2011

Book Review: Heart And Soul By Kadir Nelson

Happy Juneteenth! On this important day commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, one book came to mind immediately. I am still learning, unlearning, and grappling with the ugly history of America and my role in its future. In this process, I continue to turn to powerful books, adult and adolescent, to teach me. Today, allow me to share a glimpse of this difficult, beautiful, and necessary book: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson, 2011.

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Wordless Wednesday: Where’s Walrus? & Interview With Stephen Savage

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The holidays are over, the New Year is here, and it is time to bring back the Wordless Wednesday posts for a while. The holidays really took over in November and December, so I saved some great wordless books and also author interviews to share this month! Let’s start with this fun, clever, seek-and-find book about a walrus looking for its place in the world. Check out Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage, 2011, and stay tuned for a Q&A with Stephen Savage too.

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25 Days – Book 12: The Perfect Christmas

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Day 12 has arrived which means we are almost halfway through our countdown to Christmas! Today I bring a humorous book about families and the holiday. It is the story of two girls who are neighbors and how their families celebrate Christmas in their own unique way. It’s The Perfect Christmas by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, 2011.

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25 Days – Book 22: Just Right For Christmas

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A lot of last minute gift shopping and wrapping is probably happening this weekend. Everyone is still looking for that present that is just right… and so I bring a delightful book, one that is about simplicity in giving, hearts of gratitude and presents that are perfect in size and thought. With a tale similar in concept to Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, this is a book about some soft red cloth that keeps on giving. It is Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black & Rosalind Beardshaw, 2011.

Just Right for Christmas cover

Christmas Eve is in full swing and a king spies the perfect red cloth to make a gift for his princess. He purchases it and has his sewing maids create a long cloak to gift the princess. It is wrapped and ready, so the maids discard the scraps of cloth in a bundle by the back door. The kitchen maid comes across the bundle on her way home, declares it Christmassy and carries it off to make a jacket for her father. On the cloth goes, growing smaller and smaller in leftovers yet getting made into special, customized gifts along the way until the smallest of mice finds the final scrap and creates a scarf that is just right for her little Billy on Christmas morning. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 17: The Third Gift

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This day has nearly gotten away from me, so I will quickly slip in this review of our book for today. A very different story for me and for this holiday season. The look and feel of this one is not something I would have picked up if it hadn’t been for a friend’s recommendation. It is the unique story of a young boy whose father is a collector of tears, which are the pearls of sap from a tree, and how one very special tear becomes the very special third gift for a baby. An intriguing perspective on a piece of the Nativity from Linda Sue Park and Bagram Ibatoulline, here is The Third Gift, 2011.

The Third Gift cover

The focus of this story is on the boy helping and admiring his father’s work of finding the very best trees and getting the largest tears to come from them. It is a well-honed skill of his father and the boy is proud to watch and to help. He explains what the tears become once they are sold for large amounts to the spice merchants and how the very best ones are used for funerals.

On a specific day in the story, the boy and his father collect the largest tear they have seen yet. They sell it weeks later to a merchant and his customers of three men with fine clothes on a long journey. It is to become their third gift, a gift of myrrh. Read the full post…

Book Review: Back to School Tortoise By Lucy M. George & Merel Eyckerman

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It happens of course, that occasionally after I post a book list, I will come across a new favorite that should have made the list. Such is the case for today’s book, so instead it gets a review all its own! A sweet back-to-school story that confronts the “what ifs” about a new situation and also politely turns the situation on its head. Here is Back to School Tortoise by Lucy M. George, illustrated by Merel Eyckerman, 2011. Read the full post…

Book Review: Chicks Run Wild By Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & Ward Jenkins

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Truth be told, bedtime books are often cheesy, mushy, and really heavy-handed. There are some good ones, and the sleep hypnosis types certainly have a place, even if it is just wishful thinking. But I’m constantly on the look-out for stellar, atypical, really fun go-to-bed books that take the experience to a whole new level. Mission accomplished. Allow me to present a riotous book about little chicks who just aren’t quite ready to drift off and their mama’s less-than-traditional, surprising to everyone, idea. This book is a brilliantly fun, dare I say wild, good time. Here is Chicks Run Wild by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Ward Jenkins, 2011. Read the full post…

Book Review: Edwin Speaks Up By April Stevens & Sophie Blackall

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Perhaps it is because my own little one just turned a year old and we have fully entered the babbling-almost-words phase, but something about this book just tickles my fancy. I had never heard of this one before, but the name Sophie Blackall is enough to make me pick up just about anything and give it a try. And what’s not to love about that sweet little guy in a striped one-piece on the cover? This book is a surprisingly calm but clever story about an absent-minded mother and her crazy ferret brood’s trip to the grocery store that is saved from being completely disastrous by the unassuming sharp eye of the tiniest member of the family. Here is Edwin Speaks Up by April Stevens, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, 2011. Read the full post…

Book Review: If You’re Hoppy By Sayre & Urbanovic

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Before I begin, I must issue a warning that there is a large chance that this post will get a certain song stuck in your head for the day. Please forgive me. But, hopefully this book will also give you a new version of the song to sing, which in my opinion, is quite fun. So, today I present a really enjoyable book that you can actually read or sing! Perfect for spring, great for acting out, and full of silly lovable animals – here is If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, pictures by Jackie Urbanovic, 2011. Read the full post…

Book Review: Along A Long Road By Frank Viva

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Sometimes a book comes along that really just takes my breath away. Occasionally I’m prepared for it because it has intrigued me in some way by the reviews I’ve heard. Other times, I just feel my heart skip a little when I spy the cover. I open it wonderingly and wow, there it is. Such was the case with today’s book. Here is Along a Long Road by Frank Viva, 2011. Read the full post…