April 12, 2011
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
(Simon and Schuster)
My Father Knows the Names of Things is a lyrical, light-hearted book about a boy and his amazing father who loves birds and bugs and cheese and clouds and moss and dogs and . . . well, you get the idea.
Dedicated to and inspired by the author’s husband, this book is perfect for any child, boy or girl, who loves to spend time with Dad and learn what Dad knows. Because this Dad who knows so many things is not an annoying adult know-it-all, he is an enthusiastic gatherer of knowledge who approaches it all with a contagious excitement.
Still, this is a gentle, cuddle-close book that would be perfect for bed time or any other time that calls for sharing a loving story. Yolen’s text rhymes masterfully, making the book an enjoyable read-aloud.
Jorisch’s illustrations compliment the text masterfully, with water color to create bright, joyous color and pen to give the detail which all these many passions require.
Give this book as a gift on Father’s Day or to Dad at a Baby Shower. Or bring it home for the young reader who already enjoys Daddy Time — in our home we call it “Boy Time.”
Either way, this is a celebration of closeness, passion and love.
April 7, 2011
by Stephen R. Swinburne
illustrated by Bruce Hiscock
Boyds Mills Press
How long does it take a small yellow butterfly to flutter from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to New York City? 35 days. 35 Days! Can you believe it?
Swinburne brings young readers the story of the cloudless sulphur butterfly (Phoebis sennae). Every years these butterflies, each weighing less than a dime, migrate from the rain forests of the Yucatan, Central America and Cuba up to the southern and central United States. In doing so, they complete a journey of 2,000 miles.
Completing the journey means avoiding predators and ocean waves. Sometimes butterflies will catch a ride on a cargo ship making its way across the Gulf of Mexico. Once they arrive at their destinations, they mate, lay eggs and die.
That part is sad but Swinburne ends the story focusing on the tiny caterpillar that is destined to make the same journey.
Don’t be surprised when your young reader latches onto this story. Children will identify with the small insect that is facing great odds, and they will cheer it on. Hiscock’s watercolor paintings are full of light and life and the brilliant colors help to draw the reader in.
Encourage your young reader to look for butterflies when they are outside. They cloudless sulphur isn’t the only long distance traveler and you may be surprised at what your young nature enthusiast can find.
by Stephen R. Swinburne
Boyds Mills Press
Take a fun turn through the natural world in this text light visually intense book full of photos by the author.
After patterns are explained to the reader, she is encouraged to find patterns in the photos. The patterns range from simple stripes (zebra) to spots (cheetah) to more complicated spirals (spider web).
Worried that the book may not click with urban dwelling children who don’t get to view African wildlife in their natural environment? Swinburne has considered that possibility and included photos of nature in city parks as well as paths and beaches being explored by groups of children. Photo spreads also encourage children to find patterns in fruits that may be in their lunches and well as dinner time vegetables and common flowers.
Given the range of images, this book will have a wide appeal and would also make a good tool to teach about patterns. Use it as a jumping off point for discussions or to launch a nature hike or review when you return from the hike.
That said, you may have to read it more than once. I kept getting caught up in Swinburne’s photos and forgetting to read the text.
Share this book with young nature lovers and future scientists as they learn to observe the world around them.
April 1, 2011
by Cynthia Lord
illustrated by Derek Anderson
Hamster wants a hot rod and the place to go to get one is the junk yard. Once he picks a body, it is customized and rigged just for him — a tiny driver with tons of spunk. But it is clearly a dog-eat-dog race as Hamster takes on much larger opponents, many of whom clearly do not take him seriously.
Rhyming text and dialog combined make this book a fun read and at just over 300 words it is sure not to overwhelm a new, less-than-confident reader. From picking the body style to choosing the trophy at the end, Lord engages young readers by encouraging them to share their own choices. “Which one would you choose?” is the chorus they will hear time and time again.
Kids will also identify with Hamster’s small size as well as his high energy and big attitude. This is a hero they can call their own.
Given the high energy main character and the active play with the reader, this wouldn’t make a good bed time book but would be an excellent choice for story time or any time you want to engage a group in a book.
Derek Anderson’s vibrant illustrations draw the eye in and provide plenty of visual detail to compliment and expand on the spare text.
Check this one out and have a fun reading experience with the young readers in your life.
by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson
The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson was a great book!
It is about an orphaned alley cat named Aldwyn who is chased by an exterminator into a magical pet shop. A few minutes later a young wizard-in-training named Jack walks in to pick out a familiar. At first Aldwyn thinks he’s just an ordinary cat and tries to fake magical powers.When Jack sees Aldwyn he reaches into his cage and touches him on the nose and suddenly they both have an odd feeling.
Jack took Aldwyn home and the cat enjoys the life of luxury with Jack, his sister Marianne, their friend Dalton, and their Familiars, Gilbet a tree frog and Skylar a know-it-all blue jay. He enjoyed not having to fight for every meal.
But two days later that all changes when three shooting stars flew over the stone runlet the wizards and familiars called home. I would recommend this book for ages 6+, boys and girls alike.
This book is sure to change the way you look at magic!
–Reviewed by Son of SueBE (12 years-old)