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Showing posts from May, 2011

Marco Polo: History's Great Adventurer, Being an Account of His Travels 1270 - 1295, written by Clint Twist, including extracts from The Travels of Marco Polo, illustrated by Templar Books, RL 4

If you are familiar with the other books in this series, especially Clint Twist's Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure, then you need read no further. You know how exhaustive and author Twist is and how engaging and intriguing these books are. As I said in a previous review, the scrapbook format of this book, made popular by Candlewick Press'sOlogy series of books, is what makes Marco Polo: History's Great Adventurer, Being an Account of His Travels 1270 - 1295 so easy to pick up and fall into. Every page is filled with easy to digest bites of information surrounded by wonderful illustrations and an assortment of flaps, maps and envelopes to open, unfold and explore. Twist begins the story of Marco Polo in a prison cell in Genoa, Italy in 1298. Polo and his cellmate Rustichello da Pisa, a professional soldier who also wrote poems for nobles, are prisoners of war in the ongoing battle between Venice and Genoa. During their months of captivity, Polo tells da Pisa of his …

Hurry Down to Derry Fair written by Dori Chaconas and illustrated by Gillian Tyler

Hurry Down to Derry Fair, written by Dori Chaconas and magnificently illustrated by Gillian Tyler reminds me of books from my childhood. I grew up with everyday intricacies of Richard Scary's stories and illustrations and the darkly magic world of Maurice Sendak, but I also grew up with the lush watercolors and intimate domestic details of the books of Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter. And, while I love them all, I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter. Perhaps this is what makes the works of Janet and Alan Ahlberg of The Jolly Postman Fame, immediately lovable to me. Sadly, Janet Ahlberg died in 1994, but Alan continued to write and work with other illustrators. Gillian Tyler's style comes closest to that of Janet Ahlberg's, both illustrators capturing the the lush feel and attention to detail that I love in Tudor and Potter's work.

With Hurry Down to Derry Fair, Tyler's talents are on full display. Dori Chaconas' tale of a li…

To Market, To Market written and illustrated by Nikki McClure

I first encountered the work of Nikki McClure at story time in 2009 when I read All in a Day, written by Cynthia Rylant. The following year, I featured Mama, Is It Summer Yet? in my post of great books for Mother's Day. It was right around that time that I discovered the blog Mishaps and Adventures, written by Chad Beckerman, the Art Director for Abrams Books and Amulet Books for Young Readers. You can read about the evolution of a book cover over at Mishaps and Adventures, as well as interviews with artists and authors Mr Beckerman works with in the creation of what are consistently excellent books with a very high production value. These books are truly for people who love books. Beckerman's peek into McClure's studio and work process is a treat. A self-taught artist, McClure has been making paper-cuts since 1996 and every illustration and work of art she creates comes from one piece of paper! Combine this vivid artwork with McClure's powerful sense of the virtues of…

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food written by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti AND Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches by Makiko Ogawa, Pikko Pots and Crystal Watanabe

Chris Butterworth and Lucia Gaggioti'sHow Did That Get in My Lunchbox takes a page from Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day, taking an in depth (for the 7 and under crowd) look at where things come from. Packed full of great illustrations and information, How Did That Get in My Lunchbox is surprisingly readable for a non-fiction book for kids.My kids and I love the Magic School Bus and the DK Eyewitness books, but they aren't always fun to read out loud. How Did That Get in My Lunchbox reads just like a picture book, but with a little bit of jumping around on the page.

The design of the book is great. A sturdy cover with no dust jacket and pleasingly rounded edges holds thick glossy pages, giving the reader the distinct feeling you could eat while reading this book and wipe it clean in the event you got a bit of food on it. The book begins with a group of kids excitedly looking into their lunch boxes followed by a two page spread that shows what might be in those lun…

The Cabinet of Wonders written, by Marie Rutkoski, 253 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoskifalls into the category of "one of those books that caught my eye but took me a year or two to get around to reading and boy am I glad I did!" It seems like books from the fantasy genre are the kind that most often fall into this category for me, for some reason. I think that is because books of this nature are so prevalent these days and sometimes they tend to blur together without many distinguishing characteristics. However, from the cover, with it's superb illustration by David Frankland, to the main character to almost every aspect of the plot, The Cabinet of Wonders has many wonderful distinguishing characteristics that  it had me reaching for the second book, The Celestial Globe, the moment I finished the last page of The Cabinet of Wonders.
"The yellow hills rose and fell in sunny tops and valleys. The Bohemian countryside on this August morning looked almost like a golden ocean with huge, swelling waves." These ar…