in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Through the Looking Glass Book Review, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,196
A blog written by the editor of Through the Looking Glass Book Review, a monthly online children's book review journal.
Statistics for Through the Looking Glass Book Review
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 16
When I encountered my first wordless picture books I was astonished to discover that the stories in the books were often rich and magical. Children who couldn't read could enjoy the stories, and adults could marvel at the artist's skill. Today's book is a masterpiece and I know that I am going to treasure my copy for years to come.
Candlewick Press, 2013, 978-0-7636-6053-6
It is a non-school day and a girl is lonely and bored. Everyone in her family is busy doing something. Her mother is cooking and is on the phone; her father is working on the computer, and her sister is busy playing a game on her gaming device. Then, in her room, the girl sees a red crayon lying on the floor. She picks it up and draws a red door on her bedroom wall. Then she opens the door and runs through the doorway.
On the other side of the door there is a forest. Strings of lights and pretty lanterns are hanging between the trees. A stream meanders across the forest floor and the little girl walks over to a small wooden jetty. She draws a small boat, gets into it, and floats downstream.
The boat carries the little girl into a walled city where numerous elevated waterways cross this way and that. Suddenly, and without warning, the waterway she is traveling down ends in a waterfall. As she and her boat fall through the air she draws a hot air balloon, which carries her up into the clouds.
The little girl is not alone in the clouds. Flying machines, large and small, fly by. As she watches, a beautiful pink bird with long tail feathers is caught in a net, placed in a bird cage, and transported to a large and rather scary looking flying machine. For some reason, the girl cannot stand by and let the people cage the bird. She has to do something.
In this beautiful wordless picture book the author takes his readers on an extraordinary journey. The journey itself is fascinating, but the author adds another dimension when he has his little girl character interact with one of the stories that she sees unfolding in front of her eyes.
Readers will be delighted when they see how this unusual journey ends.
Fall is not far away and many of us are already experiencing cooling temperatures and rain showers. During the summer months we get very little rain here in Southern Oregon and those first showers of the fall are always welcome. In today's poetry book we take a journey through the seasons to experience rain in its many forms.
Illustrated by Ryan O’Rooke
Charlesbridge, 2010, 978-1-57091-716-5
Depending on the season, rain either gives us some welcome relief, or we consider it a nuisance. Depending on our mood we enjoy paddling in puddles outside or we delight in staying indoors, cozy and warm while the raindrops tap on the windows.
In this lovely book, gem-like poems are paired with lovely evocative illustrations to take us through the seasons, celebrating rain in all its forms as we go. We begin in autumn when “the falling leaves / fall in layers…the rain / beats on rain.” In her poem The Mist and All,
Dixie Willson tells us how much she enjoys fall’s mist, the “wailing sound / Of wind around,” and the rain. She is content to be tending to and sitting by her “cozy fire.”
In winter, the rain perhaps takes on a different feel. It is colder and greyer. In Haiku
by Sora we read about “a pitter-patter / of winter rain” on a pond that is covered with the reflection of stars. Robert Frost’s poem To the Thawing Wind
introduces us to Southwester, a wind that brings the thaw with rain and warmer temperatures that melt the icicles, make the doors rattle, and “Turn the poet out of the door.”
We then move on to the gentle rains of spring that bring life with them, and the welcome showers of summer that freshen the air and offer some respite from the heat and dust.
With a wonderful introduction, and a note about the haiku form, this collection of poems beautifully captures special rainy moments.
I have often thought that it would be wonderful to own and run a book shop. Dog is of the same mind and in Dog Loves Books
we see what happens when he opens his own book-filled shop. In Dog Loves Drawing
Dog discovers that a blank book can be the starting point for a wonderful art adventure. Now Dog is back and this time he learns that counting numbers can also lead to adventures in far off places.
Random House, 2013, 978-0449813423
Dog loves books and he loves to read book so much that he often reads late into the night, even though he knows that he needs to get his beauty sleep. Eventually Dog decides that it is time to set his book aside. He puts on his sleeping mask and prepares to doze off. The problem is that he cannot seem to fall asleep.
Dog tries counting sheep but the sheep are not at all helpful. Maybe what Dog needs to do it to count some other kind of animal. Dog opens a book about animals and the first thing he encounters in the book is an egg. He counts “One,” and then watches as the egg cracks open. A funny looking baby dodo steps of the egg and into the world. Dog is Number One, and the dodo is Number Two, and now they have to find Number Three.
Dog and the dodo walk through the book looking for Number Three, and eventually they find a sloth sitting in a tree. The sloth has three claws on each paw and so he becomes Number Three. Counting from one to three as they go, Dog, the dodo, and the three-toed sloth wander through the book looking for Number Four.
By sheer good luck the three animals meet a desert camel. Since it has four legs, it is perfectly suited to be their Number Four. Not only that, but the camel assures Dog that his home in the desert is full of things that they can count.
Learning how to count can be fun, if you are a little creative, and in this book Louise Yates has found a wonderfully creative way to make counting interesting. She combines tools for learning with a story that pulls the reader into Dog’s book world. As we read we cannot help wondering what is waiting for us on the next page. What new animal is Dog going to encounter, and what new adventure is he going to have?
This is the third book in a series of picture books that feature Dog.
Many years ago I worked on a young adult novel manuscript that was written in blank verse. When the author told me about the format my heart sank a little. I thought that the story was going to be challenging. To say the least. When I started reading I quickly came to realize that I had a gem in my hands. The book was fantastic and I learned that novels in verse can be amazing. Today's book is just such a title. Eileen Spinelli uses her considerable skill to tell a story that is sweet and timeless.Where I live
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Penguin, 2007, 978-0-8037-3122-6
Diana loves her home. She loves the fact that a wren is nesting in the wreath on the front door. Diana also loves her best friend Rose. Rose and Diana fit together like vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce. Rose never complains when Diana starts talking about stars, and when Diana works on her poems. Rose is always there when Diana needs someone to talk to.
Then something happens that turns Diana’s world upside down; her father loses his job. Diana’s parents are going to have a hard time paying for their home without Dad’s wages. After Mom goes to visit her father, she comes home to announce that they are all going to move in with Grandpa. Mom and Dad won’t have to pay a mortgage if they move, and Grandpa will have someone to share his large lonely house. They are going to move away from the yellow house and from Rose.
Diana is heartbroken. She will never have another friend like Rose. She will never have a house like the yellow house that she lives in and loves. She will never be happy again.
Written as a series of poems, this warm, touching, and evocative story will resonate with readers of all ages. Because of her father’s bad luck, Diana is forced into a new situation, and in the process, she learns that change is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it can even make life richer and more interesting.
The first day of school can be nerve wracking for some children, especially if they have never been to school before. Today's wonderful picture book tells the story of Noni, who learns that school may be a little confusing at first, but it can also be a lot of fun.
Illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Tundra, 2013, 978-1-77049-323-0
Noni gets nervous about many things. She gets nervous about playdates, she gets nervous about global warming, and today she is nervous about her first day of school. Noni’s parents and brother don’t understand why Noni is in such a state. Noni is worried because she does not know what she should wear to school, and she does not know where she will sit in her new classroom. What will Noni do if her teacher is “mean?”
Noni is nervous all day long during her first day at school. She bites her nails, twirls her hair and talks too much about nothing, and when the day is over she can’t remember what she did all day.
They next day Noni meets Briar, a girl from her class, on the school bus. Briar introduces Noni to some other girls. Noni can’t believe how easy it is to make friends and for a moment she stops felling nervous. Then she starts to get nervous again. What if she gets lost at school? What if she spills juice all over her clothes when she opens her juice box?
Many children get nervous when they go to school for the first time. After all, there are so many things that could go wrong. In this sweet book we meet a little girl who is overwhelmed by first day of school jitters, and who makes an amazing discovery on her second day of school.
It takes a special kind of person to create poetry for young children. The poems cannot be too long, they have to be engaging, and they have to be about subjects that will resonate with the audience. In today's review title the poet manages to do all these things and more.
Illustrated by Kate Leake
Tiger Tales, 2008, 978-1-58925-836-5
Poems come in all kinds of flavors. Some are deep and meaningful, some tell a story, and some were created to make readers laugh. This title is just such a rib-tickling book. The author writes about situations that children will appreciate, adding in plenty of child-friendly humor.
For example, in It’s not fair,
we meet a boy who is mighty peeved because when he burps he is scolded, whereas when babies burp the grownups shout “Hooray.” Clearly there is something about this state of affairs that simply is not right.
Then we meet a little boy who has a wiggly tooth and who wants his friend to help him get it out. She suggests that “he bite jawbreakers / or chew on an old shoe,” or she could make him “loose-tooth juice / with crunchy rocks and glue.” Whatever the children do, the little girl isn’t too worried because she knows that she has a secret weapon that is sure to do the trick and get the tooth on the move.
With funny illustrations and sturdy coated pages, this splendid book is perfect for little children who like to explore language and who enjoy a good laugh.
August 28th is the anniversary of the day when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his 1963 "I have a Dream..." speech in Washington D.C. He was supported on this day by many speakers, leaders, and singers. One of the people who stood at his side then, and on other occasions, was a woman whose voice could make people smile and weep. her name was Mahalia Jackson. Today's picture book tells the story of the connection and friendship that grew between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson. We see how both of them raised their voices to encourage people to have hope, to stand tall, and to peacefully fight for equality.
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Little Brown, 2013, 978-0-316-07013-3
In two cities in the south, there were two children who learn how to use their voices to reach out to their people. In Atlanta, Georgia, young Martin Luther King Jr. learned how to deliver sermons in church, captivating his listeners with his “Gift for gospel.” In another church in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mahalia Jackson sang in the choir and everyone could see that she had a gift for gospel: sung gospel.
In the south where these young people lived, African Americans, the descendants of slaves, did not have the same rights as white American citizens. They were kept separate from white people by Jim Crow laws and had to accept being separate “but nowhere near equal.”
As Martin and Mahalia grew up their gift for gospel grew with them. People came to hear Martin’s sermons, to be strengthened by his words of hope. People also came to hear Mahalia sing and they bought her records. White people and black alike loved her voice, which was “Brass and Butter. Strong and smooth at the same time.” Both Martin and Mahalia wanted to “set people on the path to peace,” they wanted people to hope that one day all people, white and black, would be free. The two admired each other a great deal and then in 1955, during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, they came together to preach and sing their support for the cause.
This collaboration was just the beginning. They wanted to do more and both decided that they would take part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Here was an opportunity for Martin and Mahalia to reach out to thousands of people. After Mahalia sang to quieten the crowd, Martin began speaking and his friend encouraged him to speak on. “Tell them about your dream, Martin!” she said. And so he did.
In this extraordinary picture book we meet two people who in their own ways used their voices to encourage Americans to protest peacefully against inequality and injustice and to “rejoice in the beauty of racial unity.”
The lyrical text is paired with beautifully expressive artwork, and at the back of the book readers will find out more information about Martin and Mahalia, a note from the illustrator about “Painting Parallels,” and a combined timeline of Martin and Mahalia’s lives.
I have lots of books on my shelves about the many different poetry forms that poets like to use. It is interesting to see how words can be used to create different moods and effects. Today's poetry title is special because it brings together lots of different poetry forms so that children can explore them with both their eyes and their ears.
Illustrated by Meredith Hamilton
Poetry anthology with an audio CD
Black Dog and Leventhal, 2003, 1-57912-282-5
If you think that poetry is strictly for learned professors and students of English Literature you are about to discover that you couldn’t be further from the truth. Poetry is all around us and we begin to hear it and enjoy it from our very earliest days in this world. In the nursery we listen to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
and other nursery rhymes and then we move on, as we grow, to more complex poetry forms such as nonsense verse, limericks, haiku, narrative verse, and lyric verse.
With plenty of examples to show us what he means, the author introduces us to the major poetry forms. He also gives us a lot of information about the historical and cultural significance of many of the sample poems. As we read we are encouraged to listen to the poems on the CD provided. Many of the poems will be old friends like The Jabberwocky
, Paul Revere’s Ride
, and The Road Not Taken
, while many others will be new and beautiful pieces to listen to and explore.
In the second half of the book the author introduces us to some of the greatest poets of all time. From Homer to Robert Frost and from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes, this will be a fascinating journey both from a historical and a poetical point of view.
This volume is practically a complete poetry course in one book. It presents poetry in a fresh and exciting way, helping the reader to see and appreciate that poetry gives us a wonderful way to tell a story, to express a feeling, or to make a person laugh. Michael Driscoll is a creative and inspired writer who knows how to make the study of literature both interesting and entertaining.
I have a soft spot for stuffed animals, which is why I was drawn to today's picture book. The characters are all stuffed and felted animals that have been placed in cleverly crafted scenes and photographed. As I read the tale I quite fell in love with the characters and admired their courage and ingenuity. How wonderful it is that we now have more stuffed animal book heroes to enjoy. I am sure Winne-the-Pooh would approve.
Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue
Photographs by Olivier Tappin
For ages 5 to 7
Brave Mouse Books, 2010, 978-0-9819697-1-8
Benjamin Middlemouse lives with his mother in a bedroom wardrobe in an old house. One day, Mrs. Middlemouse goes out to run some errands. She tells her son that she will be back by three o’clock, but at three o’clock there is no sign of Mrs. Middlemouse. Four o’clock ticks by and it becomes clear that something has happened to Benjamin’s mother.
Benjamin climbs out of his wardrobe home and goes to talk to Bumper, his elephant friend. He tells Bumper that Mrs. Middlemouse is missing. Without hesitation, Bumper says that he will help Benjamin look for his mother. The friends collect supplies and Benjamin piles them onto Bumper’s wide back.
Cautiously Bumper and Benjamin go to the kitchen. There is no sign of Mrs. Middlemouse, so Bumper asks the Pantrymice if they have seen her. Posie Pantrymouse says that they saw Benjamin’s mother just a short while ago. Apparently she was on her way to the garden to get a tomato. The problem is that Sir Pouncelot is on the prowl in the garden looking for the ingredients he needs to make his favorite dish – mouse and mole casserole. Mrs. Middlemouse is in grave danger!
Benjamin and Bumper hop on their home made scooter and out into the garden they go. There they find Mrs. Middlemouse’s errand list, and they pick up her scent. Unfortunately they also pick up the scent of Sir Pouncelot.
In this wonderful picture book the author takes her readers on a grand adventure. For the artwork Molly Coxe created beautiful animals out of felt and fabric and they have been placed in a lovely world. Readers will have a grand time exploring the scenes in the photos, and identifying the things that the mice have ‘borrowed’ from humans to make their lives easier.
When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who loved humorous poetry. Among other things, this teacher introduced me and my classmates to Edward Lear's limericks. We had many laughter-filled lessons exploring these wonderful little poems, many of which we memorized.
Edited by Edward Mendelson
Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Sterling, 2010, 978-1-4027-7294-8
Most people have, at some point of another, encountered Edward Lear’s wonderful poems and limericks. So many of his poems are memorable because they are delightfully peculiar and often funny. The strange thing is that Edward Lear was a sad person much of the time. He was only really happy when he was creating art or writing. Though he did make friends, he never married and was often lonely. As so often is the case with lonely people, Lear was very fond of children and animals. He enjoyed creating stories and pictures about animals that children found entertaining. His first collection of poetry, A Book of Nonsense
, contained artwork and poems that he had written for some children whom he befriended.
In this excellent poetry picture book readers will encounter a wide variety of poems that Edward Lear wrote. Some will be familiar like The Owl and the Pussycat, The Jumblies
and Calico Pie
, while others will be new to the reader. What makes this collection special is that the editor provides readers with an introduction about Lear’s life and work at the beginning of the book, and every poem is prefaced by a note that gives readers further information about that poem. Thus every poem is given a context that helps us to better understand what Edward Lear was trying to achieve when he wrote the piece.
Though many of the poems are nonsensical, they do have underlying themes that are serious in nature. The famous poem, The Owl and the Pussycat
is about an owl and a cat who, despite their differences, want to be a couple, so they “sailed away, for a year and a day,” to an island where they were married and the poem ends on such a happy note that we are sure that they will find happiness.
In The Scroobious Pip
, we meet a creature that is not a mammal, a bird, a fish, or any other kind of recognizable animal. The other animals are troubled by this and they appoint some of their number to ask the Scroobious Pip “Are you Beast, or Insect, Bird or Fish?” Some creatures would develop a complex being asked this question so many times, but the Scroobius Pip does not allow himself to be perturbed. He is content being who and what he is.
Throughout the book the editor also provides us with definitions of some of the words used in the poems. This feature will certainly help readers to appreciate the poems fully. After all, many of us have no idea what a “snuffer” or “Stilton Cheese” is.
Every so often I come across a picture book that makes a deep impression on me. Today's review title is just such a book. The beautifully crafted text is perfectly married to gorgeous artwork that is both sweet and powerful.
Penguin, 2013, 978-0-399-25792-6
On a bright sun-drenched August day Miss Maple comes flying home on the back of a little blue bird. Soon more blue birds arrive and each one is carrying a basket on its back. In the baskets, nestled in soft beds of grass, are the seeds Miss Maple has been collecting all summer. These seeds are the ones that “got lost during the spring planting.” Miss Maple is going to care for these seeds in her maple tree home and get them ready for the planting season in the coming year.
Miss Maple carefully washes each seed, saying “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.” While the weather is still fair, Miss Maple takes her charges on field trips so that they will learn what it means to be a seed. She shows them the river that may carry them to their new home. She travels on the wind to show them the fields and forests.
During the cold winter months Miss Maple and her animal friends gather in Miss Maples cozy little home to eat together and to share stories and songs. In the spring the seeds are introduced to the rain, which they will one day need. Then, at last, the day comes when Miss Maple must “send her seeds off to find roots of their own.”
In this special picture book beautiful artwork is paired with a lyrical text to tell the story of a little lady who appreciates the potential the lies in the seeds she cares for. She knows that each seed, no matter how small it is, has within it the ability to travel far and to do great things.
Children and grownups alike are going to love this gentle and meaningful tale.
Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.
Houghton Mifflin, 1996, 0-15-202366-6
Birds come in all shapes and sizes and they live in a wide variety of habitats, including in our cities, towns and villages. We often see birds when we go about our day. Among other things they chirp at us from their perches in trees, build nests in our gardens, and try to steal our food when we are at the beach. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to watch a wild bird and see how it lives its life, at least for a while.
In this wonderful collection of bird poems we get to meet twenty-one very different species of birds. Some of the birds will be familiar to readers such as the hummingbird, which one can hear “hum / With beating wings so fast they’re blurred.” We probably have seen emperor penguins in zoos or in movies. How extraordinary that these birds are able to live “on ice packs / Of antarctic sea,” a place that “Is harsh as can be.”
Other species are a little more exotic. There is the quetzal, which has a very long green tail that the author describes using a splendid concrete poem. We also encounter the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, whose head and shoulders are “flaming bright red.” So bright are this bird’s feathers that “Each expert agrees, / This vivid bird can’t be ignored.”
With touches of humor and a clever use of language, Douglas Florian uses his poems to pay homage to birds. Readers will find a wide variety of poetry forms on the pages of this book, and they will enjoy meeting some bird friends that they have never even heard of before.
I am not afraid to admit that I am a art supply junkie. I love browsing in art supply stores and have a rather large collection of paints, pencils, pens, and crayons, which is why I loved this picture book. Imagine what your art supplies would say to you if they could speak, or write. I know my paint brushes would complain about the fact that I keep absentmindedly dipping them in my tea.
The day the crayons quit
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Penguin, 2013, 978-0-399-25537-3
One day at school Duncan goes to get his crayons and he finds a bundle of letters waiting for him. When he opens the first letter he discovers that it was written by his red crayon. Apparently the crayon is not very happy with its lot in life. It feels that Duncan makes it “work harder” than all the other crayons. A letter from the purple crayon indicates that this crayon is tired of so much of its “gorgeous color” going out of the lines. In fact, if Duncan doesn’t start coloring inside the lines the purple crayon is “going to completely lose it.”
The orange and yellow crayons are not on speaking terms so they voice their complaints through their letters to Duncan. The white crayon is tired of being used to color white paper, and the pink crayon is upset the Duncan hardly ever uses it. Of course Duncan had no idea that his crayons were so upset and now he has to find a way to reassure and placate them.
Readers of all ages are going to enjoy this enormously amusing picture book. Everyone has, at some point, used crayons to draw and write. There is something comforting about their colors, their texture, even their wonderful crayony smell. Who knew that they all had such different personalities and problems!
With wonderful artwork and a truly unique story, this picture book is sure to become a favorite in homes, classrooms, and libraries.
The first Mother Goose book containing nursery rhymes was published by John Newbery in 1791. Since then dozens of Mother Goose books have been published in many languages, and many have been created using unusual formats. What I like about today's poetry title are the cunning and richly detailed illustrations that Sylvia Long has created to accompany the Mother Goose rhymes.
Sylvia Long’s Mother Goose
For ages 2 to 5
Chronicle, 1999, 978-0811820882
Let us go on a trip down lanes peopled with animals in cunning old-fashioned outfits. Let's encounter rhymes that are old friends, and ones that will become new friends. Though the rhymes are in their original form, the illustrations are full of surprises. The reader will find that the illustrator has put her own personal twist to these old, much beloved, rhymes. Instead of having poor Humpty Dumpty break open, Sylvia Long has the egg fall of the wall, crack, and reveal a little duckling that is inside the egg. In "Hey Diddle Diddle" the cow, dressed in a tutu and ballet slippers, leaps gracefully over the moon, and a spoonbill bird is the one who runs away with the dish - who just happens to be a turtle.
In addition to many of the more familiar Mother Goose rhymes, Sylvia Long has added some of the less well knows rhymes to her beautifully illustrated collection. It is a treat to be able to enjoy these rhymes, to laugh at the funny things that happen to the characters in them, and to indulge in this wonderful literary legacy that belongs to us all.
I did not grow up in a part of the world where there are fireflies. I was twenty-two before I saw my first firefly in a park in Washington D.C, and I have to tell you that the moment when I saw the little insects blinking and flying across the grass is one that I will never forget. Today's picture book celebrates one little girl's firefly night, showing to great effect how magical it is.
As a special treat, the author of this charming book, Dianne Ochiltree
, has sent me two signed copies of this book to give to two lucky readers. If you want to be entered in the drawing for the books please email me at editor (at) lookingglassreview (dot) com.
Illustrated by Betsy Snyder
Blue Apple Books, 2013, 978-1-60905-291-1
It is a warm summer night. The moon is glowing high in a sky that is dotted with bright stars. Daddy tells his little daughter that “It’s a firefly night.” Clad in her nightie the little girl, with her dog, runs out into the front yard. Fireflies blink all around her. There are even fireflies sitting on the dog’s fur!
Together the dog and girl chase the fireflies and soon she has five fireflies in a jar. She races across the grass to show her father the fireflies’ “dancing-light show.” Though she loves to catch fireflies, the little girl knows that they are not hers to keep and she lets them go.
In this beautifully written magical book the author’s rhyming words are paired with lovely multimedia art to give readers a picture of a special summer evening that is alight with the sparkle and glow of fireflies. At the back of the book the author provides readers with interesting facts about fireflies.
Introducing very little children to the beauty of language is something many of my writing friends and colleagues love to do. Jane Yolen, a wonderful writer and poet who has charmed children with her rhyming How do dinosaur books
, now brings us a new poetry collection that was written for babies and toddlers. Throughout the book wonderful rhymes are paired with Jane Dyer's delightful illustrations.
For infants to children age 5
Simon and Schuster, 2013, 978-1-4169-4898-8
Between them author and poet Jane Yolen and illustrator Jane Dyer have nine grandchildren, and they have both spent countless hours playing and spending time with these precious children. Not surprisingly, they believe that “literature begins in the cradle” and that “rhymes are our earliest cultural artifacts.” Mother Goose rhymes and simple pieces of verse that have a singsong element should be a vital part of every little child’s life. In this book such poems are paired with Jane Dyer’s deliciously sweet and lovely artwork to give little children and their grownups a gift that they can share for hours and hours.
Many of the poems in this book will be familiar, including the first poem, The Rose is Red
. Later on Pat-A-Cake, Girls and Boys Come out to Play
and This Little Pig
appear. These Mother Goose rhymes have been charming little children for generations.
In addition to these old favorites, there are new poems that Jane Yolen has written, many of which explore everyday moments in a child’s day. There is the poem Oops, Whoops,
which tells the story of what happens when a cup full of milk falls to the floor. The child is comforted and told not to “yowl” for Daddy is coming “With a great big towel.” There is also a poem about piggyback rides and one about going to the supermarket to “Ride down every aisle.” In other poems we share a ride in a swing, slip down a slide, and play in a sandbox. In Nap Time
we encounter a child who is not sleepy and who wants to go to the park. After all, how can one sleep when “it’s not dark.” The poem comes to a close with the child asking for a blankie, a hankie and a story, but before the story can be told we hear a “Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
This collection of poems is a perfect title to give new parents or grandparents as a gift.
Losing a friend can be a very painful experience, and sometimes the pain is so deep that we never forget what that friend was like and how special he or she was. In today's book you will meet Otto, an elephant whose best friend Georgie is kidnapped. Otto never forgets Georgie, and encouraged by a parrot chum, he sets off to find him. Be prepared to laugh a great deal when you read this graphic novel story. It is deliciously funny and full of truly outrageous adventures.
Big City Otto: Elephants Never Forget
Bill Slavin and Esperanca Melo
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
For ages 8 to 12
Kids Can Press, 2011, 978-1-55453-476-0
Otto is an elephant who has never quite got over the loss of his best friend, Georgie the chimp. Otto was orphaned when he was still very little, and Georgie’s family took him in and raised him as one of their own. Naturally, the elephant and the chimp grew very close.
Some time ago Georgie was kidnapped, or rather chimpnapped, by the Man with the Wooden Nose, and Otto is still grieving. Otto’s friend Crackers the parrot discusses the chimpnapping with Otto again, and he figures out that Georgie was taken in a ship to America. Being a very brainy bird, and a friend who dearly wants to reunite Georgie and Otto, Crackers finds a way to get Otto onto a plane that is flying to New York City. This is no mean feat since Otto is rather large and is therefore very difficult to hide or disguise.
When they get to America the two friends start getting into trouble from the very beginning. They have to break out of the airport in the middle of the night, and when they get to the city they realize that finding Georgie is not going to be easy because the city is huge.
After a number of false starts, Crackers and Otto meet a performing monkey who suggests they go to the zoo where there are wild animals. Perhaps one of them will know about Georgie or the Man with the Wooden Nose. Crackers and Otto dare to hope that they are finally going to make some progress, never imagining that a great deal of danger awaits them at the zoo.
In this deliciously funny, sweet, and entertaining graphic novel we meet a not-too-bright elephant and a canny and loyal parrot who cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Wonderful adventures and colorful characters make this a winning graphic novel that fans of this genre are going to love.
When I first started to read and enjoy poetry, many of the poems that attracted me were about animals. I learned The Owl and the Pussycat by heart and had a grand time reading The Tyger out loud with my father, trying to make the poem sound as dramatic as possible. Today's book of poetry brings these two poems and many others to readers who enjoy whiling away some time with some wonderful poetry animals.
Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Sterling, 2004, 978-1-4027-0926-5
Animals and humans have been interacting in all kinds of ways for thousands of years, and for this reason humans have been writing about animals ever since they acquired the ability to write. Some writers and poets have told stories about animals or described them, while others have tried to imagine what it would be like to be an animal, seeing the world through an animal’s eyes.
For this collection of poems John Hollander has brought together poems about animals that people in North America, Europe, and East Asia have written in the last four centuries. Some of the poems tell the story of talking animals. For example, in The Owl and the Pussycat
we hear about an unlikely pair of lovers who sail away “in a pea-green boat” and are married by a “piggy-wig” that has “a ring at the end of his nose.”
by Ralph Waldo Emerson we meeting a talking squirrel who gets into a quarrel with a mountain. The squirrel admits that the mountain is “doubtless very big,” but that does not mean that the squirrel is not important too. After all, a squirrel is “spry” and can “crack a nut,” which a mountain most certainly cannot do.
Other poems provide readers with a description of an animal, helping us to understand what the animal is like. In The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson, we hear about the bird that lives “Close to the sun in lonely lands,” and that “watches from his mountain walls. / And like a thunderbolt he falls.” Though it is not grand and regal, the jelly fish that Marianne Moore describes in her poem, A Jelly-Fish
is still an extraordinary creature. In her opinion the jelly fish is “a fluctuating charm” that is both visible and invisible.
Throughout this excellent book all the poems are prefaced by a note from the editor. These notes provide readers with further information about the poet and the poet’s intentions, and some of the notes also tell us a little about the poem and its history.
This title is one in an excellent series of books of poetry published by Sterling Publishing.
For as long as I can remember I have been an animal lover. My parents, and then my husband, have had to put up with the injured birds, mice, voles, squirrels, dogs and cats that I have brought home. Many of my 'patients' didn't make it, but a few have. I will never forget how I felt when my bluebird chicks flew up to where their parents were waiting for them, and how thrilled I was when my one-eyed starling flew off to start a new life. In today's picture book we will meet some people who open their hearts to an injured bird and whose hearts, I am sure, are enriched because they did.
Candlewick Press, 2013, 978-0-7636-3903-7
One day high up above the city streets, a pigeon flew into a glass window and then fell to the ground below. No one saw the accident or the fall, and no one saw the pigeon lying on the cement with its eyes closed, a single feather lying beside it. People walked by the fallen bird, never looking down, until Will came along.
The little boy saw the pigeon and realized that it was alive and injured. He picked the bird up and showed his find to mother, who was, at first, unsure of what to do. Then she took off her scarf and wrapped it around the bird and together they took the animal home.
Will’s father did not know what to do either when he saw the bird, but when he saw his son’s concern and hope, he too took on the cause of the bird. Together Will, his mother and his father did everything they could to make their injured guest comfortable. Though they could not put the feather the bird had lost back where it belonged, they could hope that the broken wing would heal.
This beautifully illustrated book, with its spare and meaningful text shows to great effect how powerful hope can be. We see how the little boy and his parents have the same willingness to do what they can to help another living thing that is in trouble, and how they invest time and effort on its behalf.
This is a book that readers of all ages will appreciate.
I took a very long time to read today's poetry title, not because it was hard to read or very long, but because I read several of the poems more than once. They were so beautifully crafted that I had to go back to get a second look. If you are interested in poems that tell stories then this is the book for you. The voices that speak to us from the pages are true and honest, and they give us pictures of a wide variety of people.
Holiday House, 2004, 978-0-8234-2212-8
Author and poet Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem, and after he read Edgar Lee Master’s book Spoon River Anthology
, he was inspired to create a collection of poems that celebrate people from Harlem whom the author knew or “whose lives have touched” his own. Many of the people whom he admires greatly appear in these poems. Following the advice of poet E.B Yeats, Walter Dean Myers wrote about a community that he loved dearly, “whose people would gladden his heart.”
The first ‘voice’ we hear belongs to Mali Evans, a twelve-year-old girl. Mali hopes that when she is old she will be like Mrs. Purvis who walks like a monarch “Down the avenue, as if the streets / Were her queendom” and who is “an ancient lady / Tree-tough and deep-rooted.”
Later in the book we meet Milton Brooks, an undertaker who does his best to comfort those left behind. He tries to “ease the pain” of these people by telling them that the dearly departed will “wake up home.” The only time Mr. Brooks cannot help weeping is when a child dies, and he prays to the Lord that he will not have to watch more “old men shuffling children to / the grave.”
Later still we find ourselves keeping company with Delia Pierce, who is a hairdresser. Like hairdressers and barbers all over the world, Delia hears all the news in the community and she is not shy to share what she has heard. She tells us about Carla who is getting married for the third time and who “uses men like a Christmas tree uses tinsel.” She tells us about Darlene who is going south, Sister Smith whose husband chases women, Cindy Lou who sneaks out at night, Betty Mae who tells tales about her former glory, and Deacon Grier who would “sit home all day and sip champagne” with a “light-skinned” girl called Baby Jane. Of course, Delia tells us that she “ain’t the kind to talk behind / nobody’s back.”
Every poem in this collection gives readers a beautiful portrait of a person, and together they capture the flavor of a unique community. Paired with beautiful black and white period photos, the poems are like gems that we can savor and delight in.
Every so often I decide to start a new project, to take a new direction with my work. Often, in the beginning, I cannot seem to get things to work the way I want them to work. Figuratively speaking, I fall on my face a lot. It is awfully easy to get discouraged at these times and I feel like giving up. From now on, when I have those 'I want to give up' moments, I will pull today's picture book off my shelf. It is the best pick-me-up in book form that I have found, and it always, always puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I think this book should be compulsory reading for everyone.
Tiger Tales, 2013, 978-1-58925-119-9
Martin the dragon is sad, and the children in the village, who love Martin, are worried about their scaly friend. When they ask him what is wrong, Martin explains that he wishes he could fly. Unfortunately, his wings are just too small to support his body, and inevitably “What goes up, must come down.”
Then Martin sees a bumblebee buzz by and he gets a splendid idea. “Stripes must be the key to flying,” he says and he quickly paints some stripes on his body. Alas, stripes are not what Martin needs.
After Martin sees autumn leaves drift by on the breeze he decides that what he needs to do to fly is to be in a tree. Then he, like the leaves, will be carried off by the wind. After sitting in the tree for quite some time, Martin determines that dragons and leaves do not behave in the same way.
Martin tries to be fluffy like a cloud, but when he - wrapped in dandelion fluff - leaps into the air, he and his fluff crashes to the ground. Poor Martin is feeling “so low” that the children decide to take him in hand. There must be something that they can do to help their friend.
Sometimes something we want very badly indeed seems completely out of reach. No matter how hard we try, that coveted something is unattainable. This charming, funny, and delightfully sweet picture book story will remind readers of all ages that one cannot give up hope. With a little help from our friends, we can achieve just about anything our heart desires, even when our wings seem too small for the job.
There are so many animal species on our planet today that sometimes we forget to remember that millions of species have gone extinct over the millennia. The ones that here now are the survivors, the ones who had that little something that made it possible for them to survive climate change, meteorite strikes, and the rise of humans. Today's book of poetry celebrates some of these survivors, and it is a wonderful book to explore and to share with others.
Illustrated by Beckie Prange
Houghton Mifflin, 2010, 978-0-618-71719-4
Four point six billion years ago Earth was a glowing ball floating in space; it was newly formed and was therefore, a place where living organisms could not survive. Then the seas began to form, and when the right conditions occurred, tiny single-celled organisms evolved. These bacteria were simple creatures, and yet they helped make our planet home suitable for the plants and animals that appeared later in Earth’s story. They were, in short “miraculous.” In fact, all the plant and animal species that exist today are miracles. Ninety-nine percent of all species that have appeared on Earth have gone extinct, which makes the one percent that are sharing Earth with us true survivors.
Many millions of years after bacteria appeared shelled organisms called mollusks arrived on the scene. These animals have soft bodies that are protected by a shell. We often find the empty shells of these animals on beaches, and admire the beautiful cones and swirls. The pearly interiors of the shells look so lovely that we wish we could climb inside and knock on the shell’s
“tiny door / and ask to meet the mollusk” that made the shell.
The author of this book then goes on to introduce us to several other families of living things that have been very successful here on Earth. These include the lichens, sharks, and diatoms. The poem about sharks is a delightfully clever concrete poem, and the one about diatoms is beautifully simple.
Next, the author looks at several species that have survived on earth for many millions of years. We meet a gecko who can shed its tail when a predator threatens it. The fallen tail end wiggles and distracts the predator for long enough that the gecko has time to flee. These extraordinary animals wipe their eyes with their tongues, and they can climb straight up smooth walls thanks to tiny hairs on their feet that work rather like Velcro.
Another species that we meet are ants, who “never seem to play at all,” and who form complex societies that have fascinated scientists for years. Later on in the book we come across a page dedicated to dandelions. It may seem strange that they are here, but then we remember how hard it is to get rid of dandelions in our lawns and gardens. These hardy plants can grow in many kinds of environments and are so successful that they can take over an area in no time at all.
Throughout this book superbly crafted poems are paired with gorgeous illustrations and sections of informative text. Each piece of text includes information about how long the featured species or family has been around, which some people will find particularly interesting. Who knew that dandelions have been populating our planet for five million years!
Seek-and-find books are a wonderful invention. I often use them to get children who are bookaphobic to look at books, to give books a chance. Often, to their surprise, these children discover that the books I give them are entertaining and even funny. Bob Staake's seek-and-find books are an excellent example of this genre because the artwork is full of stories. Children can have a grand time coming up with their own tales as they explore the pictures.
Look! Another Book!
For ages 5 and up
Little Brown, 2012, 978-0-31620459-0
It wasn’t that long ago when there were no seek-and-find books for children. Then the author of the Waldo books, Martin Handford, began creating his delightful titles, and authors and illustrators were inspired to create a wide variety of seek-and-find books.
In 2011 Bob Staake unleashed Look! A Book! on the world, and children (and adults) got to enjoy exploring his unique, colorful, and often funny illustrations. Now we have another Look! title that once again encourages readers to “Discover things, both small and large,” on the pages. Words play a minor role in the book and we are promised that there are more pictures “than you’ve ever seen.”
Sure enough, the pages are covered with colorful scenes that are jam packed with bizarre looking characters. The first scene is in a mall. A mall? A boring mall? No, this mall is nothing like any mall you or I have ever seen. In this mall, animals, humans, and robots are walking around, selling things, shopping, eating, and having adventures. There is a pirate ship - complete with a pirate - in the middle of a decorative pond. A sporting goods store and an antiques store are housed in houses, and in the food court there is a place where you can buy a honey baked haggis. There is a man who has a bat flying out of the top of his hat, and a boy wearing a cowboy outfit is riding on the back of a dolphin.
Well that certainly was wild! Perhaps the next scene will be more ‘normal.’ Here we are looking at a school and the school yard. It is recess time and the children are out running around and playing. Actually, there are animals here too. And robots. And a ghost and a monster. Is that an alien peering around the side of the school? It would appear that this scene is just as wonderfully bizarre as the last one.
In all there are seven scenes to explore in this book and each one is full of things to find. In addition, there are things going on in the artwork that encourages storytelling. For example, in the zoo scene there is a crab in a pot of fondue and for some reason the zoo keeper is walking a little green monster on a leash. Why are these things happening? Why are all the animals out of their cages and walking around? Children can have a little fun coming up with little stories to explain why these things are going on.
After readers are convinced that they have found all they can, they can go to the back of the book where there is a list of more things to find, things that are “MORE tough” to locate. Who can resist a challenge like this?
With a wonderful rhyming text, die-cuts on many of the pages, and remarkable illustrations, this is a book that will provide readers with hours of entertainment. This book demonstrates very well that pictures are indeed “worth A LOT!”
These days, much of the news that we hear about elephants is not good. In fact it is downright depressing, and I confess that I have a hard time listening to the stories on the radio about the poaching problems in Africa and the habitat loss issues in Asia. When today's book arrived in the mail, I felt a little conflicted. Do I want to read this book, I asked myself. Thankfully I did read it. It is a lovely book and it reminded me that we need to keep on doing everything we can to save elephants, no matter how bad the situation looks.
Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Poetry Picture Book
Clarion Books, 2011, 978-0-618-90349-8
Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated by elephants. There is something about elephants that captures the imagination, and people cannot help being drawn to these large animals with their tiny eyes, large plodding feet, long trunk, and gently swaying walk.
In this remarkable poetry title, poems, artwork, and sections of informative text are combined to give readers a book that looks elephants in a number of ways. We read about how people in many different cultures have elephants in their mythology. In the poem “Cousins of Clouds” we hear of how, long ago, elephants “were great kings of the sky.” One day the elephants angered a prophet by arguing in his presence. To punish the elephants the prophet cursed them so that their wings shriveled to become “pitiful ears,” and thus elephants became earth bound. Now these “cousins of clouds” can only dream of flying as they flap their ears.
We hear about two working elephants; one walks down a street in Bangkok surrounded by cars, and another works in Africa, carrying tourists who want to see Africa’s wildlife up close.
We hear how much an elephant enjoys a mud bath, and how an elephant’s trunk, with its more than forty thousand muscles, allows the animal to use this curious-looking appendage as a finger, a fork, an arm, a nose, and a piece of rope.
We also learn that elephant females work together to protect their precious babies, caring for them for several years. As one would expect in such intelligent and social animals, elephants have several ways to communicate with one another. In addition to making trumpeting noises with their trunks, elephants can communicate over long distances using low sounds that are “near silent.”
Using a wide variety of poetic forms the author of this book beautifully shares her affection for elephants with the reader. Each poem focuses on an elephant related topic, and it is accompanied by an illustration and a section of text. The text offers readers further information about the topic that is featured on that page. By the time readers get to the end of the book they are able to see how truly wondrous elephants are and how vital it is to protect and cherish them.
View Next 25 Posts
Years ago, when my husband was doing his graduate degree at Harvard, I visited him and he took me to Walden Pond. It was a clear day in early fall and I fell in love with the place at once, taking dozens of photographs of the trees, the pond, and the little treasures that I saw about me. Today's picture book captures the magic of Walden Pond, taking readers back in time so that they can explore the special place with Henry David Thoreau, who lived near the pond for two years.
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Henry Holt, 2012, 978-0-8050-9137-3
More than one hundred and fifty years ago, a man called Henry David Thoreau left his town life and went to live in the woods next to Walden Pond, which is near the town of Concord in Massachusetts. He lived in a tiny cabin that he built himself, and explored the woods around his home, getting to know the plants and animals intimately. He wrote down notes in his journal, and later Thoreau wrote a book about his life in the little cabin. It was called Walden, or Life in the Woods,
and it is now considered to be one of America’s greatest books.
In this book readers are invited to imagine what it would be like to spend a day with Thoreau at Walden Pond. As readers explore Thoreau’s world, they will see how simple and yet how rich his life was.
If you could go back in time to visit Thoreau you would have to get to his cabin early because Thoreau “wakes with the sun.” Perhaps you and Thoreau would go out onto the pond in a little row boat. You could help him weed his bean patch and walk with him in the woods. You wouldn’t have to worry about getting lost because Henry knows his way around the woods. You might even go to Fair Haven Hill to pick huckleberries.
Moving quietly through the woods and across the meadows you would see all kinds of animals. There in the sky is a hawk “soaring and tumbling, over and over.” You might chase after a fox, or watch two species of ants waging a war. With Thoreau for company you will learn how to see the natural world around you in a new way.
In this unique picture book, Robert Burleigh’s beautifully spare prose is paired with Wendell Minor’s atmospheric illustrations to give readers a picture of what Thoreau’s life at Walden Pond was like. Readers will get a sense of how peaceful the time was, and how the simple life that Thoreau had allowed him to connect with his environment in a meaningful way.
At the back of the book the author provides readers with further information about Thoreau and his time at Walden Pond. There is also a collection of quotations from Thoreau’s writings, all of which have relevance in the modern day. Since some of the quotations are written in language that is difficult to understand, the author provides readers with “modern interpretations,” to help us appreciate the sayings more fully.