Monday, June 6, 2011

You Can Never Read Too Much, Part 2

All You Need for a Snowman

By Alice Schertle

Illus. by Barbara Lavallee

Silver Whistle, Harcourt, Inc. copyright 2007

Illus.—wc and gouache on wc paper


32 pp + plain gray endpapers

Clever rhyming text, good meter, good rhymes. Repeated phrasing, “and that’s all you need for a snowman, except….” I think the story follows the rule of three, but I’m not sure.

This is the 3d snow/winter book I’ve read from Harcourt.

Skippyjon Jones

Written and illus. by Judy Schachner

Dutton Children’s Bks, New York, copyright 2003

Lengthy text—good read-aloud qualities include song to clap to, wordplay, and Spanish words. Also invites using Spanish accent to read certain parts of the story. Humorous characters, a cat who thinks he’s something else, and his long-suffering mother.

Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic

By Steven Schnur

Illust. By Leslie Evans

Clarion Books, (Hourghton Mifflin),New York, copyright 2002

Illus. hand colored linoleum block prints

Text—19pt Galliard

Interesting concept: the Theme is Winter. The poems are acrostics of words in alphabetical order, each illuminating the season and overall, creating a story arc or moving through the season. The poems themselves are quite beautiful. Here are a few of the first words which create the acrostic poems: Awake; Bake; Cold; Deer; Ears; Flurry.

Here are two of my favorite poems:

Flakes so

Light they drift


Rise like smoke before coming to

Rest in the


Midnight falls, and

Over rooftops and bare

Oak trees a

Narrow crescent rises.

The Moon Came Down On Milk Street

Written and illus. by Jean Gralley

Henry Holt & Co., New York, copyright 2004

32 pp + plain blue end papers

gouache and mixed media on Arches paper

Minimal rhyming text and many pages of pictures only, based on a quote from Mr. Rogers’ mother, “Look for the helpers,” (at the scene of an accident.) about 86 words. Despite the very important lesson contained in this book, it does not feel didactic. It is immensely reassuring. I think it was written at least in part in response to 9-11.

The pictures look like my sister’s Kindergarten class at play—building, helping, constructing, cooperating.

A good book for troubled times.

Cesar: Si, Se puede! Yes, We Can!

Text by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

Illustrated by David Diaz

Marshall Cavendish, New York, copyright 2004

48 pp not counting plain purple (grape-colored) endpapers

Illustrations were rendered in Photoshop

Text—Goudy; book design by Patrice Sheridan

A detailed biography of Cesar Chavez, told in free verse poems, one to a spread, with Spanish language intermixed into the basically English text.

By using free verse the author was able to reduce the number of words, relying on phrases and descriptive passages and direct quotes. There is a wealth of back matter, including Notes referencing all quotes, a glossary of Spanish terms and phrases, a biographical synopsis, a chronology, and a list of sources including web sources, publications, and interviews. And finally the last page contains a series of extended quotes from Cesar Chavez.

The poems convey the emotional impact of the facts of Cesar’s life and times, emphasizing his childhood and family, although the story of the grape/lettuce boycott is told as is his death. The back matter gives a fuller picture of his life and the political context for his work.

The illustrations are rendered in Photoshop. They look like folk art created with stencils, in soft pastel colors that suggest the colors of the vineyards and farm fields where Cesar labored.

The text is filled with Spanish phrases and words, most of which can be understood in context, some of which are translated in context, and all of which are contained in the glossary at the back of the book.

This is a powerful non-fiction biography, filled with direct quotes from the subject.

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