Thursday, April 26, 2012

THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats

He thought it would be fun to join the big boys in their snowball fight, but he knew he wasn't old enough -- not yet.

THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats is a wonderful book capturing the peaceful nature and simple pleasures of a small boy named Peter on a snowy day. We don't get very many snowy days here in the Willamette Valley and I doubt if there is a child in the neighborhood that owns a snow suit but the delight of fresh-fallen snow first thing in the morning is a common thread for children anywhere it ever snows. On each page of wonderful and unique illustrations and easy to read text, we follow Peter making different tracks as he crunches and drags through the snow, making a snowman and snow angels, and of coarse climbing and sliding down the biggest hill he can find. He has so much fun that he tries to capture it by putting a big snow ball in his pocket before he goes inside, telling his mother all about it while she takes off his wet socks and thinking and thinking and thinking about it as he sat in the tub. Written more than fifty years ago, this story drives home the importance of playtime and home in a child's life. Some things never change. And, that's good.

Bonnie R

P.S. I enjoyed reading the postscript and seeing the photographs that inspired the character of Peter included in this 2011 edition. It was amazing to me that Keats the illustrator kept the clipping from a 1940 Life magazine and waited for twenty-two years hoping he'd be asked to illustrate a picture book about an African American child but no such opportunity came. That's when Keats the illustrator decided to become Keats the writer. And, what a great one!
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HENRY AND AMY / by Stephen Michael King

... very, very best of friends... right way-round and upside down,

Stephen Michael King's HENRY AND AMY is a quick, touching story about how friends can be very different, but they can still learn from each other and help one another grow. Henry is a sweet, creative kid, who struggles with getting things right. But then he meets Amy, a sweet, smart kid who struggles with having fun. She taught Henry his right from his left, that the sky was up and the ground was down. He found Amy a hat and coat that didn't match and taught her how to play.

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Bonnie R

HEY, AL / by Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski

Hey, Al
``Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found.''
Al, a janitor, and his faithful dog, Eddie, in HEY, AL by Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski (illustrator) are living in a cramped one room flat on the West Side and their life is an endless struggle. Then a large and mysterious bird offers them a new life in paradise and they decide to accept. Transported to a gorgeous island in the sky, Al and Eddie are soon living a life of ease and luxury. But there are some really bad side effects to leaving the life they have always known. Their dream became a nightmare and they manage to escape. The experience makes them realize there is no place like home, how much they mean to each other and just how good life really is.
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Bonnie R

THE MOUSEHOLE CAT / by Antonia Barber

THE MOUSEHOLE CAT is superb story, based on the legend of the Cornish village of Mousehole wonderfully written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley's stunningly fine, detailed paintings of Mowzer the devoted, wise old mama cat, Tom her well trained human and fisherman, the fishing village of Mousehole that depends on being able to harvest fish just outside "the Mousehole" the small opening between the harbor's two great stone breakwaters and the Great Storm-Cat, the menacing winter storm that kept the fisherman land-bound and threatened their families with starvation. Finally, the day before Christmas, Tom, not without Mowzer (For he was only a man, she thought, and men were like mice in the paws of the Great Storm-Cat) go out to fish together in the teeth of the storm. ...the Great Storm-Cat played with them as a cat plays with a mouse, He would let them loose for a little as they fought their way towards the fishing ground. Then down would come his giant cat's paw in a flurry of foam and water. But he did not yet strike to sink them, for that would have spoiled his sport.... The story moves through suspense to a beautiful resolution and Christmastime tradition. This book drives home the beauty of affection, companionship, and loyalty that make one willing to demonstrate sacrificial love. Who wouldn't love this book?

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Bonnie R

SLEEP WELL, LITTLE BEAR / by Quint Buchholz

SLEEP WELL, LITTLE BEAR by Quint Buchholz is a sweet and gentle story of a little boys lovable little bear that, in typical little boy style, can't quite get to sleep. .... And when little bears are not tired they scramble quietly out of their beds and build themselves a staircase... (he stacks books high enough to stand on and peers out his bedroom window) ... to where the moon floats in the heavens like a great round lantern, shining softly on the meadows, on the house, on the trees, on the river, and on the whole world. .... From that vantage point, he reviews his day of being a pirate on the river that flows past his house, and helping old Mrs Rose with her garden, and many other wonders of a child's (and bear's) life. The surreal, truly beautiful artwork portraying the little bears views from his bedroom window, memories of his day and plans for his next is magical. Little Bear can't wait until tomorrow! ..... They'll go to see Mrs. Rose and help with the garden. And then they'll go on an outing to the birdman's meadow. It's wonderfully warm in the sun, and sometimes the wagon goes terribly fast. .....

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Bonnie R

AMAZING GRACE /by Mary Hoffman

AMAZING GRACE written by Mary Hoffman is the story of a talented child and her warm family. Grace, a lover of every kind of story, has a story of her own. Its a story of overcoming racism and sexism. Grace wants to be Peter Pan in the school play but classmates say she can't be because she's a girl and she's black. Through affirmation of family and amazing determination Grace, undaunted by would-be obstacles, shines at the auditions. .... Everyone voted for Grace ... and she gets the part. .... "You were fantastic!" whispered Natalie.... This was the same Natalie who, before the auditions, had whispered .... "You can't be Peter Pan. He isn't black," The play with its color-blind casting is a triumph. Caroline Binch's gorgeous water color illustrations enhance an excellent text that encourages all children to "go for it" when pursuing their dreams.

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Bonnie R


THE BEARS ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN by Alice Dalgleish is an easy read and Helen Sewell's line drawings in black and blue make decorative borders with a nice feel for the Pennsylvania German decorative art quality. Its a lovely folk tale of Jonathan an eight year old boy, pretty small to be sent to his Aunt's house on the other side of Hemlock Mountain to borrow a big iron pot needed for the stew that would feed Jonathan his parents and twenty of their relatives. Legend has it there are bears on Hemlock Mountain. It could be dangerous. But, with family comes responsibility and Jonathan and his mother prefer to believe and repeat reassurance to themselves, "There are no bears, no bears, no bears, no bears at all." Jonathan found he had friends in the squirrels and the birds and the rabbits and he made it to Aunt Emma's safely feeling big and noble and brave. All would have been well if he hadn't eaten too many of his aunt's cookies and drunk too much milk and slept too long. He was late and rushed off without borrowing the big iron pot so he had to go back. As his mom had told him, it was the biggest iron pot he ever laid his eyes on. Now he felt very small but mustered his strength and bravery and started back over Hemlock Mountain with the pot. It was already dark. He was suppose to be home. What he discovered about the bears of Hemlock Mountain makes the climax of a story that is good read aloud material. Myra was captivated by the suspense! This is a chapter book but there isn't a place to stop!

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Bonnie R

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES /by Hans Christian Anderson

Image Detail

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES by Hans Christian Anderson is an ageless and beloved fable, where we learn the dangers of vanity and the rewards of being brave and honest. Its about two swindlers posing as weavers and tailors who promise the very vain Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. They mime weaving and sewing and finally dressing him and when the Emperor cannot see the clothing himself, he pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position, stupid, or incompetent; his ministers do the same. Then the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.

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Bonnie R

Friday, April 20, 2012

WINDOW/ by Jeannie Baker

WINDOW by Jeannie Baker puts true meaning to that saying " A picture is worth a thousand words."  Without a word the scenes from the same window tell the story of the changes in the environment of a boy from the time he is a baby in his mother's arms to the time he is a father with a baby of his own.   Each progressively depicts the boys growth and the urban sprawl during the first couple of decades of his life.  Very captivating, thought provoking and a bit sad to be reminded of what was then and what is now.

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Bonnie R

Crocodile beat/Gail Jorgensen

CROCODILE BEAT by Gail Jorgensen is written in a lively sort of rap song form with lots of animal sounds.  Brilliantly illustrated by Patricia Mullins, various animals are engaged in a parade through the jungle while a hungry crocodile waits near by for his dinner to arrive. The surprise ending makes it perfect for even the youngest child.

Bonnie R
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One snowy night/ by Nick Butterworth

ONE SNOWY NIGHT by Nick Butterworth is the story of the loving park keeper, Percy who lives in a cozy little hut.  He has a much bigger heart than hut as he discovers when visited by animals in the park, who all need a place to sleep because of the cold.  It becomes crowded but not one is turned away.  "Heartwarming!" said Myra as I closed the little book.  As I usually do, I opened my hymnal and this time I was inspired to sing He Included Me.
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Bonnie R

Slinky Malinki/ by Lynley Dodd

Lynley Dodd's SLINKY MALINKI is a cat who is "blacker than black, a stalking and lurking adventurous cat".  The rhyming text tells us that during the day, Slinky Malinki is a "cheeky and cheerful" cat who chases after leaves and rolls in the sun. "But at night he was wicked and fiendish and sly.  Through moonlight and shadow he'd prowl and he'd pry."  To be brief... He turns into (gasp!) a thief. He steals all sorts of items from the neighbors. Then one night he steals more than usual, gets caught, and ends up "in disgrace".  Fortunately it was his family that caught him, the items were returned, and Slinky Malinki was a reformed cat.

Dodd's illustrations capture that feline independence that makes us cat lovers.  Slinky Malinki took me back to the mid 70s when the guys were cleaning their catch of the day in our back yard and a black cat stole a fish.  He returned, adopted us and stole our hearts.   We named him Snuggles.

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Bonnie R

The runaway train/ by Benedict Blathwayt

RUNAWAY TRAIN by Benedict Blathwayt is a lavishly illustrated story of Duffy the steam engine driver and his adventure chasing down the train that left without him.  With the help of many neighbors and every mode of transportation at his disposal Duffy was finally able to catch up with the little red train and bring it safely to its destination. The action is gripping,  the text is easy to read and the illustrations... Wow! 
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Bonnie R 

Where is my teddy/ by Jez Alborough

WHERE'S MY TEDDY by Jez Alborough is a sweet story about two desperate young creatures, a boy named Eddie and a real big brown bear.  They are in the deep dark woods searching for their beloved belongings, their teddy bears.  Each of them understands that there is just one teddy bear that's the right teddy bear and that has mostly to do with size.  Their brief encounter as their search ends is as cute as a bug's ear!  I love the detailed illustrations... especially the facial  expressions!  Good job, Jez!
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Bonnie R