Showing posts from March, 2012

Poem by William Carlos Williams

National Poetry Month begins tomorrow! Once again, I will be devoting the whole month to poetry, although this year I WILL continue to run book reviews on Mondays and Fridays, and I have been reading some REALLY fantastic books!  This year I decided to run reviews of books of poetry from past years - this is my FOURTH year celebrating National Poetry Month! I will be sharing poems that I love and hope kids will love too.  I found this thoughtful quote from children's book author and poet  J Patrick Lewis , the newest National Children's Poet Laureate taking the helm from the wonderful Mary Ann Hoberman .  If you need a good reason to read poetry with your children, here it is: Children rarely gravitate to poetry on their own. It’s an acquired taste. They must be introduced to it early and often by their teachers and parents, the critical influences in their lives. This quote is taken from an article titled " Can Children's Poetry Matter? " written f

The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case, written by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McInstosh, 73 pp, RL 2

There are so many reasons why I am just over-the-moon with excitement for Alexander McCall Smith's newest series of books for children, and not one of them is because I am a fan of his adult novels. I've never read any of his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, of which the adult Precious Ramotswe is the star, nor have I read any of his many books for children. I am bursting with elation for The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case for even better reasons. First off, this book is a much needed infusion of new life (long life, I hope) to a class of books that is ruled by Junie B Jones and The Magic Tree House , with other (mostly copy-cat) series struggling to stay on the shelf long enough to build an audience. Secondly, outside of Cam Jansen and Nancy Drew , there are very few girl detectives in kid's books, or any kind of detective for that matter. To have a girl detective as the main character of a second grade level reading book is f

The Shark King: A Toon Book by R Kikuo Johnson, 39 pp, RL 1.5

When I write a review, I try to be professional and refrain from gushing, but sometimes a book is so spectacular that I can't help myself. The Shark King by  R Kikuo Johnson , the newest title from TOON Books is one of those.  The Shark King , which I hope might become a series, has action, adventure, mythology, exotic (to me) locales, and a playfully curious, brave protagonist in Nanaue (pronounced nah-NOW-way.) And, on top of a great story,  The Shark King  is told through artwork that is elegant and vibrant with a timeless feel with Johnson's use of black silhouettes adding a sense of drama and grandeur to the tale. Johnson, who grew up on the island of Maui, drew on Hawaiian folklore, specifically the shape-shifting shark god, Kamohoalii and his son with the insatiable appetite, Nanaue. Best of all,  The Shark King  is a graphic novel for emerging readers and, aside from the fact that it is just plain great, it represents some much needed, all-around diversity in books of

Zig and Wikki in THE COW, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler, 40 pp, RL 1.5

TOON Books creators Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler are back with another story about an alien, Zig, and his talking, walking computer, Wikki. As we saw in their first adventure,   Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework , Zig is curious and fascinated by all the things he discovers on earth while Wikki, kind of cranky and bossy, just wants to get back on the space ship and head home while occasionally flashing bursts of pertinent information on his stomach, um, I mean screen. In the first book, Zig needed a pet for a school project and captures a fly to take home with him. When Zig and Wikki in The Cow begins, we find Zig worrying about the lethargic state of his pet. Wikki, just a tiny bit jealous, convinces Zig (with a flash of his screen that teaches them the concept of "ecosystem") to take the fly back to Earth. One of the really innovative and fantastic things about the Zig and Wikki books are the way that Spiegelman incorporates facts into the book, by way of

Chick and Chickie: A Toon Book by Claude Ponti, RL 1

TOON Books  has done it again, maybe even giving Elephant and Piggie a bit of (much needed) competition. I mean, there is room for two more slightly subversive buddies in the world of emerging reader books, right? Chick & Chickie: Play All Day introduces us to the French author and illustrator of over sixty children's books Claude Ponti . As much as I love Mo Willems and what he has done for the world of picture books and beginning readers, especially,  Elephant  and Piggie , I think it is possible to create a book at an even simpler reading level that is still smart and entertaining to kids and adults, and that is exactly what Ponti has done with Chick & Chickie: Play All Day . The story begins on the cover where Chick and Chickie are deciding what to play. Chick says, "Let's make masks," and Chickie agrees. After making the masks, they proceed to scare each other and have a laugh about it. Observant eyes will notice Chick and Chickie&

Crafty Chloe, written by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Heather Ross

There are a lot of things I like about Crafty Chloe , the new picture book from Kelly DiPucchio  and  Heather Ross (crafter and author of Weekend Sewing ) and just one thing I don't, so I might as well get if off my chest right now. I don't like the presence of London, the mean rich girl with the tiny dog. I see how a character like London, who exclaims things like, "Your going to make her something?" when Chloe reveals she might make a birthday gift for their friend Emma, creates tension, but I think this story deserves more than this simple plot. In her wonderful and similar books from 2008 and 2009, Fanny and Fanny & Annabelle , Holly Hobbie presents a character who makes her own doll when her mother won't buy her a "Connie" [read Barbie] doll like all her friends have, saying "I don't like the way Connie dolls look. They're just too . . . much." Instead she gives Fanny a sewing machine for her birthday and the doll Annabelle

Rosie Flo's Fashion Show by Roz Streeten

Rosie Flo is the moniker Roz Streeten gave to the line of coloring books that she (and husband Steve Kamlish, both graphic designers) developed after spending hours coloring and creating with her daughters. Of her collection, Streeten says, "I have paid attention to al the things which irritated me as a child, and then as a parent. The paper quality is thick enough to avoid showing through or damaging the picture on the next page. It is sturdy enough to withstand a few journeys without falling apart and small enough to fit into a child's hand luggage. The lines are intentionally not too thick, as it makes it look as it is only for preschool children." Best of all, these book support imagination and creative play, especially with the creation of Rosie Flo's Fashion Show , a 3D paper play set that lets kids color in the fantastic dresses and fill in the faces and limbs of the paper dolls.  And, the play set comes with tickets, a little paper camera and pop-out ch