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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Captain Cat

Captain Cat by Inga Moore (Candwick Press, 2013). 

This is the story of Captain Cat, who is a trader, although not a very good one because all he wants is cats. He travels to an island and meets a queen who has never seen cats before. Turns out the island has a rat problem that the cats are the perfect solution.  This is a nice summer read. 






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Secret River

The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (2009). 


This is actually a revised and reillustrated edition of the book that was originally published in 1955 and received a Newbery Honor Award. At that time it was illustrated by the great Leonard Weisgard. As you may know, Rawlings is the Pulitizer Prize winning author of The Yearling. While many now consider that novel to be for children or young adults, it wasn't written with that in mind. This story is actually the only one that Rawlings wrote specifically for children. 

 A summary from Kirkus: "There are no fish left in the rivers and streams; hard times have come to the forest, and everyone is poor and hungry. Calpurnia is determined to find fish for her father to sell in his shop. Mother Albirtha, the wisewoman, advises her to follow her nose to a secret river teeming with fish. She finds this amazing river and politely asks the fishes’ permission to catch some of them. On her long journey home she shares her catch with several animals and, of course, Mother Albirtha. Father sells the fish for promises of payment, which are all fulfilled, and soft times come to the entire community."

Rawlings wanted the story to be about an African American girl and purposely didn't use the stereotypical "Negro dialect" that was often used in books at that time.  However, the book wasn't published until after her death, so she wasn't able to have a say in the illustrations, given that she never actually makes mention of race in the story. At that time in children's publishing, portraying children of color was almost non-existent. But Weisgard wanted his illustrations to be true to Rawling's intentions and do his small part in contributing to breaking down the color barrier, so he used brown paper to subtly suggest the characters' race. (Source)  You can see examples below. 



This newer edition is one of the most beautifully illustrated books I've seen. I always love Leo and Diane Dillon's work, but think it particularly shines here. The imaginative illustrations perfectly accompany Rawlings' beautiful fable. 


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Green Ladybug

The Green Ladybug by Zachariah Rippe (2017). 

The author/illustrator contacted me about his latest book.  He wrote: "I grew up HATING reading. I graduated with a lower than average reading level. I didn't read my first chapter book from cover to cover until I was 22 years old...and I read that book so that I could talk to a girl...who is now my wife of 11 years. He wrote his first children's book when he found out he was going to be a father. 

I love that story.  And this picture book is cute with a good message. It's a familiar story... in particular, it reminded me of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but I still found it charming.  It tells of red ladybugs who love playing in the sun, but when a green ladybug tries to join them, they shoo her away because she looks different from them. But when a bug catcher starts scooping up the ladybugs in a jar, it's the green ladybug who saves the day.  The pictures are cute and simple, although somewhat repetitive, but I think kids will enjoy the rhyming story. Overall a nice little read.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week! 



There are lots of events and activities going on this week. You can find an event near you on this map.  You can also find bookmarks and other cool things on Every Child a Reader's website.  

I love this poster by Christian Robinson. 





Thursday, April 27, 2017

Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb

Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb by James Herriot, illustrated by Ruth Brown (Macmillan, 1991). 

This is a sweet book about a little lamb who, one spring day, decides to venture out from his farmyard to explore the world. However, he soon becomes lost and is unable to find his way home. Luckily he meets some nice people along the way who eventually help return him to his mother. The story is text-heavy so probably best for ages 5 and up. I really like the watercolor illustrations. A nice read for springtime. 






Thursday, April 13, 2017

Emma's Easter

Emma's Easter by Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo (Millbrook Press, 2012).

This is a very cute book about a little girl celebrating Easter with her family.  It's unique in that Emma's parents are interracial; she and her little brother are mixed. The story itself is standard; they dye eggs, go on an egg hunt, attend church, and have dinner with family. The problem is that Emma can't find the egg with her name on it. Of course she eventually finds it... but that bunny sure is sneaky!

There are little blurbs with facts about Easter throughout, which I like because I always enjoyed learning about the origins and traditions of holidays and how different cultures celebrate them. I also appreciated, as someone who is secular, that on the page that explains the Christian story of Easter and shows the family at church, there is a blurb saying that Easter is also a special day for people who aren't Christian and that the day also celebrates spring and new life. There is also a glossary and some activities and resources in the back. 

All in all, I thought the book was very cute and will have to check out the other holiday books from Cloverleaf. 






You can see more Easter books on my Pinterest board here.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Ben F. Stahl (Albert Whitman & Company, 2002). 

This is a lovely book about a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation.  It starts with Fergus, a boy in Ireland during the potato famine who must immigrate to America with his family. He cuts a branch from a blackthorn tree to bring a piece of his country with him and whittles it into a shillelagh, or walking stick. Every St. Patrick's Day he tells his son his story of leaving Ireland. This tradition gets passed down through the generations until we see young Kayleigh being told the story by her grandfather. This is a great book to use for teaching about family history.





For more St. Patrick's Day children's books, you can check out my Pinterest board here

Also, if you need some good Celtic music, I recommend AccuRadio.  They have several different stations, such "Songs of the Sea," "Celtic Legends," "First Fiddle," and "St. Paddy's Party." I swear I'm not being paid, I just really love their options! I think Irish music is so beautiful and whenever I hear it, I feel connected to my Irish roots. (Although only 16% according to AncestryDNA.) 

Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day with some good craic!