Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Picture Book Catch-Up, reviewed by "the new guy"

I really do need a name, folks! We've had some good suggestions so far, but I'd love to have more to choose from. Go to this post to leave your idea by November 24 - and remember, if we choose yours, you get three free books and bragging rights!

Today I'm reviewing three cool picture books that got lost in the shuffle when everyone moved and changed jobs.

We love Vaunda Nelson, and not just because she is a New Mexico librarian:) She is quite the versatile author, with picture, chapter, and nonfiction books under her belt. This latest offering is a nonfiction picture book about Bass Reeves, a widely respected lawmen in the days following the Civil War, when many people would prefer blacks didn't even have guns.

It is always good to hear about men of integrity, and this book offers a great role model for kids of any race, while offering at the same time plenty of action and excitement. Quite a remarkable man I knew nothing about - kudos to Nelson for making sure he isn't forgotten.

Kitamura is one of my favorite illustrators. His drawings look so simple and so complex at the same time. With sparse lines and simple shapes, he still manages to convey a lot of expression on his characters' faces.

In this story, Millie very much wants a fancy, feathery hat, but doesn't quite have the $500 and change it costs. Fortunately, the salesman has just the thing - a magical hat that can look like whatever you imagine it to be. This has some obvious art connections, as kids draw, or even just describe what their hats would look like - then ask them to tell you what YOUR hat looks like!

New printing of an old favorite. The cover is different from the 1979 version, but the other illustrations aren't the same - and who could not love Quentin Blake? Would Roald Dahl's books be half as much fun with a different illustrator? (And yes, we know there are some, but we choose to ignore their existence.)

Who could not love the wild washerwomen, for that matter? We have all had days, whatever our age, when the work seems to just keep piling up, and we wonder what it would be like to just chuck it all and go have fun. Unfortunately, the wild washerwomen get a little too wild, dunking people in water barrels and making a terrible ruckus with the church bells, until everyone for miles around is quite terrified of them.

Enter seven brave woodcutters, who decide to scare them back, beginning by making themselves as dirty as possible. Well, what do you suppose a wild washerwoman will do when confronted by something matted and grubby? By the time the woodcutters have been soaked and squeezed and pounded against stones, everyone has become quite attached to each other, and the final spread shows a happily ever after in true Quentin Blake style. The scruffy-looking woodsman with the kids piled in his lap reading rather reminds me of someone I know, and would make a super mural for the wall of a children's area.

Any of these books can be purchased through Amazon by clicking on the cover picture. We receive a small portion towards books for our library (which, for all you IRS auditors out there, totals a whopping $1.52 so far this year).

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