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Review: Grandpa Green (2011)

Grandpa Green by Lane SmithGrandpa Green

In honor of Grandparent’s Day yesterday, I re-read a favorite Lane Smith picture book, Grandpa Green.  Lane Smith is most notable for his illustrations (like the ones in James and the Giant Peach and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs)  but he has also written a lot of great picture books, such as John, Paul, George, and Ben and The Happy Hocky Family.

In this book, a great-grandson recalls the events of his horticulture-loving great-grandfather’s life.  The simple, straightforward sentences delightfully capture a poignant mood as the child fondly tells his great-grandfather’s story and honors his legacy while traipsing through topiary bushes with his wagon.  The beautiful shades of green that pop off every page are pleasing to the eye and make it clear why this book was a Caldecott Honor award winner.  I also appreciate the literary references when Smith writes about how Grandpa Green became ill with chicken pox and how “He had to stay home from school.  So he read stories about secret gardens and wizards and a little engine that could.”  In fact, the more I have read this book over the years, the more I have appreciated it.  It’s the perfect picture book for a little one to cozy up with Grandma or Grandpa and read together!  Someday, I would love to have students (or my own kids) write their own version of Grandpa Green for their own grandparent.  It would be the most meaningful and heartwarming present.      -Marika

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Review: Sisters (2014)

sisters

It is summertime, so I finally had a chance to read this book. Getting my hands on it during the school year was impossible. Our students, both the girls and boys, are loving this graphic novel about a family that takes a road trip from California to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Sisters is actually book 2 in a series by Raina Telgemeier. I have not read the first book, and felt that this one stands alone just fine. It is a quick, engaging read and has the power to hook a lot of young readers. I enjoyed the story much more than I expected to. Actually, I really loved it. This may be because the author is close to my age and she wrote about her own life as a child, growing up in a way that seemed very familiar to me.

This book has been nominated by kids for the Colorado Children’s Book Award in 2016. Despite the very stiff competition it has, I’m going to go ahead and predict right now that this one will win the kids’ votes. -Erin

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Review: Secrets of Selkie Bay (2015)

selkieSecrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas

Years ago I saw a movie called The Secret of Roan Inish. It was a story of Ireland, family, and selkies. That story stuck with me through the years and the Irish folklore of selkies continues to fascinate me, so when I saw this title available to read and review in advance through NetGalley, I jumped on it. I was not disappointed.

Set in an Irish seaside town, Secrets of Selkie Bay tells the tale of three girls and their Da trying to pick up the pieces after the disappearance of their mother and wife. Questions abound, adding intrigue to the story. Is it possible that their mother is a selkie, and has found her seal coat and returned to the sea? Why won’t Da spend the money in the sugar jar despite their financial distress? Could there really be an enchanted island in the mist, home of selkies and buried treasure?

I look forward to purchasing this title for our library and book talking it with our students. How many of them have heard of selkies, I wonder? Shelley Moore Thomas did an excellent job developing the characters in the book, touching on themes such as loss, family and the environment, and creating an air of magical mystery in a seaside town.

The book is not without flaws. I usually love covers done by Gilbert Ford, but this one is lost on me.  The seal drawings look pained and sad. Overall, however, this is book I will recommend highly to my students!

-Erin