Animal Soup

Animal Soup by Todd H. Doodler

This book is pure silliness.  Pure.  There is not an educational item here, just lots of giggles and guesses.  Take one animal, add another and the result is a mixture of the two.  The book begins with “What would I be if I had wings to fly…” with a picture of a bird.  “…but walked very slowly instead?” with a picture of a turtle.  Then one lifts the flap to see the answer which is: Bird + Turtle = Birdle along with the image of the bird wearing a turtle’s shell.  Turn the page and it begins again and it is impossible to stop opening the flaps to see the silly combinations. 

Doodler has hit upon a winning combination here of humor and surprise.  His pairing of unlikely animals (who could resist finding out what a squirrel and a whale combine to become) along with the humorous names he calls them will have children laughing out loud.  His simple colorful art adds to the humor.  The animals are all googly eyed and the combination images are delightful. 

Hand this to a reluctant young reader and they will read it again and again.  It is an ideal choice for libraries with flaps that will stand up to most use and for storytimes where children are restless.  This will have them laughing and entranced in no time.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Golden Books.

Life, After

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

Released July 2010.

Dani’s life is changed forever when a terrorist attack in her country of Argentina kills her aunt and the baby she is carrying.  Adding to the misery, the country of Argentina is in the middle of economic collapse.  Her father has lost his job and his sister and is now unable to cope.  Dani and her mother keep the family going with Dani fixing meals and caring for her younger sister.  Many people are fleeing Argentina, heading to Israel and the United States.  When Dani’s uncle makes an offer to get them visas, there is little choice but to move to the United States.  Dani must now cope with going to a large American high school, speaking and learning in English, and her father’s continued anger and depression.  In a world changed by the effects of terrorism, Dani finds understanding in the most unlikely of people and realizes that there is life afterwards.

This novel is one of many branches that twine throughout.  There are many things happening here, many things for the main character to deal with.  It is down to the skill of Littman that the book remains so cohesive and powerful.  These many branches are what make this book special and interesting.  They help tell the tale of immigration but also terrorism and economic collapse.  It is a timely story for American teens to read, one that will resound in their lives.

Dani is a great protagonist to see this experience through.  She is bright, helpful, giving, and yet can be angry, sad and confused as well.  The novel spends time in Argentina in the beginning, setting the stage to show just how much the family gave up in their move to America.  Often immigration stories start with the family already in the United States.  This time spent in Argentina really makes Dani and her family understandable and relatable.

Highly recommended, this book will reach its braches towards you and hold you tight.  Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy received from Scholastic.

Also reviewed by The Reading Zone and nomadreader.