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Showing posts from January, 2011

BOOK TRAILER for Chris Van Allsburg's NEW BOOK: Queen of the Falls, due out April 4, 2011

Chris Van Allsburg is the first picture book illustrator and author I discovered as an adult and he will always be a pillar of the craft for me, whether I like his newest book or not.  For me, my favorites of his books define all that is magical, wonderful, complex and profound in the world of picture books.  Everyone knows The Polar Express, but I urge you to seek out his other books and read them with your children if you are not already familiar with them.  A few of my favorites are The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (a great story-starter,) Two Bad Ants, The Wreck of the Zephyr, The Widow's Broom and The Stranger.   Queen of the Falls, the true story of the first person, a woman, to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel and survive, will be Van Allsburg's 17th picture book.













In 1989, Mark Helprin and Chris Van Allsburg published the first book in their trilogy, Swan Lake.   The Veil of Snows came out in 1993 and A City in Winterin 1996.  I don't know if anyone actually read thes…

Elfbook: The Curious Journey - an Interactive Story by John Lechner

After I finished reading Sticky Burr:  Adventures in Burrwood Forest to my son (again), we decided to visit John Lechner's website to see if there was a new tale from Burrwood Forest on the horizon.  While there are no new Sticky Burr books in the near future, we were delighted to finds something new, very new!  John Lechner's  Elfbook:  The Curious Journey is an internet-only, interactive story that combines elements of a book, a film and a game.  And, it's a great story!


It takes about ten minutes to experience the whole story.  Like the chambered nautilus shell embossed on the cover of a book that begins this tale, the story spirals in on itself.  On top of a creamy background that is textured like the page of a book, the black and gray story unwinds.  When an image from the story glows red, that is the cue for the reader to click on it and move the story forward.
A flash of light from the top of a distant tower and the approach of a flying beast lead the Elf on a journey…

Look! A Book! written and illustrated by Bob Staake

I saw first saw  Look!  A Book! by Bob Staake over at 100 Scope Notes back in early November and bookmarked it - in my mind.  Fortunately, I was working the day it arrived at the bookstore and I didn't have to rely on my sieve-like memory to prompt me to order it in.  Also fortunate - it was automatically shipped to the store! After checking out Staake's website, I seen why it was.  Those of you who read The New Yorker may recognize Staake's work and distinct, retro, playful style. From a kid's book perspective, his style feels a bit like a mixture of Lane Smith and William Joyce with a bit of j. otto siebold craziness thrown in.  After writing this review, with my six year old peeking over my shoulder to see the great illustrations as I did so, I broke my new rule (no more picture books...) and bought Look!  A Book! and I am so glad I did.  Having grown up with Richard Scarry as both my husband and I did, my son loves it, and so does my husband!




After the fabulous il…

Beautiful Oops! written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

Every page of Beautiful Oops! is an art project waiting to happen! Beautiful Oops!just oozes inspiration, ideas and creativity of the most playful kind. Barney Saltzberg definitely has a gift for creating books of this nature and all of them are little gems. Filled with fantastic paper engineering, Beautiful Oops!is paean to imagination and tool kit for cheerfully, creatively approaching mistakes. Also, it's just a really fun book to read. Keep Beautiful Oops!in mind when graduation season rolls around, too! This may be sacrilege, but I think  Beautiful Oops!should take the place of Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr Seuss as the go-to book for grads. 

Saltzberg also makes excellent book trailers that practically do my job for me. The only think I have left to say is buy a copy of this book for yourself and another to give as a gift for kids of all ages. And be sure to check out Celebrate Oops!, a program to foster creativity. The website is a great place to get inspired and share…

A Discussion of Shel Silverstein's THE GIVING TREE

I feel certain that most of you reading this right now own a copy of Shel Silverstein's 1964 book, The Giving Tree.  If you don't own it, I know you have read it or had it read to you at some point in your existence.  I still  have the copy that was given to me by my brother on my 11th birthday in 1979 and I have memories of reading it as a kid and watching the animated version made in 1973 and narrated by Shel himself and loving it very much. Recently while talking about this book with a customer, I had a very interesting experience that lead to a discovery about my true feelings about  The Giving Tree and how I currently interpret the text. This got me thinking. Many, many copies of this book are sold every year.  Many, many adults have fond memories of it. But do people still read it? And if so, what do they make of it? There are many different ways to interpret the story and many different emotions elicited after reading it.  However, in an interview (which he rarely gave…

The Rabbit Problem written and illustrated by Emily Gravett

I have mentioned Emily Gravett's picture books often on my blog (she's made my Best Picture Books list every year) but I have yet to feature her in her own post. While all of her books warrant their own reviews, The Rabbit Problem definitely leaps off the page.  Taking the Fibonacci sequence as a jumping off point, Gravett uses a rabbit  and a calendar (the book even has actual HOLES in the covers and pages, just like a real calendar) to demonstrate how the problem plays out. One rabbit in January turns into two rabbits in February, four rabbits in March, ten in May, and so on. Each calendar page illustrates a different dilemma faced by the rabbits.  From a lonely heart in January to a heat problem in August (met with delicious carrot popsicles, a nice use for an over abundance of carrots from an earlier month.) By October there are 55 pairs of rabbits and things in Fibonacci Field are getting pretty crazy.  


While there is not a traditional narrative to this story - it's m…