Review: Stars by Mary Lyn Ray


Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee

This gorgeous picture book speaks to the importance of stars in our lives.  From the points of light that brighten the night sky to the ways that they can cheer us during the day.  The book recommends carrying a star in your pocket (one cut from paper) or you could use it to make a magic wand that just might make a wish come true.  If you lose your star, you can make another or find one around you in moss, flowers and gardens.  You can even be called a star, though there will always be days when you don’t feel like you are shining.  In the end, stars are there whether we can see them or not, waiting to be noticed.

Ray’s poem of a book is enchanting.  What could have become trite and dull instead is a book filled with its own shining glitter.  Her words dance on the page, evoking the beauty of star-lit night, the connection we have with others, and most importantly how vital it is that we believe in ourselves.  All in a poem about stars!

Frazee’s art is always divine.  She creates characters who are instantly relatable and understandable.  They are all a little quirky and complete individuals.  Here in this book, they are all stars.

Highly recommended, this is a dazzling, radiant picture book that is simple, light-filled and deep.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman

grace at christmas

Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu

On the 20th Anniversary of Amazing Grace, Hoffman has written a holiday addition to the series.  Grace loved Christmas even more than her birthday.  She loved acting out the Christmas story and spending time with her family.  This year, they were going to be joined by some new people for their holiday.  The granddaughter of a family friend and her daughter were going to come and stay for a bit.  The daughter was just Grace’s age, but Grace was worried about having them stay.  It didn’t get any better once they arrived and the girl seemed so quiet and shy.  Slowly the two girls become more friendly, and Grace learns that sometimes it’s the unplanned parts of Christmas that bring the most magic.

Hoffman writes with such confidence here.  She knows Grace and her family so well that the stories are sure footed and adept.  The characters too have a sense of reality and place that is the hallmark of a well-written series.  The growth that Grace shows throughout the book is equally well written and the story arc is clear and makes sense both for the sake of the story and the characters.

The art in the book follows the same style as the rest of the series.  It is realistic, colorful, and warm: an inviting mix.  The book celebrates Christmas but the color palette is definitely not limited at all to holiday hues. 

A great holiday addition to a beloved series, this book belongs in all public library collections.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.

Kirkus Reviews Best Kids’ Book Apps of 2011

Kirkus has its list of the top book apps of the year.  Serving on the Round 1 judging committee for Cybils Awards for book apps, I am familiar with many of the apps on the list.  I’m even more intrigued by those that I didn’t get a chance to see. 

This is a great list to get librarians aware of the impressive book apps out there.  It may also be a handy resource for reference questions at the Children’s Desk about what book apps families should buy.  Happily, librarians will know many of the titles from their print form, so ages will be easy to peg.