Tag Archives: Picture book

Book Review: There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight – by Penny Parker Klostermann

 

 

 

 

 

Book: There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight
Author: Penny Parker Klostermann
Illustrator: Ben Mantle
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: children's picture book; pre-school-2; age 3-7
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99
My rating: A very fun twist on an old nursery rhyme

 

I’m sure you know the nursery rhyme that starts with “there was an old woman who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly … ”  And I’m sure you’ve heard several variations of that rhyme. Well, if you haven’t read this one you really must treat yourself to this book.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann is a very entertaining story. She substituted the woman with a dragon and the fly with a knight. That in itself is funny, but when you see the illustrations it’s quite hilarious combined with the story-telling.

Penny‘s rhyming is fun to read and even to sing-along to, which – yes, I did, just to see how it sounded, you understand. (The rhythm is great, by the way.) She has the dragon swallowing the knight, then the knight’s royal steed – clippity, clippity, clippity, clopping around which became quite annoying to the dragon, the squire with his pants on fire, the cook with his recipe book, and more characters until he even swallowed the castle. Oh my! That was too much. The dragon had the realization he was being impolite and … well, you have to read it.  🙂  The ending has a surprise twist to it, too.

The illustrations by Ben Mantle are beautiful. The characters’ expressions and actions are so funny and in vivid rich colour. Each time I read There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight it makes me snicker, so I expect for children it’s so much fun to read and examine the pictures.

You can find There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann on my BUY THE BOOK page.

I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: I Thought This was a Bear Book – by Tara Lazar

 

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: Aladdin
Date: August 2015
Genre: children's; picture book; pre-school - 2; age 4-7 yrs
Pages: 32; hardcover
Price: $17.99 (varies)
My rating: a fun, creative change-up of a familiar fairytale

Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author with an imagination that is intriguing and humorous. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is her second of five books so far, with another one coming out this spring and one in 2018.

In I Thought This Was a Bear Book we meet the bear family – Papa, Mama, and Baby – out berry-picking. Overhead there is an alien spacecraft obviously in trouble and coming in for a landing. Only Baby seems to notice at first.

On those first two pages of the story the words are “Once upon a time there were three bears.” From then on those words are the only ones that are not conversation between the characters in the story, aside from onomatopoeia, such as WHOOSH and THUNK! Also, those two pages are illustrated by Benji Davies to look like the pages of an open book.

Look at what I mean; this is one page, not several.

i-thought-this-was-a-bear-book-page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

Apparently, the alien somehow fell out of his book and landed in theirs! Such a conundrum. He was quite bewildered and when face-to-face with the bear family he was indignant at being called a martian. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” he informed them. They set out to try to find a way to send him back to his own book in time for him to save the planet from giant planet-eating numbers.  See what I mean about Tara’s amazing imagination? I would never have come up with an idea like that. 

This story is quite funny with the prince saying zark, zoot, zinder when he is feeling overwhelmed. A tour bus stops for tourists to take pictures of the bears and the alien, while Prince Zilch and the bears are trying to find a way to get him back to page 27 in his book. Goldilocks even makes her appearance, much to the bears’ dismay. 

There are many ideas they come up with, all the while Baby Bear is trying to get their attention so he can share his idea on how to help. Benji Davies‘ illustrations add so much to the story, some being really funny, and all bright and interesting. As you read you must pay attention to the extra activities going on in the story through the illustrations – just because it’s so much fun.

Tara even includes the reader in helping to solve the prince’s problem, making it an interactive book in that way. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is an entertaining read for which you might want to have a little extra time to enjoy and share with a young reader or pre-reader. There is so much entertainment in the story.

You can find I Thought This Was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow – by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

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Book: The Very Fairy Princess: 
        Sparkles in the Snow
Authors: Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Date: October 15, 2013
Genre: children's picture book
Pages: 32
Price: $18 - $20
My rating: delightful story that will encourage young readers

The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow was written by mother-daughter team, the famous Julie Andrews and her accomplished daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.

Geraldine is a little girl who believes in her heart that she is a fairy princess. She wears her tiara all the time and is cheerful and helpful (most of the time) because she has a SPARKLY feeling inside.

Gerry is excited because they are having a Winter Wonderland Festival at school. The best part is the concert when she gets to sing with the chorus.  She does everything she can to impress their music teacher so he will be persuaded  to select her as the one to sing the solo. When he announces that there is a professional singer coming to be the soloist Gerry is very disappointed.

The day of the concert is a snowy one – just right for a Winter Wonderland – and that cheers up the fairy princess. She and her family get ready to go to the school as she warms up her voice. When they finally arrive through the storm the music teacher, Mr. Higginbottom, tells them the storm has prevented the soloist from making it to the concert. He has to make a decision. That’s when Gerry discovers she’s forgotten her shoes! (She does something very creative, which, apparently, is something the author, Julie Andrews, did as a child to remedy a similar situation.)

Here are some of Geraldine’s rules of life as a fairy princess:

  • try to spread joy and wonder whenever and wherever you can
  • take a frown and turn it upside down
  • always be well prepared
  • always be happy to lend a hand in a crisis

The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow is entertaining, realistic, and funny in the right places. It’s easy to read and holds the reader’s attention. Children will be encouraged to believe in themselves and to have a positive attitude. (Personally, I believe this book is especially helpful to little girls who often feel insignificant.)

The illustrations by Christine Davenier are delightful and so precisely capture the heart of the story. Through the descriptive artwork the reader is given a rounded-out view of the story so that the main character is understood even better.

You can find The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Book Review: One Plastic Bag – by Miranda Paul

one-plastic-bag

 

 

 

 

 

Book: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling 
Women of the Gambia
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; age 6-9; gr 1-4
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: True story superbly told for children to 
understand its importance

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia was written by Miranda Paul after hearing about this success story and doing extensive research to get it just right.

This is a true story, simplified for the sake of the genre. However, even simplified it is a dramatic and very impressive story of change.

In 1970 Isatou is born in Gambia. She grows up seeing, and then using, plastic bags that seem to be more convenient to use than the handmade baskets she used for carrying things. The problem is the plastic bags, when no longer useful, do not degrade and mix back into the earth like the baskets. They become an unmanageable, unhealthy, dangerous accumulation of garbage in the village and surrounding villages. The plastic bags make it hard for the villagers’ gardens to produce, they strangle the animals necessary to households, and they cause disease. No one knows what to do with the bags once they are no longer useful.

One day Isatou gathers up some of the smelly bags and takes them home. She and some other women wash them and, while they are drying on the line, Isatou watches her sister crocheting. She asks her sister to teach her, and then Isatou comes up with an idea. Secretly, she and a few other women get busy evolving the old plastic bags into useful things – until their impact is noticed over a year later and cannot remain a secret.

One Plastic Bag is a story about how Isatou and her friends make a difference in the world through their recycling efforts. It’s a remarkable accomplishment with very positive environmental results.

Elizabeth Zunon illustrated One Plastic Bag by using her skill of collage. Her work is stunning.

Actual photos are included of the women in the story.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is a story that will help to bring awareness to young readers. One person CAN make a difference.

You can find One Plastic Bag on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Book Review: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse – by Lila Hope-Simpson

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Book: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse
Author: Lila Hope-Simpson
Illustrator: Doretta Groenendyk
Publisher: DPG: Dery Publishing Group
Date: 2004
Genre: children's historical fiction; age 5-9, gr K-4
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: historical event wonderfully-told for children

This is one of the beautiful books I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016, although my copy has a different cover, as you see below. Apparently, the image above is the newer edition which includes more illustrations.

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Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse is written by Canadian author Lila Hope-Simpson, who, in fact, lives only a few miles from me. Illustrator Doretta Groenendyk is also a local artist.

First of all, look at this dedication – which seems very suited to the times we are living in – that she wrote in her book:  This book is dedicated to uprooted people from every place and time, whose spirits have proven that after adversity, life goes on.       And sometimes, there is even dancing.

Fiddles & Spoons is a historical fiction, fanciful for the child reader. This story is about a mouse family, the expulsion of the Acadians, and the will to survive.

In the small Acadian village of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, Canada, life was good. Families worked hard to keep their village functioning and to make a life they could be proud of. The men built sturdy dykes to hold back the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy, creating very fertile farmland along the coast – and those dykes are still there doing what they were intended to do.

Under the floorboards of the homestead of the hardworking Dubois family lived the Souris mouse family. They feasted on the crumbs that fell down through,  particularly enjoying Saturday nights when everyone danced and played their fiddles and spoons.

One night in 1755 it all changed. Soldiers marched in and separated the men from the women and children. Mama Souris was determined to not leave the Dubois family, so she and her family scurried along near the feet of all the people being forced onto boats. It was a long rugged trip until they finally arrived in a new land and were reunited with their loved ones. From there they had to start over. 

Lila Hope-Simpson told this story of an important historical event in a wonderful way, introducing children – and perhaps adult readers – to the Expulsion of the Acadians, which is a memorable part of local, and far-reaching, history. It is not heavy-handed so as to include lurid details of the atrocities committed against an honest, God-fearing people. On the other hand it is not overly gently told so that the drama cannot be felt and understood. 

Doretta Groenendyk‘s illustrations are colourful, playful, effective. I especially like the scenes of Minas Basin and Cape Blomidon which are very familiar to me.

You can find Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Book Review: The Princess and the Frogs – by Veronica Bartles

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Book: The Princess and the Frogs
Author: Veronica Bartles
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Publisher: Balzer + Bray of HarperCollins Publishers
Date: November 15, 2016
Genre: picture book; 4-8 yr, preschool to gr 3 
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
My rating: such a great example of "girl power"

You know the saying, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Well, this little princess just wanted the frog.

The Princess and the Frogs, written by Veronica Bartles, is a clever twist on the Princess and the Frog fairy tale. This little princess wanted a pet that would be her best  friend. It was hard for the Royal Pet Handler to find one to match her specifications – one that liked to swim and play and jump all day, one that would match her green dress and at night would sit on her pillow and sing to her. Finally it was decided that a frog would be the perfect pet.

Princess Cassandra was so happy and everything was fantastic until, in her delight, she kissed the frog. Well, you know what happens in fairy tales when the princess kisses the frog. Yep! She had herself a prince. That was NOT what Princess Cassandra wanted! She put the prince to work in her castle and the Royal Pet Handler had to find another frog for her. Alas, the same thing happened! Several times.

This story is beautifully illustrated by Sara Palacios. The little princess either wears her running shoes or goes barefoot and is always in her tiara and eyeglasses. She is a determined and smart little girl, making the Princess and the Frogs a delightfully funny story with an empowered female main character.

You can find The Princess and the Frogs on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: How Smudge Came – by Nan Gregory

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Book: How Smudge Came
Author: Nan Gregory
Illustrator: Ron Lightburn
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Date: December 12, 1995
Genre: Children's picture book
Pages: 32, hardcover and paperback
Price: may have to find used copies, so price varies from 
less than $1 used, to up to $19.50 in very good condition
My rating: Such a sweet story with fabulous illustrations

 

How Smudge Came is a gorgeous hardcover book I purchased (unused) at the children’s book fair last year. The author wasn’t there, but I met the illustrator again, Ron Lightburn, whose work is fabulous. I reviewed his picture book here.

Look at the cover illustration of How Smudge Came. That immediately drew my attention to this book. The illustrations throughout are soft and beautiful, created with coloured pencils.

While walking home from her work at the hospice one cold rainy day, Cindy finds a little puppy and tucks him into her bag. She knows she’s not allowed pets so she sneaks him into her room at the group home, and the next day she hides him in the large pocket of her cleaning apron so he can stay with her while she works.

Residents at the hospice enjoy the puppy, but things turn sour for Cindy when he is found. The puppy, whom Cindy named Smudge, is taken away from her and given to the SPCA so a good home can be found for him. Cindy is very upset and determined to get him back, so with help finds where they took him. Things don’t go quite the way Cindy had in mind, though.

At first the reader will not pick up on the fact that Cindy is a young adult with Down Syndrome. She has a cleaning job and is able to travel by bus alone, and has the respect and appreciation of the people around her. The way Cindy is portrayed through how she speaks and the illustrations of her, children will understand how she feels. It’s easy to care about Cindy and Smudge.

This story is sad, but hopeful, and is told by Nan Gregory in such a gentle way with soothing illustrations by Ron Lightburn. The ending is very satisfying.

How Smudge Came won Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Best Canadian Children’s Book, won a B.C. Book Prize, was honoured as an “Our Choice” selection of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and was on the American Bookseller’s Pick of the Lists.

You can find How Smudge Came on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂