Monday, January 21, 2008

And on I go.

An Enemy at Green Knowe, by L.M. Boston; illustrated by Peter Boston. It may have something to do with the cover art on the edition I picked up from the library, but this reminded me a fair bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Unfortunate happenings occur in this book, but the characters are brave and intelligent and figure it out. That said, I can't imagine a 10-year-old would enjoy it much. It's pretty good for a kid's book written in the sixties, but the language isn't as accessible as more recently-written novels. Also, I have to say that there were alot of misused descriptors; it felt like the author really wanted to add an adjective in, and so she picked one that sounded pretty without actually thinking about said adjective's definition. Probably no one else would notice it, but it bothered me.

Zelda and Ivy, by Laura McGee Kvasnosky. I don't think I was an evil big sister, but I don't really remember. This character isn't malicious, but you might not want to read this if you have more than two kids: ideas can be bad when they are had by children. I like the pictures, but I don't have the vocabulary to explain why. Maybe I will sound more intelligent after my illustrators project in a few weeks.

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. This is my new favorite picture book! It does what a Pre-K picture book is supposed to do (give caregivers and kids a chance to talk). It doesn't bog down the reader(s) with too much text; it gives them the opportunity to have different conversations with each reading. The text is clear, not muddied by other things happening around it: the stand out from the background and are easy to see. The drawings are simple, and beautiful in their simplicity. There aren't confusing backgrounds. Kids would be able to easily identify what the drawings are; everyone can recognize a fire engine, a race car, a mountain, and a stuffed rabbit. I would so buy this one!

Smoky Night, by Eve Bunting; illustrated by David Diaz. I think this book presets a difficult subject very well, both simply and not scarily. I do like the art work, but page after page of it, combined with the busy busy backgrounds, became distracting after a little while even for me; there is just too much to look at. Approximately slightly more than one thumb up.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, by Mordicai Gerstein. I liked the quasi-Impressionistic artwork in this book. The ending was a bit stark and abrupt, but I think kids can get into the story. (What else can I say without making my commentary longer than the text of the book itself? That's always a problem with picture books.)

Shadow, by Blaise Cendrars; translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown. I liked the bold colors and heavy use of black and silhouettes, but I have a problem with the story. This doesn't seem to be either a concept book nor a plot book, first of all, so I'm not sure what the point is; the introductory note makes it seem almost religious in nature, but the rest of the book doesn't quite have that feel.

Secondly, I think the text, combined with all the black, is a bit dark for kids and could be quite scary. This one's a no-go.

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