Posts Tagged With: illustration

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

Weatherford, Carole Boston.  Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane.Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Henry Holt and Company, 2009. 32 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7994-4

What’s the story?

This non-fiction children’s book is creative biography of the childhood of John Coltrane, of one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, who first had to listen to great music before he could write and play music of his own.

Review

This Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People of 2009 in the category of biography presents the childhood of Jazz great John Coltrane with a primary focus on the musical sounds of his childhood. The book explores some of the inspirations for his desire to be a musician and the people, things, and music that influenced him. Each page is filled with beautiful, mostly abstract images in muted shades and limited colors. An author’s note at the end of the book provides a more detailed biography that parents, teachers, and librarians can use to answer questions from children who want to know more about Coltrane. There is also a list of some of Coltrane’s music available on CD and a list of books and a website about Coltrane’s life.

 Awards and Recognition

American Library Association Notable Children’s Books
Coretta Scott King Honor, Illustrator
Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Golden Kite Honor Book for Picture Book Text
CPL: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best
Categories: Book Reviews, books, Children's Books, Summer Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: First the Egg

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. First the Egg. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press, 2007. 32 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-1596432727

What’s the story?

This book presents the concepts of how first there is an egg and that egg becomes a chicken. Then the story depicts other “firsts” that occur in nature: first tadpole, then frog; first seed, then flower, etc. Then a different process emerges: first there is a word and then there is a story and then there is an artist who paints the story and a writer who tells the story which leads back to the egg which is now the second part because first there is a chicken and then there is an egg.

Review

This winner of the 2008 Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor and the 2008 Caldecott Honor has a fairly simple story that begins with a particular of which came first the chicken or the egg? There are a variety of cut-outs that by turning the page reveals a connection. The egg leads to a picture of a chick; a tadpole cut-out leads to a frog, and other progressions within nature are depicted. The illustrations are a rich palette of colors that appear to be painted on canvas. The most ingenious aspect of the story comes near the end when the reader discovers the story they are currently reading is part of the story they are reading. Children may be too young to appreciate this clever bit of metafiction, but it may plant the seed in their minds about the complexities of writing stories as well as reading them. An illustration at the end of the story incorporates the animals and objects mentioned before. Seeger proves herself to be a masterful artist and storyteller using the picture book form. Just when the reader thinks the book verifies that the egg came first, the story ends with the chicken laying the egg.

Other Awards and Recognition

New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007
New York Times Best Seller
Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2007
Oppenheim Platinum Award, 2008
ALA Notable Book, 2008
Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: Blackbird (Coretta Scott King Award 2004)

Bryan, Ashley. Beautiful Blackbird. Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0-689-84731-8

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 What’s the story?

This is the story of Blackbird who was voted as the most beautiful bird in the forest and the envious birds who want to be black, too.

Book Review

This winner of the Coretta Scott King award for 2004 is an adaptation of a folktale from Zambia. Blackbird is considered the most beautiful, so all of the other birds who are in different colors want to be black too. They ask if Blackbird can make them black, but Blackbird tells them that what counts is how they are inside. Blackbird mixes up a batch of blackening and gives everyone marks or designs in black. This book is a celebration of the beauty of the color black. The captivating illustrations resemble shapes cut from colored paper placed together in a collage. The book has the positive message that beauty comes from pride and confidence.

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books, Summer Reading | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: Flotsam (Caldecott Medal Winner 2007)

 

Weisner, David. Flotsam. Clarion Books, 2006. 40 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-0-618-19457-5

 __________________________________________________________

What’s the story?

A little boy playing on the beach discovers a camera that has washed ashore. He has the photographs developed and discovers that a strange world exists beneath the sea.

 Review

This Caldecott Medal winning wordless book features a collection of visually stunning illustrations that can captivate both a child and an adult’s imaginations. A boy playing on the beach follows a crab into the water and is caught up in a powerful wave. He then discovers that an underwater camera has washed ashore. The boy decides to take the film into a shop to be developed, and then his adventure begins as he views the wild assortment of photos. The photos depict normal sea life mixed in with some unusual creatures engaged in extraordinary behavior and activities as well. This wordless book can provoke a child’s imagination to invent a story of why an octopus is sitting in an armchair reading a book, and why there are a series of photos of children holding up pictures of other children from various periods of time. Most of the illustrations are in the bright colors that capture a sunny day at the beach. The underwater pictures are drawn in darker colors, yet the images are clearly and vividly depicted. A few illustrations in black and white add to the mysterious mood the book provides. This is a perfect book to spark a storytelling session.  Even the littlest of children can find an image within this book to make up a brief story.

 Other Awards

American Library Association Notable Books for Children 2007
Quill Awards 2007
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year 2006
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books 2006
Red Clover Award 2008

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World (ALA Notable Books for Children in 2007)

Bachelet, Gilles. My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the WorldNew York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006. 24 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-8109-4913-3

__________________________________________________________________

What’s the story?

This book explains what life at home is like when you have a pet elephant who thinks he’s a cat.

Review

This international award winning book is a delightfully silly story that convincingly presents the behavior of an elephant who for some unexplained reason believes that he is a cat. He uses a small litter box, sits on top of the TV, and sleeps in the dryer. The illustrations are in bright vibrant colors that highlight the silly behavior of an elephant who is just too big to utilize the objects and spaces used by cats. The illustrations are the highlight of the story, depicting the elephant compensating for his large size. There are also nine small illustrations of elephants with the colored fur patterns of real cats. This book will keep parents and their children entertained with the creative goofiness of it all. There was a sequel called When My Cat Was Small that has unfortunately gone out of print.

Awards and Recognition

American Library Association Notable Books for Children in 2007

Other Formats and Versions

Spanish Language version
Bachelet, Gilles. Mi Gatito Es El Mas Bestia. Molino Editorial, 2007.
ISBN-13: 978-84-7871-500-8
Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: | Leave a comment

A Classic Revisited: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

Young, Ed. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. Philomel Library Edition, 1989. 32 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-0-698-11382-4

___________________________________________________________________

What’s the story?

Three little girls are left alone at home when an old woman comes by claiming to be their grandmother. She doesn’t look like their beloved Po Po. The three little girls have to find ways to outsmart this wolf.

Review 

This version of the familiar tale of the little girl dressed in red who visits her grandmother in the woods has many interesting variations to the beloved story. Instead of one girl, there is a trio of sisters who are at home when the wolf comes to visit disguised as an old woman and claims to be the girls’ grandmother or “Po Po” and asks to be let into the house. Like the more familiar Little Red Riding Hood, these girls are not fooled by the hairy deep voiced woof. The illustrations are a mixture of watercolors and pastel with the techniques of Chinese panel art. This version offers the standard warnings about strangers and using one’s intelligence and powers of observation to recognize danger, but it also adds the element of working together and relying on your familiar to help you to avoid harm. This is a perfect book for children who love the Little Red Riding Hood story and is an excellent way to make them aware of other cultures who share their familiar stories.

Other Awards and Recognition

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 1990
Caldecott Medal 1990

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: Night Lights

Gal, Susan. Night Lights. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 32 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-375-95862-5

What’s the story? 

A little girl and her family are depicted in the many different types of light that are visible at night.

Review

Illustrator Susan Gal makes a stunning debut with this nearly wordless book that simply has words or compound words about some of the types of light, including “streetlights” and “porch light,” that we encounter every night after the sun sets. There are wonderful vignettes of family life and normal activities that require a light source. The highlights include a dog’s birthday party complete with a birthday cake with a dog bone design with the single word “candlelight.” The illustrations are rich with detail capturing the mysterious world of the night. There is also a wonderful use of shadow and illumination. The book ends with “night-light” “moonlight” and “good night” which makes it a perfect bedtime book for toddlers.

Author Information

Susan Gal

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: Los Gatos Black on Halloween (Pura Belpre Award 2008)

  

Montes, Marisa. Los Gatos Black on Halloween. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2006. 32 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7429-1

___________________________________________________________________________________

What’s the story?

This book explores the wondrous things happen on Halloween night, including a party at the Haunted Hall.

Review

This Pura Belpre Honor Book winner of 2008 is the captivating story of both real and imaginary creatures that are associated with Halloween. It’s not surprising that artist Yuyi Morales is a multiple award winner. The illustrations are stunning, lush with details in deep dark colors, and are both scary and whimsical. Each two page illustration depicts Halloween night creatures, including black cats, werewolves, well-dressed skeletons, and witches of all shapes and sizes as they head for a ball being held at a haunted mansion. The illustrations are the main point of reading this book, so be prepared to stop for a few minutes on every page. The story is wittily told, and what makes it additionally intriguing is that there’s a Spanish word or two in every sentence. There’s a glossary of Spanish words at the back of the book because the Spanish words are not translated in the text of the story.

Other Awards and Recognition
American Library Association Notable Books for Children 2008

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books, Holiday Books | Tags: | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Gerstein, Mordecai. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.  Roaring Brook Press, 2003. 40 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-7613-1791-3

 What’s the story?

This is the story of French aerialist Philippe Petit who connected a tightrope between the two World Trade Center towers.

Review

This multiple award winning book tells the story of a French aerialist who decides that he would like to walk a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers and manages to accomplish this extraordinary feat. This event happened in 1974, and reading this book is a bit unnerving knowing what will happen twenty seven years later. However, the story is beautifully and simply told. There are significant technical details about how to connect the tightrope and the book helps the reader understand how much preparation went into the final tightrope walk. In the middle of the book there is a foldout section that highlights the distance Philippe has to cross. The illustrations are in ink and oil in rich dark colors that help set the tense mood. The final words state that the tower is gone, and then a final picture of a ghostly version of the towers makes the ending quite powerful.

Awards and Recognition

Caldecott Medal 2004
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books 2003
New York Times Notable Books of the Year  2003
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year  2003
American Library Association Notable Books for Children 2004
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2004

Other Formats

Book on CD: ISBN-13: 978-1595194251
Gerstein, M. (2005). The man who walked between the towers. [CD]. New York: Live Oak
Media.
 
Book on cassette: ISBN-13: 978-159519421-3
Gerstein, M. (2005). The man who walked between the towers. [cassette recording]. New York:
Live Oak Media.
DVD: ISBN-13: 978-0-439-76717-0
Michael Sporn Animation (Producer) & Sporn, M. (Director). (2005). The man who walked
between the towers. [motion picture].Norwalk, CT: Weston Woods Studio, Inc.
Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Review: How to Heal a Broken Wing

Graham, Bob. How to Heal a Broken Wing. Candlewick Press, 2008. 40 pages.  ISBN-13: 978-0763639037

__________________________________________________________

What’s the story?

A little boy finds a bird with a broken wing on a crowded big city street and takes it home to help it get well.

Review

This multiple award winning story is a sweet story of a boy who struggles to help heal and bird with a broken wing. This is a nearly wordless book which depends on the richly detailed illustrations to tell the story. The colors are muted tones that capture the shadows made by the tall buildings in large cities. The pictures and the text work in combination to create a tense mood as the reader wonders if the bird will survive. The other emotional element is wondering how the boy will be able to set the bird free after he has grown to care for it. This is a lovely story about compassion, and provides an excellent example of what loving and supportive parents will do to help a child in this situation.

Awards and Recognition

Charlotte Zolotow Award 2009
Australian Children’s Book of the Year Awards 2009
American Library Association Notable Books for Children 2009

Categories: Book Reviews, Children's Books | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.