Sunday, November 17, 2019

Carl and the Meaning of Life - a review

Carl and the Meaning of Life

Below is my review as it appeared in the March, 2019, edition of School Library Journal. It was definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

FREEDMAN, Deborah. Carl and the Meaning of Life. illus. by Deborah Freedman. 48p. Viking. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451474988.

PreS-Gr 2--Carl is an earthworm who spends his day tunneling through the soil. When a field mouse asks him why he does what he does, Carl realizes that he does not know--but he is determined to find out. Carl visits with Bear, Rabbit, Fox, and others who are aware of their own purposes, but not Carl's. It takes a tiny ground beetle to enlighten him. Nature-inspired watercolor illustrations are gentle and inviting. The text appears in a simple black font, complementing the artwork. When Carl is busy at his job, the text is white against the brown earth and meanders across the pages, following Carl's tunneling track. Tiny black eyes and communicative postures express the attitudes of Carl and the other animals. But on the last page, when Carl finally learns his raison d'etre, readers also see a hint of his satisfied smile. VERDICT This book is a poignant example of the important contributions of even the smallest creature, but it's better than that--it's a science lesson as well. Freedman subtly explains the delicate balance of nature and each creature's role in maintaining it. Carl is an endearing protagonist.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sharon, Lois & Brams's Skinnamarink - a review

Sharon, Lois & Bram's Skinnamarink 

with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Tundra, 2019

This is a book made for singing. If you don't know the song already, click the video below to hear it. The size is good for sharing, and the playful illustrations feature people and anthropomorphized animals from around the globe. Many races and ethnicities are featured, and a young girl in a wheelchair appears multiple times. Five verses to keep the fun going.  Be sure to do the hand motions, too! Skinnamarink is a great choice for story time.  If sharing one-on-one, spend ample time poring over the illustrations for fun details.

My copy of Skinnamarink was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Fate of Fausto - a review

The Fate of Fausto
A painted fable by Oliver Jeffers

Philomel, 2019

Everything written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers is worth reading. In the video for The Fate of Fausto below, Oliver Jeffers says, "We've got something pretty special I think."

I think he's right.

If you're in the mood for a unique cautionary tale on the perils of hubris and conceit, this is your book!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Picture Book Roundup - Fall 2019 requests

Here are three new books that have something for every young family and busy caregiver.
If you cannot see the slide show below, you can see it on Riffle []or read ALL of my reviews on my LibraryThing account.

  • Thanks to Penguin Workshop for my review copy of Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte. A little boy in Puerto Rico misses his dad who lives "across the bay."
  • Thanks to Silver Dolphin Books for my review copy of Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown.Eight stories by a beloved author are collected in one book designed for reading in 5-minute increments. 
  • Thanks to G.P. Putnam's Sons for my review copy of Five Minutes (That's a lot of time) (No, it's not) (Yes, it is) by Liz Garton and Audrey Vernick.A little boy comes to understand that the length of five minutes is highly subjective. 
More images and "look-ins" below.

An image from Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories ©
An image from Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories ©

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hi, Jack! - a review

Hi, Jack! (A Jack Book)
by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli
Penguin Random House, 2019

I don't usually review "easy readers" because I don't like many of them. However, it's hard to resist reviewing an easy reader by the writer and illustrator duo of Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli. I admire both of them for their quirky and irreverent sense of humor.

Hi, Jack! is the first in a series of easy reader books featuring Jack—a trouble-making rabbit, Rex—an adorable dog, and The Lady. In the promo materials, Jack is described as mischievous, and The Lady is described as cranky and old, however, that will be up to the reader to decide. With Jack's thievery, graffiti, and trickstering, you may find that The Lady has due cause to be cranky—the old can't be helped.  While it's unusual to have an easy reader protagonist that is decidedly naughty, he also is quite capable of contrition and affability. In short, he's just like every kid.

The illustrations are simple and bright and are integral to the story's three chapters, "Jack," "Rex," and "The Lady." In the first chapter, Jack steals a purse from The Lady.  Although he gives the purse back, he has purloined the lipstick. In the second chapter, we see Rex with bright red, curvaceous lips, and then discover Jack hiding behind him with a devilish grin.

Rex has red lips.
Rex! Why are your lips red?
Your lips are bright red! Who did that to your lips?
Bad Jack!
 Parents will love him or hate him.  Kids will definitely "get" him.  Grab your sense of humor and enjoy the rascally humor of Jack. 😄

Other related Shelf-employed reviews:

My copy of Hi, Jack! was provided by the publisher.

Carl and the Meaning of Life - a review

Carl and the Meaning of Life Below is my review as it appeared in the March, 2019, edition of School Library Journal . It was definite...