While Cave Boy has many things, the thing he wants most is a pet. He searches near and far for a companion. However, his family members find something wrong with all the pets he brings home. Woolly mammoth is much too large for the family’s cave, and saber-toothed tiger causes papa to sneeze. Cave Boy’s wish finally comes true when his animal friends rescue him during a stampede. Kids will enjoy repeating the funny language used in the story and will be able to relate to Cave Boy’s desire to have a pet. However, most children will not be as lucky as Cave Boy and end up having three!
Posted by: Liz
This month, Kelly shares the fascinating photo-essay What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio.
It took me approximately 30 seconds to compose and type this sentence. In that time a human eye would have blinked 210 times, a deadly black mamba could have slithered 720 feet (ugh…), the moon traveled 19 miles orbiting the earth and a skydiver could fall one mile. Pretty amazing.
Author Steve Jenkins, has long been a favorite of mine. He has an with awe-inspiring ability to turn ordinary facts into extraordinarily amazing statements. For those who have not yet made his acquaintance, some of his titles include Bones: Skeletons and how they operate, Never Smile at a Monkey and 17 other important things to remember, Actual Size and Brothers and Sisters: Sibling relationships in the animals world. Each book manages to pack encyclopedic knowledge of its subject into a 32 page mostly picture and caption format.
Generally working in double page spreads, Mr. Jenkins crams his books with sometimes startling, sometimes mind-boggling factoids. Much more than trivia, both curious kids and adults will not fail to be instructed and astonished by his information passed on in an informal manner.
For instance, in one minute, a chilly crocodile’s heart may slow to just one beat while at the same time 59,000 barrels of oil are used world-wide. In one day, 50 new species of plants and animals are indentified as another 150 species go extinct (and bamboo grows 36 inches, which you may already know if you’ve ever planted bamboo.) In short, in the time it’s taken you to read this review, a giant tortoise has struggled to move about 30 feet and people around the world have drunk an equivalent of almost 5 million twelve-ounce soft drinks.
Time’s a-wasting. Stop reading this and get yourself a copy of Just a Second.
Posted by: Eileen
Katie is having a gray day. So, inspired by a painting filled with colorful birds, she attempts to brighten up – first, she puts on her green hat, then her yellow tights, her blue shoes…and ultimately she paints her entire self in brightly colored patterns! This creates some fizzy magic which transforms Katie into a colorful bird herself, and allows her to enter the painting and spend the day hanging out with the birds before returning home for her bath.
This sweet, whimsical story is a celebration of the imagination and its transformative power. The text is minimal, the real star being the fanciful illustrations which transform right along with Katie, starting out soft and gray and small before expanding and exploding with color. Flyaway Katie, published in 2000, was the debut picture book by author and illustrator Polly Dunbar, and is one of my favorites. Recommended for ages 2 and up.
Posted by: Parry
Here is a simple quiz to determine if you are (or if you know) a picky eater:
I can’t eat broccoli. It’s disgusting (yes or no)
Lumpy oatmeal makes me gag. (yes or no)
I am repulsed by mushroom lasagna. It smells funny. (yes or no)
Eggs are slimy and I will not eat them. (yes or no)
James answers yes to every question and his father creates humorous tales as to why his son should consider eating those foods. When James declares that milk is repulsive and that he won’t drink it, his father replies “good idea, milk gives growing children strong, hard bones so just think of all the great things you could do with nice soft bones.” Dad gives examples of how soft bones can be a plus, as well as how they will prevent James from doing some of the things he loves. James drinks his milk.
Each short chapter is accompanied by humorous illustrations that demonstrate Dad’s use of psychology while he cleverly guides his son away from his picky eating ways. By the last chapter James tries to give his father a dose of his own psychology, but Dad is one step ahead.
I smiled throughout this book as I was reminded of my days with a picky eater.
Posted by: Wendy
This year, there seem to be so many wonderful picture books about libraries and reading that I decided to review another one this month. This book is particularly appealing because the main character is resisting reading, rather than the usual loving books and reading. I think this will strike a chord with lots of parents, teachers, and kids too. Initially it seems that the little boy in the story just doesn’t want to do what grown-ups want him to do, but we quickly find out that “Reading is hard and I don’t read fast and sometimes there are words I don’t know. . . .” So now we know why he won’t read this book, and “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”.
He won’t read this book even if you hang him upside down by one toe … over a cliff while tickling his feet … in a rainstorm with lightning above and sharks down below … and a dragon comes along and blows smoke in his eyeballs … and there’s a speeding train coming toward him … and he sneezes and you drop him. WAIT – if you drop him, he just might change his mind and read. This is a lighthearted look at those young ones who resist reading and their grown-ups who keep trying. — Just right!
Posted by: Mary
Madeline is in fifth grade and she lives with her parents on the island of Hornby in Canada. Her parents support the family by making sand-dollar art. Madeline is really the adult in the house. She takes care of everything–including her parents–and works as a waitress to make ends meet. When her parents are kidnapped by foxes, Madeline starts out to discover where they are and rescue them but her detective Uncle falls into a coma (something he has been looking forward to) and Madeline doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit who have decided that their newest passion is to be detectives and they take her case pro bono (that means for free).
This is one laugh after another. The story abounds with funny characters and silly situations. It also has many black and white fun illustrations. (I loved the illustration of Mr. Bunny’s disco shoes and also The Marmot in disguise) I loved Mr. and Mrs. Bunny who are enthralled with Madeline so much so that they build her her own bunny hutch beside their house and hope that she will leave her silly parents and come live with them. They are an adorable couple. They love one another very much but they argue a lot and they make sure that they get even when the other does something mean. I liked that about them. So visit a world where animals have cars, social clubs, email and Italian restaurants and speak several languages. Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit have warm generous heart, too. Recommended for Grades 3-6.
Posted by: Fran
Inspired by a true story, Katherine Applegate tells one of the most compelling animal stories I have ever read. Written in short prose from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who was poached from his home in Zaire and purchased by mall owner, Mack, as an infant. Ivan starts his life in America living with Mack and his wife, dressed in baby clothes, eating at their kitchen table. But, as Ivan grows, his gorilla behavior makes it increasingly difficult to keep him in their home. Mack purchases the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade and makes his living displaying Ivan for many happy shoppers. He is joined by Stella, a Circus elephant who performs every day and Bob, a feisty stray dog, who sneaks into Ivan’s domain to sleep on his big, warm stomach each night. Ivan accepts his life in his small “domain.” He enjoys television, junk food and visits from Julia, the janitor’s daughter, who teaches him to draw with crayons and paint.
As the years go on, Mack finds it more difficult to keep up the mall. Ivan grows and is not as cute as he once was and people stop coming to the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. Mack can’t pay the bills and care for the animals and the neglect takes its toll on Stella’s health. As a last ditch effort, Mack purchases Ruby, a baby elephant. Ruby’s homesickness and fear makes Ivan long for his wild infancy. And when Stella the elephant dies, Ivan vows to find a better life for Ruby, a life outside of the tiny cages at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. Ivan knows from watching TV that zoo’s are wonderful places with wide spaces for animals. Bob says “a good zoo is how humans make amends.” Using his painting skills, Ivan creates a billboard sized painting of Ruby living happily in a zoo. With Julia’s help, he gets the billboard posted on the highway for all who drive by to see and eventually, Ruby and Ivan make their way out of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade and to a new, better life.
Though peppered with sadness, this story is ultimately triumphant for all of the characters. The short, flowing prose would make this book an excellent read aloud for families who can talk about the conservation and animal cruelty issues addressed in this book as they read. Readers will be hard pressed not to fall in love with straight forward and sweet Ivan and all of his animal friends at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.
Posted by: Kelly