Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everything Else: Cybils Nominations: The L's

Ha, who says I can't review every nominated book? Well, there are about 20 I haven't been able to find, but I'm still hoping they'll show up in the mail, or my library system will purchase them

(not me at my library, because I kinda spent all my money this year. kinda spent over the budget. But only $4.31 over, and then i had three items cancelled, so technically i still have approximately $34.31, although with the budget squinching down to the last penny, I'm being generous and letting it go. yeah, i'm obsessed with budgeting and collection development. it has frequently been remarked upon.)
  • Ladybug Girl at the beach by David Soman and Jackie Davis. Ladybug Girl loves the beach - even though it's her first time. She can't wait to swim in the waves...until she sees how big they are! She finds lots of fun and exciting things to do on the beach - far away from the water. But then her favorite pail is floating away. Can Ladybug Girl save the day? Charming pictures and an attractive plot introduce children to fun at the beach and facing your fears. Parents may be puzzled by the complete absence of adults - Ladybug Girl's parents are nowhere in sight for most of the story as she wanders about the beach and tests out the water, but children will be happy to see the little girl face her fears on her own. Recommended. Borrowed from the library.

  • Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base. I never cared for Base's convoluted Baroque style, but I rather liked this story - probably because it's simpler than his earlier works. Wilbur's favorite story is the legend of a snail ship, captured and eventually hidden by a mighty enchanter. So he sets sail to find it. Along the way, he helps three creatures and then encounters three perils from which he is saved by the ones he helped. Of course, it's Graeme Base using this familiar fairy tale trope, so the creatures are butterflies that blossom out of flowers, a giant crab-island, and lantern fish whose light bulbs are being stolen. When Wilbur arrives at the magical island and discovers the Golden Snail, he decides kindness is more important than being a Grand Enchanter and wins a marvelous reward. This is a rich fantasy tale with a firm moral, which fits well into the fairy tale theme. Fans of Graeme Base and older children who enjoy fairy tales and fantasy will love this one. Review copy received from Abrams.

  • Library Mouse: A world to explore by Daniel Kirk. I've never really seen the point of "the library is wonderful" picturebooks. That's a discussion for another day, but I will merely say - if you're in a library, reading a book about how wonderful the library is, why do you need a book about how you should use the library since you're already using it? Kirk's illustrations are too static for my taste and I found the plot of Sam, the Library Mouse, meeting another library mouse who is adventurous and loves exploring but hasn't realized the books are readable, rather bland. But this is a beloved character (mostly by librarians and parents hopeful of cultivating reading) and you'll probably buy it. Review copy received from Abrams.

  • Life of Shouty: Good Habits by NeonSeon. Badly rhymed and heavily didactic text shows a strangely lumpy creature attempting to throw off his post-adolescent laziness and bad habits and become a self-disciplined and happy person. Not recommended. Review copy received from publisher.
  • Lily's Victory Garden by Helen Wilbur. This is an interesting story of historical fiction which does a good job balancing its many plots, victory gardens, growing up, wanting to help but being told you're too young, the effects of soldiers' deaths on their families back home, and dealing with depression and grief. It's a good introduction to life on the home front during WWII with some interesting perspectives we don't often see. Use this one with older children - 3rd grade and up - to introduce studies in this area. Recommended. Review copy received from publisher.
  • Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka. A little boy sitting on a fence asks a little black crow a series of questions. The questions aren't directly answered, but the little black crow ends the story sitting companionably on the fence with the boy. The birds are squiggles of black paint in a swirling pastel landscape with explosions of color. The book is interesting from an artistic perspective, but it's not something I can ever see actually reading to a child. Review copy received from publisher.
  • The little weed flower by Vicky Whipple. Disconnected and overly sentimental text and cartoonish illustrations. There appear to be several morals jockeying for position. Not recommended. Review copy received from publisher.
  • LMNO Peas by Keith Baker. Baker, author of our library's favorites Big Fat Hen and Potato Joe (among others) is back with a rollicking alphabet adventure. In brisk, bouncy rhymes, a group of energetic peas introduce themselves alphabetically by career. The letters are large and the text brief, making this suitable for toddler storytimes, but there's also plenty of detail in the peas' activities, so this is a great choice for older children as well. Highly recommended for your concept books collection! Review copy received from publisher.
  • Looking like me by Walter Dean Myers. Working with his son, Christopher Myers, Walter Dean Myers has created a jazzy celebration of family connections and everything a child can be. The collaged photos and neon figures dancing through the book aren't my particular taste in illustration, but they perfectly fit the beat of the story. It has a very urban feel to it, so this might work best in an urban library, but older kids, especially those who are fans of music with a strong beat, like rap, will enjoy this and want to make up their own connections. Recommended. Borrowed from library.
  • Lots of dots by Craig Frazier. The author, a graphic designer, has created a simple picturebook celebrating the humble dot. Each page shows a different activity or item that incorporates a dot. The colors are bright and exuberant and the text brisk and short. Read this to toddlers and have them point out the dots, or to older children and have them create collages using shapes. Recommended. Borrowed from library.
  • Lunch Thief by Anne Bromley. Rafael doesn't know what to do when new kid Kevin steals his lunch - and then starts stealing other kids' lunches. He's not a fighter and the new kid looks pretty scary. So he decides to take his mother's often repeated advice "Use your mouth before your fists" and tries talking to Kevin. He finds out that Kevin's from an area devastated by wildfires and later sees him coming out of a cheap motel. His mom says there are people made homeless by the fires living there. After a little thought, he decides to share his lunch with Kevin and the two become friends. This is a thoughtful story, suitable for kids in older grades. It would be a good talking point for a discussion on not making assumptions and on how to defuse potential fights or work as a mediator between peers. Review copy received from publisher.

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