Sunday, March 2, 2014
Back in the olden days when I was a kid (the fifties), a book was written by Rudolf Flesch called Why Johnny Can’t Read (there is nothing new in the universe). Flesch along with the journalist, John Hersey, blamed boring primers, like the Dick and Jane books, for that failure. Dr. Seuss rode to the rescue with The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham (and many more) that even with a limited vocabulary were engaging and funny.
Monday, February 10, 2014
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal winner for 2014 is The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. The book uses simple graphics employing the colors of watermelon: pink, green and black. The text is large and well-spaced, very useful to beginning readers.
Our crocodile protagonist LOVES watermelon. He eats it morning, noon and night and even for dessert. One day, he swallows a watermelon seed. In his panic he envisions the horrors that await him. It is growing inside of him, the vines will soon grow out of his ears! He may turn pink, his stomach will stretch! Can someone help him? His stomach feels funny and on a page that will get the reader giggling is a l-o-n-g burp and up comes the seed. He swears off watermelon forever, except for maybe just one little bite.
Kevin Henkes not only won a Newbery Honor for The Year of Billy Miller but also won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for Penny and Her Marble.
Penny is feeling uncomfortable. She didn’t want to help Mama make sugar cookies, she wasn’t hungry and had a hard time getting to sleep last night. Why is she feeling uncomfortable? The day before, she was pushing her doll, Rose, in her stroller down the sidewalk. When she passed Mrs. Goodwin’s house, she saw a beautiful blue marble on the grass. Penny thought Mrs. Goodwin was too old to play with marbles, so she picked it up and put it in her pocket and rushed home. In her room, she found that the marble was smooth and fast. She held it up to the blue sky, it looked like a piece of the sky. Through the window, she spotted Mrs. Goodwin in exactly the place where she found the marble. Was Mrs. Goodwin looking for the marble?
The morning after her rough night, Penny wakes up with a plan. She puts Rose in the stroller and heads to Mrs. Goodwin’s house to return the marble. How is this story resolved? Did Penny take something that wasn’t meant for her?
In four short chapters, Kevin Henkes explores a common childhood dilemma using age appropriate words and simple sentences.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Mary Sullivan, the author and illustrator of Ball, knows about dogs, especially ball obsessed dogs. Using only one word, repeated many times, she illustrates the highs and lows of a day in the life of a dog and his red ball. After a few throws, his best little girl pal has to go to school. He tries to interest Mom doing yoga, the baby and even the cat in a game of fetch. No luck! So he devises his own game and finally takes a nap. What does he dream about? You guessed it. Finally his pal comes home and the game continues.
Mary Sullivan illustrates the body language and facial expressions dog lovers know so well. She dedicates her book to Scout, the best dog in the whole world.
The Sonoma County Library has a few copies and the Yulupa Library has one copy. A great book for dog lovers of all ages, I have test driven this book with several people decades past the age of the intended audience. It has been a hit with everyone. No wonder the Theodore Seuss Geisel committee gave it an Honor for 2014.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Perennial Theodore Seuss Geisel medalist and honor winner, Mo Willems, has written and illustrated a 2014 Honor book, A Big Guy Took My Ball. True to form, this book is both funny and sweet.
Piggie has found a big ball and is having fun but a big guy came and took it. Upset, she goes to Gerald for help. It is not right and Gerald offers get her ball back. Big guys have all the fun! Gerald goes to confront the big guy. Turns out that even for an elephant, the big guy is really, really big. He is a whale. As Gerald is explaining to Piggie why he did not get her ball back, the whale comes to thank her for finding his little ball. He says that no one wants to play with him because he is so big. Little guys have all the fun! Gerald and Piggie offer to play “whale ball” with him and all of them have BIG fun.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
The Medal winner for 2014 is The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. Quite an auspicious start for the first time picture book author and illustrator.
The Honors were awarded to Ball by Mary Sullivan. Dog books are always a favorite in my family.
A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems who seems to have an honor reserved for him every year.
And Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes whose name you might remember for receiving a 2014 Newbery Honor for The Year of Billy Miller.
There is a wonderful video on Kevin Henkes website about how he writes and illustrates. For a relatively young man he is old school.
Reviews will be forthcoming as soon as I can swipe a couple of these books from my grandchildren or find them in a bookstore or the library.