Children's Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Children's Books Are Special

Hi! Warm greetings to my blog site! I'll enjoy chatting with you every so often!
I love children's books. I always have. When I was a child you would probably find me curled up on a chair, in the nest of boulders below our house, or under a tree reading. One of my favorite classes at university was "Children's Literature." I've never stopped reading children's books, first to my younger brothers and sisters, then to my own children, then to all the children I've taught over the years, and now for myself as a reviewer of children's and young adult books.
My aim in this blog is two-fold. One is to convey my ramblings and thoughts on literature in general, children's books, and on art, especially picture book art. I may even at times talk about writing. Secondly is to post the books I'm reviewing.
I'm a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's) and SCBWI-NM (NM means New Mexico where I live in the northern mountains!). I receive quite a few books each year through my listing as a reviewer in SCBWI. I'm amazed at how good most of the books are. Sadly many of them don't get the published reviews they deserve. I've tried to submit some of the books into larger book review publications, but they only have limited space. The majority of the books I review are either self-published or are published by smaller independent publishers. They also scramble for notice with the bigger review forums in competition with the large publishing houses.
Today I'll start with two reviews I wrote last night for Sylvan Dell Publishing, Sylvan Dell specializes in beautiful, readable books that are stories about our natural world. The preschool children I've read these books to love them!

Octavia And Her Purple Ink Cloud
Authors: Donna and Doreen Rathmell
Illlustrator: Connie McLennan

Delightful is the word for this picture book about Octavia Octopus. Children love it that Octavia, just like them as they acquire new skills, has to practice squirting her ink until she get it just the right purple color in order to escape a hungry shark.

Sisters Donna and Doreen Rathmell have collaborated not only to make a very readable book for children ages 3 – 8, but they also teach through story about color, camouflage, and life in the deep sea. Illustrator Connie McLennan adds wonderful perspective, great learning details, and a vivid visual sense of underwater life. Included at the end is a color activity page that teaches children to mix the primary colors. There are also wonderful facts about octopuses and other sea creatures. This is a must have book for classroom and home libraries.

If A Dolphin Were A Fish
Author: Loran Wlodarski
Illustrator: Laurie Allen Klein

We all love dolphins and are fascinated by the uncanny dolphin capabilities told about in stories and legends. In this book author Loran Wlodarski captures the charm of dolphins while giving us the facts that explain their special qualities. Loran depicts these qualities and features through Delphina Dolphin who wonders about the similarities and differences between herself and other sea dwelling animals such as pelicans, sharks, fish, octopuses, sea turtles, and manatees.

Laurie Allen Klein’s informative and often-humorous pencil drawings bring the story even more alive. What imaginative powers both Loran and Laurie have to show us how dolphins live, eat, navigate, and breed. The activity pages are interactive in that they ask children provocative questions. They also suggest activities children might like to follow, One such activity is to draw a line fifteen feet long, in chalk outside, to visualize how high dolphins can leap. What fun as children then try to jump as far as they can. This book is highly recommended for children ages 3 – 8. Preschool through fourth grade teachers will welcome this book into their sea life units.
An interesting sidenote is that I had a fun communication with the publisher about the plural of octopus. The general usage is "octopi", but the scientific journals favor "octopuses." So, for now we'll side with the scientists!
Have a super day!


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