March Reading

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Fiction Read in March

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

Dear Life by Alice Munro
I’m not a big short-story reader but I wanted to read this, the latest collection by the 2013 Nobel Prize winner for literature. Munro has been called a master of the short-story for good reason. I don’t particularly like the people she writes about, the situations she puts them in or the genre she uses. Yet she writes in a way that is compelling and true and beautiful and that makes all of that seem not so important. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This was the first time I’d read this classic thriller. I loved it and couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before. 

The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King (audiobook)

The False Prince
by Jennifer Nielsen
Recommended by John, who loves fantasy books. He read this last year and then recently got it out of the library to re-read it which made me want to see what was so good. This mistaken identity story with a twist rises to the top of the crowded fantasy middle grade genre. I’m looking forward to reading the next two in the trilogy. John promises they are just as good. 

Non-Fiction Read in March:

Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby

With the Kids:

The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Obi, Gerbil on the Loose by Michael Delaney

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Ten Years in the Tub

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After the last book I read, I needed a very particular type of book. Non-fiction. I couldn’t get involved with other fictional characters after inhabiting Adam Johnson’s North Korea. I couldn’t have read something that was too sad or about the evil in the world. I also didn’t want something that was too funny or lightweight. So really my choices were down to some bland not-too-hot-and-not-too-cold book or one of the random catalogs that come in the mail. Luckily for me, I realized I had a third choice: Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub which happened to be on my shelf of books recently checked out of the library.

Ten Years in the Tub is one of my favorite kinds of books: a book about books. It’s actually a collection of columns Hornby wrote for The Believer magazine over the past 10 years. The title of the column is “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” and the skeleton of each column is just that: Hornby’s reflections/reviews of what’s he’s been reading. But you also get thoughts on football (soccer to those of us in the US), musings on art and relationships and parenting and best of all Hornby’s thoughts on the act of reading itself.

Hornby and I are really nothing alike. He’s a 57 year old British man who clearly leans much more to the left than me politically and who mentions once that although he won’t read Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials series because he doesn’t like fantasy and sci-fi, he’s ok with the “God being dead” idea. (What does it say about me that I was more bothered by the idea that he doesn’t like fantasy at all than his anti-religious feelings?) I’m not any of those things. I’m also not an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and author who is married to a director. Heck, I’d never even heard of the clearly hip and arty magazine that his column has been in for 10 (!) years. I do, however, share one important character trait with Hornby. We are both readers.

I could probably turn to just about any page of the book and find a quote by Hornby that I found funny, inspiring, intriguing or just plain true. Hornby’s approach to reading reminded me quite a bit of Alan Jacob’s in The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction although their writing styles are quite different. Both Hornby and Jacobs are of the “read what you want” rather than what is deemed “important”. Read at whimsy. Read one thing and let it lead to another. Read because you want to rather than because you have to.

I thought about making a long list of all the books that I’ve added to my own to-be-read list just by reading this book. But that would be a little boring and to be honest, I didn’t actually make a list. I kept thinking about making a list. Just about each column had me thinking, “Ooh! That sounds good, I want to read that.” But I didn’t sit down and write down each and every book I thought sounded great while I was reading this one. I probably should have but I was usually too into reading to stop and take notes. Plus, I’m usually reading doing something like brushing my teeth or sitting at swim practice or curled up in bed at night. On one hand, I’m sad that I didn’t write them down because I feel like I’m certainly going to forget about that one book that I really really wanted to read. On the other hand, it feels right to not have kept a list. Keeps the door open for whimsy and all that.

One last testament to how much I’ve enjoyed this book. The book was due yesterday at the library but couldn’t be reviewed because it has a hold on it. I hate to have library fines. Not because I mind the money, I figure at about $1.00 I’m still getting a great deal. But because I feel like I’m betraying the other reader out there who is waiting patiently for his hold to come in. I rarely keep books out past the due date in this situation, sometimes I return them and then put them on hold again. But I’ve kept out Ten Years in the Tub. It’s just that good. So if you’re a Fairfax County library goer who has Ten Years in the Tub on hold, sorry. I promise I’ll take it back tomorrow.

 

 

 

The Orphan Master’s Son

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I’m not really sure I can do justice to this book in a review. Nor can I go the lazy way and share my favorite quotes with you because I had to return it to the library today. Since it won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was named a best book of the year by just about every major newspaper and even won the more quirky Tournament of Books in 2013, I’m not sure why I even feel the need to mention it here on my little ol’ blog anyway.

Probably for the reason that I’m fairly sure that when I look back at the end of the year this will be my best book of the year.

The story is of Jun Do, an North Korean orphan who grows up to be a kidnapper and spy. I don’t really want to give away more of the plot than that. It’s complicated and complex. The things it tells of are horrific and gruesome and sad. I never knew what was going to happen next because I’d never have been able to predict the mind-blowing horror of the North Korean prison camps or the sheer unbelievability of life in a totalitarian state.

My book club read this and when we chose it one of the women (who felt that our previous book was too emotionally difficult) asked, “Is it depressing?” To which we looked at her and said “Well, it is about North Korea.” If you are someone who is very sensitive to scenes of torture or violence I would not read this book.

And yet.

Somehow Johnson manages to tell a story filled with unspeakable evil and make it a page-turner. I don’t know how he does it. It’s never gratuitous in its depiction of violence. He tells you only what needs to be told and nothing more. It’s unbelievable but rings true. There is also a slim thread of redemption and even hope within Jun Do’s story. Not redemption as in happy ending with all the bows tied up neatly. (That’s not a spoiler; no one would ever read this book and think it was going to end happily.) But redemption as in there is a shred of hope for the future. It’s a shred but it’s there.

What more is there to say? Except maybe: Read it.

The Good Lord Bird

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I’ve heard this 2013 National Book Award Winner most often described as satire or even farcical. Satire, it is. Take a cross-dressing, wise-beyond-his-years, 12 year old slave who is kidnapped/rescued by John Brown. Mix in a rag-tag band of John Brown’s followers. Stir in a skirt-chasing Frederick Douglass, a slave rebellion in a whorehouse and a leader who prays for hours at a the drop of a hat and you’ve got a fast-moving, page-turning, thumping-good read of a book

Like all good satire, there is a heart underneath all the craziness. There were passages in this book that made me laugh out loud but there were also passages that just resonated as TRUE. And sometimes they were the same passages.

even though I’d gotten used to living a lie-being a girl- in come to me this way. Being a Negro’s a lie, anyway. Nobody sees the real you. Nobody knows who you are inside. You just judged on what you are on the outside whatever your color. Mulatto, colored, black, it don’t matter. You’re just a Negro to the world.

and later….

But a spell come over me that night, watching him eat that bad news. A little bit of a change. For the Captain took that news across the jibs and brung hisself back to Harpers Ferry knowing he was done in. he knowed he was gonna lose fighting for the Negro, on account of the Negro and he brung hisself to it anyway, for he trusted in the Lord’s word. That’s strong stuff. I felt God in my heart for the first time at that moment. I didn’t tell him, for there weren’t no use bothering the Old Man with that truth, ’cause if I’d’a done that, I’d’a had to tell him the other part of it, which is that even as I found God, God was talking to me too, just like He done him, and God the Father was tellin’ me to get the hell out.

February Reading

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Fiction Read in February:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-
Read as part of a co-op class that I assist with (assist meaning basically sit and listen and do nothing, not a bad gig). I had never read this classic horror story. I found it interesting and I’m glad I read it.

The Dinosaur Feather by S.J. Gazan
This debut mystery was awarded the best Danish crime novel of the decade (or something like that). In a bit of serendipity, I found it when searching for something unrelated for John for school. It looked intriguing so I put it on hold at the library only to later see it on many “best of” lists at the end of the year. I read a lot of mysteries and this one may have used the most ingenious (and creepy) method of offing the victim that I’ve ever seen. In some ways this felt similar to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in the Scandinavian setting, very liberal attitudes towards sex that seem to be the societal norm and use of many similar-sounding to my ear Danish names. It’s not as violent as Dragon Tattoo and overall I think I liked Dinosaur Feather better. 

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
I admitted last year that I had to eat crow after initially disliking Flavia deLuce and the series of mysteries she stars in. After reading the third in the series, I have to say these continue to get better and better. Quirky, endearing girl detective and chemist, small English village and clever murders make for a very enjoyable and fun read. 

Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King (audiobook)
I continue to enjoy listening to King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series in the car in the mornings. 

The Unwanteds: Island of Fire by Lisa McMann
The third in a middle grade fantasy series that John and I have read and enjoyed. It’s sort of a Hunger Games meets Harry Potter meets a bunch of other fantasy series that have been done before. But it’s well-written and always especially nice to discuss a book with John that he likes. These must be read in order to be appreciated. The author doesn’t do any summing up of the plot at the beginning of the second and third books so if you are interested, start with number one. 

Non-Fiction Read in February:

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
A memoir/biography of the life of the author’s sister, Ruthie Leming. Dreher grew up in a small town in Louisiana but left as an adult to pursue a career in journalism. His sister stayed behind in the town and lived a very different kind of life surrounded by family. The difference in their personalities and life paths causes tension between the two siblings. Dreher deals with this tension as well as his sister’s life and death when he comes home to live in his hometown after Ruthie’s death from lung cancer. We read this book for my book club and although we all mostly enjoyed it, we all thought it would have been a better book if the author had waited a few years to write it. There are a lot of questions about the themes of community and calling and family that are left unexplored or that he might answer differently when the traumatic events of the book aren’t quite so raw. 

With the Kids:

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Like her brothers before her, Ruth is quite liking the tale of Elmer Elevator and his quest to free the baby dragon from the creatures of Wild Island. 

Obi, Gerbil on the Loose by Michael Delaney
We just started it but as fans of the Humphrey the hamster series, I think David will enjoy this one. He likes anything with animals and books that are funny. This story of a gerbil named after Obi-Wan-Kanobi seems to fit the bill so far. 

Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Cybils (a little late)

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The Cybils winners were announced last Friday. I was too busy to post a comment that day. Unfortunately I wasn’t busy being wined and dined for Valentine’s day but instead I was taking care of a vomiting child. As a side note, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day so I wasn’t really expecting to be wined and dined. But all things considered, I can think of better ways to spend the day than with a 4 year old with a stomach bug.

I read a LOT of Cybils nominees this year, but not that many of the final winners. The only two I had read were the winners in the two picture book categories: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown for fiction and Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate for non-fiction. I was happy with both of those winners. As for the others, several look intriguing to me but the  one I’m really hoping to read is the poetry winner, Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Sadly, our library system has a dismal selection for children’s poetry and doesn’t yet have this one. But one can hope, right?

This year the Cybils were more interesting to me for having been a first round panelist. Now that the whole thing is over I thought I’d give a few reflections on what I learned.

1)There is way more that goes into judging a book than “good” or “bad”. There were so so many really good books that just weren’t going to make it to the shortlist. There were books I loved that didn’t make it to my own personal shortlist for various reasons. Sometimes it was too narrow of an appeal, sometimes it was something well-done but that has been well-done before and so lacked the originality of the other choices. Sometimes it was a lack of reference material (important in a nonfiction category). It made me look at book contests like the Caldecott with a new appreciation for how tough it is. I think in the past when a book I didn’t like won, I would think either the judges had poor taste or I’d question my own judgement. (Usually the first.) But now I appreciate more that the judges might be looking at different criteria than me. Or that a book I don’t personally like can still be award-worthy.

2)There is a LOT of really excellent children’s literature being published. Especially in the category of non-fiction. I knew that already, but this really drove it home.

3) There are a LOT of people who love children’s literature and books as much as me. I’ll even go so far as to say maybe even more. Probably the most fun part of the process (other than the actual reading) was “meeting” people who shared a passion for excellence in children’s literature.

And since this year’s Cybils are over I thought I’d also share my own personal shortlist in the Elementary and Middle Grade Non-Fiction category. Each panelist submitted a list of 10 titles and then after lots of good (and not too heated) discussion we narrowed it down to 7 titles for the final shortlist. As you can see, five of the seven books on the final shortlist were on my personal list. Which means five of my favorites were left off. Each of the other panelists had favorites that also didn’t make the final cut.

In the end, we all felt really good about the list we submitted as a panel. Everyone didn’t love every book but someone loved every book. We wanted a list of books that at least one of us felt passionate about and that’s what we got in the end.

Anubis Speaks by Vicky Alvear Shecter-“one of the quirkiest and most enjoyable books I read…”

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel- Melissa Sweet illustrations plus inspiring story made this one of my favorites of the many picture book biographies in the category.

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin- I never reviewed this biography of a retired professional basketball player turned urban farmer. Look here at Readers to Eaters for a full review.

Locomotive  by Brian Floca I’d just like the record to show that our panel beat the Caldecott committee to the punch with this one. And that I think they had excellent taste this year. 

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Back Yard by Annette LeBlanc Cate- The winner, of course. David, our resident bird-lover, was quite happy when I told him that this one won.

That’s a Possiblity by Bruce Goldstone An engaging book about statistics that all three of my kids (ages 10, 7, and 4) really enjoyed. I’m fairly sure that’s not a sentence that could be written about any other book.

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heligman With appeal for even the biggest math-hater.

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library  by Barb Rosenstock Delicious, bookish quotes. Offers a slightly new perspective on an iconic figure and his passion for books.

Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch Gorgeous illustrations. Packed with facts. Looks at the creative rather than destructive nature of volcanoes.

The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins by Lee R. Berger and Marc Aronson Both John and I found this real life science detective story fascinating. A wonderful look at how science is really done and one that goes one step further and invites the reader to be part of the process.

One last thought in this already too long post: if you are a blogger who loves children’s literature and you’ve thought about applying to be a Cybils panelist, do it! It is a lot of work. But it’s even more fun.

January Reading

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Fiction Read in January:

Someone by Alice McDermott:
Told in beautiful, somewhat spare prose, this is the story of an ordinary life, made extraordinary only in the telling. McDermott captures the feel of a small Irish Catholic Brooklyn neighborhood as we follow one woman, Marie, through her childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips
Fictionalized story of a serial killer in 1930s West Virginia. I did not enjoy this book although I do typically enjoy true crime or mystery novels. Phillips tells the story through the perspective of a woman reporter following the trial of the murderer. Most of the story is about the reporter (a purely fictional character) and a romantic relationship she has with a married man. The romance is written in a way that we are obviously supposed to be sympathetic to (the man’s wife suffers from some kind of dementia and doesn’t know him) and repeatedly we are urged to find that the “goodness” of their happiness somehow outweighs the “badness” of the murders. I don’t require that all characters in novels act in ways that I find morally and ethically correct. But, this one really bothered me.  I think because it so completely buys into the “whatever makes you happy is good” ethic of our modern culture. Instead of arguing that there are shades of gray in morality, Phillips seems to want us to believe that the illicit relationship isn’t gray at all but pure white, purely good. She also chooses to have the story partly told through the perspective of the ghost of one of the victims, who exists in one of those weird limbo type of afterlife that make me think that if that is really all there is after death, I’d prefer to just stay dead, thank you.

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George
Sigh. I used to be a huge Elizabeth George fan, but I haven’t really loved any of her books in a while. I keep reading them because I’ve read them all and I keep hoping to love one again. As I read this one, I realized that what bothers me about George more and more is that she is really good at seeing and exploring the dark side of humanity but really bad at seeing the good side. I’m at the point where none of the characters are really anyone I want to root for or care about. I can appreciate that people are complex, and that characters that are “good” can act bad but in George’s world EVERYONE (and I do mean everyone ) is hiding some kind of dark secret or nasty habit or great inner conflict/character flaw. If you live in the world of Elizabeth George you cannot be happy. Period. Added to that is that her books are getting longer and longer. There was so much in this one that could have been edited out, in particular details about the dark secrets of minor characters. One of the things she excels at is characterization but she seems to have lost the ability to focus on the main plot thread, which is really essential to enjoyment of a mystery.

Joshua Dread: Nameless Hero by Lee Bacon

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
As I mentioned before, I didn’t like this one very much. The Newbery committee disagreed with me. I will say that I can see why this one won. It’s award-worthy, it just wasn’t my particular cup of tea. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
A re-read for the 5th (?) time. I read this one in preparation to lead a co-op class discussion. The experience of preparing for the discussion reminded me how much more we learn when we have to teach.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher
A Cybils young adult speculative fiction finalist. Fabulous fun and really well done. Check out the blurb on the Cybils site for a more full review.

Sidekicked by John David Anderson
A Cybils middle grade speculative fiction finalist. I saw this one on the shortlist and got it for John who quickly read it and really liked it. I also really liked it. It has a fun main plot of a thirteen year old with superpowers who is training to be a sidekick and trying to figure out how to learn to use his powers while navigating middle school. There is also the big theme of good and evil (and what those really mean). There were some twists and turns in this one that surprised me, not just because they were clever but because they involved a deeper level of nuance than I expected.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
A novel told in verse about a friendship between two boys: one a Native American and the other a white settler at the time of the War of 1812.

Non-Fiction Read in January:

The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
Mind-blowing. Partially because of the sheer weirdness but more because of the unbelievably sad accounts of abuse within the church. I’m fairly sure that this one will end up on my “best of” list at the end of 2014.

With the kids:

Betsy-Tacy-Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
It has been sheer joy sharing the first two Betsy-Tacy books with Ruth.

Knight’s Castle by Edgar Eager
I love Eager’s magic books. This is my third (at least) time through this one and again it makes me think I need to read the real Ivanhoe. Maybe this time, I’ll actually do it.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
As a Christmas present, I gave the boys tickets to see this Peter Pan prequel in the theater. We’re going in a few weeks and trying to finish the book first. John and I have read it before, but David hasn’t.

The Moffat Museum by Eleanor Estes
It took us way too long to get through this last of the Moffat series. I really do love these books as read-alouds but I think we’re all ready for something new at lunchtime.

The Rescuers by Margery Sharp
Listening to the audiobook in the car.

Read Aloud Thursday: Bear Books

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When John and David were in preschool, I used Five in a Row with each of them. I loved the gentle curriculum but thought it might be nice to do something different with Ruth. I was afraid that if I did the same thing with her I might not approach it with a fresh excited look. I started the year planning to do an Around the World preschool approach and that lasted for roughly two countries. We’re pretty structured for school for the boys and I think I just burnt out on trying to plan and be structured with preschool also. So I’ve decided to just pick topics that sound good and read about them and see where that gets us.

The past three weeks we’ve been reading about bears, inspired by our planned trip to the zoo to see the new panda cub. But we’ve branched out from pandas and read about all kinds of bears. David likes to listen in while we do “Ruth school” so we’ve also reviewed mammals and a bit about classification and we’ve talked a bunch about hibernation and migration and the difference between the two. David has also been studying the woods (part of an ongoing study of different habitats) and memorizing Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost so it’s all come together well. Probably better than if I had planned it all out.

Here are some of the many bear books we’ve enjoyed.

Polar Bear Morning is the new companion to the award-winning Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson. It’s a simple story: a polar bear cub wakes up, goes out to play in his Arctic home and finds a friend. The clean crisp illustrations are visually appealing and the text is playful.

We also enjoyed Mark Newman’s non-fiction book about Polar Bears. The author is a photographer who has worked for National Geographic and the photo illustrations are stunning. Each page has a single sentence describing polar bears: they are big, patient,hungry, not really white. Smaller text elaborates on the idea in the first sentence for older kids who want to learn more.

Technically, there isn’t a bear in this book, although the unseen BIG HUNGRY BEAR is a character, sort of. Don and Audrey Wood’s The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear has been a favorite of ours for a long time. So much so that John made sure we didn’t read it until he was there. This despite having heard this very short and simple book many many times. A mouse picks a strawberry. The narrator notices but warns the mouse that the big hungry bear who loves strawberries might come and steal it. The mouse tries to find ways to hide it or disguise it but the narrator finds problems with each idea. Finally, the narrator suggests a solution that is the only way to make sure that the big hungry bear doesn’t get the strawberry. The solution has my kids giggling everytime as it suggests that perhaps the narrator isn’t so innocent.

Other Bear Books: 

Our Three Bears by Ron Hirschi- Beautiful photographs accompany this look at the three bears in North America (black, brown and polar).

Books on Pandas reviewed at Supratentorial

Bear Books previously reviewed (including our favorites by Karma Wilson and Bonny Becker)

and even More Bears 

Books On Hibernation:

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple- Sweet rhyming lullaby looking at many different hibernating animals.

A Den is Bed for a Bear by Becky Baines This one inspired quite a few blanket and chair and couch pillow “dens” being made.

Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows Fun, kind of silly look at hibernation for preschoolers.

Turtle Spring by Deborah Zagwyn Obviously no about bears. I think David especially enjoyed this more complex and very sweet story about Clee, a girl who thinks her beloved turtle has died in the winter. She buries him under the compost heap, only to find in the spring that he returns to her. There is a lot more going on here, as Clee also learns to accept her new baby brother and anxiously awaits her father’s return home from a job that has him gone the whole winter. It’s a beautifully done story and book.

Stop by Read Aloud Thursday for more great read aloud recommendations. Consider participating this month! It would be great to see what you are all reading with your kids.

 

Non-Fiction Monday: Two about Matisse

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These two relatively new books on Henri Matisse offer complementary accounts of his life and work and make for a great elementary artist study. Colorful Dreamer by Marjorie Blain Parker looks at Matisse’s entire life, with about half the book in the period before he really became an artist. The most striking thing about the book is the illustrations which mirror the description of Matisse’s development as an artist. In the beginning when he is a child living in a small industrial French town, everything is shown in black and white pencil sketches except his dreams which are in vivid color. The black and white color scheme continues through his law clerk days and hospitalization with appendicitis. However, while hosptialized his mother brought him a box of paints and when we turn the page it sings with color and movement. The next pages gradually become all color. Even more striking, the illustrations in the second half show visually show Matisse’s change in styles from realistic to fauvist to the final pages which show a town much like he may have grown up in but in the style of his famous paper cutouts.  This is one of the more effective ways I’ve seen to have kids really feel how an artist’s style changes over time.

Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter focuses briefly covers Matisse’s early years but instead focuses on the time after he is confined to bed as an old man and how he managed to find a way to continue creating art when he couldn’t paint by using his giant paper cutouts. Winter includes actual quotes from Matisse and gives much more detail on how the cutouts were made than in Colorful Dreamer. Winter’s illustrations more directly reflect the shapes and feel of the cutouts and indeed, she actually uses cut paper for some of them.

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Art books are an accompaniment to what I call “Art with Daddy” on David’s weekly schedule. David is very much like H. in many ways and one of those is his creativity and love of art. This project took them three weekly art sessions to complete (one to make the painted paper, one to work on the cutouts and one to put it all together) and I think it turned out beautifully.

Visit Non-Fiction Monday for more great juvenile non-fiction!

Non-Fiction Monday: Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat

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April Pulley Sayre celebrates seeds of all kinds in Let’s Go Nuts!: Seeds We Eat. The simple, rhyming text and bold photographs are a perfect introduction for preschoolers to the wide variety of foods that are seeds. From beans to rice to corn to quinoa, Sayre covers the familiar and the more exotic. Coconuts, cashews, and even spices like cardamom and vanilla have a place here.

End pages give fairly extensive extra information on seeds and their place in diets around the world. I can see this one easily as a read-aloud time on food or as part of a preschool unit, especially combined with Sayre’s other food books: Rah, Rah Radishes! and Go, Go, Grapes! 

And don’t forget to visit the Non-Fiction Monday blog for more kid’s non-fiction!