The Longest Night

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin

The longest night of the year is very cold, very still.  One of the creatures must bring back the sun.  The wind knows which creature that is.  Crow offers to fly up and bring back the sun.  Moose offers his strength to bring it back. Fox offers to sniff and search it out.  Chickadee though is the one who must bring back the sun.  But what in the world can Chickadee do?  She cannot fly high enough.  She is not strong.  She is not cunning.  But she can do what she does best.

A poem woven into a picture book, this book is exquisite.  Bauer’s poetry has a rhythm that is almost primal.  She plays with sounds, repeats refrains, and celebrates imagery.  Her poem is deep, thrumming with the energy of the forest.  It is quiet and powerful.  But most of all it is for children but without any pretense.

Lewin’s illustrations match Bauer’s poem so well.  His illustrations explore the dark, the deep, the mysterious.  They linger in blues, blacks and moonlight.  Somehow he has captured that majestic blue of a moonlit night that is so deep and so unlike day.  When the sun returns at the end of the book, one almost shields their eyes from the brightness.  His illustrations are just as evocative as the poem, just as shining, just as powerful.

Highly recommended, this book belongs in every library.  It will work for many units from poetry to winter to moon or sun.  Share this.  It is a pleasure to read aloud such wonderful writing.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Binky the Space Cat

Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires

A new graphic novel series launches off with this first title.  Binky is a house cat who has never left the family “space station.”  But he is a cat with a purpose!  He is a space cat and will one day blast into outer space.  He can’t leave the space station without a helmet and other gear because he wouldn’t be able to breathe.  But even in the space station, he is surrounded by aliens.  He knows they are aliens because they can fly.  Readers will know they fly because they ARE flies.  Binky has to keep his special identity a secret from his humans.  So they don’t know of his ongoing research or the fact that he is building a space craft in his litter box. Will Binky blast off?  Or will his dreams fizzle out?

Spires has created a graphic novel with broad appeal.  Binky is a winning main character with his dreams, fears and bravery shown clearly.  This is a fresh-feeling book that has its own unique artistic style.  The illustrations are done in near sepia tones with bright bursts of red throughout.  They are filled with funny action.  Binky is portrayed as a cat with a round belly but lots of energy and drive. 

Young readers who enjoy more pictures with their books will be right at home here.  It is an easy graphic novel that does not speak down to young readers. 

Recommended for all library collections, this series deserves a spot on graphic novel shelves for elementary-aged readers.  I happily await the next Binky adventure.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed at Three Silly Chicks, A Year of Reading, 100 Scope Notes, and Young Readers.

Exquisite Corpse – Must Read!

Premiering Saturday at the National Book Festival is a great collaboration by a whole group of children’s authors.  Exquisite Corpse is an online serial story that is available on the Library of Congress website Read.gov.

Jon Scieszka has written the first cliffhanger episode of the book.  Every two weeks another episode and illustration will be released.  The story will conclude one year from now.  Follow the story by RSS feed or visit the site itself.

Episode two will be written by Katherine Paterson.