Archive for November 28, 2011


acrorns and stew too

Acorns and Stew, Too by Ruth Orbach

First published 25 years ago, this book has a classic feel combined with a great story.  Lenore loved a lot about her life, but most of all she loved the ducks who lived near the lake.  She visited them every day and fed them bread and other food.  But winter was approaching, so Lenore knew that soon the ducks were going to fly south.  She made them little houses to live in, fed them on stew and acorns, even made winter coats for them.  In the end, the ducks did not fly south.  They stayed with Lenore.

I love the ending of this book, where the ducks stay for the winter.  So often, children in stories are infinitely creative and resourceful, but they don’t create real change.  Here the universe shifted a bit to make room for Lenore and her dreams.  Orbach writes with real joy.  She delights in the small moments of creation that Lenore has, the attachment of the ducks to Lenore is evident too.  She has created a book where emotions are tangible and hard work really makes a difference.

Orbach’s art has a vintage feel.  The illustrations are done in ink on white and then colored with wild bursts of color.  The yellow is warm, the red pops, the pink is beyond bright, and the yellow is neon.  It all makes for an eye-poppingly bright book.  At the same time, the illustrations have a whimsical feel.  The bright colors and the whimsy make for an interesting contrast with one another.

I hadn’t read this years ago, so I’m very happy to find it now.  Here is a sweet, clever and empowering story for children.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller.

WaitingForTheBiblioBurro

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra

Inspired by a true story, this picture book shows the power of books and reading.  Ana is a small girl who lives in Colombia and adores books.  Her village is very remote though, so there is no library to go to.  Ana has just one book, given to her by her teacher, and she has read it over and over again.  Ana makes up her own stories that she tells her little brother at bedtime.  Then one day a man with two burros comes to their village.  The burros carry a library of books and he invites all of the children to select books to keep until he returns.  As she waits for the librarian to return, Ana creates her own book about him, his burros and his books.

Brown has created a book that is gentle and beautifully written.  Ana’s life is shown as loving and filled with blessings.  It will contrast vividly for American children with their own lifestyle.  Brown also focuses clearly on books and the power of reading and stories.  The story here is told clearly and warmly with sprinklings of Spanish throughout.

Parra’s illustrations have a lovely folk art feel to them.  Done in acrylics on board, they have a texture adds another dimension to the book.  The colors are bright, the storytelling portions filled with wild and amazing creatures, and the entire work makes a complete and unified package.

The entire book sings, revealing a different culture and the power of words (and librarians.)  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.

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