Category Archives: Trendy

Trendy Tuesday: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

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It’s hard not to be cliché on Trendy Tuesday, but I couldn’t resist reviewing this classic picture book. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is the first book of Laura Numeroff’s If You Give… series and was illustrated by Felicia Bond. The storyline (if by chance you’ve never read it or have forgotten over the years) is circular, where the mouse asks his owner for a cookie, then wants a glass of milk to go with it. Then he wants a mirror to check if he has a milk mustache, and the domino effect continues until he decides he wants another cookie.

The illustrations in this book are vibrant and full of color. They are done in colored pencil. There is also a lot of white space, which makes the illustrations smaller on the page and less distracting. Bond uses interesting perspectives in some of her drawings that exaggerate some parts of the story. You can see in this illustration the bright colors of the grass and the boy’s jeans, and then the depth used to show the sidewalk up to the house.
img_0416Some of the written text will end like a cliffhanger. This is a fun characteristic of the book because it leads the reader or listener to the next page in anticipation. It also makes the book a little more unpredictable, because some continuations of text are just small additions that tack a funny ending to the sentence.img_0417

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This book is very fun to read with children and not difficult to follow. It is definitely still a trendy tale, even if it was released over 30 years ago. I would read this story to any age level and there are so many fun classroom or at home activities that can be created from this book. There is even a board game on the back cover of the Special Edition that I looked at! If that’s not the cutest thing ever, I don’t know what is.

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Post by: Jenna Adamczak

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. 

The Cat from Hunger Mountain was published by Penguin Random House in 2016. img_7492

Review by Charlotte Jeanne

Trendy Tuesday: Laugh Along with Baa Baa Smart Sheep

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Author: Charlotte Jeanne

Unique and full of humor, Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark and Rowan Sommerset is a great choice for Trendy Tuesday. Even on the dedication page, the mischievous Baa Baa can be seen causing trouble. Baa Baa’s tricks warrant the warning on the front cover.

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Baa Baa Smart Sheep, published by Candlewick Press in 2016, is a book about childhood mischief and silliness. It is perfect for elementary school children who find tricks and potty jokes to be hilarious! The book begins with Little Baa Baa, who is bored. Quirky Turkey comes along and starts asking questions about what Baa Baa insists are “smarty tablets” that make one “more intelligent.” Baa Baa convinces Quirky Turkey that these tablets are for him [Quirky Turkey], and that they will make Quirky Turkey smarter. The dialogue between Quirky Turkey and Baa Baa is enough to make readers giggle.

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The characters are very simple, and include Baa Baa, the trickster, and Quirkey Turkey, his victim. Although the characters are simple, the pages are dynamic and humorous. All of Rowan Sommerset’s illustrations are wonderfully expressive. Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey’s facial expressions convey the characters’ emotions and are easy to read. Additionally, all of Mark Sommerset’s writing is hand-lettered, making the book extremely creative and fun.

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(Above) Quirky Turkey voraciously gobbles up the “smarty tablets,” which supposedly make people smarter and are “only free to turkeys” (the “tablets” are actually poo).

When Quirky Turkey discovers that he has been tricked into eating poo, Baa Baa again becomes a bored little sheep. However, Silly Billy, the goat, comes along, suggesting that Baa Baa’s pranks are not yet over! This book is a quick read and is sure to make children, parents, and teachers laugh aloud. Creative, fun, and full of mischief and humor, Baa Baa Smart Sheep is a great choice for early-elementary-school-aged children.

Trendy Tuesdays: Painting Pepette

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Painting Pepette, written by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Claire Fletcher, sends young readers on a fantasy-like journey through the streets of Paris in the 1920s. Set almost 100 years before its publication in 2016, the book breathes child-like wonder into art history, a topic generally reserved for more sophisticated readers.

Painting Pepette tells the story of a young girl named Josette, who lives in a quaint Parisian home with her family and her best friend, a stuffed rabbit named Pepette. Inspired by the magnificent family portraits framed in her home, Josette takes to the streets of Paris to find an artist willing to paint Pepette’s warm and genuine spirit.

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As the duo travels through Montmarte, they encounter an assortment of artists, each of whom paint Pepette in his own unique style. Adult readers familiar with the great artists of the Golden Age of art may recognize some familiar faces and styles: Dali paints Pepette with an aura of surrealism, while Matisse uses vivid colors to portray the beloved stuffed rabbit.

Josette feels that while each of the artists have painted wonderful works of art, none of them have truly captured Pepette. Empowered by each artist’s personal style, Josette herself paints a perfect portrait of Pepette.

Children will be immediately entranced by Fletcher’s dazzling illustrations, which capture the gentle yet bustling streets of Paris. The detail of the illustrations gives young readers a glimpse into a time and place unlike anything they have ever experienced before.

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Painting Pepette also provides an enchanting view into the often dull world of art history. Though the text does not mention specific artists by name, the book would be a perfect addition to a unit on famous artists, providing insights not just into the art, but into the place where the art was created.

Finally, Painting Pepette sends a positive and inspirational message about art itself. When Josette comments that the paintings do not look much like Pepette, one of the artists proclaims, “But through art we can see the world any way we want.” The appreciation of subjectivity sends an important message to young artists – that art is not about accuracy, but rather, about individual expression.painting4

Post by: Sami Chiang

Trendy Tuesdays: Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson

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Cover page #0Can you have too much of a good thing? Not according to Rabbit. He loves carrots so much that he begins hoarding them, and soon there is no space for him to live in his little burrow. Tortoise sees Rabbit’s plight and offers to share his shell with his homeless friend. Within the fantastical world of children’s literature, this suggestion would have worked well, if only Rabbit hadn’t brought so many carrots 2016-03-29 00-10 1 page #0

with him. The friends take a tumble down a hill, and Tortoise’s shell gets fractured. Now both friends need a place to sleep. Rabbit continues to bring too many carrots to his friends’ homes, and proceeds to break the homes of Bird, Squirrel, and Beaver.

With his helpful friends now without homes and downcast, Rabbit is forced to consider how his selfishness impacts those around him. Realizing that he still has both his home and his carrots, Rabbit finally conquers his selfishness and sees that “carrots weren’t for collecting — they were for sharing!” The friends have a cozy party in the now spacious burrow as they eat carrot pies, juices, and cupcakes.2016-03-29 00-12 page #0

Too Many Carrots is the perfect addition to any child’s easter basket. Hudson’s vivid watercolors and endearing animals will catch children’s eyes and keep them engaged. The brightness of the book’s beginning is contrasted well with the gloomy rain and flood later on, giving young readers a visual depiction of the pain selfishness can cause. As children head out to Easter egg hunts, Too Many Carrots will remind them that kindness and sharing are vital parts of friendship. I would recommend this book to children from 2 to 6, and I know it will be a book I return to often.

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Rebekah Moredock

Trendy Tuesdays: Searching for the Spirit of Spring

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Trendy Tuesdays: Searching for the Spirit of Spring

The need for multicultural books and books with female protagonists is rising exponentially as more minority and female children enter the educational system around the world. The book Searching for the Spirit of Spring, written by Mosa Mahlaba, illustrated by Selina Morulane, and designed by Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, is a story of a brave young girl named Nkanyezi who journeys to bring the spirit of spring back to her village in Swaziland. Nkanyezi’s favorite day of the year is the day that her entire village gathers together to celebrate the spring festival. The festival, which is meant to welcome in the spring season and to unite the community is filled with joy, laughter, music, and dance. When Nkanyezi overhears some of the village elders gossiping about how the villagers are not excited for the spring festival this year, she decides that she must act. “The people of Ndlovu have lost their spirit of celebration. How can we have a Spring festival in a village that has forgotten how to celebrate?” With the well wishes of her elders, she adventures off to search for items that can help replenish the spirit of celebration for her village and family. Nkanyezi crosses rivers, climbs mountains, and treks through forests as she journeys across Swaziland in search of this spirit.

 

While on her quest, Nkanyezi encounters people from other villages who offer her special items that will help her find the missing spirit. Through these encounters, she learns about happiness, generosity, and community, and how the three intertwine. Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 11.03.21 PM.png

One of the most fascinating elements of this book is how it was created. It was written and illustrated in June of 2015 in only twelve hours! The creators of this book are part of an organization called Book Dash (an organization that creates and gifts books to children). In June, Book Dash hosted an event with another organization called African Storybook (an organization that promotes multilingual literacy expansion) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Together, they arranged teams of forty volunteer writers, illustrators, and designers, to create African story books that are then printed and distributed to children in need for free! This book is also unique in that it is posted for free public use and print . The wonderful people in this organization host book dashes every few months, with their ultimate goal being that “every child should own a hundred books by the age of five.”

This is a fabulous book about a courageous, motivated, and strong young girl who goes on an adventure to bring happiness to people that she loves. It’s a great story for children ages three to six, although children older can still benefit from its beautiful portrayal of selflessness and generosity. The illustrations are beautiful and accurately depict the village of Ndlovu (which is a real village in Swaziland).

If you’re interested in more African story books written by South African authors to introduce in your classroom or to read to your children, they are periodically posted here as they are written. Some of my personal favorites are: Londi: The Dreaming Girl (a girl with a huge imagination), Why is Nita Upside Down? (a girl learning to love herself), and Sizwe’s Smile (the tale of a contagious smile).

-Devyn O’Malley

Trendy Tuesday: Waiting by Kevin Henkes

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Waiting by Kevin Henkes coverAnother Trendy Tuesday, another brand-new picture book! Today, I’m reviewing Waiting by Kevin Henkes, which was published less than a month ago on September 1st. Henkes is a very talented guy who both writes and illustrates his own books, and he has won the Caldecott Award (for Kitten’s First Full Moon) as well as a Caldecott Honor and two Newbery Honors.

His newest offering, Waiting, follows the story of five toys who sit on a ledge, well, waiting: an owl, a pig, a bear, a puppy, and a rabbit. Each of the five waits for something different. The pig, who wears a dress and carries and umbrella, waits for the rain, while the owl waits for the moon. However, each toy gets what he or she waits for in the end.

This simple but elegant picture book is definitely targeted to younger readers, pre-school to perhaps first grade. Waiting can be a tough concept for impatient young kids to understand, and this book offers an excellent example-in-action for young readers who are trying to figure out why they can’t do something right now.

The text uses repeating word patterns throughout to help kids keep track of the various toys and what they are waiting for, once again indicating that this book is targeted towards younger readers. The simple sentences are all short and declarative, with only a few running longer than about ten words, making it easy to read and understand.

As for the illustrations, Henkes uses a limited pastel palette based on the toys themselves. He draws the scenes in gentle, calming shares of brown, pink, blue, and green, complemented by a slightly off-white background. Most of the pictures stick to the restricted environment of the window and the ledge, and the limited palette contrasts with the bright, outlandish pictures of many other books.

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However, the restrained illustrations are a perfect match for a book that deals with a book about waiting (which is all about self-restraint, after all). The repetitive word patterns and calming color patterns make this a good option for a bedtime story — I definitely felt a little bit soothed as I read it myself, especially after paging through some other, more wildly illustrated picture books beforehand.

Waiting doesn’t seek to take on controversial topics or weighty historical events, but it does accomplish its goal successfully: demonstrate a hard-to-explain concept through charming illustrations and approachable text. If you have some impatient kids who simply can’t understand that they can’t have or do whatever they want immediately, turn to this book to help you explain what waiting is and why it’s important.

As a bonus, here’s an interview Kevin Henkes did with NPR just a couple days ago about Waiting and what it’s like to write children’s books:

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/442521229/442582532

By Kara Sherrer