Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Books I am Reading Over and Over Again

I have an almost 18 month old boy. For awhile he had little to no interest in reading books - so many things to see! To do! To destroy! But recently he has fallen in love with books. He brings a book to any reader in the family, scoots backwards into their lap and waits for the story to be read. Over and Over again.

Here are a few of his favorites:

Steve Light's Trains Go and Planes Go are far and away his very favorites. They contain colorful pictures of varied trains or planes set against a white background. The text names the diesel train or space shuttle and then gives the sound they make. Our Trains Go is in two halves now it is so beloved and my son runs around the house chirping "choo choo" and "WooooOOOoooOO WooooOOOoooOOO."

A classic. Goodnight Moon is definitely one of his go-to grabs. He especially loves the little old lady whispering "hush".

John Burningham's Colors and Opposites are one word books with pictures - yellow, red, heavy, light. They are favorites around here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Counting by 7s

I recently read Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting by 7s. It was highly recommended, but I must admit that I was hesitant when told that the premise of the book is "a middle school girl who has no friends and her parents are killed in a car crash." It sounded like such a downer.

But despite the fact that the description I was given is true at the most basic level, the book is not depressing. Willow Chance is a 12 year-old child genius, and a little odd. She is fascinated with plants and counts everything by 7s. She has no friends at school and her parents die in a car accident at the start of the novel.

The story that unfolds is Willow's journey to find herself and a family in her new, shaken-up world. Somehow Sloan is able to bring together the quirkiest cast of characters and make it work:
Dell, the unprofessional school counselor and at home hoarder
Mai, the high school, almost friend, she meets through counseling and ends up living with
Quang-ha, Mai's older brother who is not pleased to be sharing their one room garage
Pattie - Mai and Quang-ha's mother who owns a nail salon
Jairo Hernandez - a taxi cab driver Willow befriends

This is a group of characters that are remarkably different from each other, and their interactions kept me smiling throughout the book. And despite their differences, their friendships felt genuine. It is the characters endearing specificity that makes this book so great. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Tomorrow brings the announcement of all of the ALA awards. I always love to hear the winners and add books to my list to read. I haven't had a clear Caldecott front runner this year until I saw Raul Colon's Draw!

It is a wordless picture book that begins with a boy on his bed drawing pictures. The reader quickly moves inside the illustrations and into the plains of Africa. The boy is seen in the forefront drawing zebras, lions, elephants and even a charging rhinoceros. The story moves back to the boy illustrating on the bed and ends with him presenting one of his illustrations to his class. Colon has said that as a child he had chronic asthma and spent weeks at a time in bed, drawing.

I love how the story progresses and the animals come to life in the illustrations. The drawings are detailed and full of texture. Colon uses colored pencils and layers the colors on top of each other to create depth and more vivid colors.  He then uses an etching instrument to create more texture and movement in the drawings.

The result is an imaginative, beautifully drawn story that draws the reader into the plains of Africa along with the young boy artist.