Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Review of Ada’s Violin, by Susan Hood and Sally Wern Comport

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

adas_violin_largeAda’s Violin

The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

by Susan Hood
illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2016. 40 pages.
Starred Review

This picture book tells the story of Ada Rios, who grew up living in the main garbage dump of Asuncion, the capital city of Paraguay. Her family worked in the landfill as a recycler, finding trash they could sell.

One day Favio Chavez came to town, offering music lessons for the children of the town, Cateura. There weren’t enough musical instruments to go around — so they made instruments out of recycled materials they found in the landfill.

They formed an orchestra, and Ada practiced hard. They performed concerts and ended up being able to travel around the world, even performing at a Metallica concert.

The picture book tells the story simply enough for children. Material at the back fills in the details for adults, complete with YouTube links.

Music and creativity combined with time and dedication brought music and new life to the children of Cateura.

The last paragraphs of the Author’s Note at the back is filled with hope:

Money from the orchestra’s concerts goes back to Cateura to help families rebuild their homes, their music school, and their lives. “Not too long ago we purchased a piece of land where we will build houses for fifteen orchestra families,” said Chavez. “Ada has a new house there.” This land is out of the flood zone. These families will never again have to face the evacuations that displace Cateura villagers every year when the river rises.

What started as a music class for ten kids has swelled to orchestral rehearsals for two hundred students, with more than twenty-five instructors. Chavez quit his ecology job to work with the orchestra full-time. Now plans are afoot to use the Recycled Orchestra’s experiences as a model to help other children living on landfills around the world.

recycledorchestracateura.com
susanhoodbooks.com
sallycomport.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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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

Monday, 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

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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?

Review of Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, by Maira Kalman

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

ah_ha_to_zig_zag_largeAh-hA to Zig-Zag

31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

by Maira Kalman

Cooper Hewitt, Skira Rizzoli, 2014. 54 pages.
Starred Review

Maira Kalman is pretty much the definition of quirky. On the title page, under the subtitle it says, “Maira Kalman went to the museum. She chose objects from the collection and made this book for you. Completely for you.”

First, it’s very loosely an alphabet book. Each letter has a picture of something from the museum and some writing about it. Something like this (with the picture from the front):

E.

(Except for your dog)

This is the cutest dog on Earth. with the cutest Eyebrows on Earth.

“I really am Extremely cute.”

Or:

F.

The hat on this woman From France is Fluffy and Frothy and Fantastic and Funny.

Or:

V.

It is Very Very Very Very (Very) nice to snuggle.

Or:

Y.

Dance. Run. Smell flowers. Jump for joY. Laugh. CrY. Be mean. Be kind. Eat toast. Be cozy. And be forever Young.

After Z for Zig-Zag, we have:

Oops!

We left out

O.

Oh well. We all make mistakes. Yesterday I wore two different socks. No big deal.

Then there is a double-page spread at the back with photos of all the objects portrayed and notes about what they are. The dog for E is “Figure of a poodle, England, 1820-40; Glazed earthenware.” The lady for F is from “Postcard, A Travers la Normandie; Coiffes et Costumes anciens, about 1909; Printed card with hand coloring.” V refers to “Salt and pepper shakers, Town and Country, 1946; Glazed earthenware, cork.” Y deals with “Square, Boy and Girl, 1947; Printed silk.” And O features “Pair of stockings, France, 1850-1900; Knitted silk.”

Then at the end, Maira Kalman tells the story of Nellie and Sally Hewitt.

They loved to sing and dance.
They were just a little bit wild.
A little bit.
They had sharp eyes. The kind of eyes that really LOOK at things.
One day they decided to collect the things they loved, and create a museum.
And they really did it.
Which is a lesson to be learned.
If you have a good idea — DO IT.

This book gives me a good idea: I should go to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

I have another good idea: I should tell you to check out this book!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/ah_ha_to_zig_zag.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 What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night, by Reife & Susan Tuma

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

what_the_dinosaurs_did_last_night_largeWhat the Dinosaurs Did Last Night

by Refe & Susan Tuma

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2014.
Starred Review

All you have to do is look at the cover of this book to get your imagination spinning. And to start laughing.

The authors explain in an Introduction how Dinovember got started. They were tired and busy with a new baby in the house. Susan’s parents had sent some hand-me-down toys that their daughters weren’t terribly interested in and languished in a toy box.

The next time we saw those dinosaurs was on Halloween. It had been a difficult day. Leif’s sleepless nights had gotten worse. Trick-or-treating had been canceled because Adele was sick, and the kids had gone to bed disappointed and emotional. Susan and I were exhausted, cleaning up after another day spent cooped up inside the house. We could tell our daughters had been desperately bored because even the neglected contents of that toy box had been dumped all over the living room floor. Susan started sorting through them as she cleaned, and held up a couple of the dinosaur figures.

“I remember these,” she said. “I always loved them.”

As we got ready for bed, Susan set the dinosaurs on the bathroom sink where our daughters would find them the next morning. I asked what she was doing and she shrugged.

“Just having a little fun.”

We went to bed without giving it another thought.

The next morning, our daughters nearly broke down the door to our room.

“Mom and Dad, you have to see this!” Alethea said. “The dinosaurs came to life last night – we caught them brushing their teeth!”

Susan and I dragged ourselves out of bed as the girls looked on impatiently. As soon as our feet touched the floorboards, they grabbed our hands and pulled us into the bathroom. At first glance, it seemed as if the dinosaurs were exactly the way Susan left them – standing in the same places, frozen in the same positions. Then, we looked closer. We looked at our girls’ faces and saw the way they smiled and how their eyes had grown wide. We realized that, sure enough, the kids were right: the dinosaurs had come to life. And, with that, we knew they would do it again.

This was how Dinovember was born — every night of November, the dinosaurs got up to mischief while the children were sleeping. Eventually, the parents took pictures, started a blog — and wrote a book.

I like this summing up in the Introduction:

At its heart, Dinovember is a celebration of imagination. Imagination is both a prerequisite for participation and, ultimately, what we hope to inspire. We want to train our kids to value their creativity, to cultivate imaginative thinking, and to look past what’s possible.

After talking about their daughter’s aspirations to be an artist-scientist, they also say:

The dinosaurs have unwittingly taught Susan and me a similar lesson — that we can be parents and people at the same time. We’ve often felt like we had to be either the parents our kids needed or individuals with our own hopes and dreams — never both at once. When we tried in the past, we seemed to be maintaining two different identities, taking them on and off like costumes in a Metropolis phone booth. We’ve played with enough plastic dinosaurs by now to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Our kids aren’t a hindrance to the things we want to do — they’re integral to everything we do. They’re our partners in crime and our grass-stained, runny-nosed muses. They’re part of the story we’re telling, and, one day, we’ll be part of theirs.

As for the rest? The photographs say it all. Dinosaurs caught in the act, again and again.

I do have one complaint about this book: The print is teeny-tiny. Not good for beginning readers who might learn to read with this book, and not at all good for older eyes hoping to read the book to grandkids.

However, you don’t actually have to read the words to get yourself laughing out loud. The expressions on the dinosaurs’ faces are classic!

My main problem is how on earth to classify this book. My library has it as Juvenile Fiction. And if you look at it as the story of “What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night,” it works that way. It could be thought of as a Picture Book — but what about the teeny-tiny print? I think I’m going to list it under adult Nonfiction — since the authors address adults in their Introduction, and then you can see the book as a book of ideas for parents. And then it does fit under Creativity — because ultimately, that’s what this book is about. But make no mistake: This is truly a book for all ages, and people of different ages will take different things away from this book.

This book is something unique — and a triumph of the imagination. I dare anyone to look at one of these pictures and not instantly start imagining the scenario that got the dinosaurs into that position!

dinovember.tumblr.com
littlebrown.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/what_the_dinosaurs_did_last_night.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 The Yarn Whisperer, by Clara Parkes

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

yarn_whisperer_largeThe Yarn Whisperer

My Unexpected Life in Knitting

by Clara Parkes

STC Craft, a Melanie Falick Book (Abrams), New York, 2013. 160 pages.
Starred Review

This book would be an ideal gift for any knitter who also enjoys musings about life (like me). Clara Parkes takes experiences and techniques from her life in knitting, and applies the ideas to life.

For example, she talks about how a steek is like a divorce or other big cuts of life.

There’s a way to do it right, without pain. We work a series of steps called a steek, so that the stitches are prepared for what’s coming and can absorb the shock, heal without any scars, and even thrive in their new environment.

Another chapter is called “Stitch Traffic,” and talks about how stitches travel:

But some patterns do wild things. When you move those stacked stitches around, split them up and swap them over and under one another, force sudden merges and yields, driving becomes much more interesting. Your roads sprout new lanes, fork off in different directions, pass through busy rotaries. They can be detoured by giant bobble boulders, blasted with yarnover potholes, or forced into sudden dead ends….

Cables are the knitter’s version of highway overpasses and tunnels guiding lanes of stitches on their merry way…. Wide cables are like L. A. freeways, their beautiful maze of overpasses and off-ramps leading every stitch home. Occasionally traffic will snarl from a jackknifed big-rig, a mis-twisted cable. You’ll send in a wrecker to unravel the whole thing – or maybe use the Jaws of Life to cut an outside strand and reknit your way back in.

Her chapter on the Kitchener stitch and seamless connecting of all kinds begins by telling about the Knitter’s Handshake:

Two hands go in for the grab-and-shake, but at the last minute, they veer to the closest sleeve or band and grab it instead, while we ask, “Did you knit this?” Our eyes immediately scan the fabric for seams and joins, cast-on edges and edgings. We can’t help it, we’re wired to look for imperfections. A proper seam garners respect and admiration, even envy. Hastily worked, jagged, or lumpy lines are like scars – we know it’s impolite to ask how they got there, but we can’t stop staring.

I like “The Dropped Stitch” chapter so much, I’m going to quote from it at length:

Yarns are like people. Some have abandonment issues. They don’t do well when stood up. They look at the empty chair. They check their watches and realize what’s happened, and they panic. Glancing around, they see happily secure stitches just out of grasp, mocking, sneering, like teenagers in a cafeteria. They look up for the reassuring arms of the next row, but they see only air….

But not all yarns respond in this way. Some stand their ground, not the least bit unnerved by their disconnection or solitude. Their stitches can sit suspended for hours, days, years even. They bring their own books. They write letters home. They nod to passersby, reach out to pet strangers’ dogs, completely confident that eventually someone will notice their absence and come back to pick them up. “Oh, hello there,” they finally greet the returning needle, sliding in quickly and putting on their seat belt. “Nice to see you again.”

What makes a yarn react to abandonment the way it does? Why do some people crumble when faced with that empty chair, while others take it in stride? Does it all boil down to confidence – spunk, determination, security in one’s self and one’s own place in the world? Ironically, the most opulent and imperial yarns – the ones with slick and glossy surfaces that glide past their neighbors without so much as a how-do-you-do – tend to slink out the emergency exit the fastest.

Whether it’s from vanity or perhaps shyness, these slippery silks and smooth worsteds seem to have fewer deep and abiding connections. They look so beautiful in the skein. Their smooth and dense construction may help them last longer in the world. But what kind of life do they have? They’re so intent on holding it together that they rarely relax, let their hair down a little, get to know their neighbors. They sit upright in their fabric, arms held in to preserve their personal space. Knit them too loosely and sunlight will stream in between each stitch; too tight, and the stitches will quickly get grumpy and stiff from the forced intimacy. They expect life to go a certain way….

But those yarns with outgoing personalities – the ones formed from a noisy and jubilant community of lofty, crimpy fibers that are always in one another’s business – those yarns come together in times of trouble. Each stitch, even the tormented teenager who just wants a little privacy now and then, fundamentally supports the others. They willingly expand and contract to fill whatever space you give them. Need to add three more place settings for dinner? No problem, they smile, we can stretch the meal. And when the needle suddenly disappears and leaves a stitch stranded, the others reach out instinctively, “We’ve got your back,” they say, and they mean it….

Depending on where you go, these rugged-seeming woolen-spun yarns may not be sitting at the popular kids’ table. In fact, they’re more likely to be sitting in smaller groups outside, on the grass, under a quiet tree. But you know what? When push comes to shove comes to slipped needle and dangling stitch, when a chair is empty that’s supposed to have someone sitting in it, those are the yarns that will always wait for you. They are loyal to a fault, forgiving and secure in their own twist and tenacity. You want them on your side.

She talks about how yarn stashes are like gardens, casting on represents beginnings, and swatching is “the knitter’s equivalent of sight-reading.” There are all sorts of connections to knitting from the mind of someone who loves knitting and loves life.

I read it a chapter per day, and consistently got things to smile about and some food for thought. All lovers of yarn will find something to love about this book.

knittersreview.com
claraswindow.blogspot.com

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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.

Review of Ken Libbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

snowflakes_largeKen Libbrecht’s Field Guide to
Snowflakes

by Ken Libbrecht

Voyageur Press, 2006. 112 pages.
Starred Review

I finished reading this book exactly when the last snowfall of the winter happened in early 2014. So I wrote the review, and now I’m posting it in time for next winter’s snow. In fact, this would be a wonderfully appropriate Christmas gift for snow lovers everywhere.

We’ve all heard that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and Ken Libbrecht asserts that, at least for all but the tiniest snowflakes, that is probably so. However, there are distinct types of snowflakes, which depend on the conditions under which they are formed.

This field guide first explains the general mechanics of snowflake formation. Then it gives detailed explanations of 35 different types of snowflake forms. There are beautiful example photos of each type, along with an explanation of how they are formed and under which conditions you’re likely to find them.

I thought this book was completely fascinating and beautiful, and it gave me a whole other reason to love snow. Best of all, at the back of the book, he explains how you can become a snowflake watcher – or photographer – too.

He has a wonderful website that will give you the idea of what’s in this book, snowcrystals.com. I think I am going to have to buy my own copy so I can keep it handy and take it out in the snow next winter.

snowcrystals.com
voyageurpress.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Noniction/snowflakes.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.

Review of Emily’s Blue Period, by Cathleen Daly and Lisa Brown

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

emilys_blue_period_largeEmily’s Blue Period

by Cathleen Daly
illustrations by Lisa Brown

A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2014. 56 pages.
Starred Review

At first, I didn’t think I’d review this book. As a book about art, it could be seen as simplistic, and same as a book about kids whose parents are divorced. But as a story – a story about one particular girl, who happens to love art and happens to have recently divorced parents – it worms its way into my heart every time I read it.

The format is a cross between picture book and chapter book. The pages are a bit larger than most chapter books, and the pictures take up more room on each page than the words, but there are indeed five short chapters, and no effort is given to making the text particularly easy to read.

Emily wants to be an artist, and in school she’s learning about Pablo Picasso. First, she learns about how Picasso liked to mix things up. Emily likes to mix things up, too. However:

Lately, Emily’s family is mixed up.
She doesn’t like this.
Emily’s dad is no longer where he belongs.
Suddenly, he lives in his own little cube.

The story shows Emily and her little brother Jack going shopping with Dad to pick out furniture for his new home. Emily doesn’t like any of it, and Jack ends up throwing a fit. This leads Emily into her Blue Period.

I like the way Emily’s Blue Period is understated. The author doesn’t even mention why Emily’s sad, just that she’s sad. She doesn’t show any of her art from that period, though in that chapter the illustrations themselves are mainly blue. And as far as comfort, we just have:

Emily nuzzles her head into the spot under her mother’s arm where it fits just like a puzzle piece.
Emily’s Blue Period lasts quite some time.

In the next chapter, the final one, it’s making a collage of “Home” that pulls Emily out of her Blue Period.

This is a book that takes itself seriously about a girl who takes herself seriously. And it’s all simply right.

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

Review of Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, by Anita Silvey

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

365 days of history, holidays, and events

365 great children’s books — one for every day of the year

by Anita Silvey

Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2012. 388 pages.
Starred Review
2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #5 Nonfiction

Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac is the print form of Anita Silvey’s wonderful blog, also called Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac. I’d been following the blog, so when I learned there was a print book, I made sure to get a copy, and have delved into it daily for all of 2013.

Anita Silvey’s knowledge of children’s books is vast. For each day of the year, she recommends a children’s book with some connection to that date, and gives you a taste of the book and why it is worth reading. As well, each day has a sidebar with facts about that day — children’s authors born that day, as well as other famous people, historic events, and holidays you might not have known about (like “I Love Horses Day” or “Smile Power Day”) — all with related book recommendations.

I was extra happy when I saw she’d listed one of my all-time favorite books, Anne of Green Gables, on my birthday, June 14.

The only catch? It would be hard to read all these books in a year. Now, I’ve read enough already, that I really should take it on as a project one year to read all the ones listed that I haven’t read before. And then the next year, I could try to read at least one of the additionally recommended books for each day, and on and on it could go.

One thing I’m sure of: I read many of the books listed here on Anita Silvey’s recommendation, and I was never disappointed. What you have here is a full year of great reading.

mackids.com

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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 my own copy, purchased through Amazon.com.

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.

Review of The Pun Also Rises, by John Pollack

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

The Pun Also Rises

How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

by John Pollack

Gotham Books, 2011. 212 pages.

I can’t help but love a book that traces the history of puns and reports the many ways they have contributed to human history.

When I saw this book was ordered by the library last year, I knew what I had to get my Dad for Father’s Day. Sure enough, he came to visit me right before Father’s Day, when he had not yet received my gift. The first thing his eye fell on when he walked into my dining room was the stack of books in the corner with this one on top. I had to laugh. I knew it was the right gift for my Dad. Never mind that I was also looking forward to reading it!

I enjoyed the introduction the most. The author tells about how he went to the eighteenth annual world pun championships to investigate competitive punning and ended up the winning the whole thing. He continues, talking about the noble history of the humble pun:

Critics and curmudgeons often deride the pun as the lowest form of humor. Others would counter that if that’s true, it would make punning the foundation of all humor. A close study of history reveals, however, that the reflexive association between puns and humor is a relatively recent development. In ancient Babylonia and Greece, to wit, punning often had religious implications and could even lead to armed conflict.

In any case, punsters throughout history have served as some of the most adventurous scouts on the frontiers of language. . .

It’s simple, and not so simple. As children gleefully learn to spot and evaluate secondary meanings in common words and phrases, they’re really learning how to think critically. To get the joke, they have to overlook the obvious to explore other possible interpretations of what they have just heard, and fast. . . .

So what’s the alchemy at work here? How do the best puns manage to layer so much meaning, humor, even irony into just a few words? And why in the world is punning so intrinsic to human expression that it sparks such mischievous delight in languages as diverse as Tzotzil, Yoruba, French, Pitjantjatjara and Japanese? . . .

But what, exactly, is the link between punning and civilization? What cultural, emotional or functional need does it fulfill across so many centuries and continents? What makes wordplay in general, and punning specifically, such an enduring part of language? Could it be biological and, if so, what evolutionary purpose might it serve? And why should laughter itself even matter in the survival of the fittest?

Ultimately, while puns may seem simple, the art and implications of punning are not. So why, exactly, do bears go barefoot, and what does that reveal about the human condition?

I hope you enjoy this hunt for answers.

I think this is enough for me to tell you. That was enough for me to know I had to read this book. If you feel vaguely repelled by this description, don’t bother. We don’t need you to know the truth. As John Pollack says at the end of his book:

Inevitably, some people will never like punning because it fogs up the lens of clarity through which they view the world and impose order, or at least the illusion of order. But if puns seem, at times, to confuse, they actually enlighten us through both laughter and insight. They keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, and sharpen our capacity for creative thinking. Ultimately, puns keep our minds alert, engaged and nimble in this quickening world, revealing new connections and fresh interpretations. And that’s why, even as we hurtle into a future of uncertain opportunities, puns will always be more than some antics.

penguin.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/pun_also_rises.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 the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely 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.

Review of Stars, by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Stars

by Mary Lyn Ray
illustrated by Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books, 2011. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Picture Books

I’m normally not very touched by conceptual picture books trying to give readers a warm feeling. But Stars is something special.

I love Marla Frazee’s illustrations, and the children in this book have all the emotional expression of her pictures of Clementine. The words point out how many different kinds of stars there are, from stars in the sky to stars on plants to fireworks.

The illustration on the cover appears in the book accompanied by these words:

“What if you could have a star? They shine like little silver eggs you could gather in a basket.

“Except you know you can’t. Not really.”

The next page begins a concept that carries on through further pages:

“But you can draw a star on shiny paper and cut around it. Then you can put it in your pocket. Having a star in your pocket is like having your best rock in your pocket, but different.

“Because a star is different from a rock.”

Later, we’re told:

“Some days you feel shiny as a star. If you’ve done something important, people may call you a star.

“But some days you don’t feel shiny.

“Those days, it’s good to reach for the one in your pocket.”

Of course, the perfect marriage of words and illustrations enhance these words, as well as the appropriate vertical format.

I think I may go make a star to put in my pocket.

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