December 22, 2010
by Gail Carson Levine
illustrated by Scott Nash
Betsy and the wolf (we now know his name is Zimmo) are back and this time they and the sheep are heading up Rosentall Mountain to take a basket of goodies to Grandma.
In spite of her long friendship with Zimmo, Betsy has her doubts. After all, don’t wolves have a tendency to eat grandmas?
On their way up the mountain, Betsy and Zimmo run into a spot of trouble in the form of a hunter. Betsy manages to keep Zimmo safe but the hunter’s doubts about the wolf fuel her own, especially when Zimmo disappears into the trees. What will Betsy find when she makes it to Grandma’s?
Levine has created another clever twist on a traditional tale while once again teaching us all a lesson about trust. Not to worry — with the story taking center stage the lesson, while not subtle, is accessible and doesn’t come across like a sermon.
Nash’s comic illustrations continue to compliment the humor of the story while the addition of black-line through the use of pen and ink adds more detail and a bit more drama than the illustrations in the original tale, Betsy Who Cried Wolf!
A great addition to the classroom library as well as a book that is sure to spark a great deal of discussion whether at home, at school, or any place else that adults share books with children.
by Gail Carson Levine
illustrated by Scott Nash
Betsy may be only 8, but she’s finished Shepherd’s School and taken the Shepherd’s Oath. She is ready to go. And it’s a good thing too because there’s a wolf in the area and he is hungry and, worst of all, clever.
When Betsy first spots the wolf, she runs through the check list she learned in school.
Hungry eyes. Check.
Sharp teeth. Check.
Long snout. Got it.
Item after item confirms that this is a true wolf sighting. But when Betsy sounds the alarm the wolf high-tails it and is no where in sight when the town’s people arrive. For her part, Betsy gets a stern talking to and they even threaten to send her back to school.
Again and again, it happens with fewer and fewer town’s people responding each time. At last, the only one who is there when Betsy and the sheep need help is the wolf. What will happen?
Sure, this is a retelling but it is a clever and fun. Not only do the towns people need to learn to trust their shepherd, Betsy realizes that some of what her elders have taught her might actually be wrong. After all, whose the one who helps her out in the end?
Scott Nash has complimented this funny text with cartoon-styled illustrations that bring these naughty sheep to life, complete with their own dialog. His wolf is much more fun than scary and suitable for even preschool readers.
All in all, this is a really fun book that is sure to spark some discussions about trust and faith in those around you.
Happy Reading, All!
December 20, 2010
by Pam Munoz Ryan
illustrated by Peter Sis
I am so glad that I saw a recommendation on this book. Ryan has created a fictionalized tale based on the childhood and adolescence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
Think this doesn’t sound like a topic with great kid appeal? Think again. Neruda as a child is definitely someone that a lot of children will identify with, because:
- He was very small.
- He was interested in things that his father thought were ridiculous.
- He very much wanted to be loved and to love his father.
- He noticed things that went completely unseen by the adults around him.
- He spent a lot of time in his imagination.
Neruda loved to observe the outdoors — the flash of beetles, the soaring flight of birds, the roar of the ocean. He took care of a wounded swan, collected every little thing from the natural world that he could lay his hands on, and connected deeply with his uncle the editor of a militant newspaper (they supported Native rights).
This book will appeal to reluctant readers if they can get past its size — 372 pages. Yes, that’s long. But the font size is huge for a book for this audience and it has illustrations between chapters.
Neruda was an avid reader, which might put reluctant readers off, but they will love how at odds he was with many of the adults in his life and often with his older brother.
Young poets will love the samplings of his poems and anyone who reads this will find themselves going to the library catalog to request some of his work.
Share this with the young reader in your life. If you make it a read aloud experience, they’ll know you are more like Neruda’s step mother and, coming from a book-loving Mom, that’s a good thing since she was a book lover too.
Take a chance on a book that might be outside of what you are familiar with because you won’t regret it.
December 17, 2010
by Gary Golio
illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
When he was a boy, Jimmy Hendrix loved to draw and paint. Often, he did this while listening to records. Like many a boy, Jimmy astonished his friends by imitating various sounds — in his case trumpets and guitars.
But he also payed attention to the sounds around him, imitating the plink and plunk of raindrops on a one-string ukelele. He also associated color with the sounds of the world around him — blue with the whoosh of water, green the rustle of leaves, and more. So it probably isn’t surprising that when Jimmy got his first guitar, he started to wonder about painting pictures with sound.
When I started to read, I wondered if Golio could truly make Hendrix into a kid-friendly topic but I must admit, I knew little about Hendrix except how he died. Golio covers this, but only in the author’s note. He discusses addiction and what we know about it now.
The text itself is about a great musician, someone who grew up observing the world around him, someone who grew up seriously poor but never gave up hope and became a pioneer in his field. It is about his creativity and his creative process.
Illustrator Javaka Steptoe creates a combination of paint and collage on rough plywood, capturing the rough nature of Jimmy’s childhood as well as the explosive energy of Jimi’s music.
This book is an excellent introduction to a great musician and also to the creative process that all geniuses employ whether they are painter or musicians, scientists or doctors.