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Showing posts from November, 2016

Hello Nature: Draw, Color, Make and Grow by Nina Chakrabarti

Hello Nature: Draw, Color, Make and Grow by Nina Chakrabarti is an absolutely amazing new hybrid of activity book - a coloring, doodle, craft, science, botany book that will get your kids off their screens and outside exploring, thinking , collecting and making. And, because Hello Nature is published by Laurence King, a repsected publisher of books on all aspects of the art world, from advertising and architecture to art, fashion, textiles, film and animation, interior design, and photography. Their books are acclaimed for their inventiveness, beautiful design and authoritative texts, as well as the care taken over their production and Hello Nature is a perfect example of this!

While Chakrabati's illustrations and activities speak for themselves, having perused all 224 pages of Hello Nature, I can tell you that this cleverly designed book is so much more than an activity book. Users are encouraged to observe the patterns and designs found in nature, guided by Chakrabarti's marv…

Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game by Anthony Browne, illustrated by Hanne Bartholin

**Before I talk about this book, I have to say that Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game has to be one of the most popular picture books I have read out loud to my students since I started working as a librarian three years ago. Of course, they love the story but what they really love is actually playing the shape game with me after we finish reading the book. If you buy this book, I guarantee that it will be universally adored by anyone seven and under!**
In 2003 Anthony Browne wrote and illustrated The Shape Game, the story of a family that takes a trip to an art museum (the Tate in London, where he was the illustrator-in-residence.) The family, a father, two sons and a mother, are there, reluctantly, because it's how Mom wants to celebrate her birthday. Mom poses questions that inspire her family to think about the art they are viewing and they eventually find themselves in the paintings - with twists and updates here and there. The title of Browne's book comes from a game tha…

Brian Bigg's Tinyville Town Gets to Work! by Brian Biggs

I grew up with Richard Scary books and by the time I had kids, Scary's Busy Town was being marketed in all forms, television, computer games, toys, clothes and backpacks. The details in every illustration, the humor and the the way that Scary never talked down to his young audience made me a lifelong devotee of his work. And, while there has never been and probably never will be another Richard Scary, I always appreciate any attempt to come close to his unique, marvelous contribution to the world of picture books. And, as someone who has been on the lookout for decades, I can tell you that Brian Biggs comes the closest to the magic of Richard Scary as any author-illustrator I've encountered. A few years back, Biggs created the delightful transportation filled Everything Goes trilogy with accompanying board books. Now Biggs is doing the same for towns and workers with a new series that kicks off with Tinyville Town Gets to Work! Like the Everything Goes books, companion board b…

Wildings by Eleanor Glewwe, 330 pp, RL 4

I love high fantasy, a term coined by Lloyd Alexander in 1971 for a subgenre of fantasy in which the setting is an alternative, imaginary world, like Tolkein's Middle Earth, although I don't read it that often. In fact, writing this review inspired me to go back through all my reviews and create the label High Fantasy. However, reading high fantasy can be a challenge, especially when there is a new vocabulary to learn. I realized this as I read Wildings by Eleanor Glewwe. Wildings is a sequel to Glewwe's debut from September 2014, Sparkers, which I didn't realize and wish I had read first. A powerful novel, Wildings can stand alone, but, knowing the plot of Sparkers, threads of which return in Wildings, I strongly suggest reading Sparkers first. And, while I now know one of the big reveals of Sparkers, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy and return to this incredible world that is filled with turmoil and social injustice, much like our own today.
Rivka Kadmiel li…

Animal Planet: Strange, Unusual, Gross, & Cool Animals by Charles Ghinga, 128 pp, RL 3

Last year I enthusiastically reviewed Animal Planet Visual Encyclopedia. Filled with hundreds of great photographs and chunks of information, this visual encyclopedia is highly engaging and informative. Now, Animal Planet and Charles Ghinga bring us something kids will definitely love but parents might want to avoid - Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals.


Once again, fantastic photos and chunks of information scattered across the pages make for a visually engaging book. And, true to the title, Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals is divided into four sections, one for each descriptor! The book is divided up further with Gallery spreads, Featured Creatures, Creature Collections and Macroviews of specific animals. "Creature Features" boxes can be found for Featured Creatures, letting readers know the scientific name, class, length, habitat, diet, range and conservation status. Featured Creatures also devote a portion of the page to a different animal that has a simi…

Pigsticks and Harold by Alex Milway, 64pp, RL 2

I intended to review Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journeyby Alex Milway when it was first published in 2014. Even though I ordered copies for my library and it is constantly checked out, the second and third books in the series, Pigsticks and Haroldand the Tuptown Thief and Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure sat on my desk awaiting my attention. Happily, on this morning after setting our clocks back, I am taking this extra hour in the day to give these marvelous books the attention they are due.
Like all great beginning readers and bridge chapter books, odd couples make for great stories. Pigsticks and Harold are more Jeeves and Wooster than Frog and Toad, swapping emotional dilemmas for slapstick laughs. And, like all good beginning and bridge chapter books, Milway's have magnificent illustrations, many of which have the feel of a graphic novel with notations, explanations and names popping up in little boxes here and there. While Pigsticks and Harold are alwa…

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

Lola M. Schaefer is the author of the marvelous non-fiction picture book, Lifetime that looks at the natural world in terms of numbers. Facts like, a rattlesnake will add 40 beads to its rattle and a male seahorse will give birth to and carry 1,000 baby seahorses in one lifetime, fill this fantastic book. With Because of an Acorn, Schaefer takes a different look at the natural world, introducing readers to the concept of food chains and ecosystems, beautifully illustrated Frann Preston-Gannon.
Because of an Acorn begins, "Because of an acorn, a tree." A cutaway on the first page that forms the cup of the acorn reveals a sprouting sapling with a page turn. This cutaway and sapling return in the final pages of the book, this time the leaf of the white oak revealing a forest with a page turn.


Schaefer's gently poetic prose takes readers through the forest, from an acorn to a tree to a bird who knocks seeds from a pod in the tree. These seeds lead to flowers, fruit and . . . a…