Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Friday, February 28, 2014

Book 296: In the Arms of an Earl

In the Arms of an Earl, by Anna Small, Wild Rose Press, 2013.

I am not a fan of historical romance novels. I am, however a big fan of Jane Austen's work. Clearly, I do not consider Jane Austen's work romance novels. 

This book was very much like reading Jane Austen, only with the added elements of sensuality and deceit thrown in. It actually works very well. 

The characters were well-developed, with clear voices and points of view, and even with a few human flaws. Those who deceived had motive, and those who were deceived had confidence issues. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book 295: Little Golden Picture Dictionary

Little Golden Picture Dictionary, by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake, Little Golden Books, 2002.

I love this book for two reasons:

1.     Because of the text, my five-year-old son can read this book by himself.
2.     And, because of the illustrations, my five-year-old son will read this book by himself.

The text is simple and straightforward, not elaborate or twee.  The subject of each sentence is easy to find.  Because the text is elemental and basic, I can use the text teach my son how to form simple sentences.

The illustrations, also, are simple and straightforward.  They reinforce the sentences' subjects.  And because the illustrations are elemental and basic, I can use the illustrations to show my son how to use simple shapes to draw more complex objects.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book 294: Rusty, the Robot's Holiday Adventures

Rusty, the Robot's Holiday Adventures, by Sherry Decker and Michael McCarty, Pie Plate Publishing, 2010.

It took me about one story to fully warm up to Rusty, the Robot, but once I did, I pretty much fell in love with him.

The story is set in the future, but kind of an anti-Jetson future:  People still live on the Earth's surface, dress and speak about the same as we do, and robots are antique oddities, so sometimes that was a bit jarring for me as an adult reader with preformed notions about the future.  Rusty, however, is absolutely charming, from beginning to end.

Book 293: The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan, Hyperion Books, 2009.

This book was far from a perfect book -- there were typographical and editorial errors, some quite blatant and relating to verb tenses, which muddied the text -- but the book was the perfect ending to a very good series.

Rick Riordan seemed to struggle a bit in the first book because the protagonist felt, at time, far older than his stated twelve years.  Riordan, is very good at writing characters that are in their mid-teens.  He is very good at giving motivation.  He is very good at showing shades of grey:  His "heroes" are not without flaws and vices, and his "villains" are not without virtues or necessarily beyond redemption.

This was an excellent ending to the series, and did make me want to start reading the next.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book 292: Hello, Mr. Hulot

Hello, Mr. Hulot, by David Merveille, NorthSouth Books, 2013.  All ages.

My five-year-old son checked this book out from the library a week or so ago.  OK, I might have put it in his library bag today, but same result.  It was the first book from his library bag that he picked out to read.  I can't say that my son caught all the humor or the visual references.  Heck, I know I didn't catch all the humor and the visual references.  Still...

J'adore!  This is book is so visually clever and weirdly wonderful that I must find out more about Jacques Tati and Mr. Hulot.  And I had to own a copy of this book.  For me.  And maybe I'll let my son read it, too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book 291: Richard Scarry's Chipmunk's ABC

Richard Scarry's Chipmunk's ABC, text by Roberta Miller, illustrations by Richard Scarry, Little Golden Book, 1963.

My five-year-old son loves alphabet books and Little Golden Books.  I love Little Golden Books and fondly remember Richard Scarry's illustrations.  So, of course, when I saw this book, I had to buy it.

This is not really the best alphabet book out there.  The text does little to reinforce the sounds of the letters.  But this book is a shining example of Scarry's illustrative work.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book 290: The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan, Hyperion Books, 2008.

This book was my favorite in the Percy Jackson series -- so far, anyway.  Rick Riordan has no trouble tapping into the mind and psyche of a fourteen, almost fifteen-year-old boy.

There are still parts of the book that drove me a little crazy, for example the search for Ariadne's thread.  Um, wouldn't that be the same Ariadne who is married to Dionysus, who is the same Dionysus who is a counselor at the Half-Blood Camp?  Hmmm.  The Quintus part was a nice twist, although not unexpected.  And the fading of Pan was beautifully done.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Book 289: Go, Dog, Go!

Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman, Random House, 1961

We owned this book as a board book, but I decided it was time to upgrade.  Especially when this book was featured in the Kohl's Cares campaign (with the dog!).

This was one of my husband's favorite books when he was growing up, and not surprising, it is only a little bit older than he is.

Go, Dog, Go! features a rhyming scheme done really well, and limited color palette with loads of punch.  Also, for a book that is over 50 years old, the text and the illustrations are rather timeless.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book 288: The Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse, by Rick Riordan, Hyperion, 2007

For what these books are, they are fine.  They are even a fun read.  Just don't over-think them.  Such as, with all the information about some obscure mythological characters, there was really no explanation as to how Atlas was released from holding up the sky.  It's been about thirty years since I've read mythology, but I'm pretty sure the original Perseus turned Atlas to stone with Medusa's head and that gave us the Atlas mountain range.

The other thing that I'm finding happening too much is when Percy flashes back on previous conversations or memories.  Flashing back is a useful devices, but not when it enters every other chapter.

Still, these are fun books to read.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book 287: Just a Little Love

Just a Little Love, by Mercer Mayer, Harper Book 2013.

It is not often that the preface of a children's book will make me tear up.  The preface to this book did, and, as wonderful as the text was in the story that followed, the best part of this book is the preface.

The story is simple:  Even when people love each other, things can go wrong.  And when things go wrong, people need just a little love (more).

The text, of course, is adorable and sweet and easy for a child to understand.  And the illustrations are all of that, and more.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book 286: My Kitten

My Kitten, by Margaret O'Hair, illustrated by Tammy Lyon, Cavendish Square Publishing, 2011.  Preschool to Early Elementary.

My five-year-old son picked this book out from our local library last week, and then he didn't want to return it. He thought maybe the book was about his kitten, Molly Kitten.  I cannot condone keeping books, so I ordered him his own copy. 

My goodness, this book is darling, and oh-so-fun to read out loud. The text is simple, sweet, lyrical and tells a straightforward story. The illustrations are flat-out adorable. And, put together, my son was right -- this book WAS about our Molly Kitten. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book 285: The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan, Hyperion, 2006.

In the first book, Percy felt too old for his stated eleven years.  In this book, the second in the series, he feels younger, and that is a good thing.  I didn't have any trouble believing he was only twelve.  At times, he might have seemed about thirteen, but I could live with that.

This was a marvelous tale.  There was a little bit of everything for everyone.  I do like the ambiguity of some of the more villainous heros, such as Clarisse and even Luke.  You may not like them, but Riordan does allow us to see why they act as they do.

There are shades of Harry Potter in these books, but that's only fair:  Rowlings borrowed heavily from Greek and Roman mythology.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book 284: Locomotive

Locomotive, by Brian Floca, Atheneum Books, 2013.

After Monday, January 27, 2013, I probably don't have to explain why I would buy this book.  (Congratulations, Brian), but I will tell you why I like this book and why we own it in its pre- shiny sticker state.

Trains and books are big at our house; so big, in fact, that when I first found out I was pregnant with my son, I bought books and my husband bought train sets -- the gender of the child was irrelevant.

Locomotive is an exquisitely illustrated book about... wait for it... trains.  It is also a beautifully written story about history.  Anyone remotely interested in trains, history, and beautiful books should own a copy of this book.

In a year packed with notable and truly excellent children's books, it is not surprisingly that this book rose to the top.