Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Picture Book Roundup

I think most of the books we ordered for March are in (hurry up, Ten Miles Past Normal!), including some awesome picture books. I even added two to my Caldecott shortlist!

Blue Chameleon

Unfortunately, Blue Chameleon isn't one of them. Rats! There's that whole pesky US residency requirement thing for the Caldecott (and Newbery). Sigh. Chameleon wants to fit in with the other animals, so he changes his color to match each animal he encounters. At the end, he discovers the wonder of being a chameleon. Like Emily Gravett's other picture books, there's a minimal amount of text surrounding dreamy illustrations; the story also continues on the end papers of the book. Very creative, but a wee bit frustrating when you're dealing with a library book. (My teeny tiny complaint).

Won Ton

Told through a series of senryu, a form of haiku that expresses “the foibles of human nature—or in this case, cat nature” that are “expressed by a narrator in a humorous, playful, or ironic way” (haiku traditionally focuses on a moment in nature), Won Ton is the story of a shelter cat who finds a forever home. This is not only a great read aloud; I can see teachers using this in a writing exercise. Adorable, and on my Caldecott list.

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems

I fell in love with this the moment I read the first poem and gazed at the illustration. Emma Dilemma is narrated by big sister Jessica. “I wish grownups would quit saying/I’ll bet you’re a very good big sister./Know what? They never ask Emma/if she is a very good little sister./Not once./Not ever.” Here’s the thing: Jessica is a very good big sister, because even though she yells at Emma when she causes her to almost miss the bus, gets frustrated when Emma repeatedly invades her room, and gets embarrassed when Emma wears her dress up clothes and yells her name at her soccer games, Jessica spends her field trip souvenir money to buy a present for Emma, is the only one who remembers the names of Emma’s rocks, and reads Emma picture books (“When I read/my picture books/to Emma,/I feel/as if/I’m visiting/old friends”). There’s unexpected drama, which adds to the poignancy of the book (it all ends well). This is adorable, honest, heartwarming, and precious. Illustrations fit perfectly with each poem. Love it, love it, love it. Beautiful. When I finished reading it, I went back and read it again. I told a coworker that she had to read it; she loved it too. Definitely one of my favorites for 2011. Also on my Caldecott list.

I See the Rhythm of Gospel (2010 book)

This is an informative and inspiring salute to the importance and power of gospel in African-American history. As a companion to the Coretta Scott King Award winning I See the Rhythm, I See the Rhythm of Gospel traces the origins of gospel from its roots in slavery to modern gospel, including gospel hip hop. There’s a lot to look at in every page; the poem, the bold illustrations, and sidebar history facts. The book is accompanied by a CD featuring 5 songs exemplifying the different styles of gospel through the years (Gospel Quartets, Gospel Women, Gospel Soul, Gospel Power, and Holy Hip Hop). The CD is fantastic; I particularly appreciated the hip hop song, because I am not at all familiar with gospel hip hop.

Hey Diddle Diddle

Love it. I really got a big kick out of this. This is a takeoff on the “Hey Diddle Diddle” nursery rhyme; in Eve Bunting’s version, animals play their instruments in an orchestra. The surprise ending is a hoot. Very cute; can’t tell you much about it, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I was grinning the entire time I read it.

No Sleep For the Sheep

Okay. Farm-themed books that rhyme are hardly anything new. However, few have as polished a rhyme scheme as this one. Do you know what I’m talking about? If you’ve read a rhyming story in which the rhyme falls flat or the author stretches the rhyme, you know what I mean. Poor sheep just can’t get some decent shut-eye without all the carrying on from the other farm animals. Can’t wait to share this in a farm story time.

Red Wagon

Lucy loves playing with her little red wagon; she has all sorts of adventures! When her mother asks her to go to the market to haul some vegetables home, Lucy does so reluctantly, but passes the time quickly with her imagination. This sweet simple story is a charming testament to the power of imagination. (Unfortunately, it’s also ineligible for the Caldecott. Too bad.)

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred

As a takeoff on “The House That Jack Built,” this is a bilingual celebration of arroz con leche (rice pudding). Animals help make the delicious rice with milk recipe; when the pot threatens to overboil, it’s all hands on deck until the situation is clear. And they all say gracias before eating. Includes a recipe for arroz con leche and a glossary of Spanish words used in the book.

Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? Or, A History of Messy Rooms

When a little boy asks why he has to make his bed, his mother tells him a story about his grandmother when she was a little girl. “And that little girl was as grumpy as a groundhog, and she said, ‘I already washed and dried the dishes. I dusted my rock ‘n’ roll records. I even picked up my slinky, my Hula-hoops, and my roller skates. Gee whiz, why do I have to make my bed?” This prompts *her* mother” “That reminds me of a story about your grandfather…” and so on, until we go all the way back to a little cave boy. Indeed, why does he/she have to make his bed? Because Mother says so. “Oh.” And the beds are made. An addendum to the book details chores and children’s games throughout the ages. This is a neat little book.

Wonderful picture books! I'll write up Four Seasons and Inside Out and Back Again soon. I'm currently reading Small Persons With Wings, and have already added it to my Newbery shortlist (also added Inside Out and Back Again). Folks, I am so not a fairies person, so I started Small Persons With Wings with some reluctance. I am totally hooked. Totally. Young Fredle has some comp-et-ti-tion.


Ms. Yingling said...

Did not care for either Young Fredle or Small Persons with Wings. Something everyone else is getting from these that I am just missing.

Jennifer Schultz said...

Ms. Yingling, I can name any number of books that people raved about but that left me cold. I felt the same way when everyone was going gaga over Keeper. I think it's beautifully written, but I just did not connect with it.