Monday, February 16, 2009


The Peanut-Free Cafe, by Gloria Koster; illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. A great book with fun art and a useful message. There's good information in a note in the back. I love the vivid colors and the characters' expressions. It has a good amount of text, enough to really give the reader a story, but not overwhelming: good for kids in lower grades, but definitely not a pre-k book.

If I Only had a Green Nose, by Max Lucado; illustrated by Sergio Martinez. A little sticker on the front says "a sequel to You Are Special by Max Lucado." I didn't know picture books could have sequels; I mean, there is Panda Bear, Panda Bear and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, but those are more off-shoot kind of things, and I recently saw Not a Stick, similar to the fantabulous Not a Box, but I would not call those "sequels." Anyway. I didn't like this book much at all. Many of the characters are drawn rather strangely, they look a bit odd. Something perhaps discussed in the first books is why the characters are Pinocchio-people, animated wooden dolls. They also have a transparent god-character. The back of the book even says "Why would he want that when he knows Eli made each of them different for a reason? But when Punchinello stops visiting Eli regularly, a painted nose somehow doesn't seem as foolish anymore." Bible messages are fine when they don't try to disguise themselves. Be honest about what your book is trying to say. You don't need a religious message to talk about peer pressure and vanity. All in all, the story line itself is just a wordier version of The Sneetches, which didn't need improving on.  

Too Many Pears!, by Jackie French; illustrated by Bruce Whatley. The front cover picture isn't very attractive, but it's a very cute story (also food-related; I must have been hungry when I went to the library yesterday). This has less text and is for a younger audience.  

That Book Woman, by Heather Henson; illustrated by David Small. Of course I couldn't pass this up! It's quite good, too: there's excellent historical information in the back, the art style matches the text, and the narrator's voice sounds real and believable. The text is clear, set in columns on white space, but it's slightly long for a picture book, so would maybe be better for 1st grade and up.

Lucille Lost: A True Adventure, by Margaret George and Christopher J. Murphy; illustrated by Debra Bandelin and Bob Dacey. There are good things and bad things about this one: there are facts about tortoises and turtles at the bottom of each page, which are quite interesting. The story itself is filled with facts as well, and would be very interesting to children interested in these animals. On the other hand, the writing is rather poor: it feels like the authors, who did have a good idea, said "well, anyone can write a children's book!" In fact, they are both science-y type people, and have written no other children's books, so I guess it's allowed to feel a little awkward. I'm digging the art, though.  

Dear Mr. Blueberry, by Simon James. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this book is. It isn't clear from the story (only from the back intro) that the little girl is on vacation and writing to her teacher. I don't know why she doesn't just ask her parents. It kind of has a negative feeling about the character's imaginings. I love the colorful pictures, though. Little Green, by Keith Baker. Much of the art is Carle-esque, collaged from painted papers. I like the effect. The hummingbird's movement lines are also very good. This book is more for the art than the story, which is kind of bleh. Maybe it sounds better read aloud; I don't think I felt what the author was going for.

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