Sunday, January 22, 2012

Library Round-up #3

Mini-reviews of some of the books we have out from the library right now.

Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco.  This book's surprise ending following a seemingly typical story about an imaginary friend is just delightful. 

Sam Who Never Forgets by Eve Rice.  An oldie but goodie.  This quiet story about a zookeeper who may have forgotten to feed Elephant for the first time is just lovely to read aloud: "But just as a tear starts to fall from Elephant's eye, just as Elephant starts to cry..."  It reminds me of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, although by rights it should be the other way around.  

Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser.  The punchlines here about animals who try to identify snow by the description "white and wet and cold and soft" and, of course, are mistaken, are hysterical to the preschool set, but in my opinion the lead-up to them is too long.

Frederick by Leo Lionni.  I knew this book but hadn't thought of it as a book about winter until I saw it on an NYPL winter-themed list.  A perfect choice, about a mouse who, instead of saving nuts and corn for the winter, saves sunlight, colors and words.  A book about the power of imagination and creativity to warm our souls and sometimes, even our bodies.

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Stephen Savage.  Another quiet book with rhythmic, repetitive prose about a polar bear cub who wanders out to see a meteor shower and then returns to the comfort of his mother's arms.  I love the atmospheric, tonal illustrations by Stephen Savage (it was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book) but my 4-year-old kept asking why the polar bear cub was changing colors. 

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson.  The rave reviews (of both the text and the illustrations - and their interplay) are well-deserved, although I would have appreciated sidebars or an appendix with more facts to complement the poetic text.  And I couldn't decide how I felt about the narrator calling the reader "honey."

Have you read any of these?  What did you think?


  1. My fifth grader and I were underwhelmed by All the Water in the World as a nonfiction text; I think it works better as a poem. In particular, I thought the sudden sermon on conservation in the last two pages was forced and lessoned the poem's power as well as the security of the nonfiction.

    Facts about the water cycle are unemotional, but conservation affects everyone so I want a better sense of the author when reading about that. I think my kid's problem was more that he's on an anti-poetry kick. He's helping me read all the Cybils books, so maybe he'll like the Tiger nonfiction picture book better.

    On a more positive side, I love Frederick, and we pull it out if any book hits us over the head with an ant-vs-grasshopper moral.

  2. I really liked All the Water in the World. And I really want to use it in a storytime, because I think it's a great introduction for a younger crowd, but, yeah...the honey part is weird to me.

  3. Beth - I couldn't have put it better myself (in fact, I didn't!). The book was not really informational and I completely agree about the ending - it seemed tacked on. But as a poem, it works beautifully (except for the ending).

  4. I liked these mini-reviews, and now I have to get All the water in the world and Patricia's pb, too! Thanks for sharing, and thanks as well for being part of the 2012 Comment Challenge!
    Keep on commenting,

  5. There's an award for you over at my blog, check it out. :)

  6. Great list! New follower from Rachel's blog.

  7. No, but thanks for the reviews and now I want to read Frederick and All the Water in the World. Thanks

  8. It has been a while since I've read or been around children's books. I used to teach elementary school so I was up on things but not anymore. However, I now have a grandson, not quite two, who loves books so I find myself interested in the world of children's books once again. I'm sure I will be back to find some more!