November 4, 2012

Book Wisdom, 5 Apple Review, November 5, 2012


     Choosing books for children is like walking down the cereal isle in a grocery store.  There are lots of options, some boring, some sugary, some colorful, some healthy.  Knowing what to look for can save you time and money and perhaps an unpleasant scene.  It can also help you to make conscious choices about what you feed your child.  The same is true for choosing what you read to your child.  

     This month is Picture Book Month.   I am honored to share three outstanding picture books, one shared by an author, one an author/illustrator, and one by a Canadian illustrator. This trifecta is an exciting group of books because they are all exceptional examples of writing and illustration.  In addition, they are developmentally appropriate, and fun.  Each book is reviewed below and information on how to buy the book and my giveaway are located below the reviews.

     When I look at writing, I look for strong hooks, a line that pulls me into the book, clear voice, strong and unique characters, a solid story arc, humor, word use, and a climax and conclusion that is quick and ties the story together in the perfect little bundle.  This sounds easy, but in a picture book, it takes a great deal of skill to pull it off.  Picture books are also written for several readers, child and the adult who is purchasing and/or reading to the child.

      Strong illustration also takes clear voice and vision. It must carry through a story in images depicting unique characters and view points that add to the story, and execution of humor and emotion that evoke a similar response in the reader/viewer.  On top of that major task, an illustrator needs to have a strong command of art elements and design principles.  When used well, they create flow, evoke emotion, and draw the viewer further into the story.  This needs to look effortless. Most readers and children do not know that most of the time authors have no say in how the illustration will look unless they are the illustrator themselves.

     A story that is developmentally appropriate fits closely with the readers developmental stage.  Picture books can be written for a variety of developmental stages and may cross over several.  The most common picture book age range starts around age 3 and goes through age 8.  The cognitive, social, emotional, and physical changes that children go through during this time span are significant and should determine what is written and illustrated.   I will talk more about this a bit later.

    Children learn through play.  Play is children's work.  Healthy play is engaging and fun.  Reading picture books can be playful or full of play and fun.  It engages the child and is often their first introduction to reading.
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
     Perfect timing allowed me to share TODD PARR'S 24 page picture book, THE THANKFUL BOOK with anchor Meaghan Wallace on Grand Junction's CBS affiliate, KREX, NewsChannel 5, This Morning.
     I chose Todd's book because the days until Thanksgiving are ticking down and thankfulness or gratitude is something that we can never have enough of.  I am very grateful for Todd writing and illustrating this book.  Thankfuls are an evening ritual in my home before we eat modeled by our nephew some years ago.  It stuck.  It allows us to stop amidst the chaos and reflect on what is important. 
     A new release, THE THANKFUL BOOK simply shares this point of view from the perspective of a small child.  It hooks the reader.  You want to know what is next,  Todd pulls it together with the simple truth there are lots of things to be thankful for.  His illustrations are friendly and full of bold colors, perfect for a young child learning about who they are.  
     It's fun and engaging.  I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.  This is a priceless line.

    THE THANKFUL BOOK  is for children of both genders, ages three and up. 

    The themes in this book are cultivating gratitude and sharing gratitude.

    You can learn more about Todd,this children's book and his other award winning books at: Todd's Website or through his publisher Little, Brown & Company. 

I'M BORED by Michael Ina Black, Illustrated by Debbie Ohi
     I'M BORED is funny new picture book that takes a simple, common line, children love to repeat to adults and each other, and fully engages the reader. Michael Ian Black 's words are elevated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi's illustrations.  Try convincing a potato that there is nothing boring about a child.  Black and Ohi do exactly that with the spot on match of words and illustration.  I'M BORED is clever and fun.  Debbie's energetic illustration style captivates the reader through how it paces the book. Scale and dynamic use of line set the story in constant motion and emotion.  I read the story with only looking at the pictures and knew exactly what happening.  I'M BORED fits the pure definition of picture book.  

    I'M BORED  is for children of both genders, early school age and up. It's developmentally appropriate by the use of the challenge of looking at the world from a matter of fact viewpoint and having to deal with a potato. 

    The themes in this book are boredom, humor, and self assurance.

    Thank you Debbie for sending the book to me! You can learn more about Debbie,and this children's book at: Debbie's Website or through her publisher Simon & Schuster  Books For Young Readers.  
     Award winning author, Tammi Sauer takes the training a princess to a new, royal level, in her hot off-the-press, picture book, PRINCESS IN TRAINING illustrated by Joe Berger.  Everyone knows a princess or two, a want-to-be princess, a princess in hiding. You might even live with one.  The glittery dynamic cover with Princess Viola Louise Hassenfeffer skate boarding across the front fuels the "must read this list" even for non-princess adults.  Tammi captures what it is like to not be an ordinary princess in a world of that wants ordinary princesses. Tammi's clear writing voice and strong, unique character in Viola sets the lively pace captured in the fun, intense, action packed illustrations. It's picture book perfect. This book is sure to help redefine and redirect the stereotype of princess in a positive way.

PRINCESS IN TRAINING will be high interest for girls and boys will also relate.  It is appropriate for early school age and up. Viola's strong desire to fit in and do right by what her parents and royal society wants while becoming more independent make it a very relatable theme for children. 

    The themes in this book are being ones self, fitting in, family obligations and stereotypes.

    You can learn more about Tammi,and this children's book at: Tammi's Website or through her publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group. 

You can find these five apple picture books from all the major book sellers.  Also, they can be ordered from your local independent book store.  In Grand Junction that bookstore is Grand Valley Books.

     Thanks for tuning in this morning or visiting this blog.  Leave a comment on this blog and/or like the Book Wisdom page on Facebook and be entered to win one of these great books.  If you sign up for the once or twice monthly post, you will automatically be entered monthly!  Just me know by email as your privacy is always respected.  I do not know who subscribes. 


Anonymous said...

This review is a grand-slam home run, Diane! Three amazing picture books...these look like the kind of book that children will be asking to hear over and over again. :) Thanks for sharing these...and, of course, I'd love to win one for my grandson!

Richa Jha said...

What a fantastic selection! Been reading about I'm Bored! and I am sure it's going to be a household favourite for many. Looking forward to enjoying all three books! Great post, Diane!

Tina Cho said...

I love your analogy to find a pb is like looking for cereal! I've heard great things about Princess in Training and I'm Bored!!

tammi sauer said...

I'm royally thrilled that Viola Louise Hassenfeffer has made an appearance on your amazing blog. Many thanks. :)

Mirka Breen said...

These are all apple-full winning books. Thank you for featuring them.

Evelyn said...

I was delighted to read your reviews of these three excellent books. I'm sure they'll bring pleasure to many children.

Abigail Beal said...

What a great selection of picture books! Your reviews are terrific, I like your apple rating system too! :)

BarbaraB said...

Diane, thanks for reviewing these 5apple books. I know I can depend on your good judgment. Best wishes to the three authors and illustrators.