November 9, 2020

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:02 am by suebe2

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrome
illustrator Michaela Goade
Roaring Brook Press

Dandy by Ame Dyckman

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:06 am by suebe2

Dandy
by Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

August 28, 2020

Mango, Abuela and Me By Meg Medina Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 2:02 am by suebe2

 

Mango, Abuela and Me

By Meg Medina

Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Candlewick Press

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars By Seth Fishman Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:00 am by suebe2

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

By Seth Fishman

Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

Greenwillow

 

August 24, 2020

Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market written and illustrated by Raul the Third

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 2:41 am by suebe2

Vamos!  Let’s Go to the Market
written and illustrated by Raul the Third
Versify

I decided to try something a little different this time around.  Instead of a written review, I’ve created a video review for the bilingual picture book, Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

August 18, 2020

Gator, Gator, Gator! by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:05 am by suebe2

Gator, Gator, Gator!
by Daniel Bernstrom
illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
Harper

Ready for some excitement?  Let’s head out on the bayou and look for that great big gator.

Admittedly, I grew up on grandad’s stories about accidental gator encounters in swamps near his Biloxi home, so I was ready for this Gator, Gator, Gator.  Well, not really.  Like the narrator, I’d be keyed up and certain that every movement I saw was a gator in the water.

Readers go along on a boat ride into the bayou.  They are instructed to keep their hands in the boat, not put their foot over the side, and never jump on a log.  All are bad ways to find this gator.

Time and time again the narrator points out shadowy movements that she is sure are Mr. Gator.  But time and time again, another animal is the source including a fox, a snake and ducks.  But then something rocks the boat.  Was it you?  Did you do that?

Daniel Bernstrom’s text is fast moving, read-aloud fun.  It pairs well with Frann Preston-Gannon’s mixed media and digitally enhanced illustrations to create a story that is just scary enough without being too much for more timid readers. Although readers see a shadowy gator, the toothy reptile never makes an appearance proving that what is anticipated is much scarier than what is seen.

Preston-Gannon’s illustrations are cartoony in style which helps ease the fear that might come from super-realistic art.  I also loved how she works in bayou wildlife, including a possum and a woodpecker, that aren’t mentioned in the text itself.  I suspect that if I knew plants as well as I know animals, I would recognize flora beyond cat tails and what may or may not have been Spanish moss.

This fun read aloud would be much better for story hour than for bed time but count on things getting a little loud as preschoolers call at warnings when they think that gator is drawing near.

–SueBE

August 5, 2020

Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 12:29 am by suebe2

Drawn Together
written by Minh Lê
illustrated by Dan Santat
Disney/Hyperion

A young boy is less than thrilled to spend the day with his grandfather. It doesn’t help that the boy speaks English while his grandfather speaks Thai. They eat different foods for dinner and watch different things on TV.

But when the boy, bored wth the television, gets out his markers and a pad of paper, Grandfather takes notice. He brings out his own paper, ink and a brush and soon the two are creating a special world of adventure together, even going so far as to try out each other’s supplies.

I’m not going to say much more about the story itself because it is so brief and I don’t want to simply write it out. Suffice it to say that they find something that they have in common, something that is bigger than words and bolder than anything that each has alone.

The story is by author Minh Lê. I have not counted the number of words but I’d be surprised if the story is 300 words long. That said, Dan Santat’s illustrations are a perfect complement to the text, expanding on the story and the world that the boy and his grandfather create together. Santat’s illustrations are created in mixed media then scanned and enhanced on the computer – which is perfect for a story about a modern boy and his traditional grandfather.

When you check out this book, you are going to discover that Santat has added speech bubbles on several pages. The words are always grandfather’s so it is Thai in Thai script. A translation of these lines can be found on the title page but not within the illustrations themselves. The reader, unless they are literate in Thai, is just as clueless as the narrator.

Although I check this out of the library, this is one I plan to add to my collection.

–SueBE

July 28, 2020

The Brilliant Deep by Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 12:56 am by suebe2

The Brilliant Deep
by Kate Messner
illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Chronicle Books

Ken Nedimyer grew up during the push to get a man on the moon.  In spite of this, he wasn’t interested in space exploration.  He also grew up watching Jacques Cousteau specials on TV and this is what hooked him.

Because he grew up near the Florida Keys, he visited often and learned to dive.  He noticed when the waters warmed (global warming) and first fish and corals died, but he didn’t know what to do to save the reefs.

It wasn’t until he was an adult with a living rock farm that he made his discovery.  Living rocks are rocks with algae, sponges, and other invertebrates growing on them.  They are purchased for aquariums.  Then Ken found stag coral growing on some of his rocks.  The coral was endangered but legally a rock farm can sell anything growing on the rocks.  Ken could have made a lot of money.  Instead, he look for a way to plant corals like these in the wild and regrow the reefs.

Matthew Forsythe’s illustrations bring the sights and colors of the coral reef alive for young readers.  Paired with Messner’s story about saving the reef, they pull readers in and keep the pages turning to the end.

If you are a Boomer or Gen X, you probably watched Jacques Cousteau on TV.  It is a joke in our house because if anyone says “Cousteau,” my husband and I respond – all around me the sea is teaming with life.  As much as I dislike swimming, I loved Jacques Cousteau.  This book is going to appeal to anyone who grew up with “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”  It is also going to appeal to young animal lovers and those who are concerned about the environment.

–SueBE

July 13, 2020

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:48 am by suebe2

The Bone Houses
by Emily Lloyd Jones
Little, Brown and Company

Seventeen year-old Ryn has three things in life – her family, the graveyard her family cares for, and the forest she explored with her father.  The other villagers avoid the dark of the forest, venturing when they must into the outskirts but never going far.

As a child, Ryn learned that the scariest forest things were the bone houses, dead who walk once the sun goes down. Her father, the grave digger who taught her the trade, showed her how to break them down with his ax.  She is carrying this weapon when, in the forest, she finds Ellis, a young map maker who is determined to make a name for himself even if it means journeying through the forest and toward the land of the fye.

Ryn saves him from a bone house and together they make their way to the village.  But the bone houses are traveling beyond the forest and make their way into the village itself.  Ryn and Ellis struggle to find out why the change and how they can stop the bone houses.

It works as fantasy because the story depends on fye magic and a kettle that can bring the dead to life.  When it is cracked, it no longer works as intended.  In this story the walking dead aren’t the result of a science experiment gone bad or a virus.  It is magic.

But the story also works as horror.  It is very atmospheric with walking skeletons coming out at night, lurking in the shadows of the forest, and the all pervading sense of dread that something horrible is going to happen when shadows grow long and the sun goes down.

The combination creates a multilayered story and strengthens its appeal.  Like a parfait, a cake, or a wafer cookie, the best stories have layers.  This is an excellent example of how to do it right.

–SueBE

May 18, 2020

Dibs! by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:36 am by suebe2

Dibs!
by Laura Gehl
illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski
Carolrhoda Books

Julian is pretty sure he’s gotten the hang of being a big brother.  The first step is to set boundaries.  Julian does this by calling dibs on the solar system plate, the astronaut costume, and the star-shaped cookies.  But perhaps he’s taught Clancy a bit too well.

Because Clancy’s first word is – Dibs!

Clancy isn’t satisfied with getting a certain plate or even a plate of cookies.  First he claims Mom and Dad’s bed.  And oddly enough, they let him have it.  After all, he did call dibs.  Then he claims the bakery.  But even that isn’t enough.   Before Julian can get anyone to listen, Clancy has claimed the White House and then NASA.

Julian settles in to enjoy life as an only child, and it is sweet. But with NASA Clancy got a rocket and blasted off.  When he doesn’t come home, Julian worries about what has happened to his brother.

I have to admit that I liked this book a lot more than I enjoy the majority of new baby books.  It felt honest and daring and just a touch subversive.  Sure, the brothers eventually work things out but at first Julian knows how he feels about having to share everything, and it is not positive.

Young readers will love the ridiculous humor in this book as calling dibs works in the extreme.  Because Gehl establishes silly parameters, it works when Julian goes into space on his own.  The reader has already accepted that the book is fun if not 100% realistic.

Marcin Piwowarski’s digital illustrations bring the story to life.  His style is just cartoon-y enough to play up the sillier aspects of the story, and I don’t mean simply that an adults turn the White House and NASA over to a toddler.  What’s sillier than that?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

–SueBE

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