It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.
The first weekend of spring break had me pouring over several recently released picture books! Here are a few of my favorites…
Sparky – Jenny Ofill
I loved the humor in Jenny Ofill’s previous books (17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 13 Experiments That Failed) and this book did not disappoint. A young girl begs her mother for a pet and her exasperated mother insists that the pet needs to be one that does not need to be walked, fed or cleaned. The determined girl heads to the library (love this part!) and with the help of the librarian (loved this part too!) researched a pet to meet her mother’s criteria – a SLOTH! But when the mail order pet arrives, it isn’t good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. But Sparky is irresistible and I found myself wanting to mail order a sloth for myself! The illustrations by Chris Appelhans were a perfect fit to this touching story.
Flight School – Lita Judge
Well, I fell in love with Sparky the sloth in the last book – and now I’m in love with this penguin! This penguin claims to have “the soul of an eagle” and wants desperately to be able to fly so he registers for Flight School. After many failed attempts and plunges into the sea, his teacher (love this part!) helps him derive a plan to help him fly, if only for a few short seconds. This is a book about determination and dreaming big, and those who help along the way. I LOVED the illustrations in this book! Lita Judge captured the characters of so many different land and seabirds with lively colors and exhaggerated features. Soft blues, sea greens and sand browns – beautiful pictures and a beautiful story. (T-T connection to Learning to Fly – by Sebastian Meschenmoser)
The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan
This is a poignant story about friendship and a powerful introduction to the cycle of life. There is also a celebration of story woven into the story which I loved. A sparrow and dandelion meet and become friends. The dandelion explains that she used to be beautiful and bright and sunny yellow but now she has few pods left. Her fear is that with one big wind, her pods will disappear. Her new friend sparrow helps her write her story in the dirt and Dandelion tells Sparrow all the things she has seen and loved. This is such a beautiful story (I got a bit teary when I read it) and one I could see being used with both young and older children. The illustrations are lovely.
Poor Doreen – A Fishy Tale – Sally Lloyd Jones
Doreen is a fish with a very optimistic disposition. On the way to visit her cousin, who just gave birth to 159 babies, she nibbles on a dragonfly, which ends up being bait and catches a ride on a fishing pole. In spite of her every optimistic outlook, Doreen is also a wee bit clueless – and so does not realize that she is in a dire situation. There is humor as the reader is “in” on the situation that Doreen clearly does not seem to be aware. Comical, fun and a character whom I admire because she sees the world with a “glass half full” approach.
Mama Built A Little Nest – Jennifer Ward
I can’t resist any book written or illustrated by Steve Jenkins. This book is a delightful exploration of the diverse range of different nests that birds build for their babies. Who knew there were so many different kinds of nests made from so many different things? This book has playful, fun rhymes and of course, filled with Jenkins trademark paper collage illustrations. A wonderful book for bird lovers (that’s you, Carrie!) and Jenkins lovers (that would be me!)
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? – Rita Gray
Two children wander through the countryside listening to calls of common birds and wonder why the nesting robin does not make a sound. The children carry on through the woods and begin to identify different calls from birds ranging from the chickadee to the blue jay. While the previous book made us aware of the many different types of nests there are, this book introduces us to the wide variety of bird calls. I found myself trying to replicate the calls myself! The “Word with the Bird” Q-and-A at the back of the book explains in detail why the robin is silent while hatching her eggs and answers many other questions about the role of father bird and what happens to the babies when they leave the nest.
Aviary Wonders, Inc – Kate Samworth
Wow – this book is gorgeous! exquisite! remarkable! It is an imaginary (sci-fi) mock catalogue of bird parts to choose from for the purpose of assembling your own bird. The illustrations are stunning and some of the sidebar comments hilarious. But the underlying tone of this book is rather somber – as it is meant to be a thought-provoking look at what happens birds become extinct. My friend Carrie Gelson posted a detailed review of this book on her blog last week. You can read it here: There’s A Book For That.