Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wonderful Books from the Past: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith

While I do not remember reading The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs when I was younger, I do remember reading this story to a child I used to mentor while I was in high school. I also remember how much my mentee enjoyed the book. Remembering how receptive that particular individual was to this book reminds me of the joy of reading – something that as a college student, I have lost sight of.

During your college years, it is difficult to squeeze in reading for leisure and pleasure but, if you love reading from youth, occasionally you can remember the pleasure that can be associated with reading. The True Story of The 3 Three Little Pigs is a marvelous read as well as a marvelous book from the past because it is 1. Quite funny (Alexander T. Wolf has an interesting sense of humor and delivery), 2. It still accomplishes the goal of teaching children (considering an alternative perspective), and 3. It incites the imagination (how can you finagle stories to tell a radically different version?).

Another thing that makes this story particularly entertaining is its ability to be applied contemporarily as well as its ability to be used practically in a fun way. This is a fun and lighthearted way of introducing the concept of justice and trying to decipher what is believable, what is improbable and what you may not have ever considered. I think Scieszka did a wonderful job of restoring fun without being overbearingly didactic with this book. I think it will be hard to find a kid who won’t enjoy the ridiculousness (or is it wisdom?) of this book and I appreciate what this book has to offer, even past the age when this is just funny.

Happy Reading!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Marvelous Picture Books: Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today? By: Agn├Ęs Rosenstiehl

Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today? Is an adventurous toon book that takes readers on Lilly’s many adventures throughout one full week. The book begins with the 7 days of the week and different pictures of Lilly with word bubbles that read, “every day is a new day to play”. The adventures unravel as the week begins on Monday and Lilly is a cook. Lilly takes on a new role everyday. With every role comes a new adventure. Lilly is a curious, spunky, creative, funny, and bold character. You never know what she will do next! Throughout the week Lilly is a cook, a city planner, a musician, an acrobat, a vampire, a teacher, and a candy taster.

Not only is this book very educational, but also it is also quite entertaining. Once you open the book you will find it hard to put down. The comic style makes reading through the pages of the book seem like a breeze. Lilly’s creative mind is always working. She is constantly using her imagination moving from one idea to the next, to a deeper idea, to a whole new adventure. I love how it encourages children to look beyond what is in front of them and use their creativity to create their own adventures, just as Lilly says on the front of the book “I can be anything”. This comic reveals the power of the imagination and encourages children to see that they can be anything they want to be. On the cover of the book there is a sticker that read’s “a first comic for brand-new readers”. This book is great not only for brand-new readers but for reader’s of all ages.

Happy Reading!
Paige Cahill

Marvelous Picture Books: "I Remember Miss Perry"

"I Remember Miss Perry" tells the story of a boy named Stevie who has just moved to a new town. He is anxious about making new friends in the school he will attend and especially about who he will sit with at lunch. When he asks to go to the nurse because he has a "stomachache," his teacher Miss Perry tells him, "It is my fondest wish that you join me for lunch today." She tells Stevie how she can relate to his feelings of anxiousness because she too got stomachaches when it was her first day as a teacher. Stevie feels a lot better when he finds out that teachers get stomachaches too. As the book progresses, the readers learn that Miss Perry has a new "fondest wish" each day. For example, when it was the principal Mrs. O'Brien's birthday, it was Miss Perry's fondest wish that they all buzz "Happy Birthday" to her in her office.

One day, Miss Perry's class returns back from lunch to find each of their parents at their desks and Mrs. O'Brien in the room. Mrs. O'Brien tells the class that Miss Perry died in a car accident that morning. The students cannot go on being sad forever, so they each must find ways to be happy in the midst of the terrible accident. They learn to talk about all of the good times they had with Miss Perry and all of her fondest wishes.

It is very common for children to move frequently growing up due to varying circumstances and this situation is very difficult for many reasons, but children become especially anxious about the social aspects of entering a new school. Therefore, I think many children would be able to relate to Stevie’s feelings in the beginning of the story. At first when I read that Miss Perry died in a car accident, I was shocked that an author would write a children’s book about a teacher dying. However, Brisson was extremely successful in dealing with the concept and incorporating the varying ways that young children perceive death. I think this would be a great book for any child to read that is going through any period of mourning or suffering because the book illustrates how important it is to remember the good times and not focus on the bad. This is a valuable lesson to live your life by, and I think many children who are going through a similar situation would find comfort in reading this book. Moreover, the illustrations are quite colorful so if you were to just flip through the book, you would have no idea that it was about death. The brightness of the colors reinforces the fact that the good memories are what one needs to focus on.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Garden

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” –Eleanor Roosevelt, pages 8-9

First Garden: The White House Garden and How it Grew by Robbin Gourley artfully combines history, illustrations, and recipes into one delightful picture book.

Gourley begins the book detailing the origins of the White House garden by introducing readers to John Adams. He stands next to the White House carrying carrots and beets with one of his quotes framing the page. Gourley’s lush, almost watercolor, style draws the reader in and helps depoliticize the figures she is portraying. Gourley includes figures from across time and political persuasion. We see Reagan, learn about Jacqueline Kennedy, and children of presidents ranging from Tad Lincoln to Amy Carter.

After framing the history and developments of the White House garden, the book focuses on Mrs. Obama’s excitement at expanding the White House garden and growing fresh produce. The illustrations portray her with a spade planting chard next to elementary students she invited to help plant the garden. Then we see President Obama restraining Bo from digging in the garden and learn about his distaste for beets. Such images remind readers of the humanity and accessibility of the first family.

The book details the meals prepared from the produce grown from the White House garden. There is even a huge table with diverse diplomats enjoying the fresh. At the end, Gourley demonstrates that every family can grow a garden and outlines the advantages of gardens, like producing healthy foods and the conserving of energy.

Gourley’s book is a great read from an aesthetic point of view, but it also contains a lot more. From this story, one learns about history, sustainability, and, of course, a lot of yummy recipes!

-Eliza Horn