Thursday, April 24, 2008

Champions on the Bench: The Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars by Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
The first-ever African American little league team in SC (1955) was not allowed to play in the series tournament when the other white teams refused to play them. Instead, they are invited to watch the Little League World Series from the stands. This story puts the history of racial discrimination in sports into perspective for younger readers. Weatherford does a nice job of blending fact and fiction with the inclusion of an Author's Note and photographs of the team in 1955 and in 2002 when they were hoored at the Little League Baseball World Series.

Good Sports: rhymes about running, jumping, throwing and more by Jack Prelutsky and Chris Rashka

A collection of poems about a variety of sports (baseball, basketball, gymnastics, frisbee, swimming, etc). Lots of humor. many of the poems are about NOT winning, NOT making the team, or dropping the ball. All sorts of defeated things but the kids are still playing and enjoying what they're doing. It's quietly about sportsmanlike attitude! Other poems are about the joy the kids have in the activity itself - not winning, just doing it! (pun, intended!)

Rashka's illustrations are whispy, bright and action packed. The movement of each game or activity is included in the mood of the artwork.

The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog retold by Margaret Read Macdonald

A story of the Language of Flowers wrapped in a fairy tale.

This folktale from Great Britian tells a somewhat familiar tale of a beast (in this case a big smelly slobbery dog) rescuing a man from peril. The man offers the beast whatever he wants and the beast wants his daughter. She goes away with him but hates him, often calling him a"big,smelly, slobbery, small-tooth dog" and hurts his feelings. However, in great folktale, fairy tale fashion, she eventually comes to love the big smelly dog and they live happily ever after.
Oh, forgot to mention, of course he turned into a prince once she declaired her love.
Personally, I might have wanted to keep the dog! But what's a fairy tale with out the prince!

The Langauage of Flowers is demonstrated on the endpapers with a pattern of the flowers and their emotion or meaning. Throughout the story, the painted tapestry-like illustrations include the flowers that correspond to the events in the story. Very pretty and an interesting way to show a nice aspect of British cultural.

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia C. McKissack

Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.
This beautiful picture book is set in the "poorest place in America" during the Depression. Laura wants a Baby Betty doll of her very own. however, Santa brings one doll for three sisters and the girls are told by their father to "work this out." Pinkney's rich watercolors portray a warm family life during a cold and challenging time. Based on a true story, McKissack' s telling provides a wonderful lesson on sharing.
Grades K-3.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive by Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
This is a well-researched, poetic, second-person tribute to Jesse Owens (Go Jesse, Go. Trounce Jim Crow). Details are provided about how he won four Olympic gold medals as well as the controversy surrounding his accomplishments. Nice pastel illustrations add to the story. The final pages provide a summary of his life and a bibliography of titles for further reading.
Grades 2-6.

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

llustrated by Patricia J. Wynne
A delightful look at a bat that is one inch long and six inches wide. This short book contains nine questions and answers in a pattern that makes for an appealing read-aloud for young children. The illustrations are warm yet realistic. The last two pages provide additional facts about this endangered species.
Grade K-1.

The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka

This tiny, yet powerful book is for terminally ill children, their family and friends. The simple text tells the touching story that dying is hard work but others, such as medical workers, clergy, friends, and family, can help. Raschka provides a list of "What You Can Do to Help" for friends at the end.
All ages.

I Love You Always and Forever by Jonathan Emmett

Illustrated by Daniel Howarth
A father fieldmouse and his daughter play games in the woods where the daughter learns that losing to her father won't last forever but his love for her will. Delightfully realistic illustrations fill the pages making this a great read-aloud for young children. Grades PreK - 2.

Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon

This beautifully-illustrated tribute to jazz is a 2008 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book and it is easy to see why. The illustrations almost jump off the page alongside brief descriptions of jazz masters such as Monk, Fitzgerald, Parker, Coltrane and others. An accompanying CD provides an intro to jazz. Grades K-4 but this would be a great picture book to use with older students as well.