Sunday, August 9, 2009

Just for fun: weekend reading

Reviews by Elizabeth Kennedy's Guide to Children's Books.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Judi & Ron Barrett. Cloudy With a Chance of MeatballsThe movie version of the children's picture book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3-D animation will be released on September 18, 2009. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a wonderfully imaginative picture book by Judi Barrett, with illustrations by Ron Barrett that add greatly to the reader's enjoyment of the story. This book is a wonderful read aloud for 4- to 8-year-olds. I hope you will share the book with your kids before you see the movie. After you read the book, try some of the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs crafts designed by our Family Crafts Guide Sherri Osborn. Before you see the movie, take a look at the movie trailer and other information provided by Carey Bryson, Kids' Movies Guide.

Diary of A Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw Jeff Kinney
In Jeff Kinney's third "novel in cartoons," Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, middle school student Greg Haffley continues the hilarious saga of his life. Once again, as he did in Diary of a Wimpy Kid and in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney has done a masterful job, in words and pictures, of illustrating the general goofiness that comes with being a self-centered adolescent and the funny things that happen as a result.

The diary continues with tales about Greg's antics at school and at home as he tries to avoid homework, washing his clothes, and his father's attempt to get him to be more like his boss's kids, who are active and fit athletes. The emphasis in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw focuses much less on Greg's skirmishes with his older brother and much more on his skirmishes with his father and his growing interest in girls, specifically, a girl named Holly Hills.

Between joining the Boy Scouts and going camping in an effort to appease his father and thinking up schemes to attract Holly's attention, Greg is a busy boy. By the end of the book, there's a happy ending, which according to Greg, is as it should be. After all as Greg says, "I don't know anyone who deserves to catch a break more than me."

Four in All, by Nina & Adam Payne. Both the poetry and the artwork in Four in All are unusual and affecting. Written by poet Nina Payne and illustrated by her son, Adam Payne, the text features just 56 common nouns set in verses that are surrounded by dramatic cut-paper collages. The story of a young child's adventure is told in such verses as "oats wheat corn rye / sun moon stars sky."

Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose. This delightful book contains 200 rhymes, ranging from such familiar Mother Goose rhymes as "Old Mother Hubbard", "Simple Simon," and "Little Miss Muffet" to "Yankee Doodle" and other traditional rhymes. The folk art-style illustrations from the talented dePaola are full of good cheer and include a diverse group of children, adults, and farm animals.

Keats's Neighborhood, with an introduction by Anita Silvey. Keats's Neighborhood, a beautifully designed book, is a collection of ten children's picture books containing the incomparable stories and artwork of Ezra Jack Keats. The multicultural characters and depiction of life in the city in these stories are characteristic of the children's picture books of Ezra Jack Keats. Keats's Neighborhood also includes background information on the life and books of Ezra Jack Keats.

The book that established his reputation as both an author and an illustrator was The Snowy Day. Keats received the prestigious Caldecott Medal for 1963. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, which is a division of the American Library Association, "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children."

Ezra Jack Keats died in 1983 at the age of sixty-seven. He is remembered as something of a pioneer in his use of minority children as main characters and in his use of mixed media collages to illustrate his stories. It is a measure of the man that the praise that meant the most to him came in the letters from children who found themselves in his books.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick (2008 Caldecott Medal winner). Reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is like entering into a 1930s black and white movie. Why is that? It’s because of the book’s unusual use of illustrations, for which Selznick was awarded the 2008 Randolph Caldecott Medal, the most prestigious U.S. award for picture book illustration. However, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not your typical picture book.

This is a novel for 9-14 year olds, set in 1931 Paris. The book is more than 525 pages long; 284 of those pages contain Selznick's dense pencil drawings. Yet, just like traditional picture books, as well as graphic novels, both illustrations and text are needed to tell the story. As the title page describes the book, it is "A Novel in Words and Pictures.” Along with the text, numerous sequential double-page spreads of illustrations wordlessly move the reader through time, space, and the story of the orphan Hugo Cabret.

Hugo is on his own when his uncle disappears. Hugo and his uncle shared an apartment hidden away in a busy Paris train station. His uncle was responsible for taking care of the station’s clocks, and Hugo assisted him. With his uncle gone, Hugo continues to live at the train station and take care of the clocks.

A mysterious notebook belonging to his father and a broken automaton - a mechanical man - lead Hugo to an old man who runs a toy booth in the station and who is not what he seems. He meets the old man’s suspicious goddaughter, who becomes Hugo's friend, and he begins a life-changing adventure.

The intriguing characters, the unusual setting, the mystery that unfolds, and the book’s format make The Invention of Hugo Cabret a book that will appeal to a wide range of 9-14 year olds.

And coming up next month ...
The Beeman,
Laurie Krebs

Cover Art The BeemanThe month of September is National Honey Month, which makes it the perfect time to share The Beeman with your children. This entertaining picture book by Laurie Krebs also includes some interesting science information. I recommend The Beeman for children three- to six-years-old (and older). Because the story is told in rhyme, even the youngest child's attention will be easily captured. The Beeman covers a season of beekeeping and provides specific and accurate information about keeping bees and harvesting honey. One of the charms of the story is that it is told from the point of view of the beekeeper's young granddaughter who is learning all about beekeeping by watching and helping her grandfather. Most young children think honey comes from the grocery store. They are surprised and delighted to learn the truth.

1 comment:

  1. I have just release my new children and YA fantasy novel, "Gateway to DreamWorld."

    I would love to get a review from you on the book. The book has been listed on and Barnes&

    Synopsis: On their way home from baseball tryouts, Brad Colby and his two sons are involved in a terrible car accident that leaves six-year-old Pete in a coma. When Pete awakens, the family is crushed to learn that he is paralyzed. Meanwhile, Pete’s eight-year-old brother, Jason, has been having powerful dreams that lead him to a mysterious realm known as DreamWorld. Jason discovers that all of his desires can come true in DreamWorld, but the time is fast approaching when he will have to choose between his two worlds. And when more devastating news strikes at the heart of the Colby family, Jason and Pete set out on a desperate attempt to find the Gateway to DreamWorld and save their family. With time running out on their dangerous path, will Jason and Pete’s fear of the Unknown keep them from reaching the paradise of their dreams? Brenda