Wow. Picture books go quick! All of the books in today’s update are Elementary Nutmeg Book Award nominees – I’m a little more than 1/3 of the way up that peak. Ratings are on a scale of 5 stars, with 5 being the best thing since sliced bread.
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Another good story of real world problem solving by kids (it even mentions Beatrice’s Goat and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind). This would be a good book to use for character traits, problem/solution, or even argument/opinion writing (recycling, plastic bags, etc.). 3 stars
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
Maybe because I’m an arts-inclined person, but this one made me smile. The illustrations were happy and I appreciated the Van Gogh cameo. Very enjoyable. This would be a good book for an art teacher, or as part of a social development lesson on character – being creative, looking at things from different angles, appreciating beauty in unusual places. 4 stars
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford
I love the cover! Shades of blue always speak to me, and the title font is reminiscent of old carnival posters and theater playbills. The text structure in this one is more complex. Each 2-page spread has the narrative in one font, and then background information in another font. I needed to read this one twice to make sure I got everything. I really loved the illustrations and learned quite a bit about this ride that’s a staple of every fair. 4 stars
Star Stuff by Stephanie Roth Sisson
The action and character development are told through illustrations as much as through text. Readers need to infer from the combination of text and illustration to figure out what is really going on with Carl’s thoughts and feelings. That being said…
What a great book – I will definitely read this again! It instilled a sense of wonder, of awe, of vast, open, unimagined spaces that Carl must have felt as a child, stretching his arms out like John Carter, hoping to get to Mars. I love Sisson’s artistic style, and am about to go fin the 60+ other books she has illustrated. 4½ stars (given time, could be 5 stars)
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Qin Leng
I was struck by a 2-page spread of Hana, violin in hand, making the long, slow walk to the microphone. Anyone anxious about appearing in front of a crowd can relate to the feeling of blood pumping in your ears, of peripheral vision falling away and your ultimate destination staying forever in the distance, yet arriving all too soon. I was pleasantly surprised by the climax and resolution (without spoiling anything!). That bumped this books to 3½ stars.
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
I was ready to snuggle up just reading the jacket and gazing at the beautiful print of the end pages. Like Mr. Ferris and His Wheel, informational text is included with each poem. Unlike, Mr. Ferris, however, the structure is easier to follow in this book. Sidman has an uncanny ability of crafting the poems to evoke the feeling, sound, sight of the subjects – a gangly moose or a still, silent snowfall. Allen’s prints are GORGEOUS! 5 stars
One thing to think about… When doing the ratings, I found it difficult to compare nonfiction to poetry. Does that make sense?