Library Column by Clare Duplace – December 14, 2006

This weeks column is by our children’s librarian, Clare Duplace.

The Red Clover Books are incredible this year so I thought I would review a few of them, and introduce you all to some very good children’s books.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka. This is the first picture book written by Norton Juster, who is famous as the author of The Phantom Tollbooth, which I read as a kid. This is a beautiful story about a child and her connection to the window at her grandparent’s house where she frequently visits. As the book progresses, though, we see that there is a deeper sense of connection between the child and her grandparents, which makes it a great read for the family. Told from the voice of the child, the story explores what goes on when she visits her grandparents, and how magical an ordinary thing such as a window can be. The illustrations are a beautiful fit to the story, with bold colors and sweeping marks across the pages. What a wonderful time to read this book, with the holidays coming up and families getting together. It will make both children, and adults remember the value of imagination, and how contagious it can be.

 

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. I absolutely love this book! The story of a panda named Stillwater who lives near three children, and tells them the most amazing stories.  The three stories presented in the book are classic Zen stories, and bring a feeling of “enlightenment and love.”  The watercolor pictures are beautiful, and show the bond the panda makes with each child. I think it is important when children’s books present perspectives from other cultures, and in doing so help us to remember the simplicity and humbleness life holds. At the end of the story, the author takes time to talk about what Zen means and where the stories came from, explaining that he wanted to find stories that would be a good fit for younger children. This is a great read and an introduction to children’s stories from other cultures. Enjoy!

 

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith Mcnulty and Steven Kellogg. We all know the magical illustrations of Steven Kellogg, with books such as The Mysterious Tadpole, and The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash. I was blown away by the beautiful illustrations in this book, along with a story of a trip to the moon and what it would really be like. I appreciate the author for shedding light on all that goes into a trip into space, including both facts and real life events. This is a great way to combine the dream a lot of children have about space, with fun educational material about how space flight actually works. The idea towards the end of the story is especially moving in today’s world, a reminder about how precious life is and the challenges of sustainability for our planet. The wonderful illustrations also support these themes.

 

Carmine: A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet.  Not only is this book a Red Clover book this year, but it also received the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award by the New York Times Book Review, and, I can see why it received such acclaim. This retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood, isn’t boring or repetitive. It keeps the reader guessing until the very end, with wonderfully drawn illustrations.  I was happy to see that within the story, the author also made a point of working with the alphabet, which is helpful for children learning to recognize letters and words.  The almost real-life illustrations and commentary with the characters make it a very humorous story, which helps with the retelling of a story about a wolf. The moral towards the end, as well as carmine’s artwork, make it an inspiring read for children.

 

Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold and Pierre Pratt. This story was on the list for the librarian’s materials review session, and I can see why it was picked. Not only is it a funny read, but it incorporates a song like story with rhymes, that make it easy for children to follow along. The topic of the story also makes it a good read for children and families, since we are all humans, and someone we know snores. The story keeps one guessing about what the family will find in the end, and it is worth waiting for. A hilarious, and delightful book!

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