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Little sparrow, great joy

Vanilla Ice Cream

Title: Vanilla Ice Cream
By: Bob Graham

What a lovely book! Vanilla Ice Cream tells how one living being can make a difference in another being’s life. The hero of our story is a little sparrow in India who finds an open bag of rice on a truck and proceeds to hop inside. It is his nature to forage for food. The truck carrying the bags of rice is headed for the shipyard, where it is loaded into a container and heads out across the ocean toward an unknown destination. The sparrow calmly eats the rice and periodically hops out of the bag in search of water splashed into the container by the rough sea voyage. When the ship finishes its journey, the container is opened, and the sparrow flies out and over the city. He finds a lovely park with trees and meets a toddler named Edie sitting in her pram, and…a wonderful discovery takes place. The artwork (by the author) tells the story page by page, allowing you to experience what the sparrow sees in his unexpected travels.

Bob Graham tells lovely gentle stories of little happenings and miracles in the world in his other books, including The Silver Button and Oscar’s Half Birthday. Isn’t it nice to read a story where fantastic journeys of kindness can blossom into such lovely endings? A similar story to make you smile and feel good about the world is The Promise, by Nicola Davies.

View similarly tagged posts: picture books
Posted by websterp on Dec. 16, 2014 at 8 a.m.

The bears and the bees

The Bear's Song

Title: The Bear's Song
By: Benjamin Chaud

Little Bear follows a bee from their home in the forest to a busy city, with Papa Bear in pursuit. Each two-page spread is filled with busy, detailed scenes to feast your eyes on. With each turn of the page we see the progress of the chase, through busy streets full of people, cars, scooters, and buses, and into the opera house. We get a tour of the backstage areas following the bee and Little Bear, with Papa Bear not too far behind. I love the loose, expressive drawing style. Chaud fills the pages with imaginative illustrations, little vignettes of people walking, hanging out on balconies, shopping, and tuning musical instruments in preparation for a performance.

Try reading this book several times. First, focus on the main story, following Little Bear and the bee and Papa Bear. Then, go back to see what else is going on in each scene. If you look closely, you will find some of the same people in later pages. Where are they going? Will they be in the next scene? Are they going to the opera, too? The Bear’s Song is a light, comedic romp of the imagination, great for a rainy day read or for a quiet time curled up on the sofa. For more adventuring with Papa Bear and Baby Bear read the follow-up, The Bear's Sea Escape.

View similarly tagged posts: picture books
Posted by websterp on Dec. 15, 2014 at 8 a.m.

Crack! Homuran!

Take Me Out to the Yakyu

Title: Take Me Out to the Yakyu
By: Aaron Meshon

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book about a Japanese-American boy going to baseball games in Japan and America with his Jiji and Pop Pop. We learn the differences and similarities in how the two cultures experience the pastime of baseball/yakyu. Hungry during the game? Let’s eat some peanuts and popcorn; or, in Japan, soba noodles and edamame for a snack/oyatsu. Yum! Crack! Kakiiin! It’s a home run! Homuran! Time to go home and find that Gramma/Ba Ba has made a nice bath/ofuro for you to relax in after the ballgame/yakyu. The illustrations showing American and Japanese life are bright, cheerful, and colorful.

View similarly tagged posts: picture books
Posted by websterp on Dec. 14, 2014 at 11:19 a.m.

Survival at any cost?


Title: Legend
By: Marie Lu

June and Day live in Los Angeles, which is part of the Republic, in the western half of the former United States. The Republic is at war with the Colonies, formerly the eastern half of the United States. The Republic is run as a military state, and June is its prodigy, with a bright future. Day, from the slums of Los Angeles, is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. When June’s older brother is murdered and Day is accused of killing him, June is determined to find out what really happened. The more June uncovers, the more she realizes that the Republic isn’t at all what it seems. And when she gets closer to the truth, June realizes that she must trust Day to help her. Will they be able to work together to bring the truth to light? And what will it cost them to survive?

View similarly tagged posts: fiction, teen fiction
Posted by pughc on Nov. 29, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.

Deceptively calm

San Miguel (audiobook)

Title: San Miguel (audiobook)
By: T. Coraghessan Boyle

San Miguel Island is the westernmost of eight Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. This book starts off with a deceptively calm historic setting. Then, true to form, T.C. Boyle’s characters begin to develop stronger personalities that hint at future conflicts. Perhaps because this book is based on two real families that lived in isolation on San Miguel Island, the Waters family in the 1880s and the Lester family in the 1930s, the author doesn’t go to his usual fictional extremes. As a result, I found the novel charming most of the time, and alarming only some of the time. It’s also a fascinating description of homestead life, very well-written, and the text is ideal for reading aloud. The story is narrated in the third person, always from the point of view of the women. The characters’ blindness to the environmental consequences of their struggle to make a life all alone on the island allows Boyle to convey the environmental moral of the story without getting heavy-handed.

Barbara Caruso (whose credits include The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather and two books by Margaret Atwood) does a great job with the 1880s speech. She sounds equally at home in the 1930s. She interprets the moods and inner turmoil of Boyle’s characters so well, I wanted to jump into the action and save them from what was coming.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction, audiobook
Posted by April on Nov. 29, 2014 at 8:45 a.m.

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