Tuesday, February 2, 2016

If You Plant a Seed

School Library Journal (April 1, 2015)
PreS-Gr 2-A fuzzy, brown rabbit and a tiny notch-eared mouse plant tomato, carrot, and cabbage seeds and then wait for the plants to grow and produce. As they bide their time, the two sit in the rain, nap, and read books. Readers will notice the sky beginning to fill with birds, which the rabbit and mouse don't see until the fruits-or vegetables-of their labor are ready to eat. Then five winged creatures descend and look expectantly, in a priceless illustration, at the two farmers that try to protect their bounty from the intruders. A verbal argument and scuffle ensue until they all reach an understanding. After the seed of cooperation is planted among the seven characters, peace reigns and friendship grows. Nelson's charmingly realistic illustrations skillfully show the passage of time and humorously accurate emotions and body language. The textures shown in the fur and feathers and the small details in the large oil on canvas paintings create images for study (and framing). The message, so clearly read in the illustrations, is a universal truth-you reap what you sow and when shared with others, your joy will be magnified. VERDICT A timeless and delectable picture book choice.-Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI © Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Mother Bruce

Booklist (December 1, 2015 (Online))
Preschool-Kindergarten. Bruce the bear is a grump. He doesn’t like company. Or sunshine. Or rain. What he does like is eggs and finding new fancy ways of preparing them—yes, Bruce has the Internet and a stove. He is a very modern bear. Readers will no doubt start giggling as they see Bruce push his shopping cart through the forest to collect the necessary ingredients—honey straight from the hive (“He liked to support local business”), salmon, and, of course, goose eggs. Having obtained everything he needs, he heads home and gets ready to cook. But, then, wouldn’t you know it? The eggs hatch! This results in the grumpiest Bruce yet, and hilarity ensues as he attempts to get the baby geese, who are convinced he is their mother, to leave him alone. Comic illustrations range from full-page paintings to spot illustrations and panels that combine to show Bruce’s schemes to rid himself of the geese, culminating in a silly but sweet conclusion. This case of mistaken identity will lend itself to a fun-filled storytime.

I Don't Like Snakes

Booklist (September 1, 2015 (Vol. 112, No. 1))
Grades K-3. In this slithery tale about overcoming fears, a girl with an aversion to snakes has the misfortune of belonging to a snake-loving family. Using knowledge as an antivenin to her phobia, her parents explain how snakes move—giving details about their markings and skin, which is not slimy—and describe how these reptiles use their tongues and eyes. Her brother tries to scare her by relating how snakes capture their prey. In the end, for this youngster, to know them is to “really, really, reeeeealllly LIKE THEM!” Most of the double-page spreads feature pleasant cartoon drawings of the family on the left and realistic drawings of snakes and their distinctive qualities on the right. A different font is used to distinguish the family’s dialogue from the information about the snakes, clearly separating fact from fiction. Although this might not cure ophidiophobia, its duo design will let it slide easily into a storytime setting or into the hands of older readers looking for more detailed information about snakes.

Daylight Starlight Wildlife

School Library Journal (May 1, 2015)
PreS-Gr 2-This gorgeous picture book provides a look at animals that are active during the day (diurnal), those who come out at night (nocturnal), and a few that appear at sunrise or twilight (crepuscular). Minor relies on simple, lyrical text ("Speedy gray squirrel scurries all day in search of acorns to store for winter.") and stunning, full-color paintings to share characteristics of each creature, as he takes readers from day to night and back again. Many of the critters will be familiar to children (rabbit, deer, skunk), while several are lesser known (opossum, flying squirrel, luna moth). The use of comparisons and contrasts will be especially helpful in classroom settings, but browsers will also be attracted by the appealing, realistic illustrations. There are two pages of "Fun Facts" appended, which include thumbnail illustrations of the 22 animals, along with some interesting additional information for the most curious. VERDICT This lovely title should find a spot in all collections and will likely inspire greater outdoor observation and appreciation.-Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The Book Itch

School Library Journal (September 1, 2015)
Gr 1-4-Taking an imaginative leap into the past, Nelson describes the role of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem, which opened in the 1930s and became a place where all kinds of people came to read, talk, and buy books about African American history. Told from the point of view of Lewis Michaux Jr.-the bookstore owner's son and the author's relative-this title clearly explains what made this bookstore unique. Lewis Michaux Sr. had a passion for sharing books with others, which was reflected in his words "Knowledge is power./You need it every hour./READ A BOOK!" He welcomed his customers and allowed them to stay as long as they wanted to and made a platform available outside the store so that people could speak their minds; among the speakers were Malcolm X and Michaux himself. Christie's bold, colorful paintings help readers envision this landmark bookstore and the surrounding neighborhood. Back matter includes additional information about Lewis Michaux Sr. and an author's note in which Nelson describes her interest in the subject, the sources she used for her research, and her use of perspective. Nelson and Christie's Coretta Scott King Honor No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller (Carolrhoda, 2012) is aimed at older readers; this picture book explores Michaux for a slightly younger audience. VERDICT A strong endorsement of the power of books and reading, an excellent choice for history and biography collections, and a strong choice for educators emphasizing the importance of community.-Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.