Monday, March 26, 2012

The Headless Cupid

By Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Headless Cupid was one of my very favorite books as an elementary school student.  The four Stanley children: responsible David, chatter-box Janie, stubborn Tesser, and her twin quiet Blair have learned to live without a mother since their own mother died a few years ago.  Now their dad has married Molly who has an almost-teenage daughter named Amanda.

At first David and his siblings are excited to get a new sister, but Amanda is not at all what they expected.  She is crabby and claims to be studying witchcraft (or the "occult").

The cupid in the title is a wooden carved decoration that is part of the staircase in the old home where the family lives. The head was cut off decades and has been missing ever since. 

In this story the witchcraft is not real like it is in the Harry Potter series.  It is handled in a way that is exciting, but not too scary.  I tend to stay away from stories that feel too creepy or promote things that are not uplifting. This is a great book that I don't have to worry about any of these issues when I read it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


by John Rocco

When the lights go out do you complain and get mad? The the lights go out in this big city the people in the neighborhood make the best of a difficult situation and come together to still enjoy the evening. What a great example of people who know how to Be Proactive and choose to enjoy a situation hat may not be ideal.

I love the colors and textures of this book. It is a graphic novel (aka "comic book") layout which is sure to appeal to a lot of kid and grown-ups alike. It is not a surprise that this was one of the Caldecott Honor books this year.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Me . . . Jane

by Patrick McDonnell

I love the mix of realistic images and the more whimsical cartoon type pictures in this book. The recognition from the Caldecott committee is well deserved. I actually prefer it to the winning book.

Me... Jane is the story of a young girl named Jane. Jane loves the outdoors and spends a lot of her time outside exploring the world around her, especially the animals.

Jane also reads a lot of fiction and non-fiction about the world she longs to explore. One of her favorite subjects is Africa.

Jane dreams of going to Africa and studying the land and the animals. To find out if she will accomplish her dreams read Me... Jane.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Grandpa Green

by Lane Smith

Another great picture book from Lane Smith.

This one tells the story of a gardener and his life through the eyes of his great-grandson as the boy explores the garden and the amazing topiary plant sculptures created by the great-grandfather.

The rich pictures in many shades of green along with hints of other colors really give the feeling of being in an amazing garden. The pictures are heartwarming and beautiful and help tell the story.

Because the garden helps tell the story of the life of the the great-grandfather this book, while not exactly historical, gives the opportunity to discuss some historical events with children as they explore the book with you.


Monday, March 5, 2012

A Ball for Daisy

By Chris Raschka

Winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal for the year's most "distinguished" artwork.

A Ball for Daisy is a cute wordless picture book.

The thing I love about wordless books is that the story becomes more a part of the "reader's" imagination. You can tell yourself the story a bit differently during different times of experiencing the book.

A great way to share a wordless picture book with children (or on your own) is to ask a lot of questions.

For example:
  • What is Daisy's favorite thing to do?
  • What is Daisy doing now?
  • How do you think Daisy feels when she plays with her ball?
  • Why does Daisy move over during her nap?
  • What is the girl holding?
  • Why does she have that object?
  • What will Daisy do next?
and so forth.

I remind children to tell the story in their own head and just think about the answers to the questions while we are looking through the book. When I'm finished I'll allow the children to take turns telling their version of the story. Of course I share the books with 20 or more children at a time. If you are reading with only one or two children you could tell it as you go page by page.

Now back to more specifics of A Ball for Daisy. I enjoyed the book. Daisy was cute and even though the paintings are pretty simple Chris Raschka managed to convey some variety of emotions. It was not my personal preference for the most distinguished art work in a children's book from last year, but it is a cute little book that will appeal to younger "readers"