Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reading Journal

Me . . . Jane 
written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Little Brown and Company, New York
Illustrations are India ink and watercolor on paper
Text set in Caslon Book, display type is P22 Franklin Caslon
48 pp. counting pasted down endpapers

Patrick McDonnell is the creator of Mutts, the comic strip. His soft watercolor and ink illustrations have the same whimsical feel as the comic strip. The squirrels are identical. The text tells the story of Jane Goodall as a young child, her love for nature and animals and her budding interest in studying animal behavior. One page of biography in the back matter fills in some of her adult accomplishments. There is also a note from Jane Goodall herself, urging the reader to make a difference in the world.

Ornamental engravings from the 19th and early 20th century underlie the text pages and suggest Jane's scientific bent. Also included are a few photographs and some drawings by Jane herself. The book has a quiet, playful, intimate feel. The palette of the watercolors is muted. I think I would have identified with Jane when I was younger and might have been inspired by her persistence to follow her dreams of studying wildlife in Africa. While not strictly a biography, this book introduces very young readers to a very important person whose work has had great impact on the world.

The Little Dump Truck
written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Bob Kolar
Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York
illustrations created in Adobe Illustrator on a Macintosh computer
32 pp. counting pasted down endpapers
Cardboard cover with no jacket--the corners of the book on rounded and the paper is very heavy stock

This is a rhyming truck book, with no real story, beyond detailing a day in the life of a little dump truck and its driver. Each 4 line stanza begins, "I'm a little dump truck"-- The meter is snappy and clipped, the rhyme solid, though no surprises. I really like the subdued palette and the composition of the illustrations but find the super-hard edges of the computer art difficult to look at. 

Ruby's Wish
written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Chronicle Books, San Francisco
illustrations are gouache on Arches hot-pressed paper
bood design by Kristen M. Nobles
Typeset in Hiroshige and Ruling Script
Chinese calligraphy by Jianwei Fong
32 pp. not counting endpapers

The story of a young Chinese girl who yearned to study and go to university, like all her brothers. Each page has a touch of red in it, often lots of red, Ruby's favorite color. A warm family story.

All the Way To America: The Story of A Big Italian Family and A Little Shovel
written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
a Borzoi Book, Alfred A Knopf, New York
illustratations are gouache on Arches watercolor paper

The story of 4 generations of Dan Yaccarino's family as they moved from Italy to New York City to the suburbs and back to the city. It reminds me of Janet's St. Patrick's Day story, only this family is Italian, not Irish. The tiny shovel is the unifying element--it is passed from one generation to another and is shown pictured with D.Y. on the jacket cover.
40 pp. counting pasted down endpapers

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