Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book 191: Americana Adventure

Americana Adventure, by Michael Garland, Dutton Children's Book 2008.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

The dedication pages of children's books don't usually make me cry.  This one did.  This book is a celebration of everything wonderful about the USA:  The history, the culture, the sports, the places, the sights, the food, the art, the people, and sometimes the sacrifices.  The text for each two-page spread is simple and direct, and includes a continuing puzzle in rhyme.  I don't want to diminish the writing, which is very good, but the artwork in this book (as in all Michael Garland books) is the star.

Every time I open a new Michael Garland book, I am staggered by the range of his work.  This, again, is true for all of his books, but most especially this one.  The artwork ranges from photo-realism, to exaggerated cartoons, all within the same illustration.  For a lesser skilled artist, this mixture of different genres might seem jarring.  Not so here.  Here that mixture works beautifully.  I think because of the joy and humor that marks the overall style of Michael Garland's artwork.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book 190: Long Ago Yesterday

Long Ago Yesterday, written and illustrated by Anne Rockwell, Greenwillow Books, 1999.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

My four-year-old son has been telling short, once-upon-a-time, stories for about eight months.  His stories are quirky, funny, silly, profound and offer a glimpse into the mind of a preschooler.  Anne Rockwell's Long Ago Yesterday are stories that she gathered from her young relatives, and transcribed, illustrated and edited into a collection.  Her "contributors" were slightly older than my storyteller, but her stories also are quirky, funny, silly, profound and a offer a glimpse into the mind of a child.

The illustrations are sweet and simple, and don't overwhelm the text.  I think that when telling children's stories, as in stories that children have told, these are important qualities.  In fact, these are qualities I try to apply when illustrating my son's stories.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book 189: Winnie-the-Pooh's Picnic Cookbook

Winnie-the-Pooh's Picnic Cookbook, inspired by A. A. Milne, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books, 1997.

Years before I ever thought about having children, I picked up this book.  I picked up this book because it looked adorable.  I picked up this book because the recipes sounded delicious like the Honey-Spiced Tea Punch and the Blueberry Heart Scones with Smoked Turkey.  I picked up this book because the recipes seemed like they would be pretty straightforward.  I was right on two counts -- some of the recipes were a bit tricky, but all-in-all, I had some pretty good success.

In all the years that I've had this book and used this book, I had never used it for a picnic.  Until now.  When I have a four-and-a-half year old boy who thinks it is fun to have a picnic in our backyard, at the tall table, under the trees.  With his Winnie-the Pooh.  And Piglet.  Or sometimes Tigger.  But not usually both.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book 188: Circle and Square

Circle and Square, by Sally O. Lee, CreateSpace, 2013.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

Sally O. Lee's Circle and Square is adorable.  The text is simple, silly and easy to follow; in other words, perfect for a preschooler.  And even with simple, silly text there is a story and a very gentle moral.

The artwork also is (deceptively) simple, silly and easy to follow.  The colors are PERFECT for a preschooler.  I often let my son dress himself and he has some color combinations that rival those on the pages of this book.  The color combinations work on him, and they work in this book.  In fact, the artwork is, and exudes, pure joy.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book 187: Bear's New Friend

Bear's New Friend, written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, Simon & Schuster Children's Books, 2006.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

There is something quite wonderful about Karma Wilson's "Bear" books.  I never tire of reading them and I always look forward to the new ones.  In fact, I remember when this book was first added to our library collection.  Another children's librarian and I nearly arm-wrestled to determine who would read it first for Story Time.

Karma Wilson's "Bear" books, besides being entertaining reading, would make an excellent study on how to write a children's book in verse.  Her rhymes are not forced and her meter feels natural.  The story she tells would be just as strong without the verse, but the rhyming scheme does make her writing all the more memorable.  Because this is a "Bear" book, there is a little suspense and a happy resolution.

I love the way Jane Chapman illustrates the Bear and his friends.  Bear looks like a bear, Badger like a badger, Mole like a mole, and so on, but there is so much personality and expression in the animals you can tell what they are thinking even without the text.  This is a wonderful quality in children's books for transitional readers like my four-year-old son.  He can tell me the story based on the illustrations that is not so very different from the printed one.