Friday, May 25, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of The Adventures of Piratess Tilly: Easter Island

When I first started reviewing poetry titles I was sent a book full of haiku poems. I fell in love with this poetry form and have made a point of seeking out haiku poetry books ever since. Today I bring you a review of a book that tells a delightful story using a series of haiku poems. The story describes an adventure that a girl and her friends take, and there are also natural history and environmental themes woven into the narrative.

The Adventures of Piratess Tilly: Easter Island
The Adventures of Piratess Tilly: Easter IslandElizabeth Lorayne
Illustrated by Karen Watson
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
White Wave Press, 2017, 978-0-997-90980-7
Piratess Tilly and her friends are setting sail on their beautiful ship, the Foster. This time they are going to Easter Island, and Tilly is hoping to continue to study nature so that she can become a “True Naturalist.”
   As they sail, Tilly and her koala friend Yuki make use of the books that line the walls of Tilly’s stateroom. They read, study, and sketch, following in the footsteps of Katherine Routledge, who also sailed to Easter Island in 1913.
   Eventually they arrive at their destination; Easter Island is in front of them with its majestic rocky shore and its stone statues. The travelers go ashore where they start to explore. Donning diving gear Tilly and Yuki enter an ocean wonderland where fish, sea turtles, and other creatures live.
   Next Tilly and her friends visit some ruins where horses “roam freely.” They have a picnic, enjoying being in such a beautiful place. Then they look out to sea from the highest place on the island and they discover that a pirate ship is headed their way. Tilly knows all too well that pirates cannot be trusted, and sure enough when the pirates come on land they steal the eggs that the sooty terns have laid on the ground. The birds can do nothing to rescue their precious eggs from the greedy poachers, but Tilly can.
   This delightful book takes young readers of a wonderful journey of exploration across the ocean to Easter Island. The tale is told using haiku poems, and it is accompanied by lovely artwork. At the back of the book readers will find further information about Tilly’s heroes: Charles Darwin, and Katherine Routledge.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing all the mothers who love and care for their children and their  animal companions a wonderful Mother's Day.

Image result for Mother's Day vintage

Monday, May 7, 2018

Picture Book Monday with a review of The Word Collector

There are certain authors and illustrators whom I follow with great interest. I review all their books, and I keep my copies close at hand so that I can look at them again and again. One of these author illustrators is Peter R. Reynolds. He creates books that explore big issues and that celebrate things like creativity, compassion, diversity, and now the power of words. Not surprisingly, considering what I do for a living, this book delighted me. Is explores the idea that words are powerful, beautiful things when used in the right way.

The word collector
Peter R. Reynolds
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Scholastic, 2018, 978-0-545-86502-9
All over the world there are people who collect things. They collect stamps, art, rocks, coins, baseball cards, and all kinds of objects. Jerome like to collects things too; he collects words. Every time he hears or reads a word that intrigues or delights him he writes it down on a piece of yellow paper. He collects words that are “Short and sweet,” and he also collects words that are longer. Some have so many syllables that they sound “like little songs.”
   Happily Jerome glues all the words he has collected into scrapbooks, and over time his collection grows so large that he starts to categorize the words.
   One day Jerome is carrying a huge pile of his scrapbooks when he slips and the books tumble to the floor. Pieces of paper covered with words go flying. Jerome begins to pick up the words, which are now all “jumbled” up. Big words are next to little words, and words that one would normally never put next to each other are side by side. Jerome begins to explore his words in a new way, stringing them together to create poems and songs, and to create sentences that are strong and “powerful.” One might think that doing this would be enough for any collector, but Jerome has a word idea that he wants to share with the world.
   Peter H. Reynolds has a gift for creating books that make you think. The ideas he shares with his readers are so meaningful that they persist in our minds and hearts long after the book has been closed.
   Like his stories Ish and Dot, The Word Collector, makes us pause in our busy day to consider the world around us. We are reminded of the fact that words have power; that they can make our world a richer and better place when they are used thoughtfully. Both children and adults alike will love this title, and they will appreciate the message that the author is sharing with us: love words and use them to make your life and the lives of others richer.
  

Friday, May 4, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife

I cannot remember a time when I wasn't interested in animals. I can recall lying on my stomach and watching ants for hours while a garden party was going on around me. I had pet snails and beetles, tadpoles, and worms. I was over the moon when my aunt gave me a pet turtle, and devastated when the poor little thing had an unfortunate accident. The wonderful thing about animals is that they can be found just about anywhere, no matter where you live. Today's wonderful poetry title introduces us to some of the creatures found in cities and towns.

Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife

Sarah Grace Tuttle
Illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Eerdmans, 2018, 978-0-8028-5459-9
If you live in a city or town you may think that your environment is devoid of nature but you would be wrong. There are animals and plants of all kinds living around you, and all you have to do to see them is a stop and look; listen, watch, and wait.
  In our homes there are busy little mice. If you are up late at night when all is quiet you might see a mother mouse running to and fro as she rips paper and scurries to her home only to return to get some more. She is building a nest for the babies that will probably soon be born.
   Outside, on a rainy day, you might spy sparrows huddled together. There they “chitter-cheep softly” while they wait for the rain to slow down and eventually cease altogether. The rain brings forth wonderful surprises too. Under a tree you might see a fairy ring of mushrooms grow. They appear seemingly overnight, a circle of delicate little pale cream umbrellas among the grass.
   By a fountain you might see some pigeons dipping, strutting, and cooing. The males flaunt their courtship dance, hoping that their performance will impress the watching female. In the park pond, ducks tip up, their tails in their air, their bills eagerly seeking food under the water. Busily they search until up they pop happily eating.
   On a warm summer night, beneath the glow of a street lamp, moths congregate. They flitter this way and that and then, out of nowhere, a bat swoops in and snatches one of the insects out of the air.
   In this wonderful book, multimedia illustrations are paired with delightful poems to show young readers that urban environments are full of wild plants and animals. The author and illustrator take us through the seasons so that we get a full and rich picture of nature’s annual cycle, and we get to meet all kinds of wonderful living things on the pages.
  



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Picture Book Monday with a review of Love

When you are young love is this invisible thing that no one can really explain or define. It is this power that makes you miss your family when you are away from them, and that makes you delight in being with them again. It is the feeling that you have when you cuddle your pet and when it cuddles you back. Trying to understand what love is is hard, and yet in today's picture book Matt de la Pena and Loren Long have found the perfect way to explore the nature of love. Their book is timeless and powerful, beautiful and thought-provoking.

Love
Matt de la Pena
Illustrated by Loren Long
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Penguin, 2018, 978-1-5247-4091-7
You may think that love comes in only one form, but this is not the case. Love surrounds us and it comes in many forms, more than we can count or imagine.
   Love can be seen in the eyes of our parents when they look down at us as we lie in a crib or a cradle. It is in the movements of a father and daughter as they dance together on the roof of a trailer. They may not have a fancy home or car, but these two share a tie that is boundless and strong.
   On a hot summer day, when children play in sprinklers on the street, the echo of their laughter is the sound of love. Love can be found in the wrinkles on a grandfather’s face as he sits on a bucket so that he can fish with his grandchild. It is in the notes of music that the ragged busker makes as he sings outside the subway station.
   Love is also that thing that sustains you when hard times come. When fires flare, and relationships fail it is there. When tragedies happen love is that thing that your people wrap around you so that you can feel safe. Is the thing that fills the arms that hold you, and it can be heard in the voices that comforts you.
   Sometimes love can be found in places that you have to look hard to see, but when you do see it there you are lifted up.
   This beautiful book celebrates love in a stunning and powerful way.


Picture Book Monday with a review of The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night

I have always had a soft spot for moles. Yes I know they mess up my garden and lawn with their earth mounds, but I really don't mind. I love the idea that the cunning little creatures are borrowing away under my feet, seeking out food and working on their subterranean passages. I therefore love books that feature moles, and two of my favorite mole characters are the Mole Sisters. Today I bring you a wonderful little story in which the sisters have a little nighttime adventure.

The Mole Sisters and Moonlit NightThe Mole Sisters and Moonlit Night 
Roslyn Schwartz
Picture Book  Series
For ages 4 to 6
Annick Press, 2001, 978-1550377026
It is a perfectly beautiful moonlit night, and the Mole Sisters go boating on a pond in a little leaf boat. As they lie in the bottom of the boat looking up at the full moon, they see a brilliant shooting star flash across the sky. Quickly the two little moles make a wish, and before you know it their wish has come true; they are on the moon!
   It isn't long before the two moles start feeling homesick. After all, they say as they look at a distant Earth, "the world really is a wonderful place." How are they going to get back to the planet that they call home?
   In this delightful little picture book, young readers will find themselves being transported to a beautiful, soft moonlit night in the company of two charming little creatures. What is special about the Mole Sisters is that they appreciate the beauty of their world, and they are also clearly devoted to one another.
   In this book a minimal text and lovely colored pencil drawings breathe life into the simple world of two little moles. Their enchanting adventures have charmed young children and their families for years.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of Swing Around the Sun

Many people covet the idea of going to live in the tropics. They dream of the warm temperatures, tropical flowers, and blues seas. One of my favorite places on the planet is Hawaii, but I know that I would not like to live there year round because I love experiencing summer, fall, winter, and spring. I look forward to the gifts of the coming seasons. Right now summer peaches are on my mind, and I am eager to spend time sitting by the lake, watching the eagles soaring on the thermals.

In this delightful poetry book we take a journey through the year, experiencing the wonderful things that the seasons bring us as the Earth travels around the sun.

Swing Around the SunSwing Around the Sun
Barbara Juster Esbensen
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell  , Janice Lee Porter , Cheng-Khee Chee , and Mary GrandPre
Poetry
For ages 4 to 8
Carolrhoda Books, 2002, 978-0876141434
We are going to take a journey through a year, exploring the natural wonders of the seasons and the ways in which these ancient rhythms affect the human world. We are going to look at a beach in the spring when "a gull hangs like an icy flake" between the sea and the sky. We are going to listen to a summer storm as "thunder snaps/With a splitting crack!" In the fall we can imagine "Goblins prowl the streets" on Halloween. And, in the winter we can feel the cold as we skate across the pond leaving a "frosty trail" behind us.
   Using both rhyming and non-rhyming poetry, the author of this poetry collection paints a stunning portrait of a year in words, a portrait that is rich in imagery. Readers will find that all their senses are engaged as they go from season to season and from poem to poem.
   The visual impact of this book is especially noticeable because a different illustrator has created the art for each of the seasons. Thus each season has a distinct feel and appearance. Each piece of artwork provides the perfect backdrop for the poem that accompanies it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Picture Book Monday with a review of Make the Earth your companion

On April 22 we Americans celebrate Earth Day Back when I was working in the environmental movement in Washington, D.C. it was a day full of festivals, conferences, speeches, and other events. These days I don't get involved in a lot of hoopla, but instead I tend to go out into nature to remind myself what the hoopla is all in aid of. All year round I do as much as I can to tend to our precious planet, and on Earth Day, I celebrate the marvelous place that it is.

Today I bring you a picture book that ties into this sense of celebration. The words in this book will remind readers that our planet is beautiful place, and it is also a great teacher.

J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Creative Editions, 2017, 978-1-56846-269-1
For the most part we humans do not have a healthy relationship with the Earth. We like to dominate it. We use and abuse it. We do not listen and learn from it, even though we should. The Earth has much to teach us and if we make it our “companion,” and if we “we walk lightly on it, as other creatures do,” it has so much wisdom to share with us.
   One of the things we will learn, if we try, is that the sky will always be there above watching over us, and the sea will teach us how to face adversity with courage. A river will show us that nothing stays the same, and that hard times will drift away in time. A lake will teach us how to be still and quiet, and a mountain will show us what true “grandeur” is. A woodland will offer us peace, and a rainforest will be our “canopy of hope.”
   In this book J. Patrick Lewis’ words, and the art created by Balbusso sisters, show us to great effect what a remarkable teacher the Earth is. The message this book’s creators share with us is a rich and powerful one, and it will resonate with readers of all ages. This is a book to treasure, savor, and share.



Friday, March 30, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of Songs and Verse by Roald Dahl.

There is no doubt that Roald Dahl is one of the master craftsmen in the children's book world. He wrote wonderful stories like Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The BFG, and he also wrote dozens and dozens of wonderful poems. Today I bring you a poetry title that contains poems from his story books and also poems from his poetry collections. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is a wonderful book to share with children.

Songs and VerseSongs and Verse 
Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake and other illustrators
Poetry
For ages 6 to 8
Puffin UK, 2016, 978-0141369235
Roald Dahl has been delighting children with his unique stories since his first books came out in the early sixties. Many of his tales include hilarious songs and sections of poetry that appeal to young readers enormously because of their outrageous content and clever use of language. Dahl also wrote three poetry collections in the 1980’s: Revolting Rhymes, Dirty Beasts, and Rhyme Stew.
   In this superb collection many of the wonderful songs and snatches of verse from the story books, as well as excerpts from the poetry books, have been brought together. Better still, renowned illustrators from all over the world have illustrated the poems and songs. Readers will get to see the art of Chris Wormell, Chris Riddell, Joel Stewart, Babette Cole, Axel Scheffler, Lauren Child, Alexis Deacon, and others. Quentin Blake, who illustrated so many of Roald Dahl’s books, has created some charming drawings for this book as well.
   Divided into sections by subject matter - “Unlikely Creatures,” “Poisonous Possibilities,” and so on – this is a collection that Roald Dahl fans will love to dip into. Within its pages they will find the songs of the Oompa-Loompas, and the Centipede’s song from James and the Giant Peach. At the other end of the spectrum they will find the terrifying words from “Down With Children” from the book The Witches.
   All in all this is a marvelous book, which truly celebrates Roald Dahl’s gift for creating poetry that children enjoy and want to read.