Feb 5, 2010

Children's Book Reviews

Bibliography:
Selznick, Brian. 2007. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic Press. ISBN 0439813786

Summary:
An orphaned boy hides out in a busy Paris train station and takes over his missing uncle’s clock making duties. A relationship with a local girl and a toy booth owner may put his anonymity at risk.

Critical Analysis:
Hugo is a busy boy in 1930s Paris. He is the train stations clock keeper, a duty forced upon him at his father’s death in a fiery museum and his Uncle’s disappearance, and also a part-time thief. After attempting to steal, a toy booth owner takes Hugo’s beloved notebook of automaton drawings. A bookish girl, the toy booth owner’s granddaughter, decides to help Hugo get his notebook back even though he was told the notebook was burned. Despite everyone’s secrets and lies, an unsteady relationship between the toy booth owner, the girl, and Hugo form. The 533 pages may seem overwhelming for a young reader, but the pencil drawings that take over where the words leave off, make Hugo a fast page turner. Selznick’s drawings enrich the text and add to the dark, gloomy days of 1930s Paris.

Awards:
Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal
Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

Reviews:
“Here is a true masterpiece” Publishers Weekly 2007

“Hugo Cabret evokes wonder.” The New York Times – John Schwartz

“Part mystery, part feel-good drama, and part picture book for older readers, this novel will fly off the shelf simply because of its visual appeal.” VOYA

Connections:
Selznick, Brian. 2008. The Houdini Box. Atheneum. ISBN 1416968784

Lee Stewart, Trenton, Sudyka, Diana. Mysterious Benedict Society Series, #2 Little Brown Book for Young Readers. ISBN 0316036730


Bibliography:
Marcus, Leonard S. 1998. A Caldecott Celebration: Six Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal. Walker and Company. ISBN 0802786588

Summary:
Features Six Caldecott Medal authors and their winning titles.

Critical Analysis:
Marcus takes us behind the scenes as six Caldecott Medal winners discuss the writing and illustration process of their award winning book. Each winner is taken from a different decade and their artwork from several different mediums. A reader will spend time going over original pencil drawings, clay models or watercolor filled sketches. Marcus offers intriguing details that keep young readers wanting more: Sendak wrote the skeleton for Wild Things eight years before it’s’ release, and Van Allsburg photographed plastic animals because “close-up photos of charging rhinos were nowhere to be found”. Marcus has a true appreciation for illustrators and A Caldecott Celebration invites us to admire them as well.

Awards:
None

Reviews:
“Filled with witty anecdotes and pithy observations, Marcus's (Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom) approach to examining the works of six Caldecott Medalists will be of as much interest to adults as to picture book readers.” Publishers Weekly 1998

“A beautifully made book.” Booklist

Connections:
Marcus, Leonard S. 1998. Ways of Telling: Fourteen Interviews With Masters of the Art of the Picture: Fourteen Interviews With the Masters of the Art of the Picture Book . Dutton Juvenile. ISBN 0802786561.

Mccannon, Desdemona, Thornton, Sue, Williams, Yadzia. The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books: From creating characters to developing stories, a step-by-step guide to making magical picture books. Running Press. ISBN 0762431482.


Bibliography:

Shange, Ntozke. Ellington Was Not a Street. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, ISBN 0689828845

Summary:
Through a child’s eye, Ellington Was Not a Street provides a glimpse into the lives of African American men who had a positive impact on American culture.

Critical Analysis:
Presented in free verse form, Ellington is a reflective poem that takes us into Shange’s childhood home at a time when African American men “changed the world”. Nelson’s illustrations for Ellington are as important as Shange’s carefully chosen words. The reader will feel like they have stepped into a painting on the Huxtable’s living room wall. Rich and detailed, these illustrations tell a story all on their own. Ellington can be appreciated by children and adults alike.

Awards:
Winner of the 2005 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

Reviews:
"Deeply colored paintings enrich this homage to African-American men who made history and influenced culture....Exquisite." Kirkus Reviews

“This is truly a book for all ages, lovely to behold and designed to be revisited.” Publisher’s Weekly

Connections:
Levine, Ellen, Nelson, Kadir. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. ISBN 043977733X

Collier, Bryan, Smith, Ricky. Uptown. ISBN 1430100508

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