Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review: Señor Cat’s Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America

After reading these folk tales from Latin America, children will never look at a weather vane in quite the same way. Poor Medio-Pollito’s selfish ways confined him there for eternity. The inclusion of all readers is quite evident in this book. Each tale contains “Something about the Story” where author Lucía González connects with the reader on a personal level or tells a little about the variations of each tale in different Latin American countries. Even the illustrator (Lulu Delacre) reaches out by painting in her own favorite recipe for Arroz con Pollo in the saga of “Juan Bobo and the Three-Legged Pot.” In addition, González defines words and phrases within the text and includes a pronunciation guide and definitions for unfamiliar Spanish words at the end of each legend. The illustrations add an authentic flair to the book in soft yet bold watercolors.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Book Review: Freight Train

Only 55 words fill this book, yet when the reader is finished, she will have an understanding of what a caboose, tank car, hopper, cattle car, gondola car, box car, tender and engine look like. She will also learn about trestles, tunnels, bridges and color. She will see motion take place on a still page. This Caldecott Honor book from Donald Crews, like the companion book Inside Freight Train, Truck (which won the same award), Harbor, School Bus and others offer young children from 2 to 6 years of age a vivid vision of worlds both familiar and unfamiliar using language that is reinforcing and expansive.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: Charlie Needs a Cloak

Tomie de Paola may lack the true skills of a shepherd or garment manufacturer, but he makes up for it with the few, carefully chosen words he uses to enumerate the process of making a cloak. More so, his artistic talent does more to tell the story than his words. This story rides the fence between non-fiction and fictional picture book: It contains a whimsical lamb and playful mouse who entertain themselves and readers while Charlie works to shear, spin, weave and sew (all words defined in an end glossary). De Paola has been involved in the creation of over 150 books and has won numerous awards since this book was written, but it still stands out as a worthy read for children from 2 to 6 years of age.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Book Review: The New Kid on the Block

What is a Yubbazubbie, anyway? Jack Prelutsky creates poetry here that ranges from outlandish and nonsensical to more realistic or at least practical: A year of practice or an iron rear will get you far when cactus-sitting, for example. References to bodily functions and noises abound that children will also enjoy. Irreverent and sometimes eschewing authority (“I wish my mother wouldn’t make so many useless rules”) this is for children 6 to 10 who love the rhyme and creativity of Dr. Seuss but who may be ready to leave him to a younger, more conformist crowd. That younger crowd may get some enjoyment from the verse here, but some concepts may be beyond their understanding or they may lack knowledge necessary to make the joke work – knowing what a bully is and that one is frequently perceived to be male or that being a horse’s rear is a stab at self-deprecating humor. Simple, yet expressive and humorous illustrations complement each poem.