Yellowstone Moran

Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West by Lita Judge

Thomas Moran was a painter who lived in the city.  When he met Dr. Hayden, a geologist, who was heading into Yellowstone, he didn’t want to admit that he had never been on a horse, never shot a gun, and never slept outside.  Moran joined the expedition in the summer of 1871 and learned on the trail to ride a horse.  Tom befriended the team photographer on the difficult journey.  After weeks of travel, they entered Yellowstone: a place of sulfur smells, white rock, gorges, waterfalls, and wonder.  Tom painted everything he saw, recording in small paintings and sketches with notes.  When he returned home after a harrowing exit from Yellowstone, he painted large canvases capturing the grandeur of this new landscape.

A delightful mixture of adventure and art, this book will intrigue children interested in both subjects.  Judge uses humor, drama and a great sense of pacing to tell a story that will keep young reader riveted.  Just the idea that the United States had not been fully explored in 1817 will astound some children.  Judge’s paintings that accompany the story offer a sense of the place itself, without attempting to mimic Moran’s style.  The illustrations help create the sense of journey, danger and amazement.

Recommended for art classes, but also as a fascinating biography in picture book form.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy provided by publisher.

You can check out Lita Judge’s blog to see some of her illustrations in sketch form.

Shades of People

Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly

The beauty of different shades of skin is celebrated in this picture book.  One evocative word after another is used: coffee, cocoa, copper, ivory, bronze.  And more common words too like brown, pale, dark and light.  The book talks about different colors within families, and the problems with color choice when trying to paint skin.  It is a joyous celebration of diversity, ourselves, and humanity. 

Rotner’s photographs here are such a joy.  They have interesting composition, clarity, bright color, and of course a diverse group of subjects.  Each child is celebrated for their own unique beauty and the photographs capture that well.  The text is simple, but important, as it muses about the different colors we all come in.  Nicely done without rhyme, instead it allows readers to think, exploring the photographs and finding themselves on the page.

Highly recommended, this book belongs in every public library.  Every child you serve will see themselves on the pages, a very powerful message for children of all races and colors.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009 Shortlist

The UK Booktrust Teenage Prize was started in 2003 to recognize the best of contemporary fiction for teens.  Here is the shortlist:

Auslander by Paul Dowswell (released in US in January 2010)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (I admit I groaned when I saw this listed.  I love the book, but enough already!  Let’s give other books a chance to shine!)

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray (released in US in March 2010)

The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine (no US release date yet)

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (no US release date yet)

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness