Archive for May, 2008

book review

Grump Groan Growl by Bell Hooks and Chris Raschka

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Oh my, the child in this book is surely in a BAD MOOD.  In this obvious homage to the classic “Where the Wild Things Are”, a child must deal with a “bad mood on the prowl”, an emotion portrayed as a non-frightening, Sendak-like monster.  By both admitting (“grump/groan/growl/all I am is WILD”) and accepting (“can’t flee/can’t go away”) the anger, the child eventually calms that beastly feeling, and can “just let it slide”.   Many young readers may benefit from watching the child in this book consciously work to control those angry emotions that everyone feels from time to time.  Bold, eloquent illustrations tell as much of this story as the words do, with thick black lines and bold splashes of watercolors mirroring the strong emotions of the child.  Observant young readers will notice that the curly hair of the monster echoes that of the child, and the blue slashing line used for the monster’s mouth is also used for the mouth of the child when yelling the grump/groan/growl refrain.  Hopefully this will lead readers to the conclusion that the monster is not real, but instead represents the child’s angry feelings.   Most powerfully of all, the illustrations express the conquering of the child’s anger at the end of the story by showing the monster boxed up and napping beneath the seated and relaxed child.  Even readers in a good mood will have fun chanting “Grump/Groan/Growl”, and this alliteration can help develop your child’s phonological awareness, which is important in the development of early literacy skills.  So be sure to check out this strikingly dynamic book.

Lane Library info here

 

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book review

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie

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Jaunty and sophisitcated as Louis Armstrong and a good trumpet solo, this book resembles what a jam session would look like if one could be captured on paper.  You will want to sing rather than read the words, as the rhythms (“so they ROOT-TOOT-TOOT and they SNAP-SNAP-SNAP/and the bouncin’ baby bebobs with a CLAP-CLAP-CLAP”) dance right off the pages.   The story begins as baby wakes up to a family ready to party.  They put on a record album (no ipods here, so get ready to explain) and dance about vigorously (“Daddy jumps high/Mama bends low/Laughin’-limbo Baby says GO, MAN, GO!”), creating a scene of such fun and energy that readers will want to join the musical celebration.   The story ends with calming hugs and smiles and a “snoozy-woozy” baby falling fast asleep.  Angular characters and large slanting text romp across earth-toned backgrounds, reflecting the warmth and energy of the story.  Readers will want to be invited to this party again and again.

Lane Library info here

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web review

I know I’ve told you about Tumblebooks before, but I think it’s time for a reminder!   Tumblebooks is an interactive library of animated, talking books for readers from preschoolers to teens.  Users can choose to read along as they listen to a story, or read a story on their own. TumbleBooks are based on existing, mostly classic, children’s books, to which are added animation, sound, music and narration to produce an electronic book, or e-book. TumbleBooks help kids enjoy reading in a format they’ll love!

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book review

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromenthal and Joelle Jolivet

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A penguin in the mail?  Readers will be immediately intrigued, especially after seeing the accompanying note: “I’m number 1.  Feed me when I’m hungry.”  By the time young readers realize this book is a giant math problem unfolding with every page (and each new pengun arrival!), they will be too hooked on this penguin adventure to care.   As the anonymous pengiuns arrive each day, one at a time and always with a note, an unsuspecting family must both make room for the everincreasing amounts of penguins and figure out what to do with them.  What should they name them?  (Alfred and Moose?)  How much fish should they feed them?  (Multiplication problems ensue)   What do they do about the smell and the noise?  (New storage solutions are required monthly, and air freshener, of course)  And who is sending them?  (Mother thinks she might know)    Dealing with math and ecology issues with a sense of humor, this book is both refreshing and thought provoking.  The illustrations for this oversized book are done in a retro style, and feature lots of black and white (of course!), with bright splotches of blue and orange serving as contrast.   The penguins, who play, fight over food, watch tv, and do yoga, among other activities, are not drawn realistically, but rather as 365 (eventually) identical and adorable toys.  This keeps the story lighthearted and cheerful, rather then overwhelming or from having too much of an educational tone.   Animal lovers, math lovers, or readers who just love to laugh should definitely check this one out.

Lane Library info here

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book review

Uh-Oh by Rachel Isadora

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As any parents of a toddler know, “uh-oh” is a common phrase associated with little ones.  The toddler in this book is certainly no exception.  His day is filled with “uh-oh’s”, from spilling his cereal on his head in the morning, to dropping his ice cream in the afternoon, to throwing his bath toys on the floor at night.   This sounds like a frustrating day indeed, but instead the child’s face reflects the sheer joy of a busy and normal childhood.  Young readers will enjoy and even be comforted by the book child’s routine.  The simplicity of the text, with a noun (toy box, ice cream, kitty cat) on the right of the pages and the ubiquitous ‘uh-oh’ on the left, lends itself to a number of successful ways to read this book.  Adult readers can read the noun on one page and let their young one guess what happens on the next (with a rousing chorus of ‘uh-oh’ after each page, of course), discussions of appropriate behavior are a natural extension of the story, and after repeated experiences with the book, young readers will begin to recognize events and even vocabulary and will be to follow along in the text with you.  Most importantly, of course, young readers will just have fun. The bright pastel illustrations add to the cheer, and Isadora’s toddler is expressive and simply adorable.  Be sure to check this one out!

Lane Library info here

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