Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In the end, the brave soldier marries the eldest daughter; a nice twist from the standard 'youngest daughter' plot, and the book ends with a bit of history about the origins of the tale. Most girls will love this tale, with its focus on ballgowns, dancing, and a magical fairyland.
First Chapter Book
This Japanese folk tale has been translated into English by author Judy Sierra, a master folklorist and storyteller. It's not surprising that this book just begs to be read aloud!
The story begins with a childless couple, who find a tiny girl (Uriko-hime) inside a floating melon. The girl grows incredibly quickly, and picks up the skills her parents teach her with ease. Fortunately for everyone, her father was a great swordsman; Uriko's skills come in handy when the Oni (great monsters) invade the local village, looking for their favourite snack!
Kids will love chanting the Oni's refrain (Belly buttons! Belly Buttons! Tasty baby belly buttons!), and the descriptions of the Oni's island and the final battle are hilarious and exciting at the same time. A great story with lots of humour, but a solid plot and structure. Excellent for readalouds or storytelling.
Grades k - 3
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Despite tihs, Isabelle is perky and optimistic, keeping the spirits of those around her bright. But there doesn't seem to be any way out for orphan Isabelle...until someone comes searching especially for her.
It turns out that Isabelle is heir to Fortune's Farm, a beautiful and sunny homestead filed with magical cherry trees that can heal all sickness, floating fronds that can make you fly, and other wonderful things. It's like a fantastic dream for Isabelle! But when Isabelle realizes that staying on the farm will mean abandoning her downtrodden friends in Runny Cove, her loyalty is put to the test.
This is a light and positive read, great for kids who like a bit of magic or fantasy in their literature. Although the reading level is about grade four, the inoffensive content makes it a good pick for advanced readers in earlier grades. It's rare to find a true fantasy book for younger kids, so this one is certainly worth noting; it's tone is reminscent of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
This book is unique in that it recommends "gentle reads". These books are ones that are inspiring, heartwarming, or in some way uplifting to a reader. The author was pushing back against the plethora of Young Adult titles that focus on the negative aspects of life: drug addiction, mental illness, and other troubles.
Generally, this is an excellent and useful resource. I do hope, however, that readers do not entirely ignore the wonderful selection of books that do focus on the harsher aspects of life for children and teens. Some of these books are incredibly positive, since they show kids who run up against the worst that life has to offer, and somehow pull through with grace and wisdom. As part of a balanced reading diet, Gentle Reads is a wonderful pointer for kids and parents.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Mo Willems (author of the Pigeon picturebooks) has written another hilarious easy reader in the Elephant and Piggie series.
Elephant and Piggie are hanging out, when suddenly...a bird lands on Elephant's head! Of course Elephant can't see this, so he has to rely on Piggie's blow by blow reporting as one bird becomes two...and then they fall in love...and then they make a nest...and lay eggs...and hatch chicks!
Kids will laugh hysterically at Elephant's expressions as this chain of events progresses. In the end, Piggie suggests, "Why don't you ask them to move?" A great lesson in asking for what you want is learned...except that the birds then take up residence on Piggie's head.
This series is always funny, and is a great pick for very early readers who prefer books with a lot of humour (boys!!).
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Former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo has written an excellent retelling of the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. This extended version has lots of challenging vocabulary and extra detail to bring the story to life. The length (and the high ratio of words to pictures on the pages) make this telling suitable for older preschoolers and school aged kids.
Woodcutter Gabriel is happy with his lovely wife Lisette. Their two children, Hansel and Gretel, are at the centre of this idyllic family. However an evil witch wants Lisette's happiness, and she usurps the wife's place, then convinces the father to lead his children into the woods and abandon them. after being held captive in the iconic gingerbread house, Hansel and Gretel escape, and return home to find the spell broken, and their parents reunited.
Emme Chichester Clark's charming and whimsical art accompanies this story. It's beautiful pastels lend a french country air to the story, and little girls will adore the bright, girly colours. Most boys will enjoy the story too, but perhaps more for the witch's deservedly grisly end rather than the pretty art.
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public LIbrary's catalogue!