Tag Archives: Children’s book reviews
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Holly Evans amazes her classmates with the most ambitious science project imaginable. She planted vegetable seeds and then floated them on giant weather balloons out into space, as an experiment to see what the effects of space would be on them.
Several weeks later, enormous vegetable begin to fall from the sky. Giant red peppers the size of hot air balloons, green beans fifty feet long! Holly is beside herself. Who would have guessed that her vegetables would grow to such a gargantuan size? Over the next weeks, more and more vegetables descend. Asparagus, radishes, lettuce. But…those weren’t vegetables she had sent into space! If these didn’t come from her, where did they come from?
For a short picture book, David Wiesner manages to tell a very exciting and mysterious story. His illustrations are, as always, beautiful and detailed. Even if there isn’t a literate soul in sight, the story is easily told through the images.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Sometimes you just run out of books to read. Sometimes you just can’t read THAT book one. more. time. Sometimes everyone is sick of every book in the house. And sometimes there just aren’t enough stories in the world to satisfy a hungry mind. I think a combination of these led to the creation of a new set of characters in the shadows of my son’s bedroom on Saturday night. The stories themselves are, needless to say, not remarkable. A fellow named John is stinky and loves stinky things: rotten onions, old socks, you name it. When he meets Stinky Skunk, their shared appreciation creates a new dynamic duo! I was going for the laugh factor here, and with a four-year-old, stinkiness is pretty low-hanging fruit.
My point here is more about the process. It’s sometimes utterly painful to try and make up a story off the top of one’s head. But the payoff is enormous. Letting my son input details into the story, like what kind of stinky stuff they like, or telling me what they find in a bush makes it much more fun. And he isn’t the world’s greatest literary critic, but seeing his eyes light up as I weave a silly, spooky adventure makes it all worthwhile.
So go tell a stupid made-up story to your kid or loved one today!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
Keith is an only child on a road trip with his parents. His prized belonging, which he has carried with him all over the place, is his collection of toy cars and, especially, his toy motorcycle.
Ralph is a young mouse living in a knothole at a hotel with his family. When Keith moves in to Ralph’s room, Ralph cannot help but admire the shiny chrome motorcycle which is just the right size for a mouse. Unfortunately, during a surreptitious test drive, Ralph gets startled and tumbles, cycle and all, into the garbage can. When the boy discovers Ralph, he is sure that’s the end of him but what do you know? Keith is actually super nice! He even shows Ralph how to make the motorcycle drive! Thus begins the friendship and adventures in Beverly Cleary’s classic story.
I began reading this to my son a week ago, partly because he will be attending the Beverly Cleary elementary school next year. It’s a great book to read out loud to kids: nice short chapters and nothing too complex going on. I love coming to the end of a chapter and hearing: “Can we read just one more chapter, please??” Music to a librarian’s/father’s ears.
Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters by DK Publishing.
What better image to carry off with you into your dreams than that of a witch’s house running around on chicken legs? Or the picture of human skin falling to the floor as the werewolf emerges? Maybe not everyone prefers these as their parting shots from consciousness, but I know one kid who is more than happy to.
To be fair, not every story in here is scary or creepy. There are stories about Ananzi the spider, of African lore, or Native American tales of the Thunderbird which was, incidentally, my high school mascot.
There are stories about tricksters from all corners of the globe, tales of the underworld, heaven, and everything in between. If you dig the Greeks, you’ll find them here as well. Aztecs more your thing? Look no further! Full of original illustrations as well as historic art from around the world, this is a great introduction to mythical creatures as well as stories of quests and battles.
Now some of this book is rather creepy, so if you are not into spooky stuff, you may want to put this away until you are a little bit older. But if you like a little shiver, then by all means pick this one up!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Avatar the Last Airbender: the art of the animated series by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino.
Before reading this book, you may have some homework to do. Specifically, if you have not yet watched all 54 episodes of Nickelodoen’s Avatar: the Last Airbender, then you’d better get cracking! Let me be clear: this is about the animated series, NOT—I repeat—NOT the M. Night Shyamalan catastrophe based on the cartoon.
So, as you all know, the cartoon is about Aang, the last Airbender, on a quest to defeat the Fire Nation who has overtaken the world through fear and violence. This book is for people who can’t get enough of Avatar. My kid is one of those people; so is my wife, come to think of it. Included is this book is a look behind the scenes at the art of the animated series. There are oodles of sketches, portraits of versions of the characters in different outfits, parades of all the different creature encountered in their world.
There are also a lot of interesting little stories included about the creation of the show and the response from the public. For example, did you know that the episode “Appa’s Lost Days” won the Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States in the category “Outstanding Children’s Programming”? Well, now ya know!
So set aside about 24 hours, watch the whole stinkin’ series (it’s for kids, but it’s pretty good!)