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Showing posts from 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

Wishing you that, on this, the shortest day of the year, your night is filled with family, friends and all the warmth you can generate! As for my family, we will be making our traditional trip to the beach (Moonlight, in Encinitas in case anyone wants to join us) to frolic in the dunes and watch the sun set and enjoy a bonfire. Afterwards, we will partake of the Solstice Cake- 2/3 chocolate and 1/3 vanilla.
This stunning photo is titled Winter Solstice was created by Bruce W, Berry Jr. His photos are amazing and I encourage you to check them out.
I will be taking a break as the year ends and will return on January 1, 2010 with my round up of best picture books of the year. In case you missed it, you can read Best Picture Books of 2008 posted on January 2, 2009. And don't forget, the Newbery and Caldecott Awards are right around the corner. Here is the round-up of last year's winners.

Book Lists: From the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Jon Scieszka is wrapping up a busy two year stint asNational Ambassador for Young People's Literature with a list of all the great books that were published during his tenure.
No doubt you know Jon from his gut busting, timeless picture books created with artist extraordinaire,Lane Smith. But you may not be aware of the tireless work he has done to encourage reluctant readers, boys especially, to enter the wonderful world of reading. January 6, 2010 will be Official Jon Scieszka Day at books4yourkids.com! I will run a new post that highlights some of Jon's work as ambassador, including an article he wrote about his experiences while holding the post and I will also be featuring a re-write of my review posted in 2008 on his chapter book series, The Time Warp Trio as well as a review of his autobiography for kids, Knucklehead. Scieszka is also the editor of a great book for fans of children's literature titled, Guys Write for Guys Read. This collection was meant to enc…

Oscar and the... written and illustrated by Geoff Waring, 32 pp, RL 1

In this great new series from Candlewick Press titled, Start with Science, we meet Oscar, a geometrically pleasing wonderfully curious kitten. In this series written and illustrated by Geoff Waring, all but two of which are available in paperback, young readers are introduced to core science concepts through the meandering investigations of Oscar and his friends. Unlike most books aimed at readers this young (I would definitely read this to a three year old and think a 6 year old could read it alone, in most cases) the Oscar books are not dry and dull to look at. These are stories wrapped in science, or is it science wrapped up in a story? And, despite the fact that the books are only 32 pages, each book has an index as well as a spread at the end that re-examines the subject covered, which I find especially scientific. The Oscar books are great for storytime, whether you are looking for a teachabe moment or not. The colorful illustrations are totally engaging, as is Oscar's…

The Frog Scientist, Gorilla Doctors, A Life in the Wild, Life on Earth - and Beyond by Pamela Turner, RL 4

Having a son who loves illustrated reference books (almost) to the exclusion of all other types of reading material has made me very, very familiar with DK, or Dorling Kindersley, the publisher of spectacular books (and documentaries) for children and adults. However, after reading Pamela S Turner's reference books, I see that there is a whole other side to science. What Turner brings to her books is the human face of exploration, investigation and especially conservation and preservation of disappearing species. Turner's books are filled with spectacular color photos and, always, an index at the back. For readers who aren't so enthralled with non-fiction and science related topics, Turner's books will make any school report a breeze and are likely to inspire interest where there might have been none before. For young readers who are already nurturing a fascination with science, these books will be an exciting discovery!


Published in 2009, The Frog Scientist by Tur…

Eleanor Davis Interview

I was so enthralled with Eleanor Davis's graphic novel The Secret Science Alliance and enchanted by Stinky that I had to know more about the amazing person who created these spectacular, perfectly balanced books that combine a very visual storytelling style and just the right amount text to make a new, for me anyway, kind of reading experience. As an art school drop-out, I was fascinated to learn the about the many aspects that go into creating sequential art (the fancy art school term for comic books.) As a lover of novels with almost no background in reading graphic novels, I was hoping for some education and maybe even a little instruction in appreciating the art of the comic book. Eleanor was extremely articulate, interesting and helpful! Lastly, I was very excited to discover that the British newspaper The Guardian recently ran a series of articles on Fairy Tales and invited Eleanor to illustrate Beauty and the Beast, Hans the Hedgehog and The Monkey and the Shark. I have…

The Tree of Life written and illustrated by Peter Sís

Peter Sís, born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1949, worked as a radio disc jockey in his homeland before pursuing his artistic talents. He interviewed George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles and served as guide to the Beach Boys, who were allowed to tour Czechoslovakia in 1969 after the Russian invasion of the country. This is unique background and perspective could be what gives him the inspiration and perspective to create the diverse and unique picture books that he does. Sís the first children's book illustrator to win the MacArthur Fellowship - nicknamed the Genius Award. His books were cited as being "challenging and intricately drawn... Their graphic elegance and complexity make them appealing to adults as well." This could not be more true. Sís has a way of tackling seemingly adult topics like life behind the Iron Curtain, the life of Galileo Galilei, and his father's journey through Tibet while working as a documentary filmmaker sent by his Communist…

Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure, written by AJ Wood and Clint Twist with Extracts from the Works of Charles Darwin, RL 4

This year celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and there are many books for children and adults recognizing this. One of the most beautiful and and engrossing, and possibly the one that will be the most attractive to young readers who are less than enthralled by science, is Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure: Countries Visited During the Voyage Round the World of the HMS Beagle Under the Command of Captain FitzRoy, Royal Navy. The scrapbook format of this book, made popular by the Ology series of books, also published by Candlewick Press, is what makes this book so easy to pick up and fall into. My 5 year old, who cannot read yet, has spent minutes (for him, this is a very long time to sit still in one spot, regardless of what he is doing) poring over this book at a time, picking it up again and again. On top of that, our local Natural History Museum has an exhibit titled Darwin: Evolution/Revolution at which we were able to see artifacts and fa…