Friday, December 11, 2009

Presidents’ Day – Celebrations in My World

Lynn Peppas

Presidents’ Day – Celebrations in My World … this is an interesting book for young readers. The table of contents begins with ‘What is a President?’ and it focus’ on the election of Barack Obama. The following pages allow for two pages each to focus on such subjects as ‘What is a Federal Holiday?’, ‘Young George Washington’, ‘Young Abraham Lincoln’, ‘How Americans Celebrate’, and in the back is a Presidential Quiz. The subjects include bold words found in the Glossary, and a ‘Did You Know?’ on each subject to direct the reader’s attention. Young readers will learn how Presidents’ Day was brought into law, and its impact on the citizens. In ‘Famous Celebrations’, ‘Did You Know?’ explains Laredo, TX celebrates George Washington’s Birthday for one full month!

I do take exception with the section called ‘Presidents’ Day Symbols’. It includes the story about young George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree and because he was so honest, George told his dad about it. Thus, a cherry pie has become a symbol of Presidents’ Day. The truth is George did not chop that tree down, not when he was young or old. The misstatement alone reduces my final review from great to okay. Facts should be checked before they are presented as truths, especially when written for children. My other problem with this book is the back cover indicates it as a Guided Reading: M, yet the title does not appear on the publisher’s web site for Guided Reading.

BIBLIO: 2010, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages K-2, $8.95
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Juvenile Literature / Series
ISBN: 978-0-7787-4774-1

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 12/11/09

Independence Day – Celebrations in My World

Molly Aloian

This book starts with a table of contents that includes fifteen different subjects ranging from a definition of Independence Day to the Declaration of Independence to the American Flag, Parades, and Fireworks. Each subject is covered on two pages, with words in bold that are found in the Glossary and a “Did You Know?” on each subject to direct the reader’s attention. A child will learn about America being ruled by Great Britain, in language easy to read and comprehend. During Early Celebrations, readers will learn the first Independence Day was held in Boston, MA in 1783. The bolded Glossary words will direct them to the resource page in the back. Readers are encouraged to take a trip with their families, especially to Mount Rushmore in S. Dakota to view the faces of the four Presidents carved into the mountain. The National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. is not only free to tour, but also holds the Declaration of Independence.

One of the things I learned in reading for this review is there is a National Independence Day Parade held in Washington D.C., which just goes to show how universal the knowledge contained within this book is. I highly recommend it for ages K-2, but whoever reads it will learn something that was probably previously forgotten. This is an educational book worth keeping at home, home school, and at public school. My only problem with this book is the back cover indicates it as a Guided Reading: M, yet the title does not appear on the publisher’s web site for Guided Reading.

BIBLIO: 2010, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages K-2, $8.95
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Juvenile Literature / Series
ISBN: 978-0-7787-4772-7

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 12/11/09

Jamaica is Thankful

Juanita Havill
Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Jamaica’s friend Kristin brings a big red shoebox over to Jamaica’s room and Kristin has a secret. Inside the box is a small kitten, Puffy, which Kristin cannot keep. Kristin already has an older cat who does not like Puffy, and she is hoping Jamaica will be able to keep the young kitten. That way, if Jamaica keeps the kitten, Kristin hopes she will still be able to come over and visit with Puffy. Kristin really wants Jamaica to keep Puffy, even though she sees it could be a problem for Jamaica. Even so, Jamaica agrees to hide the kitten in her closet. Therefore, a struggle begins for Jamaica … what she wants to do, and what she knows she should do. Her first problem began when her brother Ossie went into her bedroom and Jamaica had to hide Puffy in her closet. Ossie was very allergic to cat’s fur, and the kitten had been sleeping on his football jersey. From that point, Jamaica realized what she had to do. Kristin and Jamaica talked about the things they should be thankful for and Kristin found a home for Puffy.

The watercolor and pastel illustrations are engaging for the young readers. This book is part of a “Jamaica” series, and is excellent for young readers. The reinforced binding is helpful for public and school libraries.

BIBLIO: 2009, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Ages 5-8, $16.00
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Juvenile Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-618-98231-8

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 12/11/09

Mystery Vine – A Pumpkin Surprise

Cathryn Falwell

In this rhyming picture book, while this boy and girl help their mother with the garden, they discover a MYSTERY VINE! Choosing to allow the mystery vine to grow, the children and their mother tend the garden … planting seeds, pulling weeds, watering, and preparing the garden for the growing vegetables. It was time to harvest the ripe vegetables; yet, the mystery vine could still not be identified. At the end of the growing season, fall was on the way and the children still did not know what was growing on the mystery vine. The temperature was dropping outside, the old plants were dying, and finally the mystery vine was showing its fruit! The children and their mother enjoyed the harvest of all the vegetables.

Collages and full color art illustrations were warm and supportive for the poetry verses. Included at the end of the book are sections with recipes, gardening ideas, and craft projects. This is a sweet rhyming book for young readers.

BIBLIO: 2009, Greenwillow Book / Harpercollins Children’s Books, Ages 3-7, $16.99
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Rhyming Picture Book / Poetry
ISBN: 978-0-06-177198-9

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 12/11/09

S is for Story – A Writer’s Alphabet

Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Zachary Pullen

A through Z … this is the perfect writer’s alphabet book for young writers. “D is for the drafts we write” … it is the beginning, where the story just spills from inside. “E is for the page we edit” … copiously looking at what was written, and then checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. This is also the time for checking the integrity of the characters and their dialogue. “I” covers ideas … writers have lots of those, and they come from everywhere. When at a loss for ideas, brainstorming can be very helpful … and carrying a handy writer’s notebook is helpful. Writers from the past and those in the present have found the “J” for journaling to be a powerful tool to their writing life. Under "K" is where the four common styles of writing are found … descriptive, persuasive, narrative, and expository. From the importance of plot and the six questions to ask while writing to revision and voice, this alphabet book is full of fascinating details and helpful information to inspire young writers. Included in the book are writer’s tips and quotes from published writers. Some of the published writers include Andrew Clements, Katherine Paterson, G. K. Chesterton, Brian Jacques, Jacqueline Woodson, P. L. Travers, and Kate DiCamillo. At the end of the book, the author includes a potpourri of information that is sure to serve as further motivation for young writers.

The illustrations, described as “character-oriented”, add so much more to the text; the illustrations are detailed, colorful, larger-than life, yet, child friendly and grabbing. Between the letters “D” and “E”, a reader will find a warm close-up of Abraham Lincoln. This is an excellent book for a home library, public and school library. Let us develop this young generation of writer’s … and give each one of them a copy of this book!

BIBLIO: 2009, Sleeping Bear Press, Ages 8-11, $17.95
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Juvenile Literature / Alphabet Book
ISBN: 978-1-58536-439-8

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 12/11/09