December 21, 2015

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:56 am by suebe2

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?
by Jane Yolen and
illustrated by Mark Teague
Blue Sky Press

We can’t very well have Merry Christmas Dinosaurs without also having Happy Chanukah Dinosaurs and the Chanukah variety threaten just as much mischief as their Christmas cousins.  From a Ichtostega who writes his own name on each and every gift card to the Arizonasaurus who melts the chocolate coins in his hot little hands, these dinosaurs definitely show Jewish children how not to behave.

As everyone knows, the holidays are a tough time for our energetic children who want so badly to behave that they get a little nutty when they fail.  Telling this story with dinosaurs instead of children gives the children the distance they need to laugh at behavior that probably seems way too familiar to more than a few of them.

As much as I loved both of these holiday books, I have to say that I actually liked the Chanukah book better.

Consider giving it to the Jewish dinosaur lover on your very own gift list.  You’ll have a fun rhyming story that you can read together each of the eight holy days of Chanukah.

–SueBE

December 17, 2015

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:54 am by suebe2

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
written by Jane Yolen
and illustrated by Mark Teague
Blue Sky Press

“On Christmas Eve, does a dinosaur sleep?  Does he go up to bed without making a peep?”

Eventually, yes, but those of you who are familiar with Yolen and Teague’s dinosaur books know that we have to get past some seriously funny bad behavior first.  From Gigantoraptor upending the Christmas tree to, my own personal favorite, Erythrosuchus sloppily licking each and every candy cane, we get to see what good dinosaurs do not do in terms of  Merry Christmas behavior.  Then of course, we get to how they do behave.

For me, half the fun is Teague’s amazing illustrations.  I suspect Teague is a dog person and I love looking for the dogs that he slips into his art work — watching, waiting and occasionally letting out a merry yip.

As with all of the Dinosaurs books by Yolen and Teague, this one is short, weighing in at a light 148 words.  That said, this book is a fantastically fun read aloud.  If you are looking for a fun book to share with a young reader this holiday season, take a look at this one.   Young dinosaur lovers adore the variety of creatures worked into the books by Teague and Yolen’s rollicking rhymes make them fun to read out loud.

Be sure to check out my post later in the week for another great gift book!

–SueBE

August 4, 2014

Fairy Tale Feasts by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Philippe Beha

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:13 am by suebe2

Fairy Tale Feasts:  A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters 
by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple
illustrated by Philippe Beha
Crocodile Books

Do you have a young reader who likes hands on involvement in the stories?  Or maybe a bit of background information?  Then check out Fairy Tale Feasts.

This book is a collection of traditional fairy tales and one original tale by Yolen.  The stories range from the well-known, such as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood, to the less known, The Stolen Bread Smells and the Magic Pear Tree.  Each story is accompanied by side bars with notes on the tales, including where they come from and variations on the tale as presented.

The language of these tales has a modern feel and some of the tales include modern details, such as calling 911.  Before you object, realize that these stories would originally have been told, not written, with details massaged and adjusted for time and place.  Even as she makes these modernizations, Yolen stays true to the original tales like the folklorist she is.

Stemples contribution spans the recipes that accompany each story.  They range from a simple porridge (oatmeal) recipe to like stuffed shells and pear grumble.  Although older children might be able to cook many of the recipes on their own, younger children will need assistance which is perfect because these types of stories are a community effort.  Why not follow a similar path with the recipes.

Philippe Beha’s full page illustrations contribute to the modern feel of this book with cartoony, slightly abstract images that keep the tone lively.

This is the perfect book for sharing with short pieces that can easily be read aloud at one sitting followed by recipes that beg for hands on fun.  Pick it up and spend some times with your young story teller or chef.

–SueBE

November 4, 2013

Hush, Little Horsie by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:18 am by suebe2

Hush, Little Horsie
by Jane Yolen,
illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
Randomhouse

“Hush, little horsie,
Asleep on the farm.
Your mama is near
And will keep you from harm.”

Thus opens Yolen’s poetic horse book for toddlers and preschoolers.  Read it and you will quickly notice that the verse is closely patterned after “Hush, Little Baby.” Not surprisingly, the book has the same lullaby-like feel.

Readers move from one mama-horse and baby-horse pairing to another, each showing different types of horses in a different environments.  Their homes range from the barnyard to the plain and even the seaside.

Whether the foal is galloping, frolicking, or catching a quick nap, the message is clear — whoever you are and wherever you live, Mom loves you and watches over you.

Sanderson’s paintings are beautifully detailed and realistic, composed of warm glowing colors that extend the feeling of being comfortable and safe.

Given the quiet warmth of this book, it is a perfect choice for bed time or nap time reading.  It would also make an excellent choice for a baby shower gift for any horse lover.

I’m not sure how I initially missed this one, originally published in 2010 but this is a lovely, gentle books that, in gentle, dreamy tone, reminded me of Owl Moon.

–SueBE

June 27, 2013

Grumbles from the Forest by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrations by Matt Mahurin

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:04 am by suebe2

Grumbles from the Forest:
Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist
by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich,
illustrations by Matt Mahurin
Wordsong

Fans of both poetry and fairy tales would do well to explore this collection of poems by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  Each two-page spread throughout the book features a certain fairy tale including The Three Bears, Thumbelina, Little Red Riding Hood.  Each tale is retold with a pair of poems — sometimes a brief haiku, sometimes a longer free verse but always something a bit offbeat.

The Princess and the Pea features a lament from none other than the pea himself.  This is followed by a poem from the princess in which she explains why she really couldn’t sleep.

Frog Prince tells two contradictory stories.  The first is from the point of view of the abused frog turned prince.  The second tells of a young princess who finds a cute frog and then dreams strange dreams.

If you know the work of either Yolen or Dotlich, it is fun to try to match the individual poems with the styles of each poet but there is a “cheat sheet” in the front of the book on the copy right page.

Matt Mahurin’s illustrations are the perfect pairing for these poems and range from apple cheeked Gretel to a sharp and sinister witch.  Moody, dark and just a little creepy, his work helps readers question the sunny, happy versions of these stories as they wonder what we haven’t been told and why.

Yolen and Dotlich also encourage young readers to turn writer and make up their own poems, reimagining familiar tales, giving voice to a character long overlooked or simply coming at it from a different direction.

An excellent read for those who like to make up their own versions of familiar tales to tell into the dark of the night.

–SueBE

March 4, 2013

Ekaterinoslav: One Family’s Passage to America, A Memoir in Verse by Jane Yolen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:48 am by suebe2

ekaterinoslav-v1-1Ekaterinoslav:
One Family’s Passage to America,
A Memoir in Verse
by Jane Yolen
Holy Cow! Press

Jane Yolen grew up believing that her father had been born in the United States,  in New Haven.  It wasn’t until Yolen herself was in her 70s that she saw his “Declaration of Intent,” a piece of paperwork that he had been required to sign as a 7 year-old when passing into the United States through Ellis Island.  He had, in fact, been born in Ekaterinoslav, a small Jewish town in the Russian Ukraine. Thus began Yolen’s quest to find out a bit more about her family and how they came to New England.

She learned about Ekaterinoslav where her grandfather made a living for his family selling bottled kerosene and her grandmother looked more like a Ukrainian peasant than a Jew.  She learned about Cossack raids and soldiers and families simply trying to live their lives in spite of the turmoil being whipped up all around them.

These same families faced hard choices.  Should they venture to the United States and maybe find a land of hope?  Or should they stay in the Ukraine where, if not easy, life was at least predictable?  Some would stay and some would go but the decision was never simple.

Yolen didn’t have a juvenile audience in mind when she wrote this book as evidenced by one poem, Furrows, in which she speculates what the teenage girls may have been thinking whenever they encountered handsome Russian soldiers.  That said, the single reference is much less explicit than what is found in many young adult novels.

Teens who are preparing to leave one home to make another would make an excellent audience for this story of a family doing much the same thing.  Young poets will find the work especially intriguing as Yolen uses various poetic forms to tell a larger story.  A slim 53 pages, the book gives the reader food for thought on many different levels.

–SueBE

November 15, 2012

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:02 am by suebe2

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?
by Jane Yolen and
illustrated by Mark Teague
AR 2.4
Blue Sky Press

We can’t very well have Merry Christmas Dinosaurs without also having Happy Chanukah Dinosaurs and the Chanukah variety threaten just as much mischief as their Christmas cousins.  From a Ichtostega who writes his own name on each and every gift card to the Arizonasaurus who melts the chocolate coins in his hot little hands, these dinosaurs definitely show Jewish children how not to behave.

As everyone knows, the holidays are a tough time for our energetic children who want so badly to behave that they get a little nutty when they fail.  Telling this story with dinosaurs instead of children gives the children the distance they need to laugh at behavior that probably seems way too familiar to more than a few of them.

As much as I loved both of these holiday books, I have to say that I actually liked the Chanukah book better.

Consider giving it to the Jewish dinosaur lover on your very own gift list.  You’ll have a fun rhyming story that you can read together each of the eight holy days of Chanukah.

–SueBE

 

November 12, 2012

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:42 am by suebe2

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
written by Jane Yolen
and illustrated by Mark Teague
Blue Sky Press
AR 2.1

I know its early to be talking about Christmas but I’m an early shopper.  Not that I ever get done early but I do start early so that I can look for great books for the kids in my life.   This year I’m especially interested in younger books because one special kindergartner on my list has a brand new baby sister.  Oh, the books I will buy!  Now, on to the review . . .

“On Christmas Eve, does a dinosaur sleep?  Does he go up to bed without making a peep?”

Eventually, yes, but those of you who are familiar with Yolen and Teague’s dinosaur books know that we have to get past some seriously funny bad behavior first.  From Gigantoraptor upending the Christmas tree to, my own personal favorite, Erythrosuchus sloppily licking each and every candy cane, we get to see what good dinosaurs do not do in terms of  Merry Christmas behavior.  Then of course, we get to how they do behave.

For me, half the fun is Teague’s amazing illustrations.  I suspect Teague is a dog person and I love looking for the dogs that he slips into his art work — watching, waiting and occasionally letting out a merry yip.

As with all of the Dinosaurs books by Yolen and Teague, this one is short, weighing in at a light 148 words.  That said, this book is a fantastically fun read aloud.  If you are looking for a fun book to share with a young reader this holiday season, take a look at this one.   Young dinosaur lovers adore the variety of creatures worked into the books by Teague and Yolen’s rollicking rhymes make them fun to read out loud.

Be sure to check out my post later in the week for another great gift book!

–SueBE

 

 

 

October 11, 2012

Last Laughs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:34 am by suebe2

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs
by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins
Charlesbridge

A great choice for Halloween but it comes with a warning — yes, the format of this fun volume is 100% picture book but don’t let that fool you.  This is not suited to your preschool pink puff and butterfly crowd.  Lewis and Yolen’s endeavor is for an older picture book crowd, a slightly jaded crowd with an undeniable pull toward slightly macabre, dark humor.

These are, after all, humorous animal epitaphs.  My favorite absolutely must be read aloud.

Mourning a Dove

Go, wing,
go, wing . . .
gone.

From the delightfully short to the devilishly long, Lewis and Yolen have dug up a host of epitaphs, odes to animals long gone but not forgotten.  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Why was he a little horse?  All of these questions will be answered and more.

An excellent choice for the older child who still loves Halloween and even for reluctant readers.  Even with the longer poems, the text is brief.  The illustrations by Timmins are delightfully grim and sure to draw in those who delight in the offbeat and slightly off putting.  If you catch yourself chastising your son for one gross joke after another, present him with a book that celebrates his gruesome outlook on life and death even if this collection is more fun than frightening.

–SueBE

 

May 27, 2011

The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye by Jane Yolen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:15 am by suebe2

The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Random House

Tiger Rose has a good home with kids who love her and a dog who tolerates her.  But Tiger Rose is no longer a young cat. She has aches and pains and no longer loves the chase.

One spring day, when everyone has gone to the places that they need to go, she strolls through the farm and says goodbye to the dog, to the chipmunk, to the snake and to the starlings.

Then she takes one more giant leap.

Now, I’m going to make a confession.  I despise picture books where the pet dies. When I pick up a picture book about a pet, I flip to the library catalog information.  I read the summary.  I scan the topics for “death” or “dying.”  Let’s just say that I’ve read one to many maudlin tear-jerkers where the pet dies in the end.

But this is Jane Yolen!  Certainly Jane wouldn’t do that to me.  And she didn’t.  This is an amazingly gentle story about a much loved animal who has lived a full life and eases out of it at peace with her decision.

This book is an excellent choice for any child who has lost an elderly family pet.  Or an adult who has lost a much-loved four-legged or feathered friend.

Jim LaMarche’s illustrations compliment the gentle beauty of this story, from the cat’s pleasant expression to the dreamy quality of the colors.

Thank you to Yolen and LaMarche for a book that will ease the heartache and bring a quiet smile.

–SueBE

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