Saturday, May 23, 2015

Peace is an Offering by Anette LeBox




This book is basically an illustrated poem about ways to celebrate or express peace and walk away from a fight. The rhyming is relatively simple yet touching and the illustrations are adorably sweet.

                  "Peace is a joining not a pulling apart.
                   It's the courage to bear a wounded heart.....
                   Sing a quiet song.
                   Catch a falling star.
                   May peace walk beside you
                   Wherever you are."

Peace is an Offering has a classic, timeless quality which will help children see ways to be a friend and enjoy the quiet strength of peace.

Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear



"Julia, Child" is subtly deceptive. Though it has Julia Child's name in the title, it isn't a picture book biography of Julia as a child. The preface states that the book was inspired by, but not about Julia's childhood. However, the main character does love to cook. Julia and her friend Simca shop, take classes and whip up meals. They begin to notice that adults are too busy to savor food and life. So they decide to make some meals for them. The first foray turns out badly, since most adults "don't have the proper ingredients" and start fighting over the food. Julia and Simca's next effort fixes that: they make "smaller portions....just enough to feed the sensible children from whom these senseless grown-ups grew." This dinner party does the trick; the adults have a wonderful time and are more generous. In a nod to the other Julia, the girls write a book, "Mastering the Art of Childhood" for grownups. Overall, the book has sweet vintage illustrations and the message is a positive one, though more understandable for older kids.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sparky! by Jenny Offill



A little girl wants a pet, but her mother says she can only get a pet that doesn't need to be "walked, bathed or fed." After a visit to the library, she picks out the perfect pet from a book: a sloth. She orders one through the mail and Sparky as she calls him, lives up to his reputation as a lay about. The girl is determined to interact with him, but the only game he plays successfully is Statue. She tries one last time to impress her friend by putting on a show of sloth pet tricks. Once again, Sparky refuses to do anything. In the end, she learns to appreciate the sloth's slow companionship. This is a quiet book (as one might expect of a sloth), but the illustrations are cute and the underlying message of appreciating the low-key is a nice one. Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow award.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson



Sidewalk Flowers is a wordless picture book that manages to convey a lot with just pictures. A girl takes a walk with her father through the city and collects flowers. It's a simple plot line, but there's little episodes along the way where the girl interacts with people, animals and her flowers. The images are done primarily in black shades of ink and watercolor with spots of color for emphasis. The girl throughout is wearing a red jacket and bits of nature are painted with color also. Toward the end, the color is much more prevalent and the illustrations spread across the page. Overall, this is a sweet and gorgeously done children's book.

Henri's Scissors by Jeanette Winter




Henri's Scissors is another great introductory artist biography for kids. The beginning of the book introduces Matisse, but focuses mostly on his later years when he was confined to a bed and wheelchair. It was at that time that Matisse discovered a new way to express himself through shape and color by using scissors. Jeanette Winter's art captures Matisse and his art with her painting that shows the large shapes and colors Matisse used. At the end is a short author's note with a reference and a quote. Children as young as 4 or 5 would appreciate this book, especially if they love art.

How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian



How to Draw a Dragon is a fun, rhyming book that lists all the aspects of a dragon: pointed spines, claws, wings, teeth and scales. Various children "drag" their dragons to their yard and attempt to draw these huge, imposing creatures while watching out for fiery breath and sharp claws.The illustrations are done in a child-like, mixed media style that echoes the children's perspective in the text. A cute book for the artistic dragon-lover in your family.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Felipe the Flamingo

 
Felipe the Flamingo 

This is a darling, coming-of-age story illustrated with great watercolor prints of the characters in the story. Felipe has not grown as his parents expected. His neck is still stiff so it is hard for him to eat on his own, and he is still very white, not pink like his parents and the other flamingos in their group. His parents are leaders of the group and need to fly with the other flamingos to show them the way to the next feeding area. So little Felipe stays behind with Eleanor Egret to watch over him. Other animals and a little human girl in a kayak all start to help Felipe with his problems. A couple of friends bring him lots of shrimp, a turtle who once had a stiff neck comes over to try a new neck stretching method, and butterflies teach some of their tricks for flying. Felipe starts to change little by little. He is enjoying all his newfound friends; everyone is helping him so much. His neck feels better and his tummy is full. Felipe can even tuck his head under his wing and has a few successes with flying attempts. Then the big day arrives and he realizes that the feathers that he is preening are PINK, PINK, PINK. 

Flora and the Flamingo

A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty



Iggy Peck is a boy who's obsessed with designing and creating structures. He's shown making buildings out of anything that he can get his hands on: dirt, fruit, pancakes, modeling clay etc. Until one day his teacher has had enough and bans Iggy from mentioning anything about architecture. The class then goes on a picnic field trip to a little island. The bridge collapses and traps them on the island. Iggy comes to the rescue, organizes the class in building a new bridge from found objects. Because Iggy saved the day he's allowed from then on to give the class lectures on architecture. The illustrations by David Roberts are fun with each child having a unique look and the structures that Iggy builds are playful. The rhyming text has a fun, bouncy quality that will keep kids interest in a topic that could otherwise be a bit dry.