Aug 17, 2014

Recent Reads: Quite a Variety

I've allowed this blog to take a semi-hiatus/summer vacation in order to focus on my recent release projects. If that's news to you, you can check it out here. That doesn't mean I'm not still reading picture books (and reviews, releases, classics, blogs, and more). I keep a record, rating, and reviews of recent reads on my GOODREADS site.

In case you've missed those, it's time to report them here, since they each have good things to offer, ranging from home to school, from youngest to established readers. Each can play a significant role in back-to-school discussions of rules, kindness, determination, holding grudges

MY TEACHER IS A MONSTER! (NO, I AM NOT.) is written and illustrated by Peter Brown. It's had some wonderful reviews, and I can see why. But when it comes to a story about how teachers are perceived depending on the daily changes of students, I'll take LILY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE, by Kevin Henkes over this one, but it does have a quirky sort of appeal. Even when the student and teacher reach greater understanding of each other, there's something about it (the color tones? the relative sizes of the kids/teacher?) that leaves me slightly uncomfortable and flattens the humor just a bit.

On the other hand, THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE, written and illustrated by Mark Pett, is  a winner, in my opinion.

 This wordless, monochromatic, wide-format picture book uses simple images to create a multi-layered and highly appealing story. It incorporates one very creative, determined, and wise young girl, her loyal (and funny) little brother, and a neighbor with a gentle heart. This is the kind of picture book that deserves multiple re"read"s and can serve as mentor-text for story structure, sequence, cause/effect, and language development for a number of age levels.

Next up is THE GRUDGE KEEPER, written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. It's a back-to-school

Wheeler's fine-lined, gentle-toned double page spreads lend richness and emotional depth to the delightfully complex, synonym-laden text that could otherwise get a bit tiresome. The language, images, and somewhat obvious lesson make this a great choice for intentional sharing. It can serve as vocabulary development, mentor text for humor and hyperbole, and community building/problem-solving.

As an example of quality non-fiction that is fluent, intriguing, accessible, and fun, you can't beat GIRLS THIINK OF EVERYTHING: STORIES OF INGENIOUS INVENTIONS BY WOMEN, written by Catherine Thimmesh and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
Sweet's appealing cameo and full page illustrations interspersed throughout this informative and highly accessible text make this a must-have for "close" reading- or just for fun! These profiles of inventive, innovative women include some familiar names and many more less well known. This belongs in every library and classroom from third grade up.

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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.