Archive | October, 2014

Imani’s Moon

21 Oct

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Imani’s Moon written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell (2014)

Imani was the smallest child in her village. The other children teased her, but her mama told her stories at night which lifted her spirits. One night Mama told her the story of Olapa, the goddess of the moon who won a mighty battle against the god of the sun. That night Imani dreamed that she fought with Olapa and protected the people of the earth. The next day, Imani was determined to touch the moon but she fell from a tree. The following day, Imani built a pair of wings but she crashed into a tree on her first flight. The day after that, Imani watched warriors jump and decided to jump to the moon herself. She jumped all day and into the night, and with one final jump she landed on the moon. Olapa praised her and gave her a moon rock to take home with her. That night, Imani told her mother a story, her story, about a girl who believed she could touch the moon.

JaNay Brown-Wood tells the story of a little girl with big dreams. Set in Africa, in Kenya, in a village of the Maasai people, Imani’s story is told. Rich in language and culture of the people, Imani learns that you must believe in yourself if you want to accomplish something as wonderful as touching the moon. And JaNay Brown-Wood, believed she could write a book for children, and she did! This is her first picture book.

Hazel Mitchell brings Imani’s world to life through her beautiful illustrations. The innocence of Imani’s spirit, the faith of her mother, and the doubt of the unbelievers feel as real as if they were standing in front of you. Hazel Mitchell gives even the animals, human qualities and gives the readers rich details in each scene.

I love this new picture book! It speaks so gently and eloquently to the young reader. It gives children a story in which faith and determination are equally important in reaching one’s goals.

Hug Machine

16 Oct

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Hug Machine written and illustrated by Scott Campbell (2014)

The Hug Machine is very good at hugging, the best! He goes around town cheering people up, calming them down, or just driving them nuts with his hugs. He doesn’t just hug people he hugs trees, park benches, bears, rocks, even snakes.   But, can he hug a porcupine? Or a whale? Yes, he can! He refuels with pizza and hugs until he’s exhausted. Just when he can’t hug one more thing, he receives a hug… “Hug Machine is always open for business.”

Scott Campbell shows us the openness and love of one little boy through text and pictures. The sweet little face of the boy no the cover is quiet and sincere with every single hug. And the faces of the people and animals he hugs are happy, surprised, touched, and even a little apprehensive about the unsolicited hugs.

One of my favorite lines is, “Hug Accomplished!” Scott Campbell accomplished more than just creating a picture book. He also created an atmosphere of honest acceptance of everyone and everything in the boy’s world. What a great message to give our little readers.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

10 Oct

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson (2014)

Sally McCabe was the smallest girl in the smallest grade. And no body noticed her, but she noticed everything. Sally McCabe was paying ‘super extra special attention’ to everything around her. She noticed the kite stuck in the tree, she noticed that the janitor had 27 keys on his keyring, and she noticed all the bullying going on in her school. She noticed when Tommy Torino was tripped in the hall and when Kevin McKuen got pushed off the slide. She noticed when Billy was dragged away by his much larger father. She noticed all the stares and whispers behind people’s backs. Then one day, Sally McCabe had enough. She raised her hand in the lunchroom and announced, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!” And surprisingly, one after another, other hands went up in the air. Students, teachers, and even the principal all raised their hands with their fingers in the air. Everyone felt that moment, and soon people began taking care of each other and being polite to one another.

Justin Roberts, of children’s music fame and the Not Ready 4 Naptime Players, has captured the essence of bullying that is many times considered too small to matter and often goes unnoticed. He gives voice to the smallest, who are often the ones who do notice but are afraid to stand up.

Christian Robinson, illustrator of Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, Rain by Linda Ashman, and Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, brings the simplicity of this message through simple drawings. The faces look like they have been drawn by the children themselves (in a good way) with circular heads, dot eyes, round noses and single lined smiles. The pictures look like crayon drawings, leaving the reader ample room to focus on the message. Every detail is clear and unmistakeable.

I love the last line of the book best, “And how the world could transform and a change could be made by the smallest girl in the smallest grade.” Hooray for Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson!

Louise Loves Art

3 Oct

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Louise Loves Art written and illustrated by Kelly Light (2014)

Louise loves art. She loves to draw pictures and hang them all over the house. Louise does not have time for her little brother, Art. He loves art too. He takes one of her masterpieces and cuts it up into a chain of paper dolls. Louise is angry until she sees how good it really is. She hangs it on the ‘Gallery du Fridge’ alongside her own artwork and gives it a blue ribbon. Louise really does love Art after all!

Kelly Light has shown a new light on siblings. The witty play on words is simple enough for the youngest readers to understand. And the relationship between Louise and Art is genuine and adorable.

Art steals Louise’s heart with his paper dolls. Look carefully at the pattern… Louise, Art, Louise, Art, Louise, Art. What a beautiful tribute to siblings! Louise loves Art. Art loves Louise. And I love Kelly Light’s new book!

This Orq. (He Cave Boy)

3 Oct

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This Orq. (He Cave Boy) written by  David Elliott and illustrated by Lori Nichols (2014)

Orq is a cave boy. And he loves Woma, a wooly mammoth. But Woma sheds, is smelly, and is not house-trained. Orq’s mother wants Woma out of the cave. Orq decides to teach Woma tricks so his mother would love her too, but Woma just doesn’t get the hang of it. Then one day while Orq is playing that he is a mighty hunter, a sabertooth tiger stalks him. Woma appears just in time to save Orq from the sabertooth. Now Orq’s mother loves Woma!

David Elliott has created two wonderful new characters in this book. Orq is an imaginative young cave boy like most little boys today and Woma is just the kind of pet any young cave boy would love. The cave-talk language is perfectly blended with standard English and gives it the total feel of authenticity.

Lori Nichols has done a superb job of bring cave boys and wooly mammoths back from extinction. Her details in artwork mix modern and prehistoric elements seamlessly. She has convinced the reader that cave boys not only had pet wooly mammoths, but also played with stone wheeled tricycles and used colored pencils to draw pictures on cave walls.

I love this story! Orq and Woma are so convincingly real, I want to take them home with me. This is a book I would love to see made into a series.

Me love Orq… you will too!

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