Aug 22, 2009

Review -- A Tree for Emmy

A Tree for Emmy
Written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Peachtree, hardcover, March 2009
Picture Book

A simple story about appreciating the wild natural world and the satisfaction of realizing one’s desires.

Emmy loves trees of all kinds, though it’s the mimosa tree at Gramma’s that really grabs her. Her imagination is ignited by the mimosa’s strong low branches, its fuzzy pink blossoms and the rattling seed pods. Best of all the mimosa is “stubborn and strong, and a little bit wild. Just like me.”

Emmy decides a mimosa of her own is a perfect birthday wish and her parents do their best to find her one. But mimosas are considered wild and so they’re not available at garden centers. Disappointed, the family visits Gramma and unexpectedly Emmy finds her own mimosa, a seedling growing wild and free. The last page presenting an older Emmy watering her beloved tree (now taller than her) is a testament to time passing, patience and a nurturing heart.

Lovely designed papers used for just the right amount of collage add whimsy and create visual interest and texture against the watercolor art.

Thanks to Peachtree Publishers for providing a review copy.

Aug 15, 2009

Review for Molly's Bookshelf -- I Want a Dog

I Want a Dog
Written and illustrated by Helga Bansch
North South, hardcover, $16.95
Picture Book

“Lisa loved dogs. Big dogs, small dogs, short dogs, tall dogs, shaggy-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, any kind of dog. ‘I want a dog,’ she said twenty-one times a day.” Lisa’s entreaties don’t fall on deaf ears but her parents stand firm, “Our apartment is too small for a dog.”

She argues (nicely,) makes promises, threatens tantrums, all to no avail. However, Lisa is a problem-solver and she hatches an ingenious plan to get what she wants. The end result is a happy foursome – her parents, a playful pup named Rollo, Mr. Lewis, Rollo’s elderly owner and of course, Lisa. It’s not easy introducing concepts like creative solutions and taking action to young children, but it’s easily done here.

The artwork is loose with a contemporary feel using bright colors with limited collage. Changing perspectives and layout help move the narrative along. Dogs, real and not, are everywhere, sharing the focus with red-haired Lisa, and both people and dogs are expressive with use of simple lines.

Come meet Lisa, dog-walker extraordinaire and dog’s best friend!

Thanks to North South Books for supplying a review copy.

Aug 13, 2009

Review -- Ollie and Me 1 2 3

Olly and Me 1 2 3
Shirley Hughes
Candlewick, hardcover, July 2009
Picture Book

Shirley Hughes’ familiar illustrations populate this counting book which also serves as a vehicle for young Kate to tell readers all about her family, including younger brother Olly, and friends. “There are four people in our family. When we go out, we usually take our dog, Buster, too, and that makes five. Buster likes to chase birds but he never catches any.”

The page layout places the featured number (1-10) written at the top of the page; next to it are large colored dots with the number of dots matching the number. On a double-page spread are multiple examples of the number in words and illustrations, such as “Three is company.” What I love about Hughes’ art is that it’s messy and expressive and full of motion, showing us happy animals and people in the everyday. It’s kids being kids and her language is just like listening to kids. Following the number 10 she writes
“Some things are too many to count –
Like blossoms falling from a tree
Or raindrops into a puddle . . .
Or flowers in the springtime
Or clouds in the sky going up and up . . .
Numbers go on forever.”

Thanks to Candlewick Press for supplying a review copy.

Aug 11, 2009

Early Library School

I found this image at the bookstore when we visited the Chautauqua Institution in New York state earlier this summer. On the back of the postcard:

Melvil Dewey, at extreme right, who helped found the Chautauqua Library School in 1901, is shown with a class of librarians engaged in continuing education.