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Archive for August, 2016

Looking for diversity

I saw thjazz dayis list from Huffington Post and was really hoping for a big pile of books with diverse characters. Now, some of the books are, I’m sure. But the stack I brought home was not as diverse as I had hoped. Ooh! I just discovered this blog– EveryDay Diversity.  It will help in my quest for diverse books.

First up is Jazz Day by Roxanne Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo, published  by Candlewick. I love it when a picture book introduces me to a bit of history that I had not heard of. This famous photograph of jazz musicians, taken in Harlem in 1958, is explored by Orgill in poetry form. Some of the poems really sing, and the artwork does swing, like a good jazz album should. My favourite page is the “Click” on a black background that opens out to the actual photograph. This book is great for classroom poetry or music lessons. surfs

Kwame Alexander’s Surf’s Up is next in my pile of books. Illustrated by Daniel Miyares, published by North South. This is a boogie-board of a poem featuring Bro and Dude – two pals (who Miyares depicts as frogs) spending a day at the beach.Bro is completely engrossed in reading Moby Dick, much to the chagrin of Dude. All this happens in a very few choice words, which Alexander excels at. The story is added to by Miyares’ froggy buddies, with a large white whale looking on in the backdrop.

ottersOtters Love to Play by Jonathan London is a fun one for nature lovers. I really enjoyed the illustrations by Meilo So in this one — her watercolour otters swoosh through the pages in swirly paint strokes.

This one isn’t going to appear on anyone’s list of great diverse books of the year, but I have to add littleredLittle Red by Bethan Woollvin into the mix. I love a good absurd book, and this one fits right into that category. This British import is almost your typical Red Riding Hood story, until Little Red makes the most of the wolf and ends up in a wolf suit by the end. And granny? No rescue in this version. Eaten by the wolf in one big gulp and one grand spread. For kids who love the scary books and can handle a bit of dark humour.

I’m looking forward to reading more picture books from this list, and definitely will be looking for more books with diverse characters.

A couple of books for a busy summer

Honestly, my summer has been so busy that I’ve had very little time to look at picture books. But I found three that Istoryteller really must share with you.

First up is The Storyteller by Evan Turk, published by Atheneum. I loved Turk’s illustrations in Grandfather Gandhi, so I was really looking forward to this new book. And I am not disappointed. Turk’s illustrations, created with “water-soluble crayon, colored drawing pencils, inks, indigo, sugared green tea, a heat gun, and fire” are appropriately desert-toned, as the setting is Morocco. The story is about drought, but also about the lack of stories. Stories represent water, and lively blue swirls are visual metaphors for words and water. The striking page layouts and bold lines make this art that one can return to again and again. I love this book, and I think it would make a good choice for listeners who like a longer story and who can appreciate the lovely artwork. I am going to read it again and again.

ookoBefore I share this next book, I have a confession. I am a Book Sniffer. Yes, I love the way books smell. And some books smell better than others. Some have that old-book smell, some just have an abundance of ink. This one smells woody, like a fresh forest hidden inside the pages, which is appropriate, as it is a book about a fox named Ooko. Written by Esme Shaprio and published by Tundra, this is a story of a little fox who wants a friend. the watercolor and colored pencil illustrations create a whimsical world for Ooko. The pages are lovely and the story is just right for a young child.

And finally, there’s a soft spot in my heart for anything that Tomie DePaola illustrates, and so of course I moonsapprove of this collaboration with Patricia MacLachlan,  The Moon’s Almost Here.This book features a very simple poem just right for bedtime sharing, and DePaola’s signature illustrations beckon the reader into a twilight blue world.

Enjoy the rest of summer, and I will try to be back soon with more books!