Ivy Loves to Give


Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood

Ivy is a little girl who loves to give gifts.  She gives a snail a shoe, glasses to the dog, tea to the hen, and a pacifier to the cat.  Wait, that doesn’t feel right.  Sometimes she does get it all right.  The baby gets his pacifier.  Her mother gets her tea, now with an egg in the cup.  Her grandmother gets the glasses.  Her father gets his shoe.  But there is one thing that Ivy doesn’t want to give away, even though it’s not hers to keep.  But she has just the right gift to say thank you for something given to her.

Blackwood keeps this book short and very sweet.  Her brief lines of text are ideal for toddlers who will understand both the love of gifting and the love of keeping all wrapped up together.  While the concept of the book is simple and will have children laughing at the mix-ups, Blackwood nicely ties the end together with something a bit more complicated.  Handled very successfully, the topic of giving and taking is secondary to the family relationships we see at work in the book.

Blackwood’s art is done in pencil and watercolor, giving it a beautiful softness.  The layout of the book is done with attention to the way it will read, offering plenty of white space beyond that needed for the words themselves.  This expansive feel makes the book feel welcoming and warm.  Her colors are vibrant and work to create illustrations that will function well with a group.

A solid choice for toddlers, this book is appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

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The Last Train: Take a Trip into History


The Last Train by Gordon Titcomb, illustrated by Wendell Minor

Based on a song by Gordon Titcomb, this book celebrates the days of the steam engines and small depots.  A modern child visits the decrepit old depot in his town, the rusty tracks that no long gleam.  He thinks about his grandfather and father and the work they did on the railroad.  He dreams of huge engines and shiny cars streaking past.  His box of memorabilia has plenty of memories stored inside of the glory days of the railroad.  Titcomb’s words are enduring as he speaks to the wondrous power of the steam locomotive and the days when they ran.  Minor’s art brings both modern days and history to life in warm colors, allowing young train enthusiasts to dream along with him about the power of steam.

Titcomb’s song and this book really celebrate the steam engine and the magic that those days still hold for modern children.   The entire book is nicely summed up in the final lines:

A blast of steam,

the whistle screamed its mournful last refrains,

Long silent, though its echo still remains.

The words are poetry, they rhyme and dance, chugging along at times, at others sleekly gliding past.  He captures the joy of the rails perfectly.

Minor’s art is celebrates the trains too.  From the engine in the darkness under a star-filled sky to the caboose disappearing as the snow blows in.  But he also celebrates a child’s relationship with trains.  His old depot is filled with details that bring it to life.  His meadows of flowers serve as a backdrop to the aging railyard.  His flattened coins remind us all of sunny days and the surprising warmth of a smashed coin after the train goes by.  In short, he shows us just why we all love trains.

A beautiful book, this is sure to be enjoyed by train lovers old and young.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from illustrator.