Saturday, September 29, 2007

Picture Book Parade

Kleven, Elisa. 2007. The Apple Doll.

Lizzy is a young girl with a common fear: the fear of starting school, the fear of not being able to make friends. But with the help of the girl's favorite apple tree and some creativity, both fears are overcome rather well.

Lizzy loved her apple tree. She loved to pretend it was a skeleton rattling in the autumn wind...a gingerbread cake with snowy frosting...a blossomy springtime cloud...a leafy summer circus. She loved to eat its apples. Apples for crunching, apples for munching, apples for applesauce, cider, and pies. The day Lizzy started school, she picked her favorite apple of all. It was round as a ball, warm as the sunlight--too happy to pack in her lunch box.
This apple is too special for munching. No, it is about to have a special honor--becoming the girl's friend and starting life as an apple doll named Susanna. Susanna also accompanies Lizzy to school--at least on the first day. Soon, the girl realizes that there are plenty of friendly children she can play with instead of an apple doll. But Susanna is no less important. As the weeks pass, Susanna's looks begin to fade away. And I began to fear the worst. (After all, how long can a piece of fruit with a twig body last?) Luckily, her mother remembers how her grandmother made her a dried-apple girl when she was growing up. And fortunately, she still remembers how it was done. Now this special doll can last a lifetime.

The book concludes, as you can imagine, with instructions on how you can make your own apple doll. I really enjoyed this one, and I think that others--kids and adults--will like it as well. It is the perfect read aloud for this time of year.

O'Keefe, Susan Heyboer. 2007. Hungry Monster ABC. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.

I have a weakness for monsters. Particularly hungry monsters. Cookie Monster. Hungry Thing. My secret alter-egos. So I was very happy to see Hungry Monster ABC on the shelves, and eagerly grabbed it up. What happens when ten hungry monsters visit Ms. Tubbins' classroom? A lot. Most of what happens is quite messy. All of it quite fun.

Ten hungry monsters
visit school today.
They're here to learn the alphabet
the hungry monster way.

The "hungry monster way" is a fun, messy, hands-on learning experience. Sometimes it is the children--particularly the little boy in the red and blue striped shirt--giving the instruction, and sometimes it is the monster matching letters and words together.

L is always lunchtime
when monsters are around.
They want their grilled cheese sandwiches
with bacon nicely browned.

They hope that M's for Mango,
a messy, juicy treat,
because they like to end their meals
with something very sweet.

When the alphabet is exhausted--and by the time they reach X, Y, and Z, everyone will be exhausted--the teacher frightens them away with scary words: homework, grades, and test.
Overall, Hungry Monster ABC is a rhyming picture book that offers fun and giggles to those just getting ready (or starting) school. The book does come with flashcards, but don't let that frighten you away. There is plenty of story along with the "educational" aspects of the story.

Coffelt, Nancy. 2007. Fred Stays With Me. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

Fred Stays With Me is the story of a girl and her best friend, Fred. Fred, in case you haven't noticed, is a dog. A rather playful and sometimes troublesome dog. But in all cases a loveable one. The girl, I'm not sure if she's ever named, has parents who are divorced. Sometimes she lives with her mom; sometimes she lives with her dad. The book shows that even though she's bounced back and forth from one loving home to the other--one is never viewed as "better" than the other--one thing is constant. Fred. Fred goes with her everywhere. He is hers and hers alone. While some things change, Fred never does.

When my mom and I have pizza,
or when my dad and I eat peanut butter sandwiches,
Fred waits for crumbs.

At my mom's, Fred barks at the poodle next door.
At my dad's, Fred steals socks.
But Fred always has time to play.

The text is simple. The illustrations are great. Tricia Tusa has done an excellent job there. Overall, Fred Stays With Me is an enjoyable picture book. It really captures what love and affection there is between owners and pets.

Mama's Saris by Pooja Makhijani. Illustrated by Elena Gomez. 2007.

Mama's Saris is a sweet story of a mother and daughter bonding. In preparation for the daughter's seventh birthday, the two are in the mom's room getting all dressed up. The mother is looking through her trunk of saris, looking for one that is just right for that special day. With each sari in the trunk, comes a story--a memory. Along the way, the daughter begins asking her mother to let her wear a sari--to dress in "grown-up" clothes, to be just as beautiful and special as her mom. She wants nothing more than to 'look just like' mom. It is a beautiful, sweet story that every person can relate to regardless of culture.

I really enjoyed this one. The illustrations are beautiful.

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