Remembering Crystal

Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth

Zelda is a young goose who adores her friend Crystal who is an aging turtle.  Despite their age difference, the two of them enjoy many of the same things.  They love reading books, swimming together, taking trips and talking about life.  But one day when Zelda goes to the garden, Crystal is not there.  The other geese try to explain that she was old and is gone, but Zelda doesn’t believe them.  She searches for Crystal and when she can’t find her begins to remember what Crystal taught her about art and the world.  After some grieving, Zelda realizes that Crystal will be with her always.

A warm, sweet book that speaks to the impact of losing a friend, pet or a grandparent. Though short sentences, Loth slowly exposes readers to the special friendship of the two characters.  It is this lingering pace and tone that makes the book work so well as you have time to think and appreciate while reading.  Loth also keeps the illustrations simple.  They are pleasingly presented on paper that is marked, creased and aged.  Beautifully and gently presented.

Books on death can verge on the saccharine at times.  This book manages to be sweet and fresh thanks in part to the humor of the book and the illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from NorthSouth.

Dear Primo

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

One cousin in America and one cousin in Mexico write letters back and forth describing their lives.  Carlitos lives on a farm in Mexico with all sorts of animals.  Charlie lives in a city filled with skyscrapers and lights.  The lives of the two boys are contrasted with one another from food and games to shopping and celebrations.  Underlying the differences though are the similarities between the boys with their energy and strong communities.  Tonatiuh’s art strengthens this tie between the boys, making this book a cohesive whole.

Students learning Spanish will find the words peppering Carlitos’ part of the story interesting and useful.  They serve to add more than flavor to the text, strengthening the text and tying it more closely to Mexico.  Tonatiuh’s text is simple and interesting, allowing for a glimpse of two different lives.  It is his art that will really get this book off the shelves.  He combines a primitive feel in the characters faces and bodies with a modern collage technique that uses digital components.  The juxtaposition of the two makes for dynamic art that show both boys living with tradition and modern components to their lives.

A successful book about cousins who have plenty of differences but also lots in common, this book will be useful for young students learning Spanish.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.