Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Picture Book Catch-Up by Freaky

Every once in a while you read a "new" book and think, "People should know about this one!" Then you realize the book has been out for several years, and you are possibly the only person who does NOT know about it already. We are presenting a couple of those books today, on the chance that they may have slipped by you as well:

Donna Rae Hadley is my kind of gal - full of all sorts of fantastic ideas, undaunted when they result in explosions of beverages or icing. (((I wonder what kinds of library programs she would cook up?!))) In this delightful book, Donna Rae is determined to have the winning cake in her town's Fourth of July contest. The cakes are spectacular, and so are the messes that follow.

This is a fun book on its own merits - the pictures are bright and full of great details, worth spending extra time on themselves. I love the gigundy wrench used on the Boston Tea Party cake, and the sense of perspective in the picture where the mayor (who is sweet on Donna Rae) is lighting the Statue of Liberty's torch.

I also loved the book because of the blog it immediately brought to mind. Our evil friend Amanda over at A Patchwork of Books introduced us to the very popular Cake Wrecks blog a while back, and we have been wasting countless hours there ever since! (Go ahead, click on the link - but don't say we didn't warn you! And don't forget to check out Amanda's blog as well!)

"The Great Cake Bake" is the perfect way to introduce youngsters to the fine art of cake wrecking, in a very literal way. If these cakes (and their subsequent disasters) don't fire up their imaginations, nothing will. Have your young readers design their own spectaular cakes around the theme of the season, then imagine what could go wrong once they were put into motion. (Hmm, teaching kids to anticipate and prevent problems before acting, novel concept!)

This is definitely one of Ketteman's best! Matt Collins is certainly an illustrator to watch out for as well.

We saw this one at a storytelling workshop and had to go out and purchase it immediately. Pair it with Daniel Pinkwater's "The Big Orange Splot", then have kids design their own homes. No square box houses with triangle roofs here! Kids who live in apartment houses or project areas - or even neighborhoods with a strict homeowner's association - may identify with the boring sameness of Liberty Street. They will delight in the changes and excitement brought by the Araboolies when they move in, with their multicolored skin, strange pets, and joie de vive.

The neighborhood grumps complain, but the Araboolies, who do not understand the language, carry on unoffended (just imagine the conversations THAT can lead to with your youngsters!) In the end, it is the kids who save the day. Some parents may object to the portrayal of adults and the military in this story (the former being crotchety or passive, the latter being clueless), but the main push of the book is on individuality and fighting (without fighting) for what is right.

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