This week’s book selections are classic stories written to motivate and entertain children of all ages. For younger kids the books can be read to them or with them and the moral of the story explained to them. For the older kids the stories can form the basis for some serious discussions. Either way, the kids should enjoy the stories and some great illustrations.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is for kids from PreSchool through Grade 4. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” This sage advice, offered by her intuitive, intelligent teacher, sets our young heroine on a journey of self-expression, artistic experimentation, and success. First pictured as being enveloped by a blue-and-gray miasma of discouragement and dejection, Vashti seems beaten by the blank paper before her. It is her defeatist declaration, “I just CAN’T draw,” that evokes her teacher’s sensitive suggestion. Once the child takes that very first stab at art, winningly and economically dramatized by Reynolds’s fluid pen-and-ink, watercolor, and tea image of Vashti swooping down upon that vacant paper in a burst of red-orange energy, there’s no stopping her. Honoring effort and overcoming convention are the themes here. Everything about this little gem, from its unusual trim size to the author’s hand-lettered text, from the dot-shaped cocoons of carefully chosen color that embrace each vignette of Vashti to her inventive negative-space masterpiece, speaks to them. Best of all, with her accomplishment comes an invaluable bonus: the ability and the willingness to encourage and embolden others. With art that seems perfectly suited to the mood and the message of the text, Reynolds inspires with a gentle and generous mantra: “Just make a mark.”-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Greenwich, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. “Review from Amazon.
Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth is for kids age 4 and up. “Like The Three Questions (2002), Muth’s latest is both an accessible, strikingly illustrated story and a thought-provoking meditation. Here he incorporates short Buddhist tales, “Zen Shorts,” into a story about three contemporary children. One rainy afternoon, a giant panda appears in the backyard of three siblings. Stillwater, the Panda, introduces himself, and during the next few days, the children separately visit him. Stillwater shares an afternoon of relaxing fun with each child; he also shares Zen stories, which give the children new views about the world and about each other. Very young listeners may not grasp the philosophical underpinnings of Stillwater’s tales, but even kids who miss the deeper message will enjoy the spare, gentle story of siblings connecting with one another. Lush, spacious watercolors of charming Stillwater and the open neighborhood will entrance children, as will the dramatic black-and-white pictures of the comical animal characters that illustrated Stillwater’s Zen stories. Muth doesn’t list sources for the tales, but his author’s note offers more commentary about Zen. Stillwater’s questions will linger (Can misfortune become good luck? What is the cost of anger?), and the peaceful, uncluttered pictures, like the story itself, will encourage children to dream and fill in their own answers. Gillian Engberg Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved” Review from Amazon.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is for kids age 6 and up. “The classic tale of persevering against the odds!
The Little Engine That Could comes to life all over again in this gorgeous oversized picture book with foil on the cover and the beautiful art from the 1950s. A train of toys desperately need an engine to take them over the mountain so that they can deliver toys and food to children. But none of the big, important engines will help them. Luckily, the Little Blue Engine comes along. She is small, but she has confidence that she can do it. And she does!” Review from Amazon.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White is for kids age 8 and up. Charlotte’s Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur—and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to quite a pig.
In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.” Review from Amazon.