Review of Hansel & Gretel, by Neil Gaiman

May 21st, 2015

hansel_and_gretel_largeHansel & Gretel

by Neil Gaiman

art by Lorenzo Mattotti

Toon Graphics, 2014. 53 pages.
Starred Review

This book is put out by a publisher of graphic novels and is in the size of a large graphic novel. But there are no speech bubbles here. What you do have are large double-page spreads of black-and-white (mostly black) very dark paintings alternating with double-page spreads of text.

The pictures are dark and sinister, and the story is dark and sinister. Like all fairy tales, it has power. The word painting of Neil Gaiman combined with the art of Lorenzo Mattotti gives this familiar tale new impact.

Here’s the paragraph after the old woman invites Hansel and Gretel into her house:

There was only one room in the little house, with a huge brick oven at one end, and a table laden with all good things: with candied fruits, with cakes and pies and cookies, with breads and with biscuits. There was no meat, though, and the old woman apologized, explaining that she was old, and her eyes were not what they had been when she was young, and she was no longer up to catching the beasts of the forests, as once she had been. Now, she told the children, she baited her snare and she waited, and often no game would come to her trap from one year to another, and what she did catch was too scrawny to eat and needed to be fattened up first.

This story is far too sinister for the very young. Those who read this story will be confronted with evil — and children who triumph over it.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/hansel_and_gretel.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Lindbergh, by Torben Kuhlmann

May 20th, 2015

lindbergh_largeLindbergh

The Tale of a Flying Mouse

by Torben Kuhlmann

English text by Suzanne Levesque

NorthSouth Books, 2014. 92 pages.

Lindbergh is a long-form picture book, for lack of a better way to describe it. We’ve got a story of a little mouse for whom life has gotten bleak in Germany. He wants to go to America, but faces many obstacles. After it proves to difficult to get on a ship, he decides to fly. Successive inventions (paralleling the history of human flight) finally result in a tiny plane capable of crossing the Atlantic.

The story is simple, but the detailed, lavish illustrations make this book a feast for the eyes. The painting of the mouse taking off with an owl bearing down on him will give you goose bumps!

There’s a short history of aviation at the back, and I feel confident there are details in the drawings about actual flying machines which escaped me, but won’t necessarily escape avid child readers.

This is a beautiful book. Children who enjoy poring over detailed paintings will be richly rewarded.

northsouth.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Chldrens_Fiction/lindbergh.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Pascal’s Triangle Shawl #2

May 19th, 2015

Hooray! Hooray! Today I finished my second, prettier Pascal’s Triangle Shawl!

PTwhole

Pascal’s Triangle is the triangle with 1s on the edges, where each entry is the sum of the two entries above it.

So the beginning rows work like this:

1
1 1
1 2 1
1 3 3 1
1 4 6 4 1
1 5 10 10 5 1
1 6 15 20 15 6 1
1 7 21 35 35 21 7 1

1to5

Now, what I did was choose a color of yarn for each prime. Then each entry in the triangle is factored, and each number is shown by the colors of its factors.

I did the same thing with my first Pascal’s Triangle Shawl. With this one, since there are only the primes 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13, I decided to use progressively darker shades of pink and purple, so the shawl would gradually get darker.

Here is a closer look at a section of the shawl:

Right Side

This next picture shows that along the second row, we have the numbers simply in sequence.

Right and Top

For math nuts, each row also contains the binomial coefficients, the coefficients in the expansion of
(a+b)^n

This means that the rth entry in the nth row can be calculated with the formula:
n!/(n-r)! (Counting the entries in each row as 0 through n.)

Some examples: The 2nd entry in the 5th row is (5×4)/(2×1) = 10

The 3rd entry in the 7th row is (7x6x5)/(3x2x1) = 35

Now, I factor all the numbers in my shawl, so for big numbers, it doesn’t matter what the actual number is, but the factorization is easy from the formula.

For example, the 4th entry in the 15th row is (15x14x13x12)/(4x3x2x1) = 3x5x7x13

You can see some of the bigger numbers in this picture:

Right Factored

Now, there are a couple of characteristics which I believe make the shawl especially beautiful.

One is that because these are the binomial coefficients, once you get to the row of a prime number, every entry in that row has the prime for a factor.

This is easier to see with the actual shawl in front of you, but here again is the big picture. You can see that once a new color starts, it goes all the way across the row.

PTwhole

What’s more, by the distributive law, since every entry in a prime row has that prime as a factor, all the sums of those numbers will also have the prime for a factor — and we end up having inverse triangles of each color.

Here’s some more detail:

Detail2

Detail1

Of course, the very coolest thing about it is that, even if you have no idea of the math involved, the combination is beautiful.

And that simply makes me happy.

Modeling Shawl

Review of Meet the Dullards, by Sara Pennypacker and Daniel Salmieri

May 19th, 2015

meet_the_dullards_largeMeet the Dullards

by Sara Pennypacker
illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Balzer + Bray, 2015. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book is too silly. It’s wonderful the way the jokes aren’t spelled out, and most of the work is done by the illustrations. There’s so much to see and delight in here.

For example, the book begins with one sentence on the first double-page spread:

One day, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard received quite a nasty surprise.

You have to figure out from the pictures what the surprise is: The three children are reading three books, The Nicest Way to Befriend a Lion, Becoming One with the Tightrope, and an open book with the visible Chapter 4 title, “Avoid Distractions” along with pictures of jugglers. In a brilliant detail, only the title of that confiscated book is visible after the page turn: How to Juggle for the Circus.

The text after the page turn explains the problem:

The Dullards collected the books and handed their children some nice blank paper to read instead. Then they left the room to discuss the problem in private.

This was not the first time their children had given them a shock. Last week, they had asked to go to school. And just the day before, Mr. Dullard had caught them trying to play outside.

The Dullard parents decide their home is simply too exciting. After all, there’s an upsetting commotion in the driveway of a snail going across the pavement.

So the parents go in search of the perfectly dull, while the children, Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud, continue to attempt to outwit them.

My favorite page is the wordless spread where Mrs. Dullard falls into a faint as Mr. Dullard expresses horror at a room in their new home with yellow walls and flowers on the walls.

That’s the idea. The Dullards then go to find a suitably boring shade to paint the walls, and then have the mesmerizing chance to watch the paint dry. Meanwhile, we watch the children looking for the chance to break out.

This book is perfect for any children who’ve ever thought their own parents don’t want them to have any fun.

You don’t know boring until you’ve met the Dullards.

sarapennypacker.com
danielsalmieri.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/meet_the_dullards.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Stunning Photographs, by Annie Griffiths

May 18th, 2015

stunning_photographs_largeStunning Photographs

by Annie Griffiths

National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2014. 400 pages.
Starred Review

When National Geographic says that photos are stunning, you should believe them.

This collection of photographs inspires awe. They are printed in full color and in large format. This book is one of the perks of regularly checking out library books. It’s so large, I probably wouldn’t have purchased a copy for myself. But I can check it out from the library and take the whole three weeks to browse slowly through it.

I read this book a chapter at a time. The chapters are “Mystery,” “Harmony,” “Wit,” “Discovery,” “Energy,” and “Intimacy.” There’s an essay at the beginning of each chapter, and some quotations sprinkled throughout, but mostly the photographs – truly stunning – speak for themselves.

Check out this book to add some wonder into your life.

nationalgeographic.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/stunning_photographs.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Some Tips for Dealing with Online Dating Scammers

May 17th, 2015

how_to_avoid_falling_in_love_with_a_jerk_largeOkay, I’ll admit I don’t have vast experience. But I’ve been doing online dating for about a year now, and just the other night I figured out someone I was corresponding with was a total fake.

I thought I would imitate my friend, who when she gets an email scam letter, posts the letter on her blog, with addresses, to warn others away.

I am on OKCupid. I like that dating site a lot, because I like that *you* choose what questions you have answers to, and you tell the program which questions are most important to you. There’s no “patented match formula” that’s mysterious and magical — and didn’t turn out to seem terribly good in my case.

I will say, right up front, that I met one man through OKCupid whom I dated for two months and liked tremendously. I’m still friends with him, and I am still friends with his friends — and meeting him feels like a huge win for online dating, even though I’ve communicated with some scammers since.

My first tip, which would have ruled out the first scammer I communicated with, “Dejan Dimitrevi,” supposedly from the Netherlands but living in Virginia, is this:

1. Don’t correspond with anyone who hasn’t answered at least 100 questions.

That sounds like a lot, but these are multiple choice questions. It is easy to take a little time and answer them. I have a draft response written out which I paste into a message for people who correspond with me who haven’t answered very many.

Commonly they’ll say, “ask me anything,” but when you’re asking in a message, they can answer what they think you wish to hear.

I’ve answered many, many questions and marked the ones important to me. If someone has some of my dealbreakers, why go on? It’s the beauty of OKCupid to know up front where they stand. However, if they don’t answer the questions, you don’t have any of that information.

Now when I say “communicated with some scammers,” no one has ever asked me for money. I have corresponded with some people who probably would have asked for money eventually — but we didn’t get that far, because I followed the principles in the book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, by John Van Epp.

It’s a wonderful book that my sister gave me last year for my 50th birthday. I really hope some day I’ll get to apply the principles to a dating relationship, but for now, they have stood me in good stead for dealing with potential scammers.

And this last experience, with someone who calls himself “Ron Francher” (I use the name in case he still is trying to scam other women with this identity.) consolidated in my mind some more Tips for Dealing with Potential Scammers:

2. Don’t make any commitment to someone you don’t know and haven’t met.

This one is straight from the book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. It was this principle that eventually made “Dejan” lose interest.

“Ron” sent me this long paragraph, when we had only exchanged a few emails and had certainly not met:

Since we met on Okc, will you still be on the site checking out other men and corresponding with them? If so, then I am not your man. I think it only fair that if we are to truly find out if we are the one for each other, then we need to concentrate on each other without the distraction of others emailing us for our attention. If you are not in agreement with this, that is truly fine and you must follow your heart to search for the one right for you but please do not do it at my emotional expense. For two people to truly experience the wonderment that is defined by falling love, then love can only happen when no others are involved. Building trust, for me, is the core foundation for a long, loving, lasting relationship. If I found out you were corresponding behind my back or seeing another, my faith in you would be gone and our budding relationship finished before it got started.

Ummm, excuse me? We had not even met!

Yes, we would need to build trust — but I am not going to trust you until I find out if you actually are who you say you are.

I confess, I still hadn’t figured him out. Then after a few more emails exchanged, when I said, if you want me to commit to you, let’s meet first, he said, oh, we could not meet for a few *months* because he was preparing to be deployed to Damascus for a classified mission with the US Army.

And I *still* didn’t quite get it. But I thought the whole situation felt fishy, so I ran it by my friends. And that’s my next tip:

3. Run everything by your friends!

I explained the situation to my friends, and that I was cautiously optimistic about this man I was corresponding with. He grew up in France (so he said) but had been in America for 40 years and in the US Army for 35 years.

I wasn’t going to commit to him, but I was okay with corresponding a couple months…

However, a friend who is former military heard the basics and got very alarmed. He pointed out that someone in the military should not and would not mention a classified mission to someone they’d never even met — but a scammer certainly would.

I admit, I had been a bit flattered “Ron” would tell me about his mission. I had emailed back that I’d pray for him (but that I would not commit to him exclusively while I was waiting).

Another friend who is a romance novelist told me that the character sounded suspiciously like a character written for a romance novel, to be attractive to women — French accent, special forces, widower, lost his only son, grandson in Paris.

Their concerns made me start thinking harder. Even if he *were* telling the truth, wasn’t it rather deceptive to tell me he expected an exclusive commitment and only later say, Oh by the way, we won’t be able to meet for a few months?

4. Use common sense.

My former military friend also pointed out that given the description “Ron” had given me in an early message, he would have to be a general officer. Here’s what “Ron” said:

I completed the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the national war college. I also completed the Army’s Ranger School.

I was commissioned in the U.S. Army in June 1979 as an Armor/Tank 2nd Lieutenant. Later, I received a Master of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. I have commanded units at every echelon from platoon to division, with duty in Germany, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and the United States. After my first assignment with the U.S. Army Europe, I was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C, where I commanded a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha in the 5th Special Forces Group and an Infantry company in the 82nd Airborne Division. My retirement is due by the end of July and then the would will be my oyster.

My friend had some contacts still in the military who would have to know someone in such a position. Would I like him to check?

I also know enough about the military that I knew an officer commanding divisions would make the news when he takes command. I googled “Ronald Francher” and didn’t get anyone who fit this description. I checked a library database, RefUSA, and he still didn’t come up. If he were really such a high-ranking officer, this was highly unlikely.

He went six days without emailing me, so I thought I’d discouraged him by not promising commitment. However, then I heard from him again. I had asked about his late wife. He told me they met in France (when did he have time for that?) and dated two years before marrying (earlier he’d said one year). They were married for 11 years. He’d already said she died 7 years ago.

So how on earth does he have a six-year-old grandson living in Paris?

Okay, with all that I was awfully sure he was telling me a story. Where I finally became absolutely sure this was the case was when I thought to do this:

5. If only one part of his background is grammatical, google keywords from that description.

In “Ron”‘s case, I googled: June 1979 Armor/Tank 2nd lieutenant

Bingo! I got the biography of Major General Seward, with about half of “Ron”‘s bio copied verbatim.

Googling from what’s left: “every echelon from platoon to division”

I found the rest of the bio he cobbled together into his “own” from General John F. Campbell.

I no longer have any doubt. I’m not going to answer any more of his emails (coming from rfrncher16@gmail.com) — unless he asks for money, in which case, my answer will be: LOL

So — today someone contacted me who said he grew up in Lyon, France.

I refrained from letting him have it and instead sent him my standard response for those who have answered fewer than 100 questions.

There are some good men out there. I know it’s true.

But I’m going to have to meet you before I will make even the slightest commitment to you, thank you very much.

Review of The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

May 15th, 2015

girl_on_the_train_largeThe Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins
read by Claire Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher

Penguin Audio, 2015. 11 hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

Warning to potential listeners: If you have ever been cheated on, this book contains some triggers which will remind you of that time. However, it’s also somewhat therapeutic. It will make you feel that your own reactions were incredibly calm. You were not a crazy woman! (Who knew?)

Rachel Watson rides the train into London every morning and goes home every evening – so her flatmate won’t know that she lost her job months ago for turning up drunk. Every day, the train stops as it passes the house where Rachel used to live – and where her ex-husband Tom lives with his new wife and child – the woman who replaced Rachel and the child she longed to have.

To avoid looking at her home, right next to the tracks, naturally enough Rachel watches the people a few houses down. They are the perfect couple. As in love as Rachel used to be. Rachel gives them names, Jess and Jason, and she imagines their perfect lives.

Then, one day, Rachel sees Jess kissing a man who is not Jason. Jess is ruining Jason’s life, just as Tom ruined hers! That evening, having thought about it all day, in her drunken agitation, she gets off the train at her old stop. She knows something bad happened when she wakes up at home the next morning with a cut on her forehead, but she doesn’t remember at all what it was. And the newspapers say that Jess – actually named Megan – has gone missing.

Gradually, we learn about Rachel’s past, about Megan’s history, and about Anna, the woman who replaced Rachel with Tom. Rachel has not been doing well since Tom left her. And she doesn’t blame Tom – she was already a drunk before he left, depressed because she wasn’t having a baby. Now she calls him at odd hours, even turns up at the house.

But after Megan’s disappearance, Rachel is sure Megan’s husband will be suspected. The police need to know about the man Megan kissed. The husband needs to know. Maybe Rachel has to lie a little bit to get them to listen to her, but it’s all trying to help….

I have to admit, the people in this book are not very nice. The situations are sordid. There’s a whole lot of cheating going on. But ultimately, I found I couldn’t stop listening (and this was another audiobook which had me bringing the final CD into the house to finish listening). The audio production is very well done. The three different narrators for the three women – Rachel, Anna, and Megan – make it clear who is speaking at any given time.

I think the character of Rachel is what had me hooked. I remembered the world-shattering pain of learning my husband was cheating. It would have been so very easy to turn to alcohol. To call him and beg him to take me back. If he had married the mistress and moved into our home with his new wife and baby? Well, her pain was all too easy to imagine.

And the mystery is a tangled and interesting one. There are compelling twists along the way. Let me just say that some of the cheaters get a satisfying comeuppance. But best of all is that by the end of the book we feel that Rachel, who has believed many lies about herself, is on her way to healing.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/girl_on_the_train.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, by John Himmelman

May 14th, 2015

bunjitsu_bunny_largeTales of Bunjitsu Bunny

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2014. 120 pages.
Starred Review

Isabel was the best bunjitsu artist in her school. She could kick higher than anyone. She could hit harder than anyone. She could throw her classmates farther than anyone.

Some were frightened of her. But Isabel never hurt another creature, unless she had to.

“Bunjitsu is not just about kicking, hitting, and throwing,” she said. “It is about finding ways NOT to kick, hit, and throw.”

They called her Bunjitsu Bunny.

That is the entire text of the first chapter. The rest of the book consists of short stories about Bunjitsu Bunny, with plenty of pictures. My favorites are the many stories that explain how Isabel finds a way NOT to kick, hit, or throw. Though when necessary, she is quite good at those things.

The stories are short and easy to read, but they are full of cleverness and interest. We’ve got a powerful and wise ninja – and she’s a bunny girl! These are wonderful for kids who are ready for chapter books.

mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/bunjitsu_bunny.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Harry Potter with Bonus Language!

May 10th, 2015

German HPs

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

I’ve recently begun corresponding with a man on a dating site whose first language is French. So I’m thinking it’s time to brush up my French. That means this week I’m looking at the one book I have in German and English and FrenchHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, Harry Potter à l’École des Sorciers.

Note: I’m using the British edition, since that’s the original. I just noticed that there was a difference with one word I translated. Dudley’s first word, “Shan’t!” was “Won’t!” in the American edition.

Last time I looked at these three books, I left off on page 10 in the British edition, page 9 in French, and page 10 in German.

I’ll start with “the last report on the evening news”
= la fin du journal télévisé
= das Neueste in den Abendnachrichten (love those German long words!)

“bird-watchers”
= Vogelkundler
(The French version doesn’t use this word, just talks about “testimonials” = témoignages, but doesn’t say who gave them.)

Another nice long German word:
(British): “the news reader”
(American): “the newscaster”
= der Nachrichtensprecher
= le présentateur

“downpour of shooting stars”
= ganze Schauer von Sternschuppen
= de véritables pluies d’étoiles filantes

“Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early — it’s not until next week, folks!”
= Peut-être s’agissait-il de feux de joie, bien que ce ne soit pas encore la saison. (“Perhaps it was fires of joy [bonfires], but it was not yet the season.”)
= Vielleicht haben die Leute zu früh Silvester gefeiert — das ist noch eine Weile hin, meine Damen und Herren!
(“Perhaps people have too early New Year’s Eve celebrated [when Germans really do shoot off fireworks] — that is still a while yet, my ladies and gentlemen!”)

I like this sentence, in each language:
“Mr Dursley sat frozen in his armchair.”
= Mr Dursley se figea dans son fauteuil.
(“Mr. Dursley froze in his chair.”)
= Mr. Dursley saß starr wie ein Eiszapfen in seinem Sessel.
(“Mr. Dursley sat stiff as an icicle in his chair.”)

“Owls flying by daylight?”
= Eulen, die bei Tage flogen?
= Des hiboux qui volent en plein jour?

“Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place?”
= Des gens bizarres vêtus de capes?
= Allerorten geheimnisvolle Leute in sonderbarer Kleidung?
(Ah! An appearance where sonder means “special” in the sense of “strange.”)

“It was no good.”
= Es hatte keinen Zweck. (“It had no point.”)
= Décidément, il y avait quelque chose qui n’allait pas.
(“Decidedly, there was something wrong.”)

“her lot”
= ihrem Klüngel
= sa bande

“Mrs Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips.”
= Mrs Dursley retroussait les lèvres en buvant son thé à petites gorgées.
(“Mrs Dursley curled her lips drinking tea in little sips.”)
= Mrs. Dursley nippte mit geschürzten Lippen an ihrem Tee.

“Was he imagining things?”
= Bildete er sich das alles nur ein?
= Mr Dursley imaginait-il des choses?

“His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep”
= Bevor er einschlief, kam ihm ein letzter, tröstender Gedanke
(“Before he fell asleep, came to him a last, comforting thought”)
= La seule pensée qui le consola avant de sombrer enfin dans le sommeil
(“The only thought that consoled him before finally falling asleep”)

“How very wrong he was.”
= Wie sehr er sich täuschte.
= Et il avait grand tort de penser ainsi.

There. I’ve gotten us finished with the Dursleys for now. The next scene will involve Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall.

It’s fun to see how the German and French translators differ, and now you know what to call it if you see Des gens bizarres vêtus de capes or geheimnisvolle Leute in sonderbarer Kleidung.

Review of P. Zonka Lays an Egg, by Julie Paschkis

May 9th, 2015

p_zonka_lays_an_egg_largeP. Zonka Lays an Egg

by Julie Paschkis

Peachtree, Atlanta, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review

All the other chickens laid eggs regularly, but not P. Zonka. She’s a dreamer. She wanders around the farmyard day in and day out, staring at flowers and gawking at clouds. She looks down at the shiny green grass and gazes up at the deep blue sky. She notices big red tulips and little pink cherry blossoms.

The other hens criticize her and urge her to make an effort.

Day after day, Nadine, Dora, and Maud and all of the other hens filled baskets of eggs.

P. Zonka didn’t lay a single egg.

“Why?” asked Maud.
“Please tell us why,” said Dora.
“Why indeed?” clucked Nadine.
“Cock-a-doodle-doo?”

“I will tell you why,” said P. Zonka.
“Because of the pale mornings, the soft dark moss, the stripes on the crocuses, the orange cat with one blue eye, the shining center of a dandelion, the sky at midnight.”

“I don’t get it,” said Maud.
“P. Zonka is just plain lazy,” said Nadine.
“Come on, P. Zonka,” urged Dora. “You might like laying an egg.”
“Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

“Can’t you at least try?” they all asked.

When she does? The result is extraordinary! Let’s just say there’s a reason the author gave her a name that sounds like pysanka — a Ukrainian decorated egg.

After that, P. Zonka went back to wandering around the farmyard. She looked down and she gazed up. She clucked in wonder at all the colors she saw. She didn’t lay very many eggs…

…but the ones she laid were worth the wait.

I’ve told you about the delightful ending, but this is a book you need to see for yourself. The illustrations all along remind the reader of pysanky, sunny and beautiful and carefree. The message reminds me of Leo Lionni’s classic, Frederick.

And I love the idea that pysanky are actually laid by chickens who notice beautiful things. Also that beautiful things are worth a little wait.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/p_zonka_lays_an_egg.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?