Review: More by I. C. Springman


More by I. C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies

The book opens with a dejected magpie who has nothing at all.  Then a mouse gives him a marble that he takes to his nest.  Soon the marble is joined by a few other toys.  Then more and more, until there are so many things that the magpie has filled all sorts of nests in the tree with them.  Finally, the magpie adds one little penny to a nest and the branch cracks.  He has much too much now!  Everything tumbles to the ground, burying the poor magpie in his treasures.  The mice appear to dig him free and the pile becomes less and less as they work.  In the end, the magpie selects a few items to keep and lets the rest go, leaving with just enough.

This book is written in very spare language with only a few words per page.  They are all concept words, moving from nothing to everything to enough.  In between, there are terms like more, much, and less.  The dynamic illustrations really carry the story.  The magpie’s facial expressions range from greed to shock to satisfaction, all playing out nicely just in the shine of an eye and the curve of a bill.  Space is also played with in the images, speaking to the freedom of having just enough and the clutter of having too much.

This picture book deals directly with the idea of downsizing or having just enough toys and not too many, something that many children struggle with.  It is also a creative concept book that will work to teach those concepts through humor.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

thats not a daffodil

That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

When Tom’s neighbor gave him something that looked like an onion and said it was a daffodil, Tom was very skeptical.  Mr. Yilmaz told him to plant it to find out.  So they planted it in a large pot and Tom waited, and waited, and waited with nothing happening at all.  When Mr. Yilmaz asked how the daffodil was doing, Tom answered that it was not a daffodil, it was a desert.  So the two watered the pot.  Later, Mr. Yilmaz asked again and Tom said that the small green point sticking out of the dirt was a green beak, not a daffodil.  The beak slowly began to open.  Soon the daffodil looked more like a hand, hair, and even a rocket!  It even survived being toppled over by a dog.  Until finally, Tom gets to show Mr. Yilmaz exactly what that onion turned into.

Not only does this book perfectly capture the wonder of gardening with children with the impossibly long wait for results, but it also offers a beautiful zip of creativity along with it.  As Tom learns about patience with his daffodil, he also incorporates it into his playing.  The writing is simple and straight forward, yet has a sense of playfulness too.

Honey’s illustrations appear to be a mix of watercolor and pastels that have a homey warmth.  They also have a great texture that works well for the rough ground, dirt in the pot, and sweater knit.  At the same time, the watercolor smoothness plays against that. 

A sweet book about patience, gardening and creativity, this book would make a great addition to springtime story times.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.