Thursday, November 14, 2013

Library (and Bookstore) Round-up #12

Mini-reviews of some of the books we currently have checked out of the library or purchased recently.

Big princess.  Tiny king.
The Tiny King by Taro Miura.  There is something just incredibly charming about this book.  The illustrations are, as you can see, truly delightful.  I wish a toy company would sell blocks to resemble those seemingly used to "build" the tiny king's castle.  The story, about a lonely, tiny king, who marries a big princess, with whom he has 10 (size unspecified) children is a gentle tale about love seeing past physical differences and how material riches and power cannot take the place of family and love.  But it is never didactic. I love how the background changes from black to cheerier colors, as in the two spreads at below, as the king becomes surrounded with people who love him and whom he loves. 

Sad king.
Don't you wish they sold blocks like these?
Happy king.
I still want those blocks.

Bembelman's Bakery by Melinda Green.  The predictability of this tale of what happens when children are left to their own devices, only enhanced, rather than diminished, my daughter's enjoyment of it.  As soon as the mother instructed the children not to get in trouble while she was gone for a few hours, my daughter gleefully exclaimed, "Trouble!"  And as soon as the children determined to bake bread, she delightedly exclaimed, "Uh-oh!  Messy!"  But all turns out well in the end.  A shame this one is out of print.

What Is Part This, Part That? by Harriet Ziefert.  When I pulled this book off the library shelf, drawn to the bold, primarily primary colored art, I knew immediately that the illustrator had to be Tom Slaughter and I was right.  The art is done in his trademark style, not just reminiscent of but a cousin or even a sibling to that in Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?  I was surprised to see the authors were different, because both books pose sorts of riddles.  Here though, the rhyming riddles are more metaphysical, reminding us that a conversation with a friend is "part listen" and "part say" and that a bath is "part wash" and "part play."  With flaps adding to the fun, this is a great read-aloud. 

Here I Am, story by Patti Kim, pictures by Sonia Sanchez.  The art in this wordless book about a young boy who is unhappy and even angry when he emigrates from Korea to the United States is beautiful but I could not follow the story and in fact, got certain plot points completely wrong.  I had to read the note at the end to understand that the red, cherry-like item the boy grasps is a seed from his homeland and I was sure that the boy had thrown it out the window at a little girl playing on purpose, rather than dropping it accidentally as the author writes at the end.  I think a wordless book is a failure (a strong word, I know) if the author intends it to tell a particular story and that story is not made clear from the pictures.  I am also a bit mystified that the "story" (not the text, as there is none) is by Patti Kim but the art by Sonia Sanchez.  Of course, without text there is still a story, but I can't remember any other wordless book where there is an author as well as an illustrator.  Perhaps that split accounts for the fact that I found the storytelling unsuccessful.  Is the failure on my part (entirely possible!!), or the book's?

The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud.  I love this book!  Here the reader follows a papa bear who follows his cub, who is following a bee, into the Paris Opera House (where they cause quite a stir) and finally, to the beehive and the honey he's been seeking.  The illustrations, on over-sized pages, are filled with detail and it is fun to search for the bee on every page.  A story of parental love and the new trend of urban beekeeping - quite a combination! 

New York
Dot to Dot by Malcolm Cossons.  The stories of a grandmother and granddaughter who share a birthday and a name (Dot) but who live an ocean apart are told from each of their perspectives - just flip the book over!  A sweet book about inter-generational bonds and modern, far-flung families. 

The Favorite Daughter by Allen Say.  In this, another winning autobiographical picture book from Allen Say, his daughter is torn between her American and Japanese heritages.  But she also grapples with a school art assignment, in which she has to depict one of the most-depicted structures ever, especially in her hometown, the Golden Gate Bridge.  Her father guides her through both challenges with his gentle wisdom.  With two photographs of his actual daughter, one as a toddler and one as a young adult, punctuating Say's artwork, this book is very special. 

The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar.  This beautiful book alternates scenes of how and what we see at night with what a cat sees.  Just gorgeous. Unfortunately, not a single one of her books is available for borrowing from the NYPL.

What have you and your kids been reading?

1 comment:

  1. These all look really cute. I love finding picture books I haven't seen before.