Monthly Archives: November 2016

Marvelous Mondays: Miracle Man

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The Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus written and illustrated by John Hendrix is a captivating book about the life and ministry of Jesus. In his interpretation, Hendrix depicts important moments from Jesus’ life, including some of his miracles, his crucifixion, and his resurrection, as told in the Christian Bible.

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The Miracle Man starts with Jesus calling out the fishermen as his disciples, and then tells the story of Jesus healing the leper, the paralyzed man, to the persecution he faced, the storm he calmed, the 5000 he fed with five loaves of bread and two fish, and then finally, his death on the cross and his resurrection.

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While these stories are famous, well-known stories that are told time and time again, what makes this book so unique are the illustrations, done in pen and ink with fluid acrylic washes. Hendrix tells the story through his unique way of incorporating hand-lettering into the illustrations. That is, Hendrix incorporates parts of the very text into his illustrations, almost as if the text itself become illustrations in and of itself. Typically, the particular texts that Hendrix has chosen to illustrate have been Jesus’ own words in the book. Hendrix’s unique way of illustrating this text effectively brings these words to life, almost in the very way the Bible says it does.

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What I particularly enjoyed about the illustrations was the use of colors. Every page pops with a variety of vibrant colors, and even keep you in suspense; one page may be characterized by warm colors, and the next, cool colors, all in a way that effectively helps tell the story.

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I also appreciate the author’s desire to accurately depict to accurately the culture and place of Jerusalem and the Middle East during this time. He researched what the people looked like, the clothing they wore, and what the buildings looked like. One will notice the recurring motif of butterflies that fly across the pages of this book. Even their presence was researched and confirmed, sharing with each reader a message of hope.Image result for the miracle man john hendrix

Thus, I’m sure many people are asking the question, “Is this a book only for Christians?” While The Miracle Man does tell a Christian story, I think that any reader will enjoy this book. The book does not try to impose any “preachy” religious beliefs or indoctrinations, but simply tells the inspiring story of a famous figure and hero. Any reader will recognize the message of hope that the book ultimately strives to share.

Post by Joyce Hwang

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Free Fridays: Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly

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Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, is an immersive tale of a boy just trying to play chef…while being interrupted by his little sister.

Henry includes his two-year-old sister Ellie in a game of “cooking show,” and over the course of the story they explain how to create raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles. The humor is sophisticated, with amusing responses to Ellie’s antics that ring true to life. new doc 7_2.jpg

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The book uses smaller black text to denote the older boy’s dialogue, and adds a second narrator when larger red text with exclamation points communicates Ellie’s dialogue. It is easy to tell that Ellie is louder than her older brother, and a bit of a mess- always suggesting absurdities that get her into a little trouble. The words on the page straight across the top work well within the “cooking show” style, perfectly countering the illustrations on a table or a plane across the bottom of the spread. new doc 7_6.jpg

Henry’s direct address of the reader with acknowledgements like “Next you have to count how many…” and “We’ll be right back” scrawled across the paper he holds up add so much life to the story. Each page includes hilarious illustrations of various animals, dolls, toys, and odd foods which get involved, and the “commercial” included was especially enjoyable. This is a strong story of innocent sibling frustration that is sure to make young children giggle. new doc 7_1.jpg

Post by Sophia Denney

Trendy Tuesdays: The Cat from Hunger Mountain

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The Cat from Hunger Mountain by Ed Young is a book about the greedy Lord Cat who has everything he could need. From the fanciest meals to the finest silk and gold clothing, Lord Cat’s life revolves around his possessions. He lives in a village that profits from rice paddies, and when a long drought strikes, everyone must move away. Lord Cat is able to stay with all of his riches up in his pagoda while everyone else flees the famine. “What would life be without all of his possessions?”

Eventually, Lord Cat runs out of food and is forced to leave his lavish home. His journey as a beggar teaches him the lesson that his possessions are not what is most important in life. 

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Ed Young grew up in Shanghai, China, and incorporates Chinese characters and patterns into his collages. He has an original style combining photographs, paper, and other textures to create his scenery and characters. On some pages, the collage is a mere suggestion of the figures and scenery. Although some illustrations are very abstract, the meaning is still clear. 

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Some collages are extremely detailed. Lord Cat’s face is composed of many different types of paper and photographs that work together to create one cohesive image. img_7491

 

The Cat from Hunger Mountain tells a unique legend from another culture. While the story communicates clear morals, it is not didactic. While the writing style is sophisticated, it is not too challenging for younger elementary schoolers. I would also recommend this book to teachers exploring fantasy and legends with their classes. The Cat from Hunger Mountain could be both a captivating teaching tool and a wonderful bedtime story. 

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Review by Charlotte Jeanne

Free Fridays: Du Iz Tak?

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Carson Ellis’ new picture book, Du Iz Tak? is a creative story that highlights the insect world over a series of different seasons. The creatures communicate through an invented language. Readers are able to follow the story line through the incredibly imaginative illustrative spreads, and each new detail on every page is an integral part of Ellis’ story telling process.

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The story starts off very simply, with the creatures awing over the growth of a small flower. Each spread looks similar to the one above, showcasing the same stretch of ground with the log to the left. This all remains the same, however the wildlife that enters and exits the space allows us to feel the movement of the story.

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Insects gather from far and wide to build around the plant that has become the center of their lives. Ellis’ illustrations are extremely detailed and they work well in combination with the invented dialogue to create a quirky and interesting story that kids would love to pour over. Readers can draw their own meaning from the text of the story, brainstorming the context of every conversation on each page.  This book celebrates creativity in children’s literature, and has the ability to spark curiosity in every person who spends the time reading it.

By: Kayla Pruitt

Traditional Thursdays: How This Book Was Made

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How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex is a picture book loosely based on a true story about exactly what you would guess from the title–how this book was made. This book did a great job of informing readers how books are made in a very digestible and engaging way.

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The illustrations definitely helped keep the story interesting and helped me as a reader visualize the process. Barnett added some fantastical elements to the story, like arm wrestling with a tiger and having a ship get hijacked by pirates, which I think children especially would appreciate while reading the book.

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What I believe readers will get out of this book is a better understanding of the process writers and illustrators undergo to get their book published, especially the amount of time, potential obstacles, and multi-step-ness of the ordeal. This would be a great informative text to introduce to middle-upper elementary age children.

By: Noelle Yoo

Oh No, Astro!

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Oh No, Astro!, a new book by Matt Roeser and illustrated by  Brad Woodard, will make anyone smile- and not just because of the great triple rhyme in the title. Oh No, Astro! is a carefully crafted tale of science and hilarity, which excels at teaching about the cosmos without being too obvious about that goal.

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Astro is an asteroid who just wants his “personal outer space” to be respected, but he is knocked out of orbit when a satellite comes too close and col
lides with him. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and insists that he dislikes confrontation, a moment that will make both kids and adults laugh. After he breaks through the atmosphere- now a much smaller asteroid- and lands, he declares that his adventure was actually fun. He wonders out loud “what on Earth” to do next with his new friend, a little girl named Nova.new-doc-4_6

The writing is clear and direct, while incorporating interesting vocabulary like “rambunctious” and “celestial.” In the silly dialogue, Roeser uses plenty of exclamation points, but they are not distracting, instead adding to the impact of jokes like “GOOD GRAVITY! You’ve struck me!”

The weaving in of scientific facts about outer space was deft, and the book could certainly be used in an elementary classroom to introduce the topic. The back of the book also gives “A Selection of Space Facts” which are both informative and consistently amusing.

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Woodard’s illustrations are simple, at times echoing a comic book style. This nicely compliments the lack of dialogue in the above pages, where numerous objects in outer space watch Astro hurtling by them. The chalky drawings on a dark background work well alongside splatter-paint-like touches, especially on a two-page spread of the word SMASH.

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Perspective and placement of the text is excellent, drawing the reader into the book’s unified atmosphere of, well, outside the Earth’s atmosphere. This appeal of Oh No, Astro! goes far beyond teachers needing to introduce outer space, making it an excellent read for anyone in need of a good laugh.

Post by Sophia Denney

Free Fridays: Every Color

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Every Color by Erin Eitter Kono is a wonderful story of unexpected friendship between a young girl and a polar bear. The polar bear is tired of his life without any color and so used to seeing only white: white snow, white ice, etc. The pair meet and go on a journey around the world exploring different landmarks bursting with color.

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The illustrations show little episodes of the travels and each page spread highlights a different color. The duo journey across the world and stop to visit famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House.

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I absolutely loved this story and believe it would appeal to both younger and older readers alike. The illustrations are simply beautiful and the contrast of the colors and white space show amazing vignettes of the story and the passing of time. The text, though it be simple, matches the whimsical story. The addition of the landmarks also brings in great potential for cross-curricular connections.

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Post by Olivia Pelletiere