Review: From the Good Mountain by James Rumford

from the good mountain

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World by James Rumford

A mysterious object appeared in Germany in the 15th Century.  “It was made of rags and bones, soot and seeds. It wore a dark brown coat and was filled with gold.  It took lead and tin, strong oak, and a mountain to make it.”  To find out the answer to this clever riddle that appears on the first page of this book, readers will visit the 15th century and meet Johannes Gutenberg, who has invented a way to print books with movable type.  The riddle is not left at the first page, but is the center of the entire book.  Each piece of the printing press is explored from the very elements it is made from to the final culmination in a printed document.  Each page is also illustrated like an illuminated manuscript. 

Come visit the world of Gutenberg in this picture book biography that takes a very unique and intriguing approach to its subject matter.  This is much more a biography of the press itself than Gutenberg the man.  It is about the ingenuity and foresight it took to see such a construct in raw materials.  Readers are sure to learn much about the process of printing and what materials were used to create books.

Rumford’s art is just as wonderful as his writing.  The illuminated manuscript feel of the book is captured in its use of golds that seem to shine on the page like gold leaf.  He also uses the deep blues and other rich hues to create a feel of timeless beauty.

This is an intriguing read that will appeal to students who enjoy puzzles and riddles.  It is a book that unwraps and explains in a clever, engaging way.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

this moose belongs to me

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

Wilfred’s moose arrived a while ago and Wilfred just knew that the moose was meant to be his.  He called the moose, Marcel.  Wilfred had some serious rules if Marcel was going to be his pet, but Marcel didn’t seem interested in following them.  Some though, Marcel was very good at.  He did not make noise while Wilfred was listening to his music.  He provided Wilfred shelter from the rain and he knocked high things down so that Wilfred could reach them.  Then there were the rules that Marcel didn’t follow.  He didn’t stay near home and soon Wilfred had learned to carry string along with them so they could find their way back home after long jaunts.  It was on one of those long walks that Wilfred discovered that there was someone else who thought that THEY owned the moose! 

Jeffers once again captures a concept with solidity and grace.  He manages to take the idea of owning an animal and get readers to ask themselves about what ownership really means.  The character of Wilfred has to do some adapting of his own, quickly changing his own rules and beliefs to be more moderate and open-ended.  It also helped to share food.

The art here combines grand backdrops of mountains and plains with one small round-headed boy and a moose, dragging bright blue string behind.  It’s a wonderful juxtaposition that will have readers understanding immediately that this moose is certainly not a pet that belongs to anyone.

Another delight from Jeffers, this book is about wilderness, the wild, and owning a pet.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.