Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Tooth written by Avi Slodovnick and Manon Gauthier is a new addition to the picture book market. It was Published September 1st, 2010 but was first released in Canada a year earlier. The story follows a young girl with a tooth ache on her journey to the dentist’s office. On her way she spots a homeless man on the street. "She wanted to take a closer look, but her mother held her hand tightly." The dentist removes the little girls tooth and gives it to her in an envelop. As the little girl and her mother walk past the homeless man again, the little girl slips out of her mothers grip and give the homeless man her tooth so he can get the tooth fairy money.

I appreciate the plot of the story and love how it tries to portray empathy and charity. However I felt that the story was a bit too heavy and scattered. I wasn’t quite sure what the book was about until the very last page. I did enjoy the unique illustrations created with pencil and color pencil. The people were given distinct characteristics which matched the descriptive language well. It felt like the exaggerated features are what children might see when they remember faces. The illustrations also helped in understanding the story and what it means to be homeless. I think this might evoke interesting conversations out of children depending on their experiences with homeless people. However before introducing the book I would suggest discussing the issue and letting children know what the book is about . The publisher recommends this book for children ages 4-8


Happy Reading!

Tracey

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shark vs Train


Shark vs Train, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is an ingeniously creative book that readers of all ages will love. The story is a series of clever competitions between "The Terror of the Ocean," a shark and "The King of the Tracks," the train. And the combatants don't just fight in some boring boxing match, but in many more exciting and strange competitions. Check out this book trailer I created to see some of these.



video

As you can see, this book is not just hilarious, but exciting too. And it is more than these. Barton and Lichtenheld made sure that every aspect of the book worked together to create the sense of excitement portrayed in the book. For starters, before even getting to the book, the dust jacket gives information about both the shark and the train that gets the reader for what sounds like the fight of the century. The back of the book contains stats for both, just like in a real fight. It tells their favorite colors, blood red and coal black, their disposition, ornery and cantankerous, and even their pet peeves, egocentric trains and smug sharks. It also contains a quote from both the shark and the train that tells the reader who they are and that their ready to fight. Even before getting to the book, the reader knows the characters and is ready for the fight of the century.

From the title page to the end of the book, the shark and train are competing. Each page contains at most a line of text with an illustration (like the one shown) of the shark and the train battling. The text does not devote much time to characterization, but by the time the reader has read through the dust jacket and looked at an illustration or two, the reader already knows the characters. Instead, the text briefly describes the particular competition, such as "trick-or-treating." The text also does not comment on the winner of each match. This would be disappointing if not for the fantastic illustrations that clearly let the reader know who wins.

This is one of those rare books where every single aspect of the book, from the dust jacket to the text to the illustrations and everything in between has been carefully chosen to create the overall sense of excitement in the book. The only thing missing is for the reader to pick up the book and answer one important question: "Who will you root for?"

Happy Reading,

Michael

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wonderful Books from The Past: STELLALUNA

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is a wonderful picture book about a young bat who becomes separated from her mother because of an owl attack. This young bat, Stellaluna, finds herself in a nest of birds. At first, she cannot help but have bat-like behaviors but she soon adapts to her new home and family and becomes accepted. She even becomes very good friends with the three little birds. One night, by chance, Stellaluna is reunited with her real mother. Her mother teaches her how to behave like a bat again. However, she does not forget about her three little bird friends and takes them on a flying adventure at night!

This classic is a must have for all families. It can teach children to learn to adapt to new environments. This book also demonstrates acceptance of dissimilarities and variation. It shows how friends and even family will accept each other even if there are differences. Janell Cannon beautifully creates a story about a young bat growing up while teaching children a little science lesson on bats and birds.

Cannon’s illustrations in this book are wonderfully created through a mixture of acrylic paints and color pencils. Her artwork in this book really enhances the emotions of Stellaluna that are described through the text. The text and the illustrations work in conjunction with each other to really heighten the reader’s experience. The deep blue color that Cannon uses in the background of the pages really makes the characters in the book stand out. The realistic and colorful illustrations truly add to this humorous idea of a bat living with a family of birds. The cover of the book is of Stellaluna trying to hang on to the tree branch like a bird with a confused look on her face. This picture will surely capture the reader's eye because of the peculiar situation. In the end of the book, there are two pages filled with different facts about bats for those readers that are just fascinated with the behaviors and characteristics of bats.

This book is recommended for children ages 4 to 8 years old. This book can be a read aloud for younger children or older children can read this book by themselves. Whether it is being read out loud or read independently this book with surely be loved by all children and adults!

Happy Reading!

-Betty :)