Category: Uncategorized

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske (InfoSoup)

Hanging off of the bottom of a dock is not the most exciting life. Barnacle has times of day when he is cold and wet and other times when he is dry and hot. The tide comes in and out, the waves roll in, the sun goes up and goes down. Barnacle is particularly jealous of the merry life of a polka-dotted little fish nearby. He knows that the fish has to have a lot more fun than Barnacle does. He must go diving with dolphins and frolic with other fish. Just as Barnacle is completing his fantasies about how much better the little fish’s life is than his own, an eel comes along. Gulp!

Put this down as another rather dark picture book that I adore. I must admit to having a type and this one is particularly pleasing with Barnacle being entirely jealous of what another fish has that he does not. It’s an emotion that children will relate to readily. The text is very brief and fast-moving. Barnacle’s voice is a pleasure to read aloud, from his slow tones of boredom through to the joys of being a fish and all the way to the end when he realizes what he actually has going for him.

The illustrations are very appealing and have the feel of a cartoon. Done in flat colors, they play up the facial expressions of Barnacle and the other fish to good effect. The looks of boredom are particularly clear and take it so far that it’s humorous. The page turns are nicely done as well, adding to the theater of the book.

Perfect for the boredom of summer days, this seaside book will surely refresh or at any rate give everyone a good jump at the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky

Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (InfoSoup)

Louise grew up alongside a river that wove through her life. Her mother restored tapestries and from age 12, Louise helped too by drawing in the missing bottom edges of tapestries. At her mother’s side, Louise learned about weaving and patterns. Louise eventually went to school in Paris and studied mathematics and cosmography at university. While at college, her mother died and Louise turned to art to express her feelings. She created enormous spiders out of metal and stone, naming them “Maman.” She took the fabrics of her life and cut them apart, working to put them back together in new ways. It was a tribute to her mother and her childhood expressed in art.

Novesky’s picture book biography keeps the magic of Bourgeois’ childhood intact. The book ends with an image of the artist and one of her spiders as well as a quote that speaks to her never having lost touch with the magic of her childhood. That quality weaves throughout the book where both the river and the restoration work create moments of inspiration and amazement. There is such beauty in the quiet work of restoration as well as the knitting activities of spiders. Readers will immediately understand the connection of wool and web in her art.

Arsenault’s illustrations are alight with that same magic and inspiration. In one image of Louise’s mother, there is a certain spider-ness there, subtle but also clear as she works with her black wool. All of the illustrations in the book celebrate pattern and weaving. There is a limited palette of reds, blues and grays that evoke the richness of tapestries and the excitement of art.

A top pick for picture book biographies, this book pays homage to a female artist that many may not know. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts, illustrated by Hyewon Yum (InfoSoup)

Hee Jun loved living in Korea where he fit in with his classmates at school and his grandmother was a respected teacher. She was also able to have an extraordinary garden there. When his father moves them to West Virginia, everything changes. Hee Jun does not fit in with his classmates due to the way he looks and the way he talks. His grandmother too is different, her inner spark gone. His little sister has problems at school too, taking out her fear physically on her teacher. So their grandmother is asked to go to school with her. Slowly, the family begins to find their place in West Virginia, even discovering a beloved flower with a new name.

Watts tells the story of immigration with an eye towards giving people time to adjust and find their footing both with a new language and a new culture. The sense of loss for the characters is palpable on the page, eliciting a real understanding of the immense change they are undergoing. The little sister’s violent reaction to school is handled with sensitivity and understanding, offering the grandmother a chance to connect with her new surroundings. The entire book is filled with deep emotions combined with a gentle nurturing attitude.

Yum’s illustrations are done in watercolor. They show a loving family that manages to thrive despite the changes. The differences between their lives in Korea and West Virginia are shown on the page, particularly with regards to the grandmother and her vibrant life in Korea compared to her lonely existence in the first weeks in the United States.

A strong and thoughtful look at immigration that beautifully explains the huge changes children undergo as they move to a new country. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Lois Duncan Dies

I Know What You Did Last Summer Killing Mr. Griffin

Lois Duncan has died at age 82. She was the author of many popular novels for teens, novels that were must-buys for libraries I worked in early in my career.

From the PW article:

Beverly Horowitz, senior v-p and publisher of Delacorte Press, who knew Duncan for many years and oversaw the paperback publication of many of her books, paid tribute to Duncan’s lasting impact on the publishing industry. “Lois Duncan’s thriller suspense novels led the charge for expanding the YA market, not only in terms of the honesty of her portrayals of teen characters, but also in terms of opening up YA retail accounts,” she said. “Booksellers came to acknowledge the power of the teen reader. Librarians knew teens loved her books. At the time they were published, Lois’s I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin were super bestsellers as Dell Laurel-Leaf paperbacks. Teenagers were wandering malls and open-front bookstores just as Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Bookseller began to carry paperbacks front of store. Young shoppers realized there were entertaining and easy-to-carry books just for them. When I Know What You Did Last Summer became a major motion picture release, Lois was widely recognized as being before her time, and the teen subject was a huge success.”