Monday, March 10, 2008

Some more stuff.

June 29, 1999, by David Wiesner. These totally unbelievable pictures are drawn very realistically, which is what makes this book. School children will love it. The Rain, by Michael Laser; illustrated by Jeffrey Greene. The multiple characters that this story follows may be a bit much for very young children, but shouldn't be a problem for children who can read this book for themselves. Most of them come together neatly in the end. The totally realistic paintings make this book very sophisticated. Bear's Last Journey, by Udo Weigelt; illustrated by Cristina Kadmon. This book is supposed to help children deal with the death of an elderly family member or friend, making it less threatening by making all the characters animals. The forest animals all say goodbye, bear dies peacefully in his sleep, they bury him and put flowers by his den, and they have a loosely-disguised funeral and distribute his possessions, so everyone will have something to remember him by. This doesn't work very well as being a comforting book, as there is no real resolution; the book ends very abruptly. Even young children may pick up on unrealistic elements of the story: the bunny and the fawn are included with the fox and the badger as some of bear's dearest friends, and this old forest animal apparently owns a ball, which he wants fox to have after he's gone. It should be mentioned that this book would not be appropriate for every family or child facing the death of a loved one: bear firmly believes in heaven and, while he does not talk about any religious aspects of getting there, he does believe he will go there after he dies. This might cause more problems than it fixes for children whose parents don't want their children taken in by comforting images of little angels with little harps on little clouds. Mistik Lake, by Martha Brooks. Most chapters are narrated by Odella, the main character, but some are from the point of view of other characters. The first person view points make the telling more realistic and personal. The change in narrators gives multiple sides of the story, like you would get with an all-knowing third-person narrator. Having Odella narrate most of the chapters singles her out as the main character, and lets readers get to know her better. This book effectively deals with a case of separation; the feelings and actions of three girls and their father are explored as they get used to living without their mother, who has chosen a new life in Iceland (yeah, Iceland). The author does a wonderful job of accurately capturing the emotions of the three sisters, who are at very different ages. It is a serious book on a serious subject, but it is hopeful. I will be doing a book talk on these books: The Curse of the Moonraker: A Tale of Survival, by Eth Clifford. This is much better than the first book I read by this author (Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library!). (If I had recognized the name, I probably wouldn't have picked up the book.) The book is older (written in 1977) and is historical fiction (1866-67), and the author does a good job of capturing an older, more timeless style. It's not the action-packed story that the next book is; the main character can get introspective, and the relationships among all the survivors is rather important to the story. Island: Book One: Shipwreck, by Gordon Korman. This book is very fast paced, very heavy on the action verbs. Unlike other shipwreck books which start in or just before the storm that blows the ship apart, this one spends most of the books leading up to that. There are 2 sequels, which I have not yet read. The three could certainly have been combined into one book, but they were kept very short with largish print and pretty big margins, probably to not be intimidating.

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