Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bibi's Bookshelf--Four Reviews In One

I borrowed all of these books for Bibi but between her being sick and her mommy being sick and just poor timing, she never got to read them (or have them read to her, as the case may be).  Anyway, I read them and thought I'd share my thoughts, even without the benefit of Bibi's enthusiasm.



This book is lovely to look at but clearly for older children than my granddaughter.  I enjoyed reading it very much and practically drooled over some of the images. This is very text heavy too, which is why I think that older tween readers will appreciate this book far more than a preschooler or even elementary school age child would.  The story is simple—an adult man reads his father’s journals and shares the stories his father shared with him as a child.  Truth and fiction, as is true with most memory, gets blurred and fuse into a lovely, imaginative tale.


The illustrations in this book are so bold, gorgeous, and fun.  As they should be.  This collection of fairy tales, told in free verse form, is fun to read, especially because the poetic form used is unusual.  You see, the first line of each poem is also the last line because the poem goes, line by line, forward in telling the story while, halfway through, repeating the lines in reverse order.  Hence, “reverso poem.”  I think elementary age children who are comfortable reading independently will love this book because they will recognize what it is the author is doing.  They may even be inspired to try to write a reverse poem of their own. 


Stories of the trickster archetype, typically a rabbit, are so common in many cultures and here is a beautifully illustrated edition of a story of a rabbit who tricks a bear by offering to work and plant the fields.  The rabbit agrees to share the produce and asks the bear if it wants the tops or bottoms of what grows.  The bear makes a choice and the rabbit plants and hoes and sows, each time leaving the bear with very little and providing a lavish supply of food for the rabbit and all its kin.  Because this is such a common theme in literature, ask your local librarian for similar books about Anansi, Br’er Rabbit, Puss in Boots, et al.  This is such a common theme that, even as the child matures, you can find the archetype in other books.  Bilbo Baggins is definitely tricky.  And Yoda.  


I love Mo Willems and his pigeon books so I was sure I would love this book too. When a little girl decides to take her stuffed rabbit to school for show-and-tell, mischief ensues for another little girl has a bunny too!  The girls bicker and their teacher takes both bunnies away.  The illustrations are typical, cartoonish and simple.  The backgrounds, however, are photographs of actual city streets, buildings, and even the interior of where the little girl lives.  The effect is charming and could be used to inspire little ones to draw their own people and add them to scenic photographs.  It might even be a fun project to do as a family.

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