Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book 114: My Friend Rabbit

My Friend Rabbit, by Eric Rothman, Roaring Brook Press 2002.  (Toddler/Preschool)

 The fact that My Friend Rabbit won the Caldecott Medal made me pick the book up.  The fact that it was a funny book made me buy it.

Sometimes my three-year-old son tries to "help" around the house.  Usually his "help" means a great deal more work for me, but the kid means well, so I praise the effort.  The rabbit in the book means well, but his efforts do not often succeed as planned.  I guess I should be grateful that my son doesn't employ an elephants, hippopotamus, alligator, rhinoceros, etc., to carry out his plans.

Eric Rothman uses a bold outline for his "ink-block" illustrations.  It works.  The animal expressions are comical, and yet the animals are rendered in such a way it is very clear what each animal is.  Cartoony, confusing animals are one of my pet peeves in children's literature.

I don't always like books that won the Caldecott Medal.  I do very much like My Friend Rabbit, though.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book 113: Mudworks

Book 113:  Mudworks.  Creative Clay, Dough, and Modeling Experiences, by MaryAnn Kohl, illustrated by Kathleen Kerr, Bright Ring Publishing 1989.  (Preschool/Elementary)

I bought this book on the recommendation of two of my Facebook friends; one has a house-full of active children, the other was Denise Fleming.  Between the two of them I had creative activities for children.  Perfect.

So far I've only made up one recipe of dough from this book:  Basic Art Dough.  It was labeled as being the best and easiest unbaked dough for children over the age of one.  Again, perfect.  I halved the recipe a week ago, wrapped it in wax paper and stored it in a wonton soup container when not in use.  My son has been playing with it every day, at least once a day, and it still models easily and relatively cleanly.  Perfect, perfect.

I'm sure I will experiment with the other recipes in this book over then next ten years or so, but having one perfect recipe for creative fun is more than worth the price of this book.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book "series" for young readers -- 3

If You Give..., by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.  (Toddler/Preschool)

I just read the review I wrote over two years about "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".  I still agree with it, so I will repeat part of it here.

You cannot go wrong with any "If You Give..." book. Numeroff's stories are sweet and silly, funny and charming, but what really make these books so well-loved by so many children and adults is the magic that is Felicia Bond's illustration.  Even when Numeroff's writing becomes perhaps a little stilted or overly-silly after having written so many "If You Give..." books, Bond's illustrations swoop in and save the day.  The whole becomes greater than the parts when an excellent storyteller is teamed with an excellent illustrator.

Interestingly, I've read a few books that Felicia Bond has written.  Her writing is fine, and, of course her illustrations are wonderful, but I find the books lack the spark that makes the "If You Give..." series so endearing and enduring.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book 112: The Orb of Chatham

The Orb of Chatham, by Bob Staake, Commonwealth Editions, 2005

Truth be told, I bought this book for me.  But my little boy saw it when I opened the package, and he said "Have it!"  I'm not even going to try to explain to a three-year-old why he can't have a picture book, so I guess we'll have to share.

I bought this book for the illustrations.  You may not know Staake's name, but most likely you know his artwork; it often graces the covers of the New Yorker, and shows up in many other places.  His works features clean lines, remarkable shading, and simple subject that virtually jumps off the page.  It is always beautiful, in a sort of modern Art Deco way.  The illustrations in this book are all that and a bit of film noir --  and nothing short of breathtakingly brilliant.

The story, which I thought would be secondary in this book, surprised me with its Goreyesque quality. I was delighted.  And heartened, because even though Edward Gorey is no longer with us, Bob Staake still very much is.

I should confess that I have yet to unlock the key.  I started at 11:30 last night, and I made a half-hearted effort for about half an hour before I gave up for the night and went to bed.  So I'm no puzzle whiz, or I'm just really bad at math.