Monday, November 30, 2009

Flamingos & No Room at the inn by Jean Malone, Snow Wonder by Charles Ghigna, Katie Woo: Goodbye to Goldie by Fran Manushkin

My easy reader mixed-review today, is all varieties of nonfiction and almost-nonfiction.
Flamingos, a station stop 2 All Aboard Science Reader, contains lots of interesting facts about flamingos and a plethora of photographs. I was a little irritated that they had a pronunciation guide for "carotene" but not "lamellae". The last two pages, encouraging readers to recycle etc. to help flamingos felt a bit tacked on to me. Altogether, a nice nonfiction easy reader for kids interested in birds.

Flamingos by Jean Malone
ISBN: 978-0448452067; Published January 2009 by Grosset and Dunlap; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Purchased for the library

The next easy reader I have here is not exactly nonfiction, but it's not one I'd casually hand out for just any beginning reader. Katie Woo's dog, Goldie, is very old. One day, she dies. Katie goes through a simple process of grief, from crying to remembering all the wonderful things about Goldie. There is a simple glossary, discussion questions, and projects in the back. This is an excellent easy reader to hand out to kids who have lost a pet - or a friend. If you're not worried about the dying dog in the beginning upsetting the reader, kids who like dogs will also enjoy this story as it's full of Goldie's funny antics.

Katie Woo: Goodbye to Goldie by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
ISBN: 978-1404854956; Published August 2009 by Picture Window Books; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Purchased for the library

Okay, I admit this isn't even remotely nonfiction, but I threw it in here anyways. It's a simple list of all the wonderful things to do in winter, especially in snow. There were a couple things I wasn't happy about with this book - I felt that the rhymes, sometimes stretching across two pages, were too long for the reading level. This is a sticker book, with the sticker pages in the middle, so libraries will need to either remove or tape over them. The illustrations focus on one extended family with big smiley faces and simple shapes. This could be a fun purchase for an individual family, especially if your beginning reader has never seen snow or is looking forward to winter, but it's a bit flimsy for a library purchase.

Snow Wonder by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Julia Woolf
ISBN: 978-0375855863; Published October 2008 by Random House; Borrowed from the library

This easy reader is a retelling of the Nativity story. It's a simple but fairly well-written retelling. However, this story is going to work for some and not for others. The "religious" elements, for lack of a better word, have been tidily smoothed over. Jesus "was born to bring peace to the world." The angel Gabriel asks Mary to be the mother of God's Son - not quite the same as the original announcement! "Joseph was not sure whether he was good enough to be a father to such a special child." Um...that's not how I remember it!
The illustrations are rounded and gentle - but we're still stuck with the traditional Westernized versions. I guess we can be thankful Mary's hair is covered so if she's still showing blonde we can't tell.
Families looking for a simple introduction to the traditional story without any religious or possibly controversial elements might want to read this, but it's basically a watered-down version of the Biblical story.

No room at the inn by Jean Malone, illustrated by Bryan Langdo
ISBN: 978-0448452173; Published October 2009 by Grosset and Dunlap; Review copy provided by the publisher
Verdict: I recommend Katie Woo - an excellent story dealing with the death of a pet. Flamingos is a good purchase if you have lots of fans of birds or need more nonfiction in your easy reader section. Snow Wonder, because of the stickers, isn't something I'd add to my library but if you're a parent or giving a gift, consider it. I don't honestly think we need any more Westernized versions of the Nativity story; I don't recommend No Room at the Inn.

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