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Monday, November 18, 2013

A Few More Picture Books (then a graphic novel next time -- I promise)

I am actually quite a fan of winter (I love shoveling snow, no joke) but I recognize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for snow and cold.  So here are some picture books that will make you think of other seasons. 

Fogliano, Julie; Stead, Erin E. (2012) and then it's spring.  New York:  Roaring Brook Press.

This is a remarkably simple book about a little kid who plants some seeds when everything is brown.  He waters it and worries about it and mostly he waits in his little red wagon until finally one day everything is green.  The illustrations are simple but realistic (my favorite one is a cutaway that shows the ants and mice underground as they wait for spring too) and detailed enough that little kids can spend a long time looking at them.  No deep themes here, but the words are well chosen/  I also love that the little guy wears glasses. 

Woodson, Jacquline; Lewis, E.B.  (2012)  Each Kindness.  New York:  Nancy Paulsen Books.

Okay, the bright sunny pictures manage to keep this book from being too gloomy -- but actually the story is about a girl named Maya who joins an elementary classroom part way into the semester, after all the friendships have been chosen.  Despite her teacher's attempts to find a friend for Maya, the other kids shut her out.  Then one day Maya isn't there any more and Chloe wishes she had made the decision to be kind to her.  Although we might wish for a happy ending, we don't really get one with this book -- and actually I think that is okay.  It is good for little kids (and big kids too) to recognize that unkindness hurts, and we don't always get another chance.  Though you might not want to buy this for your child, it would be helpful for kindergarten through second (or maybe through adulthood, now that I think about it) to hear this in class and think about how they can make the world better.
     To be honest, though, it really doesn't matter what the subject is, E.B. Lewis's art makes me think of summer.

Buzzeo, Toni;  Small, David (2012) One Cool Friend.  New York: Dial Books

This is a silly book.  Elliot wants a penguin and his father, thinking he wants a plush penguin, agrees.  Then Elliot apparently kidnaps a penguin and his apparently oblivious father apparently doesn't notice.  His oblivious father also apparently doesn't notice when Elliot uses the air conditioner in his room to freeze a wading pool of water so he and the penguin can ice skate.  His oblivious father also apparently doesn't notice Elliot's penguin in the freezer when he goes for ice cream.  Turns out, though in the surprise ending, that Elliot's father is not as oblivious as you might think..The whole book is structured around one joke, -- but its silliness is something kids will enjoy.  The art is a little overly cartoony for my taste, but it is well done. 
     And I know this one is about ice and snow -- but you see it is warm outside, that is why Elliot needs to run the air conditioner.  Remember running the air conditioner?

Finally, there is nothing like thinking of the seashore when you are cold and miserable.  Although maybe you weren't thinking of this sort of sea adventure"

Kimmel, Eric A.; Glass, Andrew (2012)  Moby Dick:  Chasing the Great White Whale.

You  know the story already.  Ishmeal goes to sea on the Pequod with Queequeg, Starbuck, Stubb and, of course, Captain Ahab.  They do some whaling and eventually find the great white whale with Ahab hoping to get his revenge.  Instead the whale turns the tables.
     I actually love the novel and so it is a little hard for me to take the rhyming verses that summarize the story -- but the paintings are beautiful and actually, this book is a good summary of the story (though I think it mistakenly makes reference to a character called Flash -- I think they mean Flask -- the butterless man).  This might be a good way for a high school teacher to summarize the novel before teaching it (though I would argue that no one should read Moby Dick until they are at least 25 and have lived a little.  The book is much funnier then.)

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