Thursday, July 30, 2009
The shots that set off a war
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Beatrix Potter - Giving thanks on her birthday
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Amelia Earhart - Lady of the skies
For Amelia's birthday anniversary (July 24th) I reviewed an excellent book called Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka and illustrated by David Craig. Shelley Tanaka has written many splendid non-fiction titles and this is one of her best. Here is my review of the book.
Amelia Earhart: The legend of the lost aviator
Illustrated by David Craig
Non Fiction Picture Book
Ages 9 to 12
Abrams, 2008, 978-0-8109-7095-3
Amelia Earhart was not the kind of person to be put off when people told her that what she wanted to do was impossible, or inappropriate, or unladylike. More than almost anything Amelia believed that people should pursue their dreams. If need be, they should fight to do what they believe is important. Amelia certainly did; she ended up doing what she cared about the most: flying, teaching, and helping others.
Once Amelia found her place in the sky, she was unstoppable. She broke records and proved to the world that women can be great pilots, just like men. Flying rickety planes that were notoriously prone to breakages and problems, Amelia traveled long distances not only to break records, but to show women that the sky is indeed the limit.
When Amelia’s plane disappeared in July 1937, the whole world watched, waited, and then grieved. To this day, we do not know what happened to Amelia Earhart. We may never know, but her legacy lives on, and generations of girls and women still look to her for inspiration.
In this marvelous picture book Shelley Tanaka brings Amelia Earhart’s world to life. With numerous quotes from Amelia’s writings and speeches, the book beautifully captures Amelia Earhart’s indomitable spirit and her sense of adventure. Packed with information, illustrations, and photographs, this title is a must for all young Amelia Earhart fans.
If you are interested in purchasing this title please consider doing so through The TTLG website to help support this blog. Many thanks.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Men on the Moon - Forty years ago
Forty years ago today, human beings walked on the moon for the first time. As millions of people watched, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and took those first incredible steps. In honor of this anniversary, many publishers have put out new books for children about this extraordinary event. I have been lucky enough to review some of these books over the last few weeks, and now you can see my reviews on the Through the Looking Glass Book Review website in the Man goes to the Moon feature. There are some wonderful titles in this collection, and I hope you find a title or two that you would like add to your library.
Here is a video of that famous landing. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
An Interview with Eileen Spinelli
Earlier this week I reviewed Heatwave, a picture book by Eileen Spinelli. As I enjoyed the book so much, I decided to interview the author.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
My sister Tina and I were talking one day about "when we were young"--and how we grew up without air conditioning. That led to other memories--like our Aunt Rosewho used to keep her perfume in the refirgerator. I decided it might be fun for kids to hear about those times when one had to be rather creative about keeping cool.
The story takes place over a number of days, with the temperature rising all the time. Why did you decide to pace the story in this way?
Every story needs an arc. This story didn't have a big plot as such...so the rising temperature seemed a good way to build "suspense".
In this story, the text is packed with images that are wonderfully vivid. Are these images ones that you have seen, heard, and felt?
Directly from my childhood. They were real.
Recently I experienced a short heat wave here in
I do. (Though I would be lying if I said I didn't appreciate air conditioning). I guess it's a matter of experiencing both. Spending time outside...splashing under a sprinkler...reading in the shade of a back yard tree...gardening...picnics in the park...heading for the beach...these and other activities like it are important ....lest we isolate/insulate ourselves too much. We need the sun, the light summer breezes, the camaraderie of being out and about with friends...the scent of garden mint...the sound of the waves...the sparkle of the river....the cool of grass under our bare feet...
How do you and your family enjoy the summer months?
We spend much of the summer at Chatuauqua Institution in
Have you considered writing a book about a winter storm?
I have a book coming out giving equal time to winter!
Thank you very much Eileen. You can find out more about Eileen and her books on her website.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Hot, Hot, Hot
Ages 3 to 7
Harcourt, 2007, 978-0-15-216779-0
Lumberville is in the grip of a heat wave. There are no air conditioners, so everyone in town swelters in the heat. On Monday, the move theatre closes and Abigail and Ralphie Blue set up a lemonade stand. Tuesday is even hotter, and some of the residents in the town resort to taking long cool baths and showers. By the time Thursday rolls around it is so hot that Mr.Blue shaves off his beard, and the Pettibone sisters put their perfume and makeup in their icebox. How much hotter can it get?
In this delightful picture book, Eileen Spinelli perfectly captures what it was like to live in a time when there were no air conditioners, when people had to find all kinds of creative ways to stay cool. She shows her readers how the heat unifies the people in Lumberville; it brings them together as they all try to find some relief from the heat.
Throughout the book, Betsy Lewin’s illustrations beautifully compliment the narrative. In particular, she brings the humorous touches in the story to life.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The joys of summer camp
Ages 6 to 9
Harcourt, 2008, 978-0-15-206020-6
James and Eamon are going to have a week of nature camp together. They are going to stay at James’ grandparents’ house at the beach. James is pretty excited because he has never been away from home for a whole week before.
Their first day at nature camp isn’t that exciting but the time that the boys spend together afterwards at the house is great. The food that Pam (James’ grandmother) makes is wonderful and Bill (James’ grandfather) is a good sport even if he does go on about Antarctica and penguins rather a lot.
With each passing day the boys get closer. They don’t really get that much out of nature camp but they have a terrific time playing games, watching T.V. and not spending any time on the beach.
In this delightful summer title Marla Frazee truly captures with great skill and humor the essence of little boy doings. Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time with little boys will recognize the behaviors and thinking processes of these two children. Parents will see how fruitless it is to try to steer little boys into a certain direction, and children will laugh to see how much fun James and Eamon have in spite of their nature camp activities.
The wonderful illustrations in the book compliment the text perfectly, catching the nuances of little boy shenanigans and games. Don’t forget to look at the ‘photo gallery’ inside the front and back covers of the book.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A Visit from an old friend bearing gifts
Thursday, July 2, 2009
A review of In 1776
Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Non Fiction picture book
Ages 7 to 9
Scholastic, 1994, 0-545-11073-4
In 1775 America was under British rule. It was an uneasy time because the colonists were angry that “they had no say” in their own government. The king of England insisted that the colonists had to pay more taxes and the colonist said “No!” Some even went so far as to say, “It’s time for you to go.” And so, in Lexington and Concord, fighting broke out between the English and the colonists.
Then in 1776, the colonists decided that they needed to make their position clear. Their leaders met in Philadelphia to discuss the problem. A committee of men then worked together to write a document that would clarify what the colonists wanted. This document came to called the Declaration of Independence.
In this excellent title, Jean Marzallo uses rhyming stanzas to help children understand what took place in 1776. They will come to appreciate why and how the events that took place at that time still have an impact on us today. An excellent introduction discusses the fact that the “struggle” for democracy is ongoing, and it is something that we can all work for.