Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart

Paul Bunyan’s Sweetheart
by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Renee Graef.

Lucette Diana Kensack was quite a large girl, an equal to Paul Bunyan.  She and her similarly large cow, Nel, would mix up rivers of butter, quilt acres of seeds, and create cooling breezes by shaking out her rugs.  When Paul Bunyan comes to meet her, she sets him three tasks.   He tries his best to do her bidding, but somehow never gets it right.  Lucette’s tasks are all about respecting the environment and loving the land they are using.  In the end, she shows Paul and the readers exactly how to do just that.

Lorbiecki has created a book with a rollicking rhythm to the text, a heartiness to the tale and a lovely and worthwhile message for readers.  Her text has nice touches to it that make one read it with a certain woodsy cadence.  Combined with Graef’s illustrations, the book really sings.  The illustrations have a certain Garth William’s feel to them with a similar softness. 

This book begs to read aloud.  Reading it silently will not give you the same feel for the rhythm and joy of the language here.  Recommended for sharing with children for environmental units or just for a rollicking super-sized time. 

Humphrey's First Christmas

Humphrey’s First Christmas
by Carol Heyer.

Reading new holiday books is always a treasure hunt.  Some of the titles will be surprising and wonderful while other are distinctly NOT. 

This is one of the treasures.  Humphrey is a camel who is part of the caravan taking the kings to the baby Jesus.  But most of the story is dedicated to Humphrey mourning the loss of his blanket.  He has a plan to get a new blanket from his master by disturbing and bothering him, and it works!  When they reach the manger, Humphrey is surprised by his reaction to this small shivering child. 

The illustrations in the this book will immediately capture children.  They are filled with closeups of Humphrey in all of his bucktoothed glory.  The image of his long lashes and his eye is a marvelous way to start the book.  The pictures are richly colored, filled with details and almost photo realistic.  One can almost feel the chill of the desert at night. 

The prose is also very rich.  The story begins and ends with similar phrases, making it a nicely framed tale.  The language of a grumbling camel is perfectly captured as well. 

Highly recommended as a Christmas tale for ages 4-8.