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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PB (and J?) inspirationals...

I will be starting a review gig on Blogtalk radio, It's Story Time with Jd Holiday this weekend. Look to my Facebook pages for specific details. It's great I get to review a picture book every few weeks, it gets me back into the habit of     reading, looking, thinking... oh ALL things PBs! I start a class in intensive visual storytelling, and wading through this all, so you know what? I haven't been this excited in a few years. I may complain (if I do, hit me side the head with a wet noodle please, because getting most of what you want can be a good thing, and if it's a bit of work, well, suck it up buttercup, it WILL make you better for it. That's what you say to me. because I'm really talking about me, lol), but make no mistake, it's me falling back in love with what inspired me twelve years ago.

So for the prep I will read bunches of books to choose the one I will review. But what to do with the other books? How about reviewing it here? Great thought, right? So here's my deal. I don't review books I have far too much criticism for or don't personally like. People work too hard to get something like this out and about, and there are plenty of others, if it is horrible to pop the bubble. And if it isn't, I won't be the one to dash dreams, puncture egos, scatter efforts. So here are the books that didn't make the cut this time around (but that doesn't mean they might not at a later date, because I really liked them all for different reasons:




Zachary's Ball
Matt Tavares 
Candlewick 2000

This one is for baseball lovers. Zachary's father takes him to a Red Sox game and catches the ball. From then on the magic happens, clinching Zachary's love of baseball. But what happens when the ball mysteriously disappears?

This is a strong story, especially for reluctant readers, as it's a little more of an inbetween picture book and a story book. The illustrations are full of life and expressive characters ala Chris Van Allsburg (The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, The Widow's Broom, Jumanji, The Garden of Abdu Gasazi) and Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Houdini Box, The Boy of a Thousand Faces).

Zachary's Ball  truly captures the love of this All-American passion.

Other books by Matt Tavares:  Becoming Babe Ruth, There Goes Ted Williams, Mudball, Henry Aaron's Dream, Helen's Big World (with Doreen Rappaport)




The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
William KamKwamba & Bryan Mealer
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Dial Books, 32 pp

When hunger hits, William's people suffers. William puts together odd bits; lessons from far away, pieces of refuse against the ridicule of others and the plight he finds himself in

A story of hardship, creativity and a world away from many children of America's experience. William is a young boy in drought ravaged Malawi, Africa. The language is strong, the visual compelling as is the story.
The illustrations feel tactile and visually kinetic, using mixed media-- painted and cut paper. There's temperature and movement as well as beautiful design, much as William does from the scraps to windmills to power what he calls in the book "electric wind", the pictures perfectly complement the text.

Based on William KamKwamba's real life experiences, empowering, Inspirational, truthful, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is up for the Chickadee Award (2013-4) was chose by Amazon as one of their best books for 2012.

Other works: William KamKwamba and Bryan Mealer: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,  Bryan Mealer: All Things Must Fight to Live, Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town, Muck City. Elizabeth Zunon: Lala Salama: A Tansanian Lullaby, My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey


Candlewick Press,  2009

A fanciful tale seeded from an actual event, this is a book that is a gem. Fun to read, charming, jeweled illustrations, the story opens in a storm at sea , with a boat load of circus animals. The ship sinks at sea, the animals survive the swim to mainland to the surprise of a small town waking up to the adventure of their lives. The pacing is just right, and the whole idea, while farcical, is endearing and as well. I found myself giggling at a few of the illustrations, and having read a few books to youngsters, I think they will be delighted when they recognize the "hidden" circus animals, when they try to avoid the greedy circus boss. I would say which were my favorite illustrations (most of them, actually!) but it's such a subjective thing, I will only say I just love the way Chris uses color, chocolate for my eyes!

Other works by Chris Van Dusen: Randy Riley's Really Big Hit, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, If I Built a House (and bunches of others...)

Tomorrow I'll review two more books and share my latest WIPs. Hope you tune in listen to my mystery book review!