Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: Stella's Starliner

If you haven't yet discovered Rosemary Wells, read on.  And if you have, well, read on.  I have been entranced by her many characters over the years including Max, Ruby, Yoko, and Sophie and was recently delighted to discover her newly published picture book, Stella's Starliner.  Stella is a young fox who lives with her mom and dad in a silver house by the side of the road.  Inside the house is tidy and compact with a room for sleeping, a room for being awake, and a kitchen for eating pancakes on Sunday morning. Stella has everything she needs and not a worry in the world. Until the day a band of bullying weasels stop by and say mean things to Stella declaring she is poor and her house is nothing but a tin can.  "Their words stung Stella's heart like the stings of bees."  Being a sensitive fox  she won't tell mama what is bothering her because she doesn't want her to feel the stings too. But wise mama knows and comforts Stella with an imaginative story about the Starliner sailing through the Milky Way and landing on a bright, sunny island.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review: Pom and Pim

      Little Pom and his stuffed toy of indeterminate species, Pim, are off for the day. They are lucky that it is a bright warm day, but as Pom carries Pim along, he trips on a rock and they both fall down.  Bad luck!  Or is it? Because he is on the ground, Pom discovers some money – good luck!  This picture book by Lena and Olaf Landstrom is a clever and preschool-friendly retelling of the old Chinese good luck/bad luck parable. Pom and Pim was originally published in Swedish under the title Pom uch Pim, and it’s kind of fun to think of the blending of different cultures that brought this book together.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review: Musk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan

Pick up any picture book and there is a pretty good chance that at least one of the characters will be a monkey, a cat, a dog, a horse, a pig, a cow, or a bird--really, any animal you might name when singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm."  But, what about the poor old musk ox?  How often do you find this arctic mammal, known for its musky odor and thick mane of hair, in a children's story?  The fact of the matter is that musk oxen are severely underrepresented in children's literature.  It's a good thing, then, that author Erin Cabatingan and illustrator Matthew Myers have made it their personal mission to raise awareness about this malodorous creature, so that, maybe one day, a child will think to sing "Old McDonald had a musk ox..."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Do you have a kid who’s crazy about wheels?  Two excellent new picture books:  And the cars go by William Bee, and The Diggers are Coming by Susan Steggall are sure to please the gear-heads in your home.  Both books contain lots of interesting vocabulary words to describe the different types of vehicles and the sounds they make:  "mixers tumble, twist, and turn…..tippers tremble along and trundle about", and both books contain a mystery which is only revealed at the end of the story.   In the case of The Diggers are Coming, the question all along is "what are they building?"  It’s interesting to note the many kinds of construction vehicles necessary to get the job done and to see the progression of the task from empty lot to finished product.       My favorite book of the two, however, is

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Extraordinary Jane

Jane Bouffant is, sad to say, ORDINARY. Her mom is famous. Her dad is famous. Her six brothers are famous. Her six sisters are, you guessed it, famous. What is even more problematic is that her, dare we say it again, FAMOUS family performs in the equally FAMOUS Barnaby Beluchi Circus. What's an exceptionally undistinguished dog to do?
Hannah E. Harrison takes advantage of every inch of Extraordinary Jane (including the endpapers) to chronicle Jane's misadventures on the path toward self-discovery. The bright acrylic images caper across the pages as cannon launchers, trapeze swings, and a giant out-of-control balancing ball get the better of Jane. The big tent proves perilous for our furry protagonist until slowly but surely Jane's secret talent is revealed to everyone's satisfaction.
Simple sentences and bold text will draw any shy adventurer into Jane's Extraordinary life with a heartwarming welcome.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Maple

I fell in love with Maple, the book and the character, on page one.  Maple is an endearing little girl who is named for the Maple tree planted in her honor before she was born.  The story follows Maple as she grows through the years and the changing seasons with the tree as her constant friend. When she is too noisy mom and dad send her outside to play by her tree.  She sings to, sways with and sometimes pretends to be a tree. She loves her tree but wishes sometimes she had a real play mate.  Then, one Spring day as she is playing under the shade of the tree she is surprised by a newly planted sapling, and then even more surprised to learn she is going to be a big sister. She is delighted with her baby sister. And when she is too noisy (quite often) takes her outside to play and rest beneath the tree's dancing leaves.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Little Gorilla

     I recently had the chance to visit some classrooms and read to the children some of my favorite stories for Love of Reading week.   Little Gorilla was one that I read in nearly every class, and it was a big hit.  Even though the Little Gorilla was written close to 40 years ago,  it has a gentle and comforting message that still resonates with today's kids.