Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – The Trailer

An announcement trailer has been released for the next film in the Harry Potter world:

Review: I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (InfoSoup)

The finches live all together in a flock making a huge racket and not thinking at all. They all say good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night each day, starting over again each day. The only thing that changed their routine was when the Beast came and ate one or more of them. After that, the flock would shout about the Beast and fly higher in the tree. But then something different happened. Henry woke up and heard a thought in his head. He thought and thought, and realized that someone had to stop the Beast and that he could be a hero! But when he tried to best the Beast, it did not go as planned. Can thinking some more save Henry?

I am a fan of strange picture books and this is certainly one of them. It has a philosophical feel to it, changing from what is at first a look at the cacophony of the modern world and the lack of thinking happening in mobs to then the power of thought, the importance of ideas, and the way that thinking alone can change the world. This is a book that is not pat. It will instead inspire discussion. If you are looking for a picture book to inspire a metaphysical discussion with children, this is it. Clever and smart, it allows children themselves to start to think too.

Using thumbprints as the finches is a fascinating choice. Fingerprints are unique but these birds are anything but. The book then moves to darkness where Henry is inside the Beast. The pages black with white lines, all deep and dark and filled solely with silence and thought. It’s a powerful visual transition.

Not for everyone, this picture book will delight some and confuse others. I hope it delights you like it did me! Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: One Today by Richard Blanco

One Today by Richard Blanco

One Today by Richard Blanco, illustrated by Dav Pilkey (InfoSoup)

This picture book version of the inaugural poem for President Obama’s second term is a beautiful example of how poetry can reach young and old alike. Blanco’s poem stretches across the country, speaking to the diversity of our country, the universal things that bind us together, and the aspirations that we all hold dear. Faith, earth, sky, moon and more form a foundation for us all to relate to. This poem uses imagery that children will understand but also makes it bigger and larger and asks readers to see our country as a whole. Beautiful.

Blanco’s language is simple. He writes of “pencil-yellow school buses” and “the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs.” He ties our every day experiences to larger efforts, to living with a dream, hearing symphonies in the city sounds, giving thanks, feeling praise. Just like with all the best poetry, it begins simple and then reaches up and beyond to the vision that inspires.

Pilkey’s illustrations are lush and lovely. Filled with deep colors, they show diverse people walking the same city streets, feeling the same things, worshiping in their own ways, and being one united country despite our differences. Each page has a young girl and boy witnessing together, seeing how united we can be if we try.

A poem that calls us to be better than we are now by being united and seeing the small things in life that are meaningful to us all. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from library copy.