Friday, August 29, 2014

Book: Give and Take by Chris Raschka

Give and Take by Chris Raschka. New York, NY; Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 2014. 40 pages. 

An apple farmer is surprised to find a little man in his apple tree one morning so he asks the tiny man, called Take, to come with him. From the moment that Take climbs onto the man's basket of apples, he begins to whisper about taking anything and everything that is in front of him. The farmer listens without thought and finds himself walking great distances with a ton of unwanted pumpkins in his basket. The next day, after throwing Take out of his house, the farmer returns to his orchard to collect more ripe apples only to find another little man in his tree, called Give, whom he invites to come with him. Give is all about giving advice. He tells the farmer to give away all of his apples, to share his opinions with anyone that they come upon, even if that person may not want or need any advice. Finally, after returning home with nothing, and going to sleep hungry, the farmer has enough and throws Give out the next morning. Hoping to gather more apples from his orchard, the farmer and his dog are surprised to find both little men arguing about whether giving or taking is better - frustrated with their actions, the farmer picks up both men and some apples and goes home. On his walk, he does a little of both giving and taking in a controlled manner rather than going to the extreme that the little men went to. In the end, by not giving into any impulsive decisions, the farmer ends up with a great treat which he shares with his new friends.

This story is all about learning to make the right decision. Chris Raschka introduces the concept of not being greedy and taking the time to think about consequences of your choice before you reach a decision by showing examples of extremes. Raschka's ink and watercolor illustrations show the intensity of the situations that the farmer finds himself in when he listens to someone's advice without considering what he may want to do. This book would be better for children at about the first to third grade level as the concepts and words used are a bit more complex.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book: Anything is Possible by Giulia Belloni

Anything Is Possible by Giulia Belloni. Illustrated by Marco Trevisian. Translated from Italian by William Anselmi. Toronto, ON; Owlkids Books; 2013. 32 pages.

Sheep is a dreamer and her one and only dream is to fly like the birds she can see from atop her hill. One day, the sheep had a brilliant idea she just had to share with her friend, the wolf - they could build a flying machine! At first, wolf was hesitant as there was absolutely no way that they could build something that could fly, but then, with the sheep's strong belief that they could do it, he decided that anything was possible if they only give it a try and not give up!

Giulia Belloni's book about a persistent sheep sets a great example for kids about what it means to not give up on your dream, even if there are people telling you it cannot be done. Marco Trevisian's illustrations combine several mediums in a creative way that draws the eye to the tiny details on each page. This book is a good addition to learning about teamwork and dreams.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book: The Monstore by Tara Lazar

The Monstore by Tara Lazar. Illustrated by James Burks. New York, NY; Aladdin; 2013. 32 pages.

Zack went to the secret Monstore specifically to pick out a monster to scare his little sister away from his room. Unfortunately for Zack, Manfred the Monster did not work as advertised and when he tried to get a refund, he found himself bamboozled into buying a monster sure to do its job and then some! What kind of store offers no returns or exchanges? What is a boy with a pesky little sister to do?!

Tara Lazar penned an instant favorite for monster fans. The way Lazar's voice comes across is engaging and will make this a favorite read-aloud. The story deals with the relationship between siblings in a creative way. James Burks' illustrations are cleverly gruesome and icky enough to make you want to think about what may be hiding under your bed. Colorful and vivid pictures show the trials and tribulations of finding yourself with a houseful of monsters. This book would be a great read to kids from preschool to early elementary level; the author does a good job including some new vocabulary words that can be introduced while the book is being read.

Fun activities for kids can be making their own monsters out of craft supplies - yarn, googly eyes, pompoms, Popsicle sticks, etc.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book: Dot by Patricia Intriago

Dot by Patricia Intriago. New York, NY; Farrar Straus Giroux; 2011. 36 pages.

This picture book uses circle shapes, or dots, to tell a story of opposites. The mostly black and white pictures grab readers' attention and help introduce new vocabulary through easy to understand examples. Everyone has at one time taken a bite of something and then promptly spit it out when the taste is not to our liking - well, that is in there, too! There are dots with boo-boos and dots with band-aids along with plenty of other dots!

Intriago illustrates all these wonderful new vocabulary words in a clever way which will surely get the point across to preschool-aged children. The simplicity of the design and layout focuses the attention to what the words really mean and those reading the book aloud can spend time pointing out the ways in which the pictures represent the words. The rhymes are engaging and will surely call for repeated readings.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Graphic Novel: Welcome to the Tribe! Tib & Tumtum #1 by Grimaldi and Bannister

Welcome to the Tribe! (Tib & Tumtum) by Grimaldi. Illustrated by Bannister. Minneapolis, MN; Graphic Universe; 2013. 48 pages.

Tib belongs to the Big Rock Tribe of cavepeople. Despite being a member of a tribe, he feels as though he doesn't really belong - it mostly has to do with the odd-shaped, red, round birthmark on his eye - which all the other kids in the tribe make fun of. Tib's parents just don't understand, so he wanders off into the woods to be alone for a while and runs head-first into a dinosaur! Just one problem... aren't dinosaurs supposed to be extinct? This dinosaur in particular seems friendly enough as he begins to follow Tib around, which is when Tib realizes that they both have similar markings on their faces - wait until all the members of his tribe see his dinosaur! No such luck. Just when Tib thinks that he will be able to share his dinosaur, that same dinosaur manages to find a way to hide! Tib tries every trick in the book to get members of his tribe to meet his him, but he is just too good at hiding. Nevertheless, Tib and Tumtum the Dinosaur still end up having many fun adventures together - even though everyone thinks he doesn't exist!
The comic book is very funny and the accompanying illustrations just add to the hilarity. Grimaldi's story is very thoughtfully put together with an important message about friendship and not caring what somebody looks like on the outside. Bannister's drawings are clever and full of action, bringing Tib and Tumtum to life on the pages. Readers of all ages will enjoy this color-panel comic.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book: Olivia by Ian Falconer

Olivia by Ian Falconer. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009. 40 pages.

Olivia is an energetic little pig; she likes to get into everything and likes to try everything out. Olivia gets frustrated about her copycat brother who always hangs around. Olivia can seem like she is everywhere at once; despite occasionally being naughty and driving her mother ragged, she is deeply loved. Ian Falconer manages to show Olivia's personality through his clever use of words and illustrations. The mostly black and white sketches are brought to life through careful shading and the occasional splash of red color that brings the reader's attention to Olivia's antics. Readers can appreciate the story of a precocious little pig and her adventures. Children will laugh at Olivia's behavior but will see the value of a good imagination and the unconditional love of a parent.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book: The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Gris Grimly. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. 32 pages.

Author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Gris Grimly create a piratical and ghastly tale of the alphabet. In this story a boy, a girl and their gazelle go on a journey through a grisly world full of monsters and other icky creatures. From A to Z, each letter on a page helps tell the story though there is a difference in this version only a master of the alphabet will catch. The rhymes by Gaiman are catchy and describe the sometimes-scary yet funny illustrations, which show the children in their adventure. Grimly uses shades of yellow as his backgrounds to give an earthy feel and makes his characters pop out with inked lines covered in colors. Both boys and girls will enjoy this take on the alphabet and will have fun looking at the pictures while practicing their letters. Despite this tale being a little strange, it still draws the reader into a world of weird.