Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book 350: My Little Opposites Book

My Little Opposites Book, by Bob Staake, Simon & Schuster, 2001.

I bought this book at exactly the same time and for exactly the same reason as I bought the numbers book -- to teach my son how to use shapes to draw objects -- so any detailed review I wrote would be pretty much exactly the same.  The added benefit is that my five-year-old son can read this book on his own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book 349: Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, William Morrow Books, 2005.

I laughed every time I saw the title, and I laughed several times while reading the book. Neil Gaiman skillfully weaves his story lines, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and brings them to tight central point, rather like Tom Robbins or Anansi himself. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book 348: The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince, story by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Jane Ray, Dutton Books 1995.

I love this book so much that I can't believe I haven't reviewed it before now.

When I was about six years old, my great-aunt gave me a story collection.  The book had a bright red cover and about 1000 gilt-edged pages.  My favorite story in that collection was "The Happy Prince". We moved around a lot when I was a child, and that book was lost.  Years later, I discovered Oscar Wilde's plays, but in no way connected them to that story from my childhood.  Then I happened on this gorgeous version of the story.

I love the story of the Happy Prince, but I never used this story for story time at the library -- I couldn't, and still can't, get through it without tearing up.  The story, even now, is deeply moving.

I wasn't sure about Jane Ray's illustrations when I first saw this book, but somehow the naivete and bright color and gilt do work wonderfully well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book 347: A Case of Identity

A Case of Identity (Sherlock Holmes), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This Sherlock Holmes mystery is not hard to work out -- the answers are very much in the questions, but the story is still delightfully told and contains an intriguing cast.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book 346: Walt Disney's Lady

Walt Disney's Lady, based on the story by Ward Greene, illustrations by the Walt Disney Studio, Golden Book, 1954.

This was a bit of a clunky retelling of (most of) the Lady and the Tramp story.  The text choice wasn't especially strong and relied more on adjectives than verbs (Telling vs. Showing).  The illustrations, of course, were lovely.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book 345: The Fire Engine Book

The Fire Engine Book, illustrated by Tibor Gergely, Little Golden Books, 1950.

I bought this book for three reasons:

1.  Tibor Gergely's illustrations,
2.  Fire Engines, and
3.  The pretty gold spine.

My five-year-old son loves this book for three reasons:

1.   Tibor Gergely's illustrations,
2.   Fire Engines, and
3.   The pretty gold spine.

I love this book for one reason:  My son loves it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book 344: My Little 1 2 3 Book

My Little 1 2 3 Book, by Bob Staake, Little Simon (Simon & Schuster), 1998.

My son is five; I gave away most of his board books a year or two ago.  Yet, this year, I bought him this one.  He keeps it in a small, portable, bookseller's shelf on top of his "art" desk (or under the pillow of his bed).

I bought my son this book for two reasons:

1.  My son LOVES Bob Staake's work.  Not just the illustrative work in children's books.  He can see a Washington Post illustration or a New Yorker illustration and know it is Bob Staake's work.

2.  I've told my son that he can draw pretty much anything he wants by using the basic shapes that he knows.  I've shown him by drawing shapes and turning them into a cat or a dog or a cow jumping over the moon, but it wasn't until he saw the shapes used for the illustrations in this series of "Little" books that he really caught on.

These books are great for the purpose they were intended, i.e, teaching numbers to very young children.  They can also be used to teach colors and shapes.  And, while the illustrations may some lack the sophistication and finesse of Staake's later computer work, they are absolutely perfect for teaching a child to draw.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book 343: The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen, A Traditional Folktale, pictures by J. P. Miller, Little Golden Books, 1954 (and 1982).

This was the first Little Golden Book I bought for my now five-year-old son.  One of the reasons I bought it because I remembered using it for a story time at the library.  Of all the versions of The Little Red Hen, this one really shows how much work the hen did between the finding of the grain of wheat and the eating of the bread. Even my son understands the injustice of the hen doing all the work, and the other animals expecting to eat the bread.

The other reason I bought it was for the delightfully timeless illustrations.