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Children's Book Reviews


Bunches and Bunches of Books!

Bunches and Bunches of Books!

by
Kate Marley


Spring is a great time for new books, so don't forget that flowers aren't the only great things to come out in May!


PICTURE BOOKS

Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. c 1999, HarperCollins. Kids love all sorts of things grown-ups consider gross, such as trash, so they'll enjoy this story of a trashman as he makes his rounds. Easy text with a catchy refrain that begs to be hollered aloud will make this book a great candidate for story times, helped tremendously by the bold, colorful and simple artwork by Dan Yaccarino.

How Are You Peeling by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. c 1999, Scholastic. There are lots of books for children about feelings, but the photographs of this one are stunningly unique. Using fruits and vegetables and a sharp knife, they have come up with a captivating parade of 'foods with moods' to go along with the gently inquisitive rhyming text. This is a fun book for sharing.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. c 1998, DK Inc. A visit to a city park is shown through four voices - a mother and her son, a father and his daughter, and all have very different perspectives and feelings about what happens. It was kind of sad that the adults not only ignore each other, but haven't a clue to what their own kids are really thinking. Hopefully, this story might encourage folks to consider how others are feeling. The tongue in cheek illustrations are by the author and deserve a closer look for all his weird and clever additions.

Blackberry Booties by Tricia Gardella. c 2000, Orchard Books. Mikki Jo wants to get her new baby cousin a special present, but is stumped about how to do it. Seems like the only thing she can do really well is pick blackberries...until a neighbor offers her a barter for her berries, and then Mikki Jo figures out how to get the perfect baby booties. Soft watercolors by Glo Coalson are a great compliment to this heartwarming story.



TRANSITIONAL BOOKS

Poppleton in Spring by Cynthia Rylant. c 1999, Blue Sky Press. The oddly beguiling pig is back, and has three new experiences to share with kids making that beginning break into easy chapter books. Amusing illustrations by Mark Teague show Poppleton with his solution to spring cleaning, trying to find a bike for exercise, and camping out in his yard just for the fun of it.

Friends Forever by Julia Noonan. c 2000, Scholastic. Parents may think this reminds them of another set of famous animal friends; here we are introduced to Hare and Rabbit, two friends who live together in the woods. In three short chapters, they clean house, share a cereal prize and deal with jealously when an older friend visits. The bright and cheerful illustrations are by the author.

Andrew, Catch That Cat! by Deanne Lee Bingham. c 1999, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. She's supposed to be an indoor cat, but one morning the back door is left open and Andrew's dad sees her tail disappearing. It's up to Andrew and his friends to catch her, and the hilarious misadventures as well as the clever ending make for a fun read. Colorful and cartoonish illustrations are by Kim LaFave.

Suitcase by Mildred Pitts Walter. c 1999, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Eleven year old Alexander has a lot on his mind...being so tall, with huge feet...liking art, and NOT liking sports, but wanting to please his athletic dad...being teased and left out in school. This is one of the longer transitional books, with larger print and lots of black and white pictures by Teresa Flavin, but definitely thicker because of the more developed story line. The author does an excellent job of showing how Alexander, with some advice and a great deal of hard work on his part, finds his own way to resolve his problems in a positive and inclusive way.



FOR OLDER READERS

Strudel Stories by Joanne Rocklin. c 1999, Delacorte. Seven generations have been telling family stories while making strudel, and after Grandpa Willy's funeral, his granddaughters continue the tradition. Readers will be taken along, and "imagine a cozy kitchen in another time and place" and listen to stories of courage and love, hardships and dreams. There's the boy who danced with ghosts, the girl who learns to be American...many heartwarming and heartbreaking stories about young people who don't forget to pass it down as they grow older. It's a wonderful, tender but triumphant book that will be enjoyed by adults as well as children.

Bluish by Virginia Hamilton. c 1999, Blue Sky Press. "Bluish fits her. This girl is like moonlight. So pale you can see the blue veins all over." Dreenie writes in her journal, fascinated by Natalie, a new classmate in a wheelchair who always wears a hat and is tired all the time. At first it is just the way Bluish looks, her puppy, and her sickness that engage Dreenie's curiosity. Soon it becomes the girl herself, and then the reliable Dreenie, insecure Tuli, and stubborn Bluish help the rest of the class move beyond surface appearance. But mostly, it's a touching story about friendship and how it grows and matures.

Hive for the Honeybee by Soinbhe Lally. First American edition, c 1999, Scholastic. An interesting combination of realism (their short lifespan, hard work, danger from other insects and animals) heavily overlaid with anthropomorphism made this book a thoroughly engrossing read. Sparkling imagery is coupled with colloquial dialogue and a realistic plot. Heavy issues such as sexism, religion and friendship are explored through the eyes of a worker bee named Thora and Albert, a drone. What is the meaning of life? What are the limits of friendship? And most importantly, who's in charge? As with humans, the bees have different answers to questions that have no right answers, just different points of view. I recommend this book not only for children and teens, but for adults as well.


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