Just Like a Baby

Just Like a Baby by Juanita Havill, illustrated by Christine Davenier.

Ellen is a tiny baby but everyone in her family has big plans for her.  In fact, everyone wants her to turn out just like them! So aunts and uncles and cousins gather around her bassinet in droves to declare exactly what she will be.  A fisherman, a dancer, a scholar, a pilot, a musician, an athlete, and much more.  But Ellen will actually do exactly as she herself wants to, as she announces with a loud howl.

This book captures the excitement, the attention and the joy of a new baby in a large family.  Davenier’s illustrations are crowded with faces that reflect their delight.  Havill does well in keeping the book from becoming a litany of ideas and maintains a rhythm and flow to the book as a whole.  Her words dance, whoop and twirl.  My favorite passage is her description of the baby’s cry as “a cloud-ruffling yowl.”  Lovely and apt.

This delightful book is perfect for a new baby gift, but I can also see it being useful with new big siblings who will may worry about the attention paid to the new baby.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

El Barrio

El Barrio by Debbi Chocolate, illustrated by David Diaz

Take a trip through Spanish Harlem with a young boy who is very proud of his neighborhood.  Glimpse holiday parades and a quinceanera party.  Slurp ice cold popsicles.  Hear quiet guitar music and blaring trumpets. This book presents a neighborhood using all of the senses, immersing the reader directly into this urban spicy mix.  A lovely celebration of not only this neighborhood but everyone’s.

Diaz’s illustrations, done in mixed media, glow on the page. Evoking stained glass, the colors are so deep you could believe the sun shines through them.  The paintings are framed by photographs taken in David’s own barrio and add interesting textures and patterns to the book.  Chocolate’s verse is just as vibrant and alive as the illustrations, evoking sounds, sights and tastes in a series of impressions.  It all adds up to a true celebration of a culture that we all get to participate in.

Bright illustrations and text that dances make this a great book to share.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Percy Jackson’s Gods

The film version of  the first Percy Jackson book has cast the majority of its Gods.

Uma Thurman will be playing Medusa, Pierce Brosnan is Chiron, Sean Bean is Zeus, Kevin McKidd is Poseidon, and Melina Kanakaredes is Athena.  Aries, Hades and Persephone are yet to be cast.