Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book 103: Philadelphia Chickens

Philadelphia Chickens, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton, Workman Books 2003

I love good music, funny songs and Sandra Boynton, so, of course, I love this book and CD. Which is for all ages except 43. :) My favorite group on the CD has got to be the Bacon Brothers because they have that Brian Setzer swing-thing going on. Also, if you ever wanted to hear Kevin Kline sing, this would be your chance.

The lyrics (and therefore the written text) are perfectly ridiculous, with emphasis on the perfect. And Sandra Boynton's illustrations match, again perfectly.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book 102: Treasury of Fairy Tales

Treasury of Fairy Tales, written by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Sophy Williams, Oxford University Press 2003

Everything about this edition of fairy tales is soft and rather pastel -- from the cover art, to the inside illustrations, to the rendering of some very well-known fairy tales. That means, even when reinterpreting tales by the brothers Grimm, there is remarkably very little death, and what there is is quickly glossed over in this book. I don't mind the darker, sharper tales, in fact I often prefer them. When reading to a three-year-old, however, discretion should be practiced. As this book is very unlikely to induce nightmares (a rather noble goal), it is a very good introduction to fairy tales to young listeners.

The cover artwork and illustrations are both glowing and soft. I would be shocked if the medium used to produce the art was not pastel. Because the illustrator has managed to not produce the muddy effect so common with pastel work (well, mine anyway) and instead has created something bright and lovely, I'm impressed and quite stunned by the beauty of the illustrations.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book 101: Are All The Giants Dead?

Are All The Giants Dead?, written by Mary Norton, illustrated by Brian Froud, Magic Carpet Books (Harcourt Brace), 1997 (first published 1975)

When I was looking for Bed-knob and Broomstick to purchase, I came across this title by Mary Norton. The title grabbed my attention, but the illustrator, Brian Froud, made me want to buy the book. Visions of Labyrinth danced through my head -- hello, Goblin King!

So, of course, I bought the book. And read it. And loved it. Are All the Giants Dead? serves a healthy dose of fantasy to the imaginative and brings to life (and ages) many favorite fairy tale characters. For example, Beauty of Beauty and the Beast, left behind her svelte figure and took on middle-aged proportions not very different from mine. I had to love that. The book is a great romp as a read. It also was surprisingly educational. I thought Jack-of-the-Beanstalk was Jack-the-Giant-Killer. Not so! They originally were two separate people. Clearly, I am not the only one who mixed them up, because a movie coming out this year is entitled Jack the Giant Killer, but is about Jack of the Beanstalk.

The illustrations are perfect -- as can be expected from the premiere illustrator of goblins, hobgoblins and fairies of our age. Visions of Labyrinth will dance through your head.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book 100: Bed-Knob and Broomstick

Bed-Knob and Broomstick, written by Mary Norton, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, Harcourt 1943 and 1957

This Christmas season, as well as watching Mary Poppins, we watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I loved that the movie was set during the second world war and I wondered how it was handled in the book, so I bought the book. Turns out it wasn't handled at all. The whole premise for the student witch to learn magic in the movie does not exist in the book. Further, the book was actually two books put together: The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks. The movie is very loosely based on the two books.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick is still a most enjoyable read. If I preferred the Miss Price in the movie to the one in the book, I preferred the Charlie in the book to the one in the movie. If I missed the noble intent in the movie, I liked the time travel in the book.

The black-and-white illustrations have a charmingly vintage feel. I think Erik Blegvad could have inspired Edward Gorey. And that is a very good thing.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book 99: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins, written by P.L. Travers, illustrated by Mary Shepard.  (Elementary)

Over the Christmas holiday, we watched Mary Poppins with the always wonderful Julie Andrews. As enjoyable as the Disney movie was, I did find myself wishing for more of the book.

Mary Poppins is a perfect book to read to my son now. He doesn't need illustrations on every page and he can sit still for an entire chapter. Why Mary Poppins is so perfect, though, is because every chapter is a short story. The stories all fit together for form a longer story, but they also can stand alone quite well. My favorite chapter is entitled The Dancing Cow. Those who have seen the movie may not recall a dancing cow. That's because it is not in the movie. And that is one of the reasons why the book is so much better than the movie.

Mary Shepard was the daughter of E. H. Shepard, and E. H. Shepard, as every bibliophile knows, illustrated the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Suffice to say, the talent gene was passed on.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.