Archive for November 14, 2012


lemonade in winter

Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Pauline is the one who looks out on a blustery winter day and thinks of running a lemonade stand.  Her little brother John-John immediately thinks it’s a great idea, but her parents are sure it won’t work.  So the kids set out to collect enough money to open their stand.  They dig in the couch, search pockets, and look in their piggy banks.  At the store they spend 24 quarters or six dollars on supplies.  They rush back home to make the lemonade, the limeade and the lemon-limeade and then out onto the street to set up their stand.  But no one comes.  Then they decide to start marketing their stand more, and surprisingly, there is a market for lemonade in the snow.

Jenkins has taken a picture book and inserted math in places that make sense of the story.  This is one book where the math really works, the counting of coins, the discounting of items, and the profits made.  It’s a book that can be read just for the cheery enjoyment of lemonade and snow too.  The writing is clever with the adults constantly warning the children that it won’t work and an ending that is realistic, warm and refreshing.

Karas’ illustrations are done in his signature style.  I enjoyed seeing children with brown skin in a story that is not about their brown skin at all, it’s just the way they look.  Karas’ art is lively and rich with small details.  The careful counting of the quarters at the grocery store is just one example of how he too skillfully melded in the math with the story.

A winning picture book with math at its heart, this is a story that will have you asking for some more lemonade on a winter’s day.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

binky takes charge

Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires

Binky has now been promoted to lieutenant in first against the aliens.  It means that he is now in charge of training new recruits.  But his first recruit is definitely not what he had been expecting.  To start with, he isn’t a cat!  He’s a dog!  Binky sets out to train the new cadet anyway, trying to ignore the fact that he pees on the floor, won’t use the litter box, doesn’t respect the idea of a cat nap, and is unable to pounce a fake alien on a string. Soon Binky is questioning more than his cadet’s skills, perhaps he’s really a spy for the aliens!  Now Binky sets out to prove what he suspects, but he’s in for a few surprises along the way.

The Binky series is one of my favorite graphic novel series for children.  It is a treat to see our alien-fighting (actually insect fighting) hero reach new ranks here.  The addition of a dog into the series is brilliant, especially one who may be a spy for the flies.  Add in the farting and the physical humor, and you have a series that is bound to appeal to reluctant readers as well as eager readers.

Spires’ art is done in a limited color palette.  Her black and white cat lives in a sepia-toned world that has bursts of color.  This palette could read as vintage, but here the modern lines and modern story keep it up-to-date and great fun.

This is another strong book in a great series.  It’s a must-have for all children’s graphic novel collections.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

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