taken her to accomplish, which proves how involved artists are with their work. She reveals her methods at the end, so kids can try making leaf prints and rubbings for their own book. Each leaf is identified and has an accompanying fact or two, with the leaf shape accompanying the name so when multiples appear on a page there is no confusion which is which. A little long for toddler story time, but share with preschoolers or older children. When used in a story time, I cut up this leaf bingo sheet from the blog Relentlessly Fun Deceptively Educational (LOTS of great stuff to be found there!) and distributed so parents had a quick and convenient reference guide and could go home and identify their own trees. Keep this on your list of fall books and recommend to patrons.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and PumpkinTitle: Penguin and Pumpkin
Author/Illustrator: Salina Yoon
ISBN: 9780802737335
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc., c2014.

It was fall, and very white on the ice, as always—which made Penguin curious.
“I wonder what fall looks like off the ice.”
“Let’s go to the farm and find out!”

Penguin, Bootsy, and a posse of penguins set off on an ice flow to the farm to see what fall looks like. They pick pumpkins and Penguin gathers leaves to take home and share with his younger brother, who was too young to make the journey with them. A heartwarming story that is filled with sweet details in the bright and uncluttered digital illustrations. The penguins’ ice ship melts as they approach warmer weather, so they hollow out a pumpkin and use that as a boat on the way back! Each penguin, who can be told apart by their different accessories like glasses, hats and scarves, has a uniquely shaped pumpkin subtly proving there really isn’t one perfect pumpkin. Going slightly astray when showing Pumpkin’s imaginings when left behind, the pictures are still thematic, and don’t detract from the overall journey or goal of bringing fall to the ice. My first exposure to Yoon’s penguin series, I’ll be taking a peak at the rest of the series for future story time use.

Max and the Tag-Along Moon

Max and the Tag-Along MoonTitle: Max and the Tag-along Moon
Author/Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
ISBN: 9780399233425
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2013.

”That ol’ moon will always shine for you . . . on and on!”

On his drive home from visiting his grandfather, Max focuses on his grandfather’s promise and watches the moon follow him home. But when the moon disappears from sight behind some clouds, is this proof that his grandfather was wrong? While the plot can be found in numerous other stories, this version is filled with soothing hues, a comforting message, and a sweet and simple story about feeling a loved one’s presence even when they aren’t present. The close ups of Max and his grandfather are the most notable of Cooper’s paintings, and he has a solid understanding of poses, postures, and facial expressions, especially when Max’s eyes are drooped in disappointment, and then spring open wide when the moon appears again and floods his room with light.


Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

MoletownTitle: Moletown
Author/Illustrator: Torben Kuhlmann
Translator: Andrew Rushton
ISBN: 9780735842083
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: NorthSouth Books Inc., c2015 (originally copyright by NordSud Verlag AG)
Publication Date: October 1, 2015

The story of Moletown began many years ago. One day a mole moved under a lush green meadow. He was alone at first, but not for long. And over time, life underground changed . . .

Kuhlmann’s second foray into publication is more propaganda then inspiring plot. The detailed illustrations from his lovely first work are maintained, drawing upon iconic images such as Ellis Island travelers, the industrial revolution, and corporate America from the change of the century. But readers quickly lose track of that first mole mentioned in quoted narration blocks in these variant vignettes. One picture shows what looks like moles living in tightly compacted lockers, while another shows an office piled high with papers. The last lines of text allude to an environmental agenda, overlaying a dirty and smoky sea of mole hills and machines surrounding one spot of roped off grass with “Many generations later, the moles’ green meadow had completely disappeared. Almost.” A disappointing ending to what feels like a collection of editorialized cartoons. This will not keep the attention of a story time unless they are tired of the Lorax.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

Tricky VicTitle: Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower
Author/Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
ISBN: 9780670016525
Pages: 39 pages
Publisher/Date: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2015.

“Victor” was a convincing count: exceedingly well dress, soft spoken, and always with lots of money to spare at the game tables. Once the ship docked and the passengers disembarked, “Count Lustig” would disappear, along with their money. (5)

“Count Victor Lustig” was the alias of Robert Miller, a man born in the Czech Republic who didn’t stay in one place for very long. He traveled around the world playing people for their money, from his home country to America, Europe, and back again, earning the respect of Al Capone before finally getting caught and imprisoned in Alcatraz. Two popular cons were either selling a money making box to an unsuspecting person or simply counterfeiting the money directly. His most well-known con however was selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal, a trick that proved so successful that he attempted it a second time.

Little is known with certainty about Robert Miller, and Pizzoli makes that clear in his author’s note. Teachers will also appreciate a glossary of terms, an extensive works cited list, and a word about the artwork. The effort to include primary sources within the illustrations, like Miller’s death certificate, should also be highlighted if used in a classroom. There’s some light symbolism in the use of a finger print in place of Miller’s face in every illustration, which was a distinctive but very effective method of obscuring his identity but still allude to the criminal nature of his work (being fingerprinted when arrested) and his unique fabricated identity and business (since all fingerprints are different). Adults might be interested to seek out more information, but this is a succinct narrative and an age-appropriate introduction to the idea of con artists, fakes, and double crosses.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.


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