Sunday, March 13, 2005

Okay, I don't have time to do a proper long-version post, but I do want to share some of the stuff I'm reading. Like I warned you, all of this is for my Children's Lit class. Okay, it's a lot of picture books, but heck, I had fun reading them even in the absence of rug rats! This is not in my usual format since I basically cut and pasted from the reading log I'm keeping.

Title - King and King and Family
Author - Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Culture/Country - homosexual characters
Age - Preschool to 2nd grade
Summary/Review - The two kings go on their honeymoon, seeing many animal families and hoping for one of their own someday, a dream they realize in an unexpected way. Cute art. The strength of this book in its simplicity - the story isn’t about homosexuality but about a fun trip and the ultimate goal of forming their own family. I'm told the prequel is better.

Title - Daughter of the Sea
Author - Berlie Doherty
Culture/Country - not stated but probably Scotland or Cornwall
Age - middle grades
Summary/Review - A middle-aged married couple has just about given up on children of their own when the husband finds a baby in the sea and brings her home. But they always know that someday she’ll have to return . . . It's a very short book, and I wish the author would have fleshed it out some. It may be confusing to kids who have never heard of selkies.

Title - The Tale of Despereaux
Author - Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator - Timothy Basil Ering
Culture/Country - unnamed fantasy land, somewhat English Medieval
Age - middle grades
Summary/Review - Desperaux, a mouse, has fallen in love with a human princess, and when she’s kidnapped by the evil Chirascuro, he’ll break every rule of mousedom to rescue her. A sweet book that draws heavily on chivalric ideals. Good illustrations, soft charcoal and line drawings. The POV jumps around considerable and the narrator speaks directly to reader, which may be annoying depending on your preference. I liked it. Short chewable chapters make it a fast read. The story encourages looking at things from different points of view. You even feel for the villain(s). The portrayal of women was a little 2-D, but not horribly so.

Title - The Divorce Express
Author - Paula Danziger
Culture/Country - America
Age - middle grades to early teens 6-9?
Summary/Review - A ninth-grade girl struggles to adjust to the new custody arrangements, where she has to leave New York City and all her friends behind to live in rural Woodstock for the week, and only visit the city on weekends. I like the inversion of divorce stereotypes; father has day-to-day custody and is an artist, mother is more focused on career and success. It's very short and funny. There's a neat B plot about replacing cafeteria food through civil disobedience. I do wish some parts were fleshed out.

Title - What Happened to Marion's Book?
Author - Brook Berg
Illustrator - Nathan Alberg
Culture/Country - America
Age - K-2
Summary/Review - Marion looooves books, but when she gets raspberry jam on a library book, she has to figure out how to clean it up so nobody finds out. Sweet, but a little preachy. Good for introducing kids to the library and responsibility towards books. Marion's gyrations trying to get the book clean are funny, especially since it's not hard to figure out what's going to happen.

Title - No, No, Titus!
Author - Claire Masurel
Illustrator - Shari Halpern
Culture/Country - America
Age - Pre-1
Summary/Review - Puppy Titus wants to be a good farm dog, but he doesn't know exactly what a farm dog does. Eventually he figures it out. The cut-paper illustrations are bright and colorful, and Titus is very cute.

Title - My Little Sister Ate One Hare
Author - Bill Grossman
Illustrator - Kevin Hawkes
Culture/Country - America
Age - K-3
Summary/Review - Hilarious! The narrator's little sister goes through all manner of animals, counting up from 1 to 9, always with the dire prediction that she would "throw up then and there. But she didn't." Ten peas, however, defeat her. The bright oil-crayon illustrations display the progress of the meal in energetic, tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Title - Beatrice Doesn't Want To
Author - Laura Numeroff
Illustrator - Lynn Munsinger
Culture/Country - America
Age - Pre-2
Summary/Review - A book to warm a librarian's heart. Beatrice has to tag along with big brother Henry to the library for three afternoons in a row, and she resists the whole way. On the third day, tired of her whining, Henry sends her to storytime, and she finally finds something to like at the library. The sibling relationship is realistic and funny, and the colored-pencil illustrations are whimsical, expressive, and detailed.

Title - The Caterpillar and the Polliwog
Author - Jack Kent
Illustrator - Jack Kent
Culture/Country - America
Age - K-2
Summary/Review - The caterpillar is very proud that she will turn into a butterfly someday, and brags about it to everybody. The polliwog, enchanted by the idea, determines that he will turn into a butterfly too. While watching to see how it's done, he turns into something else completely! Good to go along with a science unit. The simple, cartoonlike illustrations make it clear what's happening while the polliwog remains oblivious.

Title - Maybe My Baby
Author - Marilyn Janovitz
Illustrator - Marilyn Janovitz
Culture/Country - America
Age - Pre-1
Summary/Review - For the animal lovers in the crowd. Each page features a different parent/child couple from the animal kingdom, and various interactions. At the end is a human mother and her baby, finally asleep. Detailed, accurate, and lovely colored-pencil illustrations make this a great book to look at as well as read. Good for displaying that affection is not limited to humans.

Anyway, I've got a lot more, but I'll dole them out. It's a long semester yet . . .

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