Friday, November 26, 2010

Everything Else: Cybils Nominations: The M's

The half-way point! Yay! Of course, over and above The Stacks, I still have yet another stack of books I want to spend a little more time sharing. But I'm getting there!

  • Mama, is it summer yet? by Nikki McClure. In answer to a little boy's questioning, a mother talks about all the beauties of spring. A squirrel building her nest, planting seeds, birds returning, and blossoming trees. The language is simple and lyrical and the elaborate paper cuts are fascinating. I still think the lines around the faces are weird though. Review copy supplied by Abrams.
  • Man gave names to all the animals by Bob Dylan. The text is a song, so it doesn't really work well as a read-aloud - you'll need to sing it or listen to the accompanying cd. But the pictures, ooooooh. Arnosky's gorgeous art is simply splendid and children can spend long hours poring over the exotic animals he has pictured to accompany the song. Recommended. Borrowed from the library.
  • Maneki Neko: The tale of the beckoning cat by Susan Lendroth. Retells the Japanese folktale of a cat who befriends a monk and brings him good luck - thus becoming legend and creating the traditional beckoning cat statues which are supposed to bring the owner good luck. The tale is told simply but engagingly and the illustrations blend traditional Japanese art styles with a more modern feeling to appeal to a wide range of children. There is one apparent typo "the sun shown with great heat". Not necessary, but a nice addition to your collection if you have parents or children interested in Japanese folklore or an audience for read-aloud folktales. Review copy received from publisher.
  • Martha doesn't share! by Samantha Berger. Martha doesn't share, says everything is "mine!" until she realizes how lonely she is and how it's not fun to play alone, so she shares with her parents and baby brother. Pretty much the same plot as every other "learning to share" book ever written. Bruce Whatley's plump otters and purple-themed illustrations are mildly amusing. If you need more "how to share" books, go ahead and add it. They're kinda like potty-training books. You know, they make parents feel like they're DOING something to train their kids. Borrowed from library.
  • Medio Pollito: A Spanish Tale. Eric Kimmel retells the rather strange and very moralistic Half-Chick story. In the original story, Half-Chick thinks he's better than everyone else. Rude and selfish, he refuses to help others and is eventually trapped and almost eaten, until one of the elements he has refused to help feels sorry for him and whisks him up to a roof where he becomes a weather cock. Kimmel's retelling makes Half-Chick an adventurer who willingly helps the various elements and is helped in return in his desire to see the world. It's still a fun story, but the original packed more punch. A couple Spanish words are included. Received review copy from publisher.
  • Memoirs of a goldfish by Devin Scillian. A misanthropic goldfish is happily swimming in endless circles when new creatures are added to his bowl one by one. Finally, it becomes insanely crowded and everyone leaves....and the goldfish realizes he is lonely after all. Happily, they all end up in a nice big tank and the goldfish meets a new friend. It's kind of funny, although the purist in me would like to point out that so many creatures would have died in that small bowl - and what's wrong with wanting to live by yourself? Amusing though and will be a good choice for a read-aloud for older kids. Received review copy from publisher.
  • Miss Brooks loves books! (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner. All my previous remarks about picturebooks about libraries apply...but I have to say I feel a lot of sympathy with the bored little girl who's not interested in reading, despite Miss Brooks crazy, over the top efforts. Seriously, Miss Brooks would drive me batty also. Does she have to wear kooky costumes and behave like a hyperactive toddler? Why are librarians pictured in books always young, skinny, and eccentric? Is it necessary for teachers and librarians to be constantly upbeat, cheerful, exciting, and do increasingly crazy things to attract kids' attention? Anyways, most librarians will coo over this one, and a few kids might chuckle a bit at it. Libraries will buy it of course. Borrowed from library (see?)
  • Miss Bubble's Troubles by Malaika Rose Stanley. This one seems to have sneaked in by accident - according to the publisher, it's part of a series of readers. Meh, whatever. In plodding rhyme, we hear the story of Miss Bubble, an unbelievably excellent teacher, who loses her memory after an accident. Her students' bring it back and all ends happily. The sudden switch from color to black and white illustrations midway through the story and then back again is disconcerting and the whole story seems a bit pointless. Maybe British kids are better readers than USians, because the vocabulary and rhyme scheme is going to be too advanced for the age group that would appreciate a reader about the superlative joys of school. Reviewed from copy provided by publisher.
  • Miss Tutu's Star by Leslea Newman. An exuberant, pudgy little girl expresses her love of dance and her fierce determination to succeed on every page of this ballet-centric book. This won't appeal as much to the Fancy Nancy crowd who want to see pretty-pretty's, but little girls and boys who are really interested in a fun story about the hard work and determination that goes into dance will love this - as well as all the kids who don't have the "perfect" bodies that show up in so many other ballet books. Review copy provided by Abrams.
  • Monsters eat whiny children by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Two whiny children get stolen by monsters, just as their father threatened. However, the monsters are even whinier than the children and they simply can't agree on how to serve them. Salad? Whiny child burgers? While they're arguing, the children run away, having learned a lesson....sort of. This book will appeal more to adults and older children who won't mind the longer text and Kaplan's signature minimalist illustrations and will pick up on the subtle humor. Get this one for school visits. Borrowed from library.
  • Moon child by Nadia Krilanovich. Elizabeth Sayles' soft illustrations, rendered in pastels and acrylics, show a series of animals playing little games with the moon as they drift off to sleep. A sweet and pleasant bedtime story with simple text. Borrowed from library.
  • Mr. President by Rick Walton. The president is having a hard day; basically, nobody can get along and his favorite ping-pong table has been chopped up for firewood! So he sneaks back to his old elementary school and has a day off. When he returns, he applies the rules he learned there as a child to his current problems, serving milk and cookies to warring nations sitting on the carpet, and having everyone do the hokey-pokey. The next day, when tensions erupt again, he's off to school, apparently for more wisdom. This silly story might be enjoyed by some kids, and teachers will probably enjoy the illusion that national problems can be solved by elementary school rules for getting along. Reviewed from ebook provided by publisher.
  • My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete. A little girl talks about how much she loves her twin brother and all the ways they are the same. She also talks about how they are different, because her brother Charlie has autism. She explains how their family adjusts and copes and how Charlie shows his love for them in different ways. This book is based on the authors' son and brother and an author's note at the end explains how their family has dealt with autism. I would put this in a tough topics or parenting section as it deals with a very specific issue. I'd recommend reading this in any classroom with an autistic child or to introduce children to some of the ways they can connect with an autistic sibling or peer. Borrowed from library.
  • My friends the flowers by William Lach. I was really taken aback by this book and checked twice to see that it was, indeed, published by Abrams. It was...really awful. I'm not quite sure what to say about it. Borrowed from library and hastily returned in case it leaked onto my other picturebooks. Later received a review copy from Abrams. It's still...awful. Was an editor having an off day?
  • My garden by Kevin Henkes. Henkes' new style, as seen in Old Bear, is certainly popular! This delightful, imaginary tale has been a hit in storytime and, oddly, sends the kids into gales of laughter every time I read it. Go figure. Borrowed from library.

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