Friday, May 3, 2013
The chant will stay with you long after the last page is turned: "Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LEMONADE! All that it will cost ya? Fifty cents a cup!" (not sure about you, but that last line really nails it for me). And with it the image of two determined young children ready to capitalize on their entrepreneurial spirit in order to liven up an otherwise cold, snowy winter's day. When Pauline peeks out of her apartment window and sees the blank open street, the immediate vision is a lemonade stand (naturally). I particularly loved the opening, with the surprisingly warm illustrations of a cold day, and one brightly lit window holding a tiny smiling head. The words start the reader off on an adventure too: "An empty street. Outside, a mean wind blows." Pauline has her work cut out for her, but she will prevail. So, against the well-meaning admonishments from her parents, Pauline and her little brother John-John scavenge through the house for quarters, and in doing so, take the reader into a lyrical journey through counting, adding, and learning about the value of money.
I really loved this book for its many layers. On the surface, you have two children who constantly adapt to their challenging surroundings (No people around? Time for a discount! Not enough attention? Let's advertise!) and gain admirers and customers through their endeavor. It's a sweet tale of sister teaching brother how to count money—but more than that, she instills the value of money into him. That leads to my second level of admiration: learning the real value of money. Does that only mean that four lemons cost a dollar, and two dollars for cups?
Nope, because by the end Pauline realizes that despite their efforts, they had spent six dollars on supplies, but only earned four dollars worth of quarters in sales. So she and the reader have a sense of disappointment that their hard work did not lead to success. But the "value" of money doesn't end there. Her brother John-John reminds Pauline that it still amounts to something, "Sixteen [quarters] is money!" says John-John... "Will sixteen quarters buy two popsicles?" Leave it to the youngest to have the most faith. And so, by the end, Pauline and her brother share the fruits of their labor by realizing they can have two sweetly sour lime and lemon popsicles. The value of money becomes the value of the shared experience.
This is an exceptional book for introducing a child to the idea of money. The illustrations also carry the reader through all the steps in soft tones, never overwhelming, just perfect for the sunshine and vibrance that the two kids bring to their glum sidewalk. Kids and parents, students and teachers will feel truly enriched through this reading experience.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Monkey & Elephant’s Worst Fight Ever! is about best friends Monkey and Elephant. Monkey goes to Elephant’s house and assumes that he wasn’t invited to a secret costume party that Elephant was having. Things quickly escalate from there. Elephant gets even by giving the Bunny family the keys to Monkey’s house. Monkey responds by painting a face on Elephant’s rump while he’s sleeping. Tensions between Monkey and Elephant continue to escalate. Eventually, Monkey and Elephant are given an ultimatum: Monkey and Elephant must make up and hug before they can come home. Monkey and Elephant argue for a while before Monkey learns that Elephant wasn’t having a party; he was hosting a surprise wrestling tournament for Monkey. Elephant and Monkey apologize to each other and come home. They fix everything they broke and they hold the wrestling tournament.
Some of Monkey and Elephant’s actions struck me as childish. Monkey and Elephant’s fight was based on a misunderstanding that could have been resolved if Monkey had asked Elephant what he was doing. Monkey and Elephant were overly dramatic:
I’m sorry too!
Not as sorry as I am.
No, I’m more sorry!
No, I’m more sorry!
I did not like this book much. The characters were vindictive. They got revenge on each other. Some of what they did involved innocent bystanders. No wonder the other animals wanted them gone! They were ruining the peacefulness of the island. This book is about friendship and how you should not jump to conclusions. If you don’t understand something, you should ask questions.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Princess Zelda and the Frog is a retelling of the classic tale The Princess and the Frog, but in this version the princess and the frog are bulldogs in costumes. Princess Zelda has everything she could ever want, except a full night’s sleep. She wears silk dresses and sleeps in a silk bed. One day, she drops her golden ball into a mud puddle. She doesn’t know how to get it back, so she makes a deal with the frog, who fetches her ball in return for her letting him eat off her plate, drink from her goblet, and sleep on her bed. Princess Zelda reluctantly agrees to the frog’s demands. In the morning the frog turns into a handsome prince and Princess Zelda gets a good night’s sleep.
I like the names in this book: Princess Zelda, Queen Lucille, and King Sour-Mug. The frog has a lot of nicknames for Princess Zelda; he calls her Sparkles, Silky Pants, Sweet Cakes, Princess Perfect, and Sweetums. He repeatedly refers to her as his BFF, or Best Friend Forever. He calls out:
“Oh, BFF, please let me in!
So I might see your lovely grin!
Remember the promise you made to me
Please let me in---We’re meant to be!”
At the end of the book, Princess Zelda, waking up from a good night’s sleep, says to the prince:
“Oh, BFF, you were so right.
I used to toss and turn at night.
But with you snoring next to me,
It’s plain to see we’re meant to be!”
The costumes Princess Zelda wore highlight that she is a very pretty princess. I find it interesting that through the majority of the book Princess Zelda wears purple. On a few pages, she wears pink. In the last three pages, she wears red and gold. The frog has only one costume until the end of the book. At the end of the book, he is wearing red, blue, white, black, and gold.
Overall, I liked Princess Zelda and the Frog. I like dogs. I would dress my dog in costumes if she’d let me.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Tabby McTat The Musical Cat is the story of a cat and his master, a busker named Fred. They enjoy singing songs and collecting money from people on the street.
The story starts out happy and ends happy. However, the ending is not completely happy; Tabby McTat does not go back to his wife and her owners Prunella and Pat. The story is happy in that Tabby McTat is reunited with Fred. I thought the story was sad in that Fred and Tabby were trying to find each other but were unable to do so. Also, Fred breaks his leg when he chases after the thief.
Tabby McTat The Musical Cat uses a lot of rhyme. For example, “this and that” rhymes with “old checked hat.” “Sat” rhymes with “cat.” “Chat” rhymes with “cat.” “Chase” rhymes with “lace.” “Head” rhymes with “bed.” “Black” rhymes with “back.” “Old Fred” rhymes with “hospital bed.” “Pat,” “mat,” “flat,” and “bat” rhyme, so do “Grew” and “mew” and “tabby-gray fur” and “very loud purr.” “Susan and Soames” and “very good homes” rhyme, as does “Tabby McTat” and long-lost cat!”
In addition to rhyme, Tabby McTat The Musical Cat uses repetition. For example, on the first page of text “perfectly” is repeated three times, although the last time says “PURRR-fectly.” When the thief enters the story, “it” is repeated. When Tabby McTat is separated from Fred, “on” is repeated.
The author is also alliterative. The third sentence of the first page reads: “The two of them sang of this and that.” Fred eats bacon and bread; bacon and bread both begin with “B.” When Tabby McTat meets Sock, Sock is described as “A gorgeously glossy and green-eyed cat.” When Sock and McTat talk, it’s described as a “cat-to-cat chat.” When the thief steals the hat, there is a ton of words beginning with “H”: “had,” “his,” “hat,” and “he.” When Fred pursues the thief, the author uses the words “chase” and” crash” and “broke” and “banged.” Sock’s owners are named Prunella and Pat. McTat enjoys pouncing on Pat.
Overall, I thought Tabby McTat The Musical Cat was a good picture book. I liked the interaction between the cats and their owners. As the daughter of a musician, I also liked the musical aspect of the story.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Fans of David McKee’s patchwork elephant will enjoy the colorful characters of his newest addition to the series, Elmer and the Birthday Quake. Elmer takes a back seat in the tale when his friend Super El is better suited for the task of rescuing a 100-year-old elephant (appropriately named “Old”) from a dangerous cliff top. Super El, a smallish pachyderm in a spandex (I’m assuming) superhero suit, will delight his fans with his eager and decisive heroics. Not only is he a quick and confident hero, he teachers Elmer and the other elephants to seize the day.
As colorful as ever, McKee’s illustrations are delightful and bold. In addition to his visually diverse jungle layouts, a radiant herd of pink elephants make an appearance.
Following in the tradition of providing his reader with a bit of counsel (in Elmer celebrating individuality is the lesson), McKee’s book is a lighthearted tale that pokes at the reader to consider taking an active role in making the most of their days.