Showing posts with label older picturebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label older picturebook. Show all posts

Early Book Review: The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust

The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on September 17 2019. One summer, while exploring the town during their annual stay at Grandma’s house, two siblings and their cousin come across a creepy old house. The kids poke around, one of them causing mischief and tossing rocks at the window, until they glimpse a ghost through the glass! Later, Grandma reveals the house doesn’t belong to a ghost—just old Mr. Peterson.  After visiting again with better intentions, the kids discover Mr. Peterson’s great sense of humor and that his house is full of fascinating things: old toys, photographs, even a film projector. They become regular visitors, until one day, Mr. Peterson is gone: he has left for a retirement home, and his house sits empty. Using odds, ends, and gifts he gave them, the kids create mementos of Mr. Peterson’s home to give back to him. 

The House at the End of the Road is a picturebook that will appeal to older readers as well as the younger set because of the topic and the graphic novel elements and feel. I thought the story was very realistic, and is something I could see happening very easily. I liked how the kid's behavior is as flawed as you might find in any kid. Making mistakes, but almost as quickly making amends and finding out how they were wrong. I like that the cousin was afraid of owning up to his mistakes, as even adults are at times, but still did the right thing- eventually. I think the full story arc teaches young readers, and adults, important lessons in taking the time to look past the appearance and taking the time to know people. Forging a friendship across generational lines, and not just learning about each other but taking steps to help and care for each other was very well written. I loved the art style, and think it added a great deal of atmosphere and emotion to the story. 

The House at the End of the Road is a wonderful story that I hope inspires readers off all ages to reach out and make new friends  across generational lines (safely of course) and to take a bit more time to look beyond the rumors and appearance to discover the truth. I hope it will also encourage readers to explore graphic novels further.

Book Review: Florence & Leon by Simon Boulerice, Delphie Cote-Lacroix

Florence & Leon is a picturebook written by Simon Boulerice, illustrated by Delphie Cote-Lacroix, and translated into English by Liz Kemp. Florence and Leon have never met. Florence is a swimming instructor. She has a small problem with her lungs: it's as if she's breathing through a straw. Leon is an insurance salesman. He has a small problem with his eyes: it's as if he's seeing the world through a straw. One day Florence and Leon bump into each other, literally, and this mishap turns their lives upside down. Over slushy drinks with proper straws, Florence and Leon find out how their differences make them alike. 

Florence & Leon is a picturebook that I think would be best suited for slightly older readers than the typical picturebook. I enjoyed getting to know Florence and Leon as they got to know each other, and learning about the challenges they both faced growing up, and the ones they still face as adults. I enjoyed learning about how they deal with their problems, and have found ways to live fully and be happy. The artwork is beautifully done in watercolors and pencils, with some digital editing. It helps readers connect with the characters and become fully engaged in the story. It is also lovely to look at and enjoy on its own. This is a sweet story of friendship, and maybe love, as two people discover that it is their differences that make them both so much the same, and perfect partners. 

Book Review: Baba Yaga by An Leysen

Baba Yaga is a picturebook that was written and illustrated by An Leysen. Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, lived a girl named Olga. Olga lived with her father in a beautiful house, and they were very happy together. Until Olga’s father one day fell in love again but his new wife was cruel and mean. And her sister Baba Yaga, who lived in a dark forest, was even meaner. Baba Yaga was a real witch! There was a rumor she was fond of children on her plate! One day Olga’s stepmother sent her to Baba Yaga. What was she supposed to do now?

Baba Yaga is a retelling of the classic Slavonic myth. Olga is a sweet girl put in a bad situation, a common start to fairy tales world wide. I have heard different tales about Baba Yaga over the years, and I found this version to be simple enough to share with younger readers than most of the versions I have read. The illustrations are lovely and add a great deal to the atmosphere of the story, and included details that enrich the story. This would be a wonderful addition to a classroom unit of fairytales and legends, or just for sharing. It is a little text heavy, which is necessary to tell the story, so I would label this an older picturebook or one to share.

Baba Yaga is a wonderful version of this classic tale. I think the illustrations are what really sold it to me, with their soft ethereal feel. A delightful book for sharing a fairy tale that some might not be familiar with.

Book Review: To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Vleet, Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Nicole Wong

To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space is a children's nonfiction picture book written by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan. It was illustrated by Nicole Wong. Kathy Sullivan wanted to go everywhere. She loved blueprints and maps. She loved languages and the ocean. Kathy liked fishing and swimming; flying planes and studying science. That’s what she liked and that’s what she decided to do with her life. She didn’t like the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She wanted to explore and do exciting things that girls weren’t supposed to be able to do. Only men had the exciting jobs. She followed her heart and eventually became a NASA astronaut and the first woman to walk in space. Kathy wanted to see the whole world and so she did; from space!
 To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space is a simple look at some of the struggles Kathy Sullivan faced as a child, living the things that were not acceptable for girls to like. Thankfully she followed her heart and studied and researched all of the things she was interested in despite those that tried to change her focus. The illustrations are subtle and sweet, background watercolor-like images that show the activities and dreams of Sullivan, and chronicle some of her successes. I liked the additional information at the end about Kathy and other women that made history in the field. However, I thought the body of the book was a little too vague on what Kathy did to follow her dreams. We learned about her being told her interests and job prospects were intended for men, and about her cool flying experience, and a few other tidbits. However I felt like there was not much for young girls to learn about how Kathy went from dreamer to astronaut until the biographical page at the end of the book.

To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space is a nice book for young readers to show how important it is to follow your dreams, regardless of what others might saw. The information in the backwater was the most informative and interesting part as far as I was concerned, but found the idea behind the book and story to be reasonably well done. 

Book Review: The Queen's Shadow: A Story about How Animals See by Cybèle Young

The Queen's Shadow: A Story about How Animals See by Cybèle Young is an informational picture book which combines the science of animal eyesight into a clever whodunit involving a proud queen. It is during the Queen's Ball, at which “society's most important nobility” are in attendance (all of whom are animals), that a “major crime has been committed”: the queen's shadow has been stolen! Mantis Shrimp, the Royal Detective, takes the lead in the investigation to find the perpetrator, and one by one the animal suspects defend their innocence. From a shark and a snake to a dragonfly and a goat, each creature's testimony explains their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight, while the finely textured and detailed artwork illustrates the ballroom as viewed by that animal. In sidebars to the story, the author provides factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works, and why. As each animal's perspective sheds new light on the mystery, it becomes clear to children that there are many different ways to see what goes on in the world.

The Queen’s Shadow is a visually enthralling book. The illustrations are frankly fantastic, and while the set up and concussion of the mystery that sets the stage for the informational portion of the book is a little flimsy, I for the book itself to be interesting. I liked the tidbits of facts, and then the more in depth explanations, of how different animals see the world. There is an explanation of how our eyes work, as well as background information on each animal described in the story. I appreciated the more in depth glossary at the end of the book. There is some humor, and wonderful illustrations, to keep the reader engage with the fairly sophisticated book. I am not sure of the niche audience that would simply adore the book, but I do think that the combination of aspects in the book will appeal in different ways to many different people. 

The Queen’s Shadow is an interesting blend of animal information, mystery, and humor all bundled up with eye catching art work. This might be the book to engage more reluctant readers in an animal science class, or to encourage an animal enthusiast to step up and stretch their reading skills. This is a unique book, one I have no real comparison for, with is special in and of itself. 

Early Book Review: My Hometown by Russell Griesmer and Priscilla Wong

My Hometown is a nearly wordless picturebook written by Russell Griesmer and illustrated by Priscilla Wong. It is currently scheduled for release on October 1 2015. A magical newspaper takes a young boy on a journey through the history of a beloved hometown, from the 1860s to present day. The story takes readers along to celebrate main-street Americana as the boy discovers the past and its importance.

My Hometown is a picturebook with no dialogue or story test. The only words in the books are those on signs in the background and the newspaper. This leaves it up to the reader to use their own imagination to fill in the gaps. When the young boy picks up a newspaper, magic takes over and brings him to the founding of his hometown, and through its growth and history. The periods of time are marked by the turning of the page, and the illustrations are absolutely wonderful.

My Hometown is an unique and thoughtful book. It is interesting to see history pass by like a time lapse film, but I think some of the readers will not have as much interest in the book because of this more complex thinking. Many picturebook readers are looking for fun or direct learning, rather than a rather artistic look at the passing of time. I think it just might go over the heads of some of its audience.

Book Review: The Night Children by Sarah Tsiang, Delphine Bodet

The Night Children is a picturebook written by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Delphine Bodet. When the streets are empty and kids are called home for dinner and put to bed, the world becomes a magical place. The mischievous night children frolic in the twilight, rummaging for treasures and scattering surprises, stealing slices of the moon and dancing on rooftops. Only when dawn breaks do they tuck themselves away. But if you look very closely, you might just catch a glimpse of them disappearing as you wake up.

The Night Children is a beautifully illustrated picturebook that can capture the imagination. The text is lyrical, but the idea of night children, all drawn wearing monster-like hats, could either intrigue or frighten some children. the story could be an explanation for the shadows, sounds, and odd shapes that some children attribute to monsters, but I could see more adventurous children taking the story to heart and wanting to run with the elusive night children. The adventures of the night children answer many questions that children might have about the world around them, like unexpected changes in the landscape of odd sounds and movements. I think some young readers will love the flow of the story, and the splendid artwork, but I think it might be too abstract for others to really fall into and love.

The Night Children is a creative story about the unknown and imagination that some children will love completely. it just might fire up the imagination and creativity in some. However, I think some more pragmatic souls will not be quite so enraptured. 

The Nutmeg Nominees for 2016 have been announced!

The Nutmeg Nominees for 2016 have been announced! Check and see how many you have read. Who do you think should win?

The Four Levels of Nutmeg:                                                                           
Elementary Award: Grades 2-4 (15 nominees each year)
Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the
Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern
Digby O’Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton II
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Gone Fishing:  A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner
On a Beam of Light:  A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne
Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway
Play Ball, Jackie! by Stephen Krensky
The Secret Chicken Society by Judy Cox
A Splash of Red by Jennifer Bryant
Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

Intermediate Award: Grades 4-6 (10 nominees each year)

The Blossoming Life of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods
Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee and Kelly Light
Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson
The Illuminated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo & K.G. Campbell
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Pie by Sarah Weeks
Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Teen Award: Grades 7-8 (10 nominees each year) 

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Reboot by Amy Tintera
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

High School Award: Grades 9-12 (10 nominees each year)

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Winger by Andrew Smith

The winners will be made public on May 15th! I cannot wait to see who wins.

Early Book Review: Eat, Leo! Eat! by Caroline Adderson and Jose Bisaillon

Eat, Leo! Eat! written by Caroline Adderson and illustrated by Jose Bisaillon is a picture book that is currently scheduled for release on April 1 2015. Every Sunday Leo’s family goes to his grandmother’s house for a big family lunch. However, Leo wants no part of sitting down with his family to eat. Clever Nonna uses stories to lure Leo to her table to eat. Each week the story ties in the adventures of a young boy with the type of pasta included in the meal. Soon Leo is eager for the stories and the meal and discovers just how happy his is to have the family he does. As readers learn the names and shapes of pasta, they also learn some basic Italian and are treated to the same wonderful tales as Leo and his family. 

Eat, Leo! Eat! is a charming book about family, heritage, and some Italian vocabulary. I really liked the path Nonna took to get Leo to the table, and the ever expanding story. I saw some of my own family in the good-natured teasing, and abundance of food at family gatherings. The illustrations by Jose Bisaillon are colorful and have a playful feel to them. The pictures do a wonderful job of adding details to the narrative and bringing the story to life. I think the loving family and 

Eat, Leo! Eat! is a wonderful picture book for family and school and library sharing. The story is fun and has adventure, but it can also be used to spark discussion about family, foreign languages, various cultures and their stories, and food. The book would also be great to use as a storytelling prompt or example starting a class or child writing their own ongoing tale, or a chain story where they each have a chance to expand upon the original. 

Book Review: The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu

The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu is a wonderful fairy tale set in ancient China. It is the story of a honorable emperor and the two beautiful women that hope to be his bride. One is greedy and resorts to trickery in her attempts, while the other is kind and gracious even when it is detrimental to her cause. There are unexpected challenges and a grand battle to determine the outcome.

The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe is a fairy tale that feels just like the classic tales from ancient China. The theme is heavy in the tradition of honor and kindness, perfectly executed and illustrated to continue the tone and feel. The challenges of the potential brides flowed well, and the outcome was expected (because good should always win in a fairy tale) but the climactic battle was interesting and added an extra oomph to the tale.  I really enjoyed the illustrations and story. 

The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe would be a stunning and valuable addition to every school library.  It tells a classic story of good overcoming evil, and does it with charm. While I would class it as an older picturebook, I think many age groups could enoy it in the right setting.

The author was inspired by her two sons, who were born in China, to write the story. She also credits writing the book to having lived in China for many years and being warmly embraced by the Chinese people who have willingly shared their rich culture with her.