Oct 13, 2014

Miscellaneous TItles: Something for EVERYONE!

Life has not slowed down for me, which explains my intermittent postings here. 

Another reason for letting my intended posts lag a bit is the abundance of outstanding posts available  featuring absolutely fabulous picture books you really shouldn't miss. 

Here's an example from School Library Journal: FALL FUN, GREAT BOOKS FOR AUTUMN!
Twelve outstanding picture books are profiled, each celebrating the season and elements of fall traditions.  I recommend that you click over and take a look!

A third element consuming my time, in a surprisingly wonderful way, is writing. Work on a sequel for ODIN'S PROMISE is progressing fairly well, considering I never intended to write a sequel until readers insisted one is needed. Between research and drafting, (rinse/repeat), as well as preparing for presentations and programs, my prior posting schedule just can't be maintained at this time.

It's not as if I haven't been reading, though. 
GOODREADS is my site-of-choice for recording books I've read, I'll repost some of my recent picture book reviews here.

LIBRARY BOOK FOR BEAR, written by Bonnie Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, is up first.

I haven't met a Bonny Becker Bear book I didn't love, in large part because of that irresistible mouse who brings out the best in Bear despite himself. 
This one introduces Bear to the library and he once again surprises himself by enthusiastically embracing the very thing(s) he thought he disdained.

Another delight, for those who adore rhyming text, or bedtime books, or smile generators, or complex pictures that demand close examination... it's GOODNIGHT ARK, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Jane Chapman. 

A colorful, charming approach to fear of storms, forming communities of unexpected friends, and the comfort of bedtime rhymes will make this a repeat favorite in families.

And finally, just in time for October World Series  madness, there's no better book to capture the power of baseball than STREAK: HOW JOE DiMAGGIO BECAME AMERICA'S HERO. Written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Terry Widener, this is a nonfiction narrative text that reads like fiction. The time, place, characters, and circumstances came together in a once-in-history way that excites and amazes, even many decades later. 
At a critical moment in American history, when the world seemed doomed by inevitable war, a seemingly impossible hitting streak played out, enacted by a subdued and proud player who united Americans with hope and excitement as a nation. Selected quotations, resources cited at the back, and links to current events of the day make this ideal for older readers.

For now, this mix of brief reviews and a high quality link will have to do. I read several other picture book recent releases  in the past month and loved them enough to start my holiday shopping early. I'll soon post notes about them with fuller treatment so you can start making your shopping lists, too.

Stay tuned!

Sep 23, 2014

The Miracle and Magic of Picture Books: Herve Tullet

Chronicle Books, 2011

When PRESS HERE by Herve Tullet first appeared at a Children's Literature Conference in Europe (Bologna Book Fair? Can't quite recall), Publishers Weekly reported that crowds gathered around. Adults were waiting turns to get their hands on it for themselves. 
In the three years since that introduction to the world, PRESS HERE has remained on the New York Times Children's Bestseller list continuously. The extensive and glowing words of praise in reviews for this book, one with brief and simple text, indicate what a remarkable achievement this book is.

That's why the bar is so incredibly high for any book attempting something similar, even if its creator is the one and only Herve Tullet himself. 
Chronicle Books, September, 2014
In the case of Tullet's recent MIX IT UP  the magical interactivity is only the start of the fun. In this "app without batteries" early concepts of primary and secondary colors, blending, shades and tones set the stage for engagement, exploration, prediction, and creativity. Just as the adults who viewed PRESS HERE for the first time responded with childlike wonder, kids and adults alike will find their fingers ITCHING for paints and papers, or walls, sidewalks, or any other surface on which to "LOOK, PLAY, and MIX IT UP" on their own.

In an article in American Psychological Association titled UNRAVELING NEW MEDIA'S EFFECTS ON CHILDREN the question of screen-time-impact is considered. Unfortunately, most studies (except for those conducted by APP producers) suggest the effects are AT LEAST as negative as they are positive, especially in the youngest children. Media and access are accelerating  more rapidly than we can imagine, but changes in human developmental can't begin to keep up. 


Kids, especially the youngest, need:

human "face time" (in real life) 
language (conversation, reading aloud)
physical engagement with the environment
TIME (not speed) to process the world.

Whether you're an advocate for appropriate early childhood development or not, do yourself a favor and get this (these) book(s) for a child you know and care about. The HUGE bonus will be that you get to read them for yourself without waiting in line. I'm guessing they'll be among your child's favorites, and yours, too! 


Sep 13, 2014

More Recent Releases of Note

Some books defy categorization. They appear to be meant for children, but they find and burrow into the hearts of adults, holding a place bordering on sacred. Some feel that way about THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, THE GIVING TREE, and THE LITTLE PRINCE. 

No one in their right might would try to "mess around" with titles like these, right? 
Take a look at this remarkable approach to that very challenge in THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRINCE, by author/illustrator PETER SIS.
Leave it to Peter Sis to take an iconic, ethereal story, one that holds a mythic place in many minds. He manages to capture that essence within the facts of the author's life. The images, book design, moods and tones of this book merit the same careful reading and reflection that we give to "The Little Prince". 
Adults who love it may struggle with the tiny, delicate side notes, and may long for more detailed author notes, but young readers won't mind a bit. The varied text styles, gossamer illustrations, colors, and moods will be savored by young readers, even those so young that the biographic content is beyond their understanding. Don't miss it.
Beach Lane Books, 2014

Now, back down to earth with SOME BUGS, written by Angela DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 

Fantastic in every way- bug-lovers and bug-yuck-ers alike will adore this book. The colorful, expressive, layered, and slightly wacky illustrations are the perfect foil to the sleek, slippery, syncopated rhyming verses. Each line suggests simple facts, but relates to complex information about a single species or a family of insects which can be further researched and explored.
The ultimate surprise, revealed on the final double spread, is that these nearly cartoonish critters are scientifically accurate in detail and relative size.
Consider using this as mentor text for poetry writing with non-fiction themes, word choice for specific verbs, and as an example of alternate reporting on research topics.

What are some other titles you can think of that work on multiple levels? The best should, of course, entertain and appeal, but offer complex layers for a variety of readers (of many ages). Share your favorites in the comments.

Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.