Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book 171: The Great Easter Egg Hunt

The Great Easter Egg Hunt, by Michael Garland, Puffin Books 2005.  Preschool to Elementary.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt is an adventure story, a mystery, a poem, a maze puzzle, a word search and seek-and-find book, all wrapped up in Michael Garland's delectable artwork.

Everyone should have an Aunt Jeanne.  My son kind of has two.   So when we read these Aunt Jeanne seek-and-find books, we change Tommy's name to "Thomas", and Jeanne's named to "Dianne" or "Luna".  It works.  On so many levels.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book 170: Doug Unplugged

Doug Unplugged, by Dan Yaccarino, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

Doug Unplugged is adorable.  It is such a sweet, gentle, loving story that you can't help but say "awwww" when reaching the end of it.  Yes, it does end with a hard-to-miss moral, facts vs. experience, but the conclusion is endearing rather than annoying.  And it's about a robot.  Little boys really like robots.

Dan Yaccarino's artwork is always exceptional:  Engaging, colorful, timeless and adorable.  Just like the story of Doug Unplugged.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book 169: Just a LIttle Critter Collection

Just A Little Critter Collection, by Mercer Mayer, Golden Books, 2005.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

My little boy got this book for his second Christmas:  He was exactly one year, six weeks and one day old at the time.  He didn't really get the humor then.  He is now four years and four months old.  He  gets the humor now.  In fact, some of these pages send him into fits of giggles that last so long that I have to stop reading.  I'm OK with that.

For the past month, my son has been at an "I'll do it" stage.  That stage is curiously close to Little Critter's "Just for You" stage and the "All By Myself" stage.  My son recognizes this, and the look on the mommy's face, and that's why these stories send him into paroxysms of laughter.  This collection has seven Little Critter stories, all of which capture a preschooler perfectly, and all of which I remember reading.

Little Critter is iconic.  When I saw him again as a children's librarian many years after having read his stories as a child, it was like catching up with an old friend.  I'm just not saying how old that friend is.  It doesn't matter -- now he is a new friend for my little boy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book 168 -- Trucks Go Pop!

Trucks Go Pop! by Bob Staake, Little, Brown and Company, 2008.  Toddler, Preschool, Early Elementary.

I'm not really a truck person unless the truck is older than I am and has fat fenders.  I am, however, a big fan of really well-done pop-up books.  My little boy is a four-year-old boy and is a fan of anything that can go fast and make a lot of noise, and he was so enamored with Pets Go Pop! by Bob Staake, that it just made sense to buy Trucks Go Pop! as well.

Like Pets Go Pop!, the text is simple.  That is not a criticism.  The great thing about simple text is that after I read a book to my son two or three times, he can "read" it himself.  He is both learning to read and learning to love to read.

The star of this book is the amazing artwork and the mind-boggling paper engineering.  Two dimensional Bob Staake illustrations are pretty incredible.  Throw in that third dimension and you have something that is in-your-face brilliant.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book 167: Fiona's Luck

Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Charlesbridge, 2007.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

I remember when Fiona's Luck first came out.  One of my fellow librarians and I literally squealed with delight when we saw it.  We said, "St. Patrick's Day.  Reader's Theatre." And that is exactly what we did.  Once a month, she and I did Reader's Theatre with library books at a local bookstore.  This was one of the featured books.

Fiona's Luck is a delightful story with a clever twist.  I didn't know how Fiona would resolve her problem until she actually resolved it.  Not many people can match wits with a Leprechaun King, but Fiona manages admirably.

As wonderful as the story is, the reason we two librarians squealed with delight was the charming artwork.  Kelly Murphy (good Irish name!) creates an Ireland that is both realistic and enchanting.  Even in the heartbreaking barrenness of the first few pages, magic lurks in the corners.  Her use of color and lighting effects for setting mood is masterful.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book 166: King Puck

King Puck, by Michael Garland, HarperCollins 2007.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

If you have not read King Puck by Michael Garland for St. Patrick's Day, you need to do yourself a favor and read it.  It is such a sweet, gentle, beautiful tale.  Here is how it starts:

"Ah, Finny," Seamus said to his goat, "we're so lucky.  Our mountain is the most beautiful in all of Ireland."
It was beautiful, but it was lonely.  Only the wee fairies lived nearby.  Seamus had no one to talk to but his goat!

And that is how you set up a modern-day fairy tale.  The best goat in Ireland is crowned King Puck.  Finny is not the biggest, the strongest or the prettiest goat.  The judges scarcely notice him.  And yet, he is the best.

Michael Garland's artwork is just as enchanting as the story:  Sweet, gentle and beautiful.  In short, perfect.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book 165: Bear Wants More

Bear Wants More, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, McElderry Books, 2003.

I don't even live in the north and I'm ready for spring.  Bear Wants More is a perfect spring book.  Bear wakes up from his long winter hibernation and he's hungry.  No matter how much he eats, he's still hungry.  His friends try to help by taking him to their favorite feeding places, which is pretty brave of his small woodland friends.  The story is simple, but every line is read-out-loud delightful.

Jane Chapman does a wonderful job capturing the essence of the woodland creatures.  Her illustrations are beautiful, sweet, endearing, but not at all cartoonish.  The bear is clearly a bear, and when he is hungry he does look a bit fearsome (but not terrifying).

This is a book I used quite often for Spring Story Times at the library, and with good reason.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book 164: My First Prayers

My First Prayers, compiled by Nancy Akmon, using illustrations from Bessie Pease Gutmann, Blushing Rose Publishing 2001.

I rescued this book from a thrift store because it was gorgeous.  I thought, if nothing else, I could use the illustrations for framing.  After I read the book, I decided it was best to keep this book intact.

Some of the prayers in this compilation are a bit too Catholic for me to use, but the ones that are drawn directly from scripture, especially the Psalms, I will be teaching my young son.   Overall, there is a good range of prayers and they cover more topics than bedtime or mealtime.  That is important to me.

This, as I've already said, is a gorgeous book.  It has a padded, marbled cover, but, even better, it features all artwork by Bessie Pease Gutmann.  Her work is amazingly beautiful, timeless rather than dated, and while a bit precious, not at all twee.  A few of her "boys" could easily be my own.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book 163: MORE

MORE by I. C.  Springman and illustrated by Brian Lies, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. Toddler to Preschool to Early Elementary.

A couple of weeks ago, my four-year-old son, completely on his own, picked out MORE from our local library.  The book looked good, so I let him check it out.  It wasn't until I was reading it to him that evening that I realized that this books was so much MORE than good.  MORE is a concept book -- It teaches quantities, from one item to a hoard to just enough.  The text is clear, simple and basic.  Exactly what is needed.  The artwork, however, is anything but basic.  And it, too, is exactly what is needed.

About halfway through this book, I realized we needed to own it.  The illustrations were so staggeringly beautiful that I stopped reading and flipped to the cover to find out who created them -- Brian Lies.  Brian Lies later told me that this book was years in the making, four, I think, and worth every second.  I'm a former children's librarian so I could never desecrate a book by taking it apart and framing the pages, but this book sorely tempts me.