Kindergarten Cat

Kindergarten Cat by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ailie Busby

When a kitten is found outside by the jungle gym, she is taken into the Kindergarten classroom.  They name her Tinker Toy and welcome her to the class.  She joins right in with the Kindergarten activities.  She even answers questions with a loud Me-ow.  When the children head out for recess, she makes a nice napping spot in the paintbrush drawer.  And when they go home in the afternoon, she stays in the classroom, tries to tidy up the markers, and then falls asleep on the capital C on a carpet square.  The entire book is a very friendly and charming way to show children what happens in a Kindergarten classroom.

This book is such an appeal package.  Lewis’ verse is kept very simple, making it ideal for sharing with young children.  The rhymes and rhythm keep the book moving along at a brisk pace that will keep young ears listening. 

Busby’s bright illustrations are equally engaging with their sunny palette.  The illustrations are done in collage allowing for interesting textures and patterns that add depth.  The round-faced people are from a variety of races, making for a modern classroom feel.

Although some will quibble about a pet being allowed in a school, the device really works well here.  Get this in the hands of hesitant Kindergarteners and Kindergarten teachers too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.

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Walden Then & Now – Slow Down and Enjoy


Walden Then & Now: An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau’s Pond by Michael McCurdy

McCurdy has outdone himself in this latest book featuring his woodcut illustrations.  This book is an alphabet book that is not for preschoolers but perfect for elementary children wanting to learn more about Thoreau and his time at Walden Pond.  Each letter of the alphabet is matched with a word from Thoreau’s book that illustrates some of the most important and basic tenets of his time in the woods.  Many of the letters stand for different creatures in the forest, but others are less tangible like J for joy and Q for quiet.  After each letter and the object it stands for, McCurdy summarizes why that object was important to Thoreau.  It is here that the philosophy and point of view become very clear even to young readers.

What can one say about a master illustrator like McCurdy?  His illustrations feel so right paired with Thoreau as a subject matter.  It may be the timeless nature of the woodcut but it is also the simplicity of the illustrations that work so very well.  Many of the illustrations stopped me for a time and I lingered just with the image for a bit.  They so capture moments and bring one directly back to Walden Pond.

The text of the book is successful as well as it hearkens back directly to Thoreau as well.  Thoreau’s own journey is written clearly and thoughtfully.  By lingering on the things that he lived with during his time in the woods, readers will discover how universal his journey was for all of us.

This is a thoughtful book that resonates with a love of solitude and nature.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

The book trailer captures the spirit of Thoreau and this book very nicely:

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Obama’s Children’s Book

President Obama will be releasing a children’s book on November 16th.  The book features 13 inspirational Americans including George Washington and Jackie Robinson.  Alfred A. Knopf will have a first printing of 500,000.  Any profits from the book for the President will be donated to a scholarship fund for children of fallen or disabled soldiers.

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