Brief reviews of some of the books from our recent library haul:
How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti. Despite the rave reviews this one is getting, it just doesn't do it for me. I know it's a concept book but still... a little more plot, please. Not to mention that I don't understand the choice to write out many of the numbers rather than represent them numerically. 1,000 and 100,000 are shown numerically, but why not 10 and 1,000,000? Seeing all those zeros is another way of getting the message across, not to mention it helps children associate the quantity with its numerical representation. Also, my daughter - the older one! - tore the giant gatefold the first time
she opened it... it's really just too big for kids to manage
without guidance. It is nice, though, that because of this book my 4-year-old grasped the idea that "The smaller they are, the more that fit on a page." The way the idea of division was portrayed was great, too, with the idea of 1,000 jelly beans in a year being shown as 2 or 3 per day on calendar pages.
Neville by Norton Juster. My 4-year-old really likes this book about a boy who moves to a new town and uses an ingenious - or, depending on your perspective, strange and perhaps counterproductive - technique to make new friends. To give it away, he goes around calling for Neville, who is, of course, himself. I just don't get it. What's going to happen tomorrow when all his new friends find out who he really is?
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham. In the tradition of A Call for a New Alphabet, a letter towards - or at - the end of the alphabet wants to be moved up and just won't take no for an answer!
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. Not a new book, I put this one on hold when I saw it... somewhere! My kids love it and now want me to try the cake recipe at the end... which calls for a rather strange secret ingredient. Do I dare?
BookSpeak! by Laura Purdie Salas. A great concept, these poems about books are a bit uneven in execution. I liked Hydrophobiac, about a book's worst fear, and the one about bookplates the best.
Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart edited by Mary Ann Hoberman. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect poetry compilation or two to add to our collection and I don't think this one is it. A nice enough collection but it didn't grab me. I have the Random House Book of Poetry for Children on hold and I suspect it is going to be the winner.
Owen Foote, Second Grade Strongman by Stephanie Greene. I requested this from the library because the author wrote the Posey books that my daughter loves. I knew it was about a boy who is small for his age and wants to be stronger and bigger. But even so I thought the idea of body image was handled without any subtlety. To be fair, I stopped reading it to my daughter after chapter 2. For a child with body image problems this might be a good choice, but for a child without one, it will only give him or her something new to worry about.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Beautiful but just not substantive enough to engage my girls.