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Friday, July 12, 2013

Viewed and reviewed.... and a slothful coloring page!

Friday again! The weeks are passing too quickly! I'm changing it up a bit and putting the coloring page first and then my reviews. If you download, I hope you'll take the time to tell me how it prints and what you like! This week's coloring page is for my daughter Dominique who loves sloths (and Kara the assistant children's librarian at Walker Memorial Library, who also loves them, and yes, penguins are coming, perhaps a few times!). The inspiration for the page came directly from my friend Nadine Hays' albums (personal and professional), she wrote Happier than a Billionaire and its sequel.

Now to the reviews!

Mary Walker Wears the Pants
Cheryl Harness
illustrated by Carlo Molinari
Albert Whitman & Company, 2013

Fascinating story of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (b. 1832) one of the first female doctors and a Civil War hero. The writing is engaging, and this is more of a picture story book than a picture book, so would be for an older reader. The one pet peeve I had, and it's more of a personal thing (and perhaps because I've worked as a nurse), sometimes, the profession of doctor seems to be held in a higher esteem by the author than nursing, which denigrates the accomplishments of Barton, Dix and Alcott. They are DIFFERENT professions, and both are necessary. That being said, the story kept me interested and I loved the character, delicacy and arrangement of Molinari's illustrations.

Books by Cheryl Harness: Thomas Jefferson; They're Off!:The Story of the Pony Express; Ye Olde Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts from History; Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women; The Tragic Tale of Narcissa Whitman and a Faithful History of the Oregon Trail; The Remarkable Ben Franklin; Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington: 1837-1865
Books by Carlo Molinari: How to Draw the Coolest and Most Creative Tattoo Art (Velocity: Drawing, retold by Mike Nash); Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol: The Classic Christmas Tale Retold with Magical Surprises (Martin Gould, adapter, Chris Gould co-illustrator); Come Vento Nelle Risaie (in Italian)

The Mighty Lalouche
Matthew Olshan
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children's Books, 2013

I come from a family of book lovers and pugilists (not to mention French, lol) so I was already inclined to like this book. It was fun in a nostalgic way, and though a work of fiction it was born of a love of the era and in fact. The odd thing about this story, it's about fighting for what you love without violence, and despite the subject matter. The illustrations are charming, I love Blackall's style delicate, old-timey watercolor cut out illustrations  they have a distinct flavor perfectly reflective of the text and story. And she mixes it all up with humor. A reluctant reader might like this book as well.

Books by Matthew Olshan: Finn; Marshlands: A Novel; Flown Sky
Books by Sophie Blackall: Ivy and Bean books (Annie Barrows, author); Ruby's Wish (Shirin Kim, author); Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-- Detectives, Extraordinaire! (Polly Horvath, author); Wombat and Walkabout (Carol Diggory Shields, author); Big Red Lollipop (Rukhsana Khan, author);Missed Connections: Love Lost and Found; Pecan Baby (Jacqueline Woodson, author); Edwin Speaks Up (April Stevens, author); Meet Wild Boars (Meg Rosoff, author)

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away From Home
Jennifer Larue Huget
illustrated by Red Nose Studio
Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children's Books, 2013

I have a policy of only reviewing books I like. The reason is two fold. I know how hard it is to write and illustrate a book, so I don't want to be the one to dash someone's work or dreams-- there's enough out there to do that. Also I really don't like wasting my time on the negatives at this point. I nearly didn't review this book. The illustrations were very different. But by the fourth page, I was hooked. The illustrations are handbuilt studio sets interspersed with graphite drawings. Some of it very exaggerated, some feels "real". A bit disconcerting. Yet it goes with the voice of the book, the angst of the beleaguered middle-child, not named, who gives some of the best tips about running away, since I ran away (to the end of the drive, much as Huget's children) when I was six. The family feels like the family, and I found myself giggling.

Books by Jennifer Larue Huget: How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps (Edward Koren, illustrator); The Best Birthday Party Ever (LeUyen Pham, illustrator); Thanks a LOT, Emily Post (Alexandra Boiger, illustrator)
Books by Red Nose Studio: Here Comes the Garbage Barage! (Jonah Winter, author); The Look Book (Chris Sickels, author)

Scorpions! Strange and Wonderful
Laurence Pringle
illustrated by Meryl Henderson

Another book I almost passed on. Not because it wasn't good, though, but I'd already reviewed a picture story book, and frankly, I wanted to draw! But seeing as The Beginner's Guide was a surprise, I figured I could at least take a look. I was hooked. I learned things I didn't know (Scorpions are born alive and a part of the arachnid family), and just LOVED the illustrations. If I hadn't set my mind on how I was going to work my w-i-p, I would be trying to do similar... Henderson's work is just gorgeous. For any science buff, eccentric kid (that would be me), this is a little bit more of a read, but I'm glad I took the time!

Books by Laurence Pringle: Dog of Discovery: A Newfoundland's Adventures with Lewis and Clark; American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Cornelius Van Wright, illustrator, Ying Hwa Hu, illustrator); Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: the Story of Evolution (Steve Jenkins, illustrator, Jerry A. Coyne, foreward); Crows! Strange and Wonderful (Bob Marstall, illustrator); Alligators! (Meryl Henderson, illustrator)
Books by Meryl Henderson: Milton Hershey, Young Chocolatier (Childhood of Famous Americans) (M.M. Boch, author); Bats! Strange and Wonderful (Laurence Pringle, author)