Chicanery, greed, a desire to capture and sell North Pole inhabitants to a zoo, parental love, friendship, and a little magic all come together to create a memorable tale well worth the reading.
Walking Through Walls is just right for around 8-12 year olds (or to read to younger children), providing an engaging, engrossing story with a strong plot, lots of atmosphere, and a positive message that is perfect for young readers, without being preachy. The story is set in the sixteenth century, and is based on an ancient Chinese story “Taoist Master and the Lao Mountain,” also an animated film Lao Mountain Taoist. Cioffi fills the story with details to evoke the setting and timeframe, from the mountains in the distance, lemon lilies, yellow cakes with red berries and tea, and the scents and sounds of rural life.
The author and illustrator of Toys Meet Snow talk about their new picture book and its relationship to the chapter books and how different the illustration process was, about the author/illustrator working relationship, about where the idea for the book came from, about the characters and why they resonate with readers, ideas for parents of reluctant readers, and lots more.
Seals, Sea Gulls and other Sounds covers do not do justice to the original work. Sometimes the old books we have in Osage County First Grade are some of the most favored by the six year old set. Dolly K. Elligson’s marvelous work is as pertinent today as it was back in 1966 when it was printed.
As is also common in a fable, the vocabulary is accessible and the story is universal. The setting is a farm but not specifically a Korean farm. Although the story is about an isolated female and her wish for even one child, it can speak to old and young and to anyone who has ever longed to do what he thinks he/she was born to do. The story is about greatness of soul, perseverance, parental sacrifice, belonging and purpose. And it is also about fulfillment and accomplishing a dream in spite of the odds.
Trouble on Earth Day is a simple book that is easy for very young children to understand and for early readers to read themselves. Kurt Wilcken’s bright cartoon images have lots of fun detail (like a baseball cap on the guitar playing bird), and children will relate to the vivacious young animals.
Readers are treated to a viewpoint that alternates between Black and Longshadow and are expertly drawn into a plot that’s tighter than the traps these two characters set for each other. The pace would give Matthew Reilly a nose bleed, and the attention to technological detail is impressive to say the least: I don’t know how much fact is woven throughout the narrative, but it all has a ring of truth and that’s what counts.
The book touches on such things as life after retirement, on the dangers of making snap judgements based on appearances, and on learning to keep an open mind and heart. Above all this is a beautifully written heart-warming tale that will appeal to children and adults alike as they discover Pete’s secret.
What really sets this simple story apart from the rest is the illustrative style. Pratt has overlayed black and white photographs of Victorian landmarks with eye-catching coloured depictions of Riley and his menagerie. At each location Riley reveals yet another masterful invention to help with his search—everything from: automated whiz-bang ground-hugging projectiles to fandangled hifalutin patented doodads.
In a world where kids are used to the kill or be killed mentality of video games, it’s a pleasure to find a story that demonstrates how the most obvious solution to a problem is not necessarily the best. So, too, it demonstrates creativity and compassion, and shows readers how that which is evident on the surface is not necessarily what lies beneath.