Review: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough

miss moore thought otherwise

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debbie Atwell

Annie Carroll Moore grew up in Limerick, Maine in a time when girls were not encouraged to be opinionated but she had her own ideas.  Children in that time were also not allowed in libraries, especially not girls, because reading was not seen as important.  Annie had always loved stories and books and though she thought at one time of being a lawyer like her father, she decided to become a librarian.  She studied in New York City, living alone even though others thought it was dangerous.  Miss Moore became a children’s librarian at the Pratt Free Library, with a room designed just for children.  She had new ideas, of course, like letting children take books home and removing the large “SILENCE” signs from the libraries.  As her new ideas took hold, Miss Moore changed library service for children into what we love today.

Pinborough clearly admires Miss Moore and her gumption and willingness to approach problems with new ideas.  Miss Moore’s life work is detailed here but we also get to see to her personal life and the tragedies that marred it.  Perhaps my favorite piece is the ending, where Miss Moore retires in her own special way, on her own terms.  Don’t miss the author’s note with more information about Miss Moore as well as a couple of photographs of the woman herself.

The illustrations by Atwell have the rustic feel of folk art.  It is colorful, vibrant and lends the entire work a playfulness that is entirely appropriate to the subject. 

A celebration of one woman who changed the face of library service to children around the world, this book will be welcomed by librarians and children alike.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Grandma and the Great Gourd by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

grandma and the great gourd

Grandma and the Great Gourd retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

This picture book is a retelling of a Bengali folktale.  Grandma was invited by her daughter to visit her on the other side of the jungle.  Before Grandma traveled there, she left the responsibility for her garden and home with her two loyal dogs.  On her way across the jungle, Grandma met a series of hungry animals: a fox, a bear and a tiger.  To each, she explained that she is very thin now, but will be plumper when she returns from seeing her daughter, so they let her go.  Grandma had a good time at her daughter’s home, eating lots of food and visiting.  But eventually, she had to return home to her dogs and her garden.  But how was she to get back?  That’s where the giant gourds in her daughter’s garden came in, and you will just have to read the book to find out how.

Divakaruni has taken a traditional folktale and left it wonderfully traditional.  The story reads like an oral tradition, filled with repetition, small descriptions, and a story that just keeps on rolling forward like a gourd.  She includes noises in the story as well, the khash-khash of lizards slithering over dry leaves, the thup-thup-thup of elephants lumbering on forest paths, and the dhip-dhip of her heartbeat. 

Waters’ illustrations are lush and colorful.  She uses texture and pattern to create a jungle.  The colors range from earthy browns to deep oranges and hot pinks.  The cut paper collages have strong clean lines and add a perfect organic feel to the story.

A great choice for library folk tale collections, this is a story that reads aloud well and has just the right mix of repetition, sound and inventiveness.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.