Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We Are The Ship by Kadir Nelson

 Nelson, K. (2008). We are the ship. NY: Hyperion

We Are the Ship is a collection of stories and history of the Negro League in baseball. The stories are varied in complexity and experience. The reader is able to relive the hardships of Negro baseball players of that era. It was a difficult life that these men lived but they were pioneers and activists without ever intending to be.

Kadir Nelson is the author of We Are The Ship The Story of Negro League Baseball. He is a very highly regarded artist and author. He has won many awards with his illustrations and with books he has authored himself. He is critically acclaimed for his non-fiction work. He has a complete bibliography, filmography and several pages of end notes. He gave many first hand accounts of baseball players of that era. His illustrations are very accurate from the pictures that I have seen of these baseball players. It is clear that he did a lot of research and preparation before writing this book. He did a great job of staying neutral and simply telling the story without trying to influence the reader. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Bartoletti, S. (2005). Hitler youth. NY: Scholastic.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti has assembled a group of stories that includes many different view points. She includes stories of Jewish boys and girls that are impacted by the organization Hitler Youth as well as German youth that joined the Nazi movement. She presents us with the facts and we must make the judgements.

I believe the book Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a great example of accuracy. Bartoletti is known as a phenomenal non-fiction writer. She has won several non-fiction awards such as the Newbery Honor, Sibert Honor, Orbis PIctus Honor, Parent’s Gold Choice Award, Sydney Taylor Notable, and the Pennsylvania Carolyn Field Award among many others. In Hitler Youth, she includes 6 pages of quote sources, and 6 pages of bibliographic references. It is clear that she did extensive research on the subject. She is able to give multiple perspectives in the stories that she presents from Jewish youth to Nazi youth and everyone in between. She gave us a glimpse of the vulnerability and naiveté of the Hitler Youth and allowed us to make the decision of whether they were guilty or mislead.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola

dePaola, T. (1983). The legend of the bluebonnet. NY: Putnam.

She-Who-Is-Alone is an orphaned Comanche girl. Her parents and grandparents died in a terrible famine that hit her people. The only thing she has left of her family is her precious doll. When the shaman of her people returns from communicating with the Great Spirits, he tells them that the Great Spirits demand a sacrifice, that which is most precious. She-Who-Is-Alone knows that the Great Spirit speaks of her doll. That night she burns her doll in sacrifice. When morning comes she is surrounded by bluebonnets, a sign that the Great Spirits have forgiven her people. From then on they have plenty of rain and the famine is no more. Every spring the Great Spirits bring forth the beautiful blooms in memory of a brave little girl that gave everything she had for her people. 

The Legend of the Bluebonnet shows the evaluation criteria of cultural markers. You can tell the author took her time researching the Comanche people. She accurately describes thier way of life, their beliefs, and even their appearance. Throughout the story she explains their beliefs, and the environment in which they lived which adds depth and meaning to the tale. 

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

Wiesner, D. (2001). The three pigs. NY: Clarion.

The traditional story of the three little pigs starts out quite the usual way. When the wolf comes to blow down the straw house however, the pig is blown right out of the story. Soon, the three pigs find themselves wandering around among other popular children's stories. They jump in and out of them collecting friends along the way. Eventually they decided to go back to their story and their new friends help them scare the wolf away. We see that the pigs and their friends live happily ever after. 

The book The Three Pigs is an excellent example of illustration.The illustrations in the book The Three Pigs not only enhances the story, it makes an old story new and unique. The story begins with the age old tale of the three little pigs. However, we quickly see a twist as the pigs jump out of their story and walk around in a library of images. As they jump in and out of other stories, the illustrations change from flat to three dimensional. This twist makes the old story new and fresh. 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Sendak, M. (1963). Where the wild things are. NY: HarperCollins.

Max is a mischievous little boy. He gets in trouble with his mother and is sent home without supper. As he paces in his room, a jungle begins to grow around him. He jumps on his boat and floats the isle of wild things. When he arrives, he becomes their king and the wild rumpus begins. After a few pages, Max begins to smell some wonderful cooking. He decides to return home on his boat and back to his room where he finds his supper waiting for him.

The book Where the Wild Things Are is a great example of plot. Max's story begins with his acts of defiance that land him in hot water with his mom. The author uses this inciting incident to develop the story. Max's room begins to grow and change into a forest. He meets the wild things after traveling for an undefined amount of time. He dominates the wild things and becomes their king, but when he smells the wonderful smell of his mother's food, he abandons the isle and returns home to his supper. The story has a beginning, middle, and end that are linked together by an amazing story. The author used less than 200 words to create this very loved book. In the book Where the Wild Things Are the evaluative criteria of character is exemplified. Max is a young boy with a rebellious streak. He has talked back to his mother and has been punished for it. This event makes him instantly relatable to the reader. The reader remembers having done something like that or at least wanting to, and can sympathize with the character. The reader is then carried along on an adventure with Max that eventually leads him back home to his warm bed and supper.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Paper Bag Princess

Munsch, R. (2012). The paper bag princess. NY: Annick Press.

A beautiful princess and a handsome prince are destined to fall in love and be married. A devious dragon arrives to destroy her happiness. Princess Elizabeth rises to the occasion. She finds a paper bag to wear and set out to rescue her prince. She outsmarts the dragon and saves her prince. Unfortunately, her prince does not live up to everything she wanted. She knew that she would be better off alone than with someone that could not appreciate her. 

The Paper Bag Princess is a book that exemplifies theme. The book teaches little girls about being self-sufficient and not being afraid to be smart. When Elizabeth figured out she was better off without the Prince, she ran off into the sunset to live her life without him. 

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Klassen, J. (2012). This is not my hat. Boston, MA: Candlewick

A funny little fish has a master plan. He steals the perfect hat from a larger fish. Throughout his escape, he thinks he has gotten away with his dastardly deed! All the while, the reader knows he has not gotten away with anything. The big fish is on to him. The sneaky little crab has given up his location even though he promised to keep his secret. He can run, but he definitely can't hide. 

In the book This is Not My Hat, we can see a good example of setting. The story takes place in the ocean. We see the little fish swimming around trying to hide from the big fish.The setting has a big part in the story because the little fish thinks it can hide from the big fish in the weeds. However, the big fish was not fooled and he ended up getting his hat back. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Falconer, I. (2009). Olivia. NY: Atheneum.

Olivia is a talented little girl. She can dress herself, paint, and sing really loudly. This story is a day in the life of Olivia. The book chronicles her day from when she wakes up until she is tucked in to bed. Olivia's mom does her best with keeping Olivia entertained throughout the day. She is so high energy that not even a nap can get her down. Even at bed time Olivia demands many stories from her mom before finally laying her head to rest. She is an endearing character with a lot of personality.

In the book Olivia, we see an excellent example of the visual element of line. Author and illustrator Ian Falconer uses very little color in his illustrations. They are mainly composed of lines that make up the character and minimal grey shading. He uses only the occasional red pop of color to accent his drawings. With these lines he creates movement, emotion, and depth. Ian Falconer has exemplified the evaluative criteria of style with his book Olivia. He has written many books about Olivia and his style has remained consistent. His books have become easily recognizable. He uses the same type of illustrations, dialogue, and text flow. We instantly know that the story is uniquely his to tell.

My Teacher is a Monster! by Peter Brown

Brown, P. (2014). My teacher is a monster! NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

My Teacher is a Monster is a book both teachers and students can relate to. Robert is a precocious child with lots of energy. He sees his teacher as a big bad monster when she reacts to his silliness. His only escape is when he gets to visit the park on the weekend. Unfortunately, this particular weekend he runs into his monster of a teacher! After a particularly harrowing event, Bobby begins to see his teacher as more than just a monster. Through bonding activities he comes to realize that his teacher is just a human woman. The last page of the story brings in a surprise twist reinforcing the common phrase, "People don't change."

Peter Brown uses color in his book, My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I Am Not!) to show the scenery at the park. Throughout the story he relies heavily on the color green. His "monster" teacher is green, his shirt is green, and most everything in the park is green. As the tale continues, his teacher becomes less and less green to reveal a more human lady. This symbolizes his opinion of her morphing away from a monster and more into a pretty teacher. However, on the last page we see that Robert is up to his old mischief and his teacher returns to her greenish hue.

Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer

 Singer, M. (2010). Mirror, Mirror. NY: Dutton.

Mirror, Mirror is a collection of fairytales that are told in a reverso poetry style. In this book, you will encounter romance, adventure, and a myriad of emotions. Each story is told to you in two different ways. When the poem is read one way, you can see one perspective. When the story is read in reverse, the meaning completely changes. You will read about the Ugly Duckling, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and many more. 

Josee Masse, illustrator of Mirror Mirror, uses composition to compliment the balance of the stories that are being told. The harmony of the reverso poem is that depending on the way you read it the meaning changes. Likewise, when you look at Masse's illustrations you will see two opposite drawings that share in the poem's double meanings. In the poem of the Doubtful Duckling we see the juxtaposition of the grey duckling and the beautiful swan. 

It's a Book by Lane Smith

Smith, L. (2010). It’s a book. NY: Roaring Brook Press.

The Jackass is a child of the 21st century. Caught up in all the beeping sounds and flashing lights of technology, he is so blinded by his high tech gadgets that at first he is unable to understand this thing called a "book". The Monkey is quite patient with the Jackass at first, but even the most patient of monkeys gets annoyed. When the Jackass steals the book and seems to understand (finally!),  the Monkey decides to go to the library to borrow another book. In the end, however, the Jackass still does not fully understand the ins and outs of his book, and we finally hear the mouse speak his mind.

The book It's a Book exemplifies the visual element of shape. Lane Smith uses geometric shape to create likable (an unlikeable) characters. You can see through the use of shapes that the characters have emotion and movement throughout the book. There are points in the book in which the main character becomes so big it does not fit on the page but for his annoyed looking face. Shape helps to convey movement and emotion. 

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Agra Deedy

Deedy, C. A. (2007). Martina the beautiful cockroach: a cuban folktale. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.

Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha is a beautiful muchacha. She has reached the age in which her family as deemed it appropriate that she should be betrothed. She is looking forward to meeting her one true love, but her grandmother has a critical piece of advice for her. If Martina can follow her wonderful Cuban grandmother's advice, she will surely meet her perfect pair. Martina Cucaracha has many suitors ready to claim her hand. Will she make the right choice?

Texture is used to create a visual effect of three dimensions on an otherwise two dimensional medium. In Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, we can see that illustrator Michael Austin makes the characters POP out of the page. The detail in the shadows, the fabric, and the shading of the color makes the images seem like they are the real thing. You can imagine how the scaly lizard's skin feels or how the fuzzy little mouse would be warm and soft. The illustrator's intention was for the reader to feel like the characters are real.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hello, World!

Hello, Readers! Welcome to my blog! I will be posting book reviews for children's book.

A little about me: I live in McAllen, TX, and I work as a fourth grade math teacher in a wonderful school about a mile from the US/Mexico border (Sharyland ISD). I have been a teacher for 8 years. I am the eldest of four military brat girls. I am currently owned by 2 nearly identical chihuahuas (the female only has 3 legs) and a very sweet dalmatian girl that I rescued. I am not married and I have no children. Reading is a passion for me, and I am part of a book club called the Bookshelf Babes. I graduated with my BA in Psychology from St. Mary's University in San Antonio. After never having played any sport, I picked up softball a few years ago and I am really enjoying it. Working through my master's program is my current obsession.

This is me!