Posts tagged ‘personification’

A TRUE FRIEND

The Monk and the Yak

Written and Illustrated by Ori Avnur

The Monk and the Yak is a picture book that is set in India at the foot of the Himalayas. The monk and his yak live and work peacefully side by side. One winter the monk becomes seriously ill so he dispatches a message with the yak to a neighboring village seeking help. When the monk finally recovers, he is astonished to find out the source of his recovery.

The story is an inspiring one for readers in the elementary grades. Illustrations are soft and accurately convey the mood. I would suggest that the size of the font be increased as it is too small for young readers. Recommended especially for children ages five through eight.

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BAD BOY

The Worst Book Ever

Written by Beth Bacon

Illustrated by Jason Grube and Coriander Hale

This book desperately wants to be a bad boy. His goal is to become a banned book in the library. He tries everything to win the librarian’s disapproval. Some of his tactics include using gross words, misspelled words, and made-up words. The book enlists readers to assist him by being loud and doing everything possible to annoy the librarian like flapping arms, wiggling and jumping up and down in their seats. To his dismay, the book makes its way into storytime.

This book is filled with much humor, graphics, and simple illustrations. There are vivid colors, lots of variation in print size, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Bacon playfully encourages her readers to become accomplices in the book’s quest for notoriety.

Bacon targets the book for a kindergarten through grade five audience. Beginning, intermediate and reluctant readers can join in the fun.

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THREE TECHIE FRIENDS

Ai and Big City Adventure: New Age Pinocchio, Adventures of Ai, his new friends, and Old Man in the Big City

Written by Olga Go

 

Old Man Steve lives by himself in a small apartment in New York City and often feels lonely. One day he finds a smartphone and decides to try to fix it. He names the phone Ai. Suddenly, the phone comes to life. The next day, Ai leaves the apartment while Steve is sleeping. He plays in the park with a computer, a camera, and an i pad. They exchange information with each other. The new friends hatch a scheme to sell Ai to get some money. Ai is sold to Jack, but Ai feels guilty about leaving his friend Steve. They arrive at a compromise that makes everyone happy.

This story is a clever 21St Century Pinocchio story. The illustrations are modern, crisp, and colorful. Elementary school children will enjoy the clever characters and empathize with Steve’s plight. My only recommendation would be to make the print text bolder as it is sometimes difficult to read when placed against the illustrations.

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CHARMING, BUT CONFUSING

Floofy Drives America Crazy

Written by Nurit Reichman

Illustrated and Edited by Nurit Yuval

This beginning chapter book with fewer than fifty pages consists of an interesting and clever storyline. Floofy is an adorable Maltese pup who lives in Israel. She misses her mistress, Maya, who is off in America visiting Boston. Floofy is so depressed and lonely that she creates a virtual reality of herself and travels to America. While visiting there, Floofy manages to meet a TV celebrity cat named Max and almost gets clawed to death by a Mama Bear while she is playing with one of her cubs. Floofy even manages to play match-maker and attends a virtual wedding.

 Beginning readers will love the animal and human characters but may get confused by the many sub-plot lines with connections that push the limits of reality. A few illustrations enhance the book. I would recommend this book especially for readers in the six to nine age group, who enjoy animal and fantasy stories.

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST

LAST TWO FINALISTS IN EASY READER AND EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS

Easy Reader

JUST RIGHT…

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy

Written by Laurel Synder

Illustrated by Emily Hughes

This is the second book in a series. One thing I would like to suggest is that the author gives a brief introduction to the characters for those who did not read the first book. Two brothers named Charlie and Mouse hear a knock at the door. They are delighted to find that their grandfather “Grumpy” has come to pay them a visit. Grumpy tells them that they are getting big. Charlie agrees, but his younger brother Mouse says he is just “medium.” That leads to a delightful discussion on what the word medium means. The next morning the boys launch a plan to pounce on their grandfather, but he is already awake. The boys find a way to implement their plot. When their parents go out for the evening Grumpy entertains them with pizza and movies. They set up a fort and request a song from Grumpy, but their plans go awry with Charlie coming to the rescue. When the time comes for Grumpy to leave, the boys find it difficult to say goodbye and use a blanket as a cover-up.

This story is well-written and helps children understand emotions that are difficult to put into words. At just under fifty pages, this book is a good fit for children who are ready to transition from speech bubbles and easy readers to a traditionally laid out chapter book. There is plenty of space between the lines to make it easy to follow. Soft watercolor illustrations fit well with the storyline. Teachers might want to read each chapter separately for kindergarten or first-grade readers.

EARLY CHAPTER

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS…

Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift

Written by Kallie George

Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Mona, the Mouse, is an orphan who lives and works as a maid in the Heartwood Hotel. As the story opens, most of the winter animal guests are turning in to hibernate. The staff is about to celebrate with the St. Slumber party hosted by Mr. Heartwood. The employees celebrate with a feast and exchange of gifts.

Tilly, the Squirrel, is Mona’s best friend and roommate is Tilly. Their quiet, winter season is disturbed by the arrival of the haughty, Duchess Rabbit who makes unreasonable demands. Then a mysterious thief begins to steal food supplies. A food delivery truck goes missing. When the vents are clogged, Tilly and Mona slip out to investigate. They are shocked to discover a neighboring community of which they were unaware.

The personified animal communities exemplify the best and worst of human nature. Decisions need to be made that will affect the welfare of all. Readers learn the importance of weighing self-interest versus family and community. Black and white illustrations remind me a bit of Beatrix Potter. I found myself wishing there were more of them. Lots of dialogue and twists and turns keep the chapter book lively. While this book is classified as an early chapter book and can be enjoyed by early readers, I believe the length and plot depth make it more suitable for a third or fourth-grade audience. Look forward to checking out other books in the series.

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LEARNING HOW TO BE A TRUE FRIEND

Emilia’s Treasure: How a Mermaid Makes Friends

Written by Anca Niculae

Illustrated by Maria Falie

Emilia, the mermaid, is upset because none of her mermaid friends want to search for pearls with her. She goes off in search of other mermaids, a snail and a school of fish, but none of them seem interested in her project. When a little mermaid loses her seahorse, Emma decides to search with her. As the two new friends continue on their exploration they meet other creatures of the sea. This time the two mermaids stop and listen to what these creatures have to say. They learn the valuable lesson that in seeking friendship listening is more important than seeking to impress others.

At the end of the book, the author supplies a questionnaire to assist children in assessing their own relationships. Children are presented with a list of questions to answer and activities to use that are placed in appropriate age categories. I would particularly recommend this book for beginning readers and shy children who have difficulty with peer relationships. This book has value for children of all ages.

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#Cybils2017 #Finalists

Proudly presenting two more books that were finalists in the contest this year:

EASY READER CATEGORY

FRIENDS FINDING SOLUTIONS…

My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories

Written by Salina Yoon

 

All three stories feature the same three main characters, Little Duck, Big Duck and Porcupine. In the first story, Big Duck gets his kite stuck in the tree. His two friends try to help, but only make the problem worse. Children will laugh at the silly solutions the characters invent.

The second tale revolves around Porcupine making friends with a bug. Big Duck and Little Duck discuss the qualities needed in a friend and try to persuade Porcupine why he can’t be friends with a bug. There is a surprise ending.

In the third story, the three friends decide to build a lemonade stand. They model cooperation, patience and hard work. Of course, there are a few hiccups and lots of humor when the friends forget about the main ingredient needed for their success.

These stories employ speech balloons with dark text and brilliant digital illustrations that fill the page. I would recommend it to preschoolers and kindergarten beginning readers. Each story can be enjoyed separately for beginning readers with shorter attention spans.

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK CATEGORY:

SCIENCE, MAGIC, AND GIRL POWER…

Zoey And Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows

Written by Asia Citro

Illustrated by Marion Lindsay

 

What a charming way to combine science, a bit of magic and a strong female role model in an interesting story! Zoey is an inquisitive, intelligent, sweet girl. One day she discovers her mother holding a photograph that appears to be glowing. Her mother attempts to hide it, but when Zoey reveals that she can see the glowing creature, her scientist-mother reveals her secret.

As a child, her mother discovered a purple glowing frog that was severely injured. To her amazement, the frog named Pip began talking to her. Ever since that day, Zoey’s mom had been helping other magical creatures who needed assistance. She installed a hidden doorbell in the barn. Zoey’s mom thought she was the only one who had this ability, but now she understands that Zoey also has the gift.

When Zoey’s mom must travel to a scientific conference, Zoey hopes that she will receive a call for help from one of these magical creatures. Zoey studies her mom’s journals, notes, and photos. Sure enough, a few days later, she hears the bell and finds a small reptile near death in the barn. Zoey gets to work, but there is so much to learn. She sets forth a hypothesis and sets out her materials. Like a true scientist, she uses trial and error and controls in her experiments. Together with her cat, Sassafras, they work to save the creature. Who is this creature? Will Zoey be successful?

I found lots to like in this chapter book. Large print, beautiful black and white drawings, and a table of contents that lists the subject of each short chapter. Citro carefully crafts a multicultural, curious and hard-working female protagonist who is empathetic and appealing to young readers. Children quickly become engrossed with the plot, while hardly realizing they are learning about the scientific method and the reptile species. The glossary reinforces understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary. Highly recommended for beginning readers, but certainly challenging enough for middle-grade readers.

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