Metal Man

Metal Man by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paul Hoppe.

Devon always heads over to where the metal man welds his sculptures.  Today even though it is so very hot, he heads over to watch the sparks fly.  His mother says that everything the metal man makes is junk: junk out of junk.  But Devon still loves spending time there.  This time, the sculptor asks Devon what he wants to make.  He’s never done that before.  Devon has an idea, but is shy about sharing it until the sculptor tells him to "Bring it on out to play."  So Devon tells him about the star house in his mind.  The two set out to build it out of scraps of metal together and when Devon brings it home, his mother has to admit that this certainly isn’t junk.

The text in this book has rhythm, an urban beat that makes for a great read aloud.  The sculptor is a great example of an African-American man who is creative and caring.  A figure too seldom seen in picture books.  Hoppe’s illustrations are thick-lined and nicely capture the wonder on Devon’s face as he sees his idea come to life. 

Recommended as a great book on sculpting, but also a wonderful book about community and it taking a village to raise a child.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Earth Day

Earth Day by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Mike Gordon.

This latest book in the Robin Hill School series is a charming look at how even the smallest changes make a big difference.  Emma is daunted by the large ideas her classmates give for how they can help Save the Earth.  Other children want to rescue polar bears and plant forests.  Emma heads home discouraged about her lack of big ideas until her father encourages her to start small.  They begin biking more, recycling, shopping at farmer’s markets, and other green activities.  By the Earth Day, Emma’s small changes have made a big difference and inspire her classmates to make small changes too.

Gordon’s friendly cartoon illustrations add to the accessible feeling of the book.  Emma’s self-doubt rings very true and by the end there are no huge changes, but a sense of hope that is honest as well.  The message of each person doing a little and making a big difference is one that can be embraced by families and classrooms. 

The perfect Earth Day book for early readers, this one can be read aloud or individually.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.