Posts tagged ‘Unpaged’

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.

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.

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.

Can You Make a Scary Face?

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.

Can You Make a Scary FaceTitle: Can You Make a Scary Face?
Author/Illustrator: Jan Thomas
ISBN: 9781416985815
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2009.

A ladybug (with an unnaturally colored green body) encourages children to play pretend. The pretend bug wiggles on their nose, crawls into their mouth, then gets stuck on their shirt, necessitating that they call in the giant hungry frog. And that’s when things are no longer pretend, and the title question comes into play to scare away the frog before it eats the ladybug. The characters are the only thing the children have to focus on, as there are no backgrounds except for different solid colors. It’s a slight interactive story, but kids who enjoy Tullet’s work will happily respond to the prompts given by the picture book character that literally speaks directly to their imaginations. A parent said after a story time that she took that book home and her kids requested it over and over again, which means it’s a title I’ll have to use again.

I’m Trying to Love Spiders

I'm Trying to Love SpidersTitle: I’m Trying to Love Spiders
Author/Illustrator: Bethany Barton
ISBN: 9780670016938
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2015.

Like this spider right here. I’m gonna try really hard to like him. Maybe if I study him for a while… I think it’s working… AHHHHHH!! It’s Moving!! Squish it!! Squish it!! Squish it!!

The author of this book realizes that it is not easy to love spiders, but it’s the thought that counts, right? After trying to focus on the many amazing features of spiders, such as having eight eyes, they are related to scorpions and ticks, and there are more than 40,000 different species. The only fact that proves helpful in seeing spiders in a new light is they’re ability to eat over 75 pounds of bugs in a year, which gets immediately tested when it tries to rid the pages of the book of other bugs. But by then, there are other problems, and they go by the name COCKROACH!

Nonfiction in the form of a picture book, this subgenre really is underutilized by the story time providers, including myself. So when I saw a coworker using this one for her story time, I just had to take a peak. The one tiny wish I have for this was that there was some indication of whether all the spiders drawn in the book were true to scale or not. That would have been most beneficial. Over a dozen spiders are identified on the end papers and inside the book which imparts bite-sized facts about these bugs. The interactive element is an added bonus, and one that certainly appeals to kids, as I had a story time child steal it from my table and was stomping on the bug pictures as I read the next book! So whether it promotes a love for bugs or just a love for smashing them, either way you are educated and can make an informed rather than instinctive decision. Right?

Grandparent’s Day with Grand Books

In honor of Grandparent’s Day last month, I compiled a list of picture books featuring grandparents. I then promptly got sicker than a dog for the entire month of September with allergies and assorted other ailments, missed three days of work, and completely forgot to post it. I thought about waiting and posting it next year, but there really isn’t any reason to do that. So here it is as a Friday Feature, a month late and a dollar short, isn’t that how the saying goes? Obviously this list isn’t all inclusive, so leave some of your favorite books featuring grandparents in the comments section below.

Nana in the CityTitle: Nana in the City
Author/Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
ISBN: 9780544104433
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2014

Lauren Castillo’s vibrant watercolor illustrations (recognized by the Caldecott Committee for an honor earlier this year) portray fall in the unnamed city with visual illusions to New York. A small boy visits his grandmother and spends the night, at first fearful of the sounds and sights surrounding him. Nana stays up knitting him a “fancy red cape” to wear on their walk as he realizes that the city isn’t so scary after all. In a touching scene, the boy bestows the cape to Nana, probably thinking she needs it more than he does. But Castillo’s pictures show an active and independent elder who relishes the loud and busy nature of the city. The phrases “The city is busy, the city is loud” repeat at the beginning and end of the story, but they take on new mean by the end. The tale of the city mouse and country mouse has been updated for modern times, with succinct and descriptive language perfect for story times involving fall, cities, knitting or nanas.

Last Stop on Market StreetTitle: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt De La Pena
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
ISBN: 9780399257742
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, published by the Penguin Group, c2015.

Full review can be read here.

My ElephantTitle: My Elephant
Author/Illustrator: Petr Horacek
ISBN: 9780763645663
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2009

I asked Grandpa to play ball with me, but he was too busy.
I went to see Grandma, but she was too busy too.
So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me.

One read-headed boy occupies his time at his grandparents by playing with his elephant. It’s not his fault that the elephant messed up the flower bed and the hallway, splashed water all over the bathroom floor, knocked over the orange juice and ate all the cupcakes. Regardless of how imaginary the elephant might be, it a truth commonly ignored that not every visit to the grandparents goes off without a hitch. I love that the elephant is drawn in scribbled crayon, make his imaginary state all the more obvious alongside the more solidly colored (painted/collaged?) characters and setting.

Knuffle Bunny FreeTitle: Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9780061929571
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, c2010.

Trixie is visiting her “Oma” and “Opa” in Holland, which is far away. She’s bringing her trusty Knuffle Bunny with her, but if anyone has seen the previous two books, Knuffle Bunny typically has difficulty ending up staying with Trixie. Trixie is sad for a while, but realizes maybe she is growing up and Knuffle Bunny might make some other children happy. Then something unexpected happens that proves her right.
One really big plus with this book is that it’s not Grandma and Grandpa that Trixie visits, but Oma and Opa. Many children have their own names for their grandparents, and being able to find books that use different titles to compare and contrast and lead discussions can be difficult. The fold-out sequence featuring kids in different places is also a nice discussion prompt, but it does make it difficult to use for read-aloud, especially when sharing outdoors on a windy day which I did recently. (As a side note, I remarked that the wind was fighting me and one kid quipped in all seriousness that I should “fight back”.) It shows an all too common occurrence in a child’s life of outgrowing a beloved toy and that it’s okay to grow up and discover new things to enjoy. There is a note to Trixie that is included after the book says “the end” which I usually skip when doing story times, but I heard a couple of parents who have read the story sharing with parents who haven’t. Maybe I’ll start including it, since the parents who are familiar with it seem to get so much joy out of it. It shows Trixie growing up, starting a family and one day receiving a package with a special someone inside for her little toddler to enjoy. This may become one of those stories that, like Knuffle Bunny, gets passed around when the time is right to those who need it.

I'm Not Sleepy!Title: I’m Not Sleepy!
Author/Illustrator: Jane Chapman
ISBN: 9781561487653
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Good Books, c2012. (originally published in English by Little Tiger Press, c2012.)

Grandma Owl carries Mo up to the top of the tree and settles him in for bed. But Mo isn’t sleepy, and Grandma is pulled from her book time and again with requests for a snack, and tucking in, and maybe even playtime. Grandma tells Mo that since he isn’t sleepy and someone has to go to sleep at bedtime, maybe he should put her to bed. All that flying back and forth tuckers him out, just in time for bedtime. The large feathery faces never change, only the eyes and beak and body carry the weight of expressing the love and support the two show for each other. The repeating refrain of “Hop…Jump… Flutter… FLUMP!” as Grandma and eventually Mo ascend to the nest at the top of the tree grounds the story, and makes a nice chorus for read aloud groups. I was slightly disappointed in the illustrations, as although the words describe fading stars and retreating bats, the pictures are solely focused on Grandma and Mo and the end page shows a decidedly nighttime scene when everyone knows owls sleep during the day. It’s still a sweet bedtime story that should be shared with your own owlet.

Silas' Seven GrandparentsTitle: Silas’ Seven Grandparents
Author: Anita Horrocks
Illustrator: Helen Flock
ISBN: 9781551435619
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Orca Book Publishers, c2010

And when Silas’ mom and dad decided to go away for a few days on a business trip, seven grandparents invited Silas to stay with them.

Is there such a thing as too many grandparents? Silas is only one boy after all, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by picking one over the other. Nana likes to look at stars, Oma and Opa like to work in the garden and feed the birds, Gamma and Papa like to swim and let him drive the golf cart, and Granny and Grandad took him fishing and canoeing. So instead, he invites all seven of his grandparents to come stay with him. Silas’s collection of multicultural grandparents give the impression of the elderly in all shapes and sizes leading active lifestyles in very different and unique settings. While not every grandparent is as energetic as the ones portrayed, it does spread an important message that you can never have too much love or too many memories of your times together.

Look Back!Title: Look Back!
Author: Trish Cooke
Illustrator: Caroline Binch
ISBN: 9781566569804
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., c2014. (originally published in the United Kingdom by Paillote Press)

”Well,” Grannie said, “I have heard that Ti Bolom is short, short, short, his foot long, long, long and flat, flat, flat. He has a big head and two big, black eyes and when you walking alone at night, minding your own business, Ti Bolom walks behind you,
pattaps pattaps…
huh huh huh.
But when you turn around… he’s not there. He’s gone!” (unpaged)

After hearing the story of Grannie’s attempts to catch the illusive Ti Bolom when she was living in Dominica in a young child, Christopher attempts to do the same. For such a climatic and engaging story, Christopher’s shortened equivalent version falls flat and provides an anticlimactic ending. I feel like the whole tale would have been stronger if they had left out Christopher’s part, and ended with the uncertainty of where Ti Bolom could be. The drawings are filled with vibrant colors, lifelike down to the wrinkles and muscles and the individual braids and curls on the children’s heads. The dialect is also strong in the narration, mimicking that of an oral story-teller. If done properly, this might make a good story to tell instead of read, or break into a reader’s theatre opportunity. The call and response might have to be prefaced or explained to audiences unfamiliar with that story telling technique.

Tea Cakes for ToshTitle: Tea Cakes for Tosh
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
ISBN: 9780399252136
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.

Tosh loves when his grandma Honey bakes her golden tea cakes, from a recipe passed down from when his grandma’s grandma’s grandma was a slave cook on a plantation. But then grandma Honey starts forgetting things, like where she parked the car, a phone number, and even the ingredients for the beloved tea cakes. But luckily Tosh has already been taught how to make them, and helps Honey remember the story behind the tradition. An important lesson of learning traditions, recipes, and family history before you are no longer able to learn those stories, but also an introduction for young children to the concept of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. A recipe is included in the back if any readers feel inclined to taste a piece of history.


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