Archive for the ‘Books Ages 6-12’ Category
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Twelve Kinds of Ice byEllen Bryan Obed, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
This beautiful book is about the size of a grown-up’s mitten. Short chapters with lots of black and white illustrations follow a family through a winter in which skating is central to peoples’ joy. The children in the narrator’s family unite around anticipation and memories of skating, while neighbors join them to skate in the yard a father carefully floods and tends, with the children’s help. We see people who live close to nature, with the emphasis on its pleasures. Few could read this book and not take a keener interest in varieties of ice, and want to skate. All will be glad to spend a short time with the people met here — gliding over frozen fields, through pastures, across a pond, and the flooded garden turned rink, after homework was finished, in the moonlight. The text is poetic and Barbara McClintock’s drawings are full of movement, grace and the charm of a particular time and place.
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paintings by Kadir Nelson (Schwartz & Wade)
Most children know the holiday dedicated to the civil rights movement leader, and for those who aren’t familiar with the 1963 speech that makes up the text for this big, colorful book, this will be a wonderful introduction. The paintings not only keep to the tone of hope and dignity in the speech, but amplify it. The book begins with the Lincoln Memorial setting, first seen as if from above, then in a close-up of Dr. King with a shadowed Lincoln statue behind him. Then, again, we get a long view, with the placards listeners hold catching the light, looking almost like lanterns under a big pale sky. The dream gets illustrated movingly, and we see the beautiful and varied hills and mountains that Dr. King mentions in his “let freedom ring” refrain. White doves under a blue sky end the book, along with the complete text of the speech. The book includes a CD of the speech, too, one which is worth listening to again and again.
Monday, September 10th, 2012
House Held Up by Trees
by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser is the author of this picture book that addresses the themes of change and nature. The story was inspired by seeing a house help up by trees, and this tale shows how that might have come to be. The book begins with a house that looks rather lonely on a newly planted lawn, but we soon see it from the woods as the house is inhabited by a family. Time moves swiftly in this book, so within a page turn, the children have grown up, and before too long the beloved house is abandoned. But not by nature. Beautiful illustrations show changes wrought by time and weather, and trees with layers of texture that suggest their power. Jon Klassen, who created droll animals for I Want My Hat Back, here uses some of the same brown tones and elegant textures to fit this story’s meditative tone.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld (Candlewick)
Outside Your Window is a tall, wide book organized by the seasons. It’s packed with short entries of encounters with flowers, trees, and animals. It’s written by a zoologist, but one who tried to remember and convey what she marveled at when five or six years old, and succeeds in providing a tone of simplicity and wonder. We get poems recording encounters in the wild, suggestions for outdoor activities, even an occasional recipe. Entries for spring give us pond sounds, dandelions, seeds, compost, and nests. Summer takes us to hayfields and tide pools, as well as suggestions of ways to enjoy a den. Autumn emphasizes the pleasures of falling leaves, wind, and migrating geese. The colors of winter turn more subdued, but we see the glories of the particular shapes of trees, and the treasures to be found in the night sky or on a quiet beach. And there are those birds to feed, along with suggestions for feasts.
Mark Hearld brilliantly uses mixed media, giving us a sense of bright retro aprons or wallpaper here and there, but always with motion: wind feels ever-present. Each flower and bird — and their nests, eggs, and perches — is unique and compelling.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Step Gently Out
by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder (Candlewick)
“Step gently out,” is the first line of the book, and we see the elegant legs of a praying mantis maneuvering his way across daisies. The colors and fuzz of a caterpillar, photographed close up, stun as we’re asked to watch a single blade of grass. Ant, honeybee, cricket, moth, and spider are shown larger than life, photographed as gently, it seems, as the stepping: background is put into soft focus, which gives a sense of an observer willing to just watch. The short single poem carries us into dusk, then another morning. An afterword with more photographs tells us more about the small, amazing creatures.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Water Sings Blue
poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)
The first poem invites us to leave land’s stillness and “the heavy brown pier” for water and sky that sing blue. More poems echo the themes of imagination, freedom, and change that the sea calls out. We get humor with poems about seagulls, urchins, and octopus ink, a sense of time in “Sand’s Story” and “Tideline,” and drama in “Shipwreck.” Different moods are deftly conveyed through a variety of poetic techniques. Beautiful watercolors are the perfect medium for the changing blues and grays of the ocean, and Meilo So uses a great palette for the colors of many varieties of fish, coral, and seashells.
Saturday, March 17th, 2012
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today’s Puzzler is a quote from a book that contains the real truth about human misconceptions about leprechauns. Can you name the middle-grade fiction book that contains this quote?
“The fairy suited up, zipping the dull-green jumpsuit up to her chin and strapping on her helmet. LEPrecon uniforms were stylish these days. Not like the top-o’-the-morning costume the force had to wear back in the old days. Buckled shoes and knickerbockers! Honestly. No wonder leprechauns were such ridiculous figures in human folklore. Still, probably better that way. If the Mud People knew that the word “leprechaun” actually originated from LEPrecon, an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police, they’d probably take steps to stamp them out. Better to stay inconspicuous and let the humans have their stereotypes.”
Leave your guesses in the comments below and I’ll be back at the end of the week with the answer!
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Today, February 22nd, is George Washington’s birthday and what better way to celebrate our forefather who could not tell a lie, than with a “mostly true” and yet entirely amusing picture book. Margaret McNamara’s George Washington’s Birthday: A Mostly True Tale (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) is a fresh and funny relief from stale biographies about historical figures that children are forced to read for school. Instead, McNamara, with help from witty illustrator Barry Blitt, best known for his satirical New Yorker covers, offer a story about a 7-year-old boy who thinks his family has forgotten his birthday. A story many young and birthday conscious readers can relate and aspire to, because this particular 7-year-old happens to grow up to be the first president of United States. And, humorously, no one will forget his birthday now that it’s a national holiday.
McNamara and Blitt cleverly play with fact and fiction throughout the book. McNamara weaves in familiar facts and legends about George Washingon, such as the story of the cherry tree and throwing a stone all the way across the Rappahannock river. Little asides on each page act as disclaimers, telling readers what is fact and what is myth, offering insight and often more detail about George Washington’s bright future. Blitt’s illustrations play off of these facts and myths. Where a factoid states that George Washington never wore a wig, he puts the 7-year-old in a white wig which comically shifts and falls on in various states of the boy’s activities.
The text and illustrations are packed with little nuances of humor for the reader to pick up on. Sometimes subtle, like when George mutters under his breath, calling his older half brother “a tyrant” to other times being a bit more blatantly funny, such as the headlines in the newspaper that George’s father reads: “Cherry Tree Mystery Solved” and “Don’t Axe Don’t Tell Repealed.” Perhaps my favorite illustration is the hilarious one on the back cover of an older and more familiar looking George Washington wearing a party hat, blowing a party horn. Party on, George.
Adults and children alike will appreciate the different levels of humor in this book, while learning facts and debunking popular myths. If you’re interested in hearing illustrator Barry Blitt talk a bit about the book, he was interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air recently. You can listen online here.
Our gratitude to author Margaret McNamara who is donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to The Carle Museum. A reason to party, indeed. Pick up your copy online here.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
It’s been quite the year! I’ve compiled a list of the books reviewed by our Shop Talk bloggers to create an easy glance at all of the picture books we thought were Top of the Shelf material in 2011. Click the link after each title to read our review.
Fiction Picture Books AGES 2-4:
1. LITTLE WHITE RABBIT by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books) Review here and here.
2. STARS by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books) Review here and here.
3. TEN LITTLE CATERPILLARS by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books) Review here.
4. PRESS HERE by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books) Review here.
5. RED SLED by Lita Judge (Atheneum) Review here.
6. THE UMBRELLA by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert (Lemniscaat) Review here and here.
7. TELL ME THE DAY BACKWARDS by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail (Candlewick Press) Review here.
8. RED WAGON by Renata Liwska (Philomel) Review here.
9. RRRALPH by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books) Review here.
10. THE LOUD BOOK by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Review here.
11. BLUE CHICKEN by Deborah Freedman (Viking) Review here.
12. TWEAK TWEAK by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Clarion Books) Review here.
Fiction Picture Books AGES 4-6:
13. GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press) Review here.
14. MOUSE & LION by Rand Burkert, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert (Michael di Capua Books) Review here and here.
15. OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books) Review here.
16. STREGA NONA’S GIFT by Tomie dePaola (Nancy Paulsen Books) Review here.
17. OH, HARRY! by Maxine Kumin, illustrated by Barry Moser (Roaring Brook Press) Review here.
18. HIS SHOES WERE FAR TOO TIGHT by Edward Lear, Masterminded by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Calef Brown (Chronicle Books) Review here.
19. PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books) Review here.
20. ME…JANE by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown) Review here.
21. ANTS IN YOUR PANTS, WORMS IN YOUR PLANTS! (Gilbert Goes Green) by Diane deGroat (HarperCollins) Review here.
22. THE SECRET RIVER by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) Review here.
23. HOMER THE LIBRARY CAT by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick) Review here.
24. NEVILLE by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Schwartz & Wade) Review here.
25. I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press) Review here.
Nonfiction Picture Books AGES 4-8
26. HEART AND SOUL: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (HarperCollins) Review here.
27. BEFORE THERE WAS MOZART: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Schwartz & Wade) Review here.
28. MEADOWLANDS: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Review here.
29. CELEBRITREES: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Henry Holt & Co.) Review here.
30. QUEEN OF THE FALLS by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Review here.
31. HATCH! by Roxie Munro (Marshall Cavendish) Review here.
32. NIGHT FLIGHT: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Wendell Minor (Simon & Schuster) Review here.
Books for Older Readers
33. AROUND THE WORLD by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press) Review here.
34. THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin) Review here.
35. ROBERT MCCLOSKEY: A PRIVATE LIFE IN WORDS AND PICTURES by Jane McCloskey (Seapoint Books) Reveiw here.
What a list! There’s still so many more 2011 titles that we loved and didn’t get a chance to talk about. Was there a new book from 2011 that you wished we reviewed? Let us know and maybe we can squeeze in one or two more before our 2012 reviews start. Here’s to another great book-filled year!
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving! On this day of family, friends and delicious fall foods, I want to talk about one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats…pie! Lovely fall pies like apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie will be filling my family’s table this holiday season, but I’m a sucker for summer fruit pies as well. What about you? Do you have a favorite kind of pie?
Here are some picture books from our Shop’s shelves that highlight this favorite sweet treat.
Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, 2004)
With her beautiful cut paper collage illustrations, Lois Ehlert shows how a cherry pie is made, starting from the tree that cherries grown on. With each turn of the page, the reader observes the natural world of this cherry tree through the seasons, waiting for the time to finally pick the cherries and make the pie. Look closely on each page for hidden details, including Ehlert’s own cherry pie recipe!
Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Putnam, 2010)
Everyone is excited about Mama having a new baby except Gia. She likes having Mama all to herself and sharing special moments between just the two of them like telling silly stories, snuggling in the morning, or sharing a piece of their favorite treat — pecan pie. But even now, before the baby is born, Gia has to share their love of pecan pie with the baby in Mama’s belly. “This baby sure loves itself some pie,” says Mama, giving in to her cravings. “Well,” says Gia, “I love pecan pie. And you love pecan pie. So that baby’s just being a copycat.” This book gracefully navigates the complexity of a child’s feelings about a new sibling and Gia’s mother is able to gently reassure Gia that the baby won’t ruin their special mother/daughter bond.
Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray (Hyperion, 2011)
A fresh take on the classic A Apple Apie alphabet book with bold retro-style illustrations.
A apple pie
B bake it
C cool it
D dish it out.
Told with great humor in the point of view of a very determined dog who wants a piece of that apple pie.
The Apple Pie that Papa Bakes by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
A fun retelling of “The House that Jack Built” cumulative style tale. Instead it’s the pie that papa baked. With a nod to classic Virginia Burton illustration, the reader gets a bigger and bigger view of all the parts of the natural world that go into making one delicious apple pie from scratch. A wonderful read aloud.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Knopf, 1994)
In Marjorie Priceman’s beautiful and whimsical style, readers are taken on a worldwide scavenger hunt for the ingredients to make an apple pie. To Italy to harvest the wheat, to France to gather the eggs, to Sri Lanka for some cinnamon and so on, until finally picking the apples close to home in a Vermont orchard. A wonderful reminder for all ages to know and appreciate all the places our food comes from.
For older readers, check out
Pie by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic, 2011)
This book is a wonderful and quick middle-grade novel, perfect for ages 9-12, about a girl named Alice, whose beloved Aunt Polly makes the town’s BEST pies. When Aunt Polly passes away, she leaves her famous piecrust recipe surprisingly to her cat, Lardo and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. The town goes in a frenzy trying to get the recipe, even including a cat-napping and a suspicious stranger snoping around town, getting poor Alice caught up in the middle of it all. It’s up to Alice to show everyone that Polly’s pies were about bringing family and friends together. This funny and well-written book is interspersed with recipes (warning: don’t read on an empty stomach — it will make you hungry!) so you can try out the famous pies yourself.
On this day of giving thanks, we’re thankful for our food — and delicious pies — and for our family and friends like you who we can share our love of books with. Happy Thanksgiving!