Saturday, December 22, 2018

Holiday wishes!


Wishing you good health and serenity this holiday season.
See you next year.
"on earth peace, good will toward men"



Photo credit: NASA

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Picture book roundup - upcoming, new, and translated

Here are a few books that have recently come to my attention—one upcoming, one fairly new, and one newly translated.

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog 
By Lisa Papp
Peachtree, 2019

Sometimes a second book in a series doesn't measure up to the first. Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog not only measures up, it surpasses Madeline Finn and the Library Dog. It's a wonderful story of dog adoption, volunteering, responsibility, reading, and libraries. What's not to love?

Due on shelves near you in March, 2019.

There's a Dinosaur on the Thirteenth Floor
By Wade Bradford
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick, 2018

A smartly dressed bellhop, old-fashioned phones, and the slicked back hair, pince-nez, and bow-tie of Mr. Snore set up the retro atmosphere of this book on the first pages. Mr. Snore’s immediate need is also quickly apparent,

“Welcome to the Sharemore Hotel,” said the bellhop.
“You must be Mr. Snore. Let me show you to your room.”

“The sooner the better,” said Mr. Snore.
“I am very” —YAWN—“sleepy.”

But, alas, Mr. Snore is destined to have a long night before he finally finds a place to rest his head—and his hysterically large nose! On each floor, Mr. Snore finds himself paired with an unsuitable roommate, prompting continued calls to the ever-cheerful bellhop.

The generous 10x11 size of this book is the perfect showcase for this delightful high-rise hotel and its unusual occupants. Over-the-top illustrations are a perfect complement for often understated, but droll dialogue,

“How do you feel about bees?” asked the bellhop.
“The same way I feel about spiders,” said Mr. Snore.
“Please skip the sixth floor.”

The expressions of creatures and humans are priceless, popping in bright acrylics and ink. Even with the spoiler in its title, There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor will still surprise you!


Hello Lilac — Good Morning, Yellow
by Judith Drews

Hello Lilac — Good Morning, Yellow is a book about colors that's perfect for very young listeners and sure to invite conversation and participation. Each color is featured on a two-page illustration with a very simple introduction,
"Good day, Brown. You look so cuddly."
On the facing page, you will find things that are commonly in that color, e.g., soil, basket, door, bun

What is so interesting in this book translated from German, is the phrasing and choice of items.  For example, orange's page says
"Dear Orange,  I prefer to eat you cold."
An unusual sentiment, but understandable from a child's point of view.  What child doesn't prefer a crisp carrot or juicy orange to cooked squash?

On the brown page, in addition to the above, you will find poop (!).  On the white page, amidst the more common items (snowman, egg, bone, sheep), you'll find toilet paper, a syringe, and a plug.  These choices seem peculiar, but they give us an insight into parenting in Germany, and they reflect the wide variety of items that kids will actually see, whether we choose to point them out or not!  Also making them more endearing is the fact that they are drawn in a manner similar to a child's drawing.

So, go ahead - point out those jellyfish, trophies, bird cages, screws, and gnats.  I'm sure it will result in some interesting conversation! The more I look at it, the more it grows on me. Peek inside Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow

Sunday, December 16, 2018

When the Snow Falls - a review

I realized that I never posted this review that I wrote for SLJ last year.  It's rather timely, so I'll post it now.

When the Snow Falls
By Linda Booth Sweeny
Illustrations by Jana Christy
Penguin Random House, 2017

SWEENEY, Linda Booth. When the Snow Falls. illus. by Jana Christy. 32p. Putnam. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399547201. PreS-Gr 1–Three generations of a fun-loving family take advantage of an unexpected snow day to frolic from country to city. When Grandma spends the night at the home of two young siblings, they awake to find that school is canceled due to a snowstorm. While the parents stay home to work the farm, Grandma, a young girl, and her little brother ski to town on a winsome belled sled-chair. They make their way to Grandma and Grandpa's house and encounter natural wonders, city wonders, and friends along the way. Sweeney gives a sense of motion with simple rhyming quatrains punctuated by the recurring phrase, "When the snow falls …. Tracks curve./Skis glide./Fox curls./Rabbits hide." The transition from country to city occurs when they briefly stop on a bridge to wave at the plows below, "Trains toot./Cars slow./Plows push./Mountains grow." Softly colorful, the double-page images have the muted quality associated with a snowy day. Christie's digitally painted pencil sketches and mixed-media illustrations bounce with playful motion—snow falling, scarves flying, rabbits hopping through the forest, city folk shoveling. The family members have joyful faces and burst with enthusiasm. Their exuberant dog follows them throughout, even joining the children in making snow angels. The grandparents join in the fun, too. VERDICT Country and city kids alike will relate to this joyful romp celebrating family, snow, community, and the wonders of nature.
 ##

School Library Journal. Nov2017, Vol. 63 Issue 1, p66. Copyright © 2017 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.


Click here to look inside When the Snow Falls.

My copy of When the Snow Falls was provided by School Library Journal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Start Now and Girls Resist - audiobook reviews

Regardless of political ideology, we can all agree that the future and fate of the world is in the hands of children.

Following are two audio books with an activist theme that I've recently reviewed for AudioFile Magazine—one for older girls, one for younger children.

Click the book titles to access my full reviews which I cannot reprint here.

[https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/143111/]

Girls Resist!:A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution
By Katelyn Rich
Read by Soneela Nankani
Blackstone, 2018
5.80 hours

Soneela Nankani narrates this activist's how-to guide with the inspirational power of an enthusiastic and empathetic friend.
[https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/148854/]

Start Now!:You Can Make a Difference
Written and read by Chelsea Clinton
Listening Library, 2018
2.25 hours

In a style more actionable than activist, Clinton's audiobook provides early elementary students with tools to make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of others and in the preservation of our planet.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Strong is the New Pretty - a review

Strong is the New Pretty-A Guided Journal for Girls
By Kate T. Parker
Workman, 2018


The children's publishing industry is responding to  recent societal changes with a much-needed shift towards diversity—racial, religious, ethnic, physical, and gender. This book reflects that change.

Strong is the New Pretty is a tween book that celebrates the power of girls from ages 7-14.  The book combines activity, writing, and drawing prompts with photos, quotes, and challenges. The pages are colorfully decorated and invite doodling and note-taking. The blue elastic cord is attached with grommets and keeps the book from flapping open, and a colorful orange ribbon is sewn into the binding to mark the reader's page.  Strong is the New Pretty is for princesses, athletes, bookworms, and dreamers.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for a young girl, Strong is the New Pretty is inspirational and a perfect gift for a strong young girl in your life.  If you can purchase it from an independent bookstore, so much the better.



Though I usually review library books, this is definitely not a library book.  It is intended to be a celebration of one special girl, and used until it's frayed and tattered.



My copy of Strong is the New Pretty was provided by the publisher.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Snow Lion a review

The Snow Lion
By Jim Helmore and Richard Jones
Peachtree, 2018

A short and sweet review on what may be a snowy day for many of you. Enjoy.

A little girl uses her imagination to find comfort in her new house. From exercising her imagination, she finds the quiet power so useful in the real world as well. This is the book for every child who notices the faces and creatures visible in walls, ceilings, clouds, or rocks—if only one looks for them. From the moment I saw the Snow Lion peeping out on the title page, I knew that I would like this gently pleasing book.

My copy was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Ugly Five - a review


The Ugly Five
By Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Scholastic, 2018

Below is my review of The Ugly Five as it appeared in School Library Journal. Enjoy!

DONALDSON, Julia. The Ugly Five. illus. by Axel Scheffler. 32p. Scholastic. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338249538. PreS-Gr 2—This rhyming book takes place on the African plain and introduces a collection of animals not known for attractiveness, but beloved by their children nonetheless. It begins with an introduction to the wildebeest, and she soon sings a song that is repeated with variations throughout the book, “I’m the ugly one, I’m the ugly one. I’m the ugliest animal under the sun. My ungainly appearance is second to none. I’m the ugly one, I’m the ugly one.” Wildebeest meets up with spotted hyena, lappet-faced vulture, warthog, and marabou stork, and the song reflects each addition. Scheffler is a frequent artist for Donaldson and has the perfect approach for her lighthearted prose. The “ugly” beasts are not ugly at all, but endearing, with wide-eyed faces expressing playfulness while picking through garbage, crunching bones, shredding carrion, and wallowing in mud. Comical illustrations in bright, but natural colors, are unadorned by text or borders. Each features a natural habitat with plenty of creatures and small details for observant eyes to seek. The satisfying and happy ending for the actually “lovely five” is depicted in a richly hued spread. Safari notes follow the story, which is prefaced by an author’s note. VERDICT Playful and positive, this book is an introduction to creatures of the African plain and a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 


School Library Journal. Jul2018 Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.

My copy of The Ugly Five was provided by School Library Journal.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A History of Pictures for Children - a review

A History of Pictures for Children: From Cave Paintings to Computer Drawings
By David Hockney and Martin Gayford
Illustrated by Rose Blake
Abrams, 2018

In A History of Pictures, art critic Martin Gayford teams up with artist David Hockney to deliver an enlightening and entertaining discourse on art.  The Introduction explains the book's format.  It is an illustrated discussion between the artist and the art critic, each offering commentary on what he knows best.  Gayford offers a more scholarly look at the history of an artistic period or work of art—the what and when, while Hockney offers an artists' perspective on the same—the why and the how.

Their conversations are accompanied by photos of actual  art pieces, and cartoon illustrations by Rose Blake. Blake's playful illustrations add a lightness to the book and advance the conversation, showing simple explanations of concepts like depth and perspective, as well as explanations of early artistic tools like 16th century pinhole projectors, 18th century silhouette machines, and 19th century zoetropes. The authors and the illustrator appear in cartoon format throughout the book. The topics of each chapter are listed below.

Engaging and educational, A History of Pictures for Children should be in every school and public library.  The suggested age range is 10-14 however, it will likely appeal to older kids with artistic interests as well.  I would go so far as to suggest that adults will find it interesting also.  I found it thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Well done!



Chapters:
Thinking About Pictures: Why do we make pictures?
Making Marks: What makes an interesting mark?
Light and Shadows: What is a shadow exactly?
Watch this Space: How do artists set the scene?
Mirrors and Reflections: How do artists play with light?
Painting and Photography: What tools do artists use?
Moving Pictures: Can pictures really move?
The Story Goes On: What's next for pictures?

Back matter includes an illustrated Timeline of Inventions, Glossary, Bibliography, List of Illustrations, and Index






Friday, November 16, 2018

To the Moon and Back - a review



By Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson
Illustrated by Bruce Foster
National Geographic, 2018

In this gift-worthy, sturdy, pop-up book, middle-grade space enthusiasts will find a wealth of little-known details, personal remembrances, and photos from the quest to land men on the surface of the moon. In addition, the science and engineering is explained clearly and simply.

Buzz Aldrin begins with the start of his NASA career as an astronaut in the year 1963.  He then chronicles the successes and failures of the many Gemini, Soyuz, and Apollo missions that preceded the famous voyage of Apollo 11.

Tucked within the pages and pop-ups, are pull-out sections titled Space Race and Aldrin Family Reflections.  The pop-ups, created by paper engineer, Bruce Foster, include (among others) the Saturn V rocket which pops out to a height of over one foot, a lunar module, and the deploying parachutes of the lunar capsule's splash landing.

One section titled, "Saved by the Pen," includes this recollection:


     "After 21 hours on the moon, it was time to go. But the ascent engine's arming circuit breaker was broken off!  If we didn't find something to replace the pin, the engine wouldn't start.  We'd be stuck on the moon.
     Armstrong and I looked around.  We found a felt-tipped pen that fit into the slot. Problem solved!"


After reading To the Moon and Back, you will have a greater appreciation of what is often described as one of humanity's greatest feats of engineering.  The beautiful photos, pop-ups and a build-your-own lunar module are just icing on the cake.

Buzz Aldrin finishes his account with a query,

"Will we celebrate Apollo 11's 100th anniversary under the pink skies of Mars?"
He hopes so.  And perhaps it will be a woman who first steps on the red planet. I hope so.



Note:
In 2013, I was lucky enough to meet Buzz Aldrin.  He was very friendly, and let me touch him—the closest that I will ever come to outer space. 
© L Taylor


   My copy of To the Moon and Back was provided by the book's publicist.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Carlos Santana Sound of the Heart, Song of the World - a review

Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World
By Gary Golio
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Christy Ottaviano, 2018


"Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico
     It's 1947, in a town with only dirt roads and mud houses.
     There are no electric lights, but electricity crackles in the air as a child is born—a little boy whose aunt calls him cristalino, someone clear and bright, destined to make a mark in this world. 
     The boy's name is Carlos Santana, and his mark will be made with lightning, 
on the ears of the wind!"

A fitting beginning to a book about one the world's most unique and innovative guitar players.  As with all of the text in the book, the above is printed in a small font, nestled artfully against the dreamy, surrealist, mixed-media illustrations by the renowned, Rudy Gutierrez.  All of the images are double-spreads. Though the book chronicles Santana's life only through his boyhood in Mexico, the artwork is a mix of Mexican influences and those of the psychedelic era in which Carlos Santana came to great fame in the U.S. This perfectly complements  the narrative, which highlights Carlos' greatest influences—his family and the music of Mexico, and his stirring connection with American blues. Carlos Santana Sound of the Heart, Song of the World is an inspiring and uplifting picture book biography for older reader.

Cue up some Santana on your Spotify account and enjoy! Peace.

You know it's a cool book when it's covered on WMMR out of Philadelphia.  Listen to an interview with author Gary Golio that aired on WMMR in October.

View four interior spreads from Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World at the publisher's website.


My copy of Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World was provided by the publisher.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Standing Up For Each Other

In the wake of the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Association of Jewish Libraries has created a series of book lists for young readers.  Their hope is "to grow readers' understanding of the Jewish religion and its people."


The first list in their Love Your Neighbor series is "Standing Up For Each Other." A PDF version of Love Your Neighbor Book List #1: Standing Up For Each Other is available at this link.

I have not read every book on the list, but I can say that The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick, 2015) and Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser and Claire A. Nivola (HMH Books, 2010) are two of my favorites.



I encourage you to explore the AJL book list and to make every effort to incorporate these and other diverse books into your classrooms, story time programs, and interactions with your own children.  The more we explore the lives of people from other cultures, the more we discover our commonality.

An article describing the inspiration and creation of the Love Your Neighbor book list project may be found at Tablet Magazine.

Friday, October 26, 2018

All About Bats - a review

All About Bats
by Caryn Jenner
DK Publishers, 2017

This time of year, teachers and librarians are often frustrated by the fact that many of the good Halloween books have already been checked out of the library.  If you need another book to complete your Halloween story time, All About Bats is a good addition.  The photos are big, uncluttered images of real bats, and the text is simple enough for three-year-olds.  Here is the text from a double-spread "chapter:"

Bat Wings

There are many kids of bats.  They all have webbed wings and furry bodies.
You can have fun and do a bit of learning in Halloween story time, too!



See more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math book reviews at the STEM Friday blog
stemfriday.tiny

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor - a review


There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

A smartly dressed bellhop, old-fashioned phones, and the slicked back hair, pince-nez, and bow-tie of Mr. Snore set up the retro atmosphere of this book on the first pages.  Mr. Snore’s immediate need is also quickly apparent,


“Welcome to the Sharemore Hotel,” said the bellhop.
“You must be Mr. Snore. Let me show you to your room.”

“The sooner the better,” said Mr. Snore.
“I am very” —YAWN—“sleepy.”



But, alas, Mr. Snore is destined to have a long night before he finally finds a place to rest his head—and his hysterically large nose!  On each floor, Mr. Snore finds himself  paired with an unsuitable roommate, prompting continued calls to the ever-cheerful bellhop.

The generous 10x11 size of this book is the perfect showcase for this delightful high-rise hotel and its unusual occupants.  Over-the-top illustrations are a perfect complement for often understated, but droll dialogue,


“How do you feel about bees?” asked the bellhop.
“The same way I feel about spiders,” said Mr. Snore. 
“Please skip the sixth floor.”


The expressions of creatures and humans are priceless, popping in bright acrylics and ink.  Even with the spoiler in its title, There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor will still surprise you!  


My copy of There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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 ...