Review of Washed Ashore, by Kelly Crull

Washed Ashore

Making Art from Ocean Plastic

by Kelly Crull

Millbrook Press, 2022. 40 pages.
Review written October 8, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

This book is the kind I can’t resist showing to my coworkers on the spot. The art is stunning. The subject is convicting. And the overall presentation is mind-blowing.

Yes, I knew that there’s lots of plastic trash in the ocean. But this book makes you feel the magnitude.

This book documents the work of Angela Haseltine Pozzi and her organization called Washed Ashore. They make animal sculptures out of trash found in the ocean.

Washed Ashore shows large photographs of fourteen of these sculptures. They give facts about the ocean animals portrayed and how they’re affected by plastic trash. They also list tips for reducing plastic trash in the ocean. And across the bottom of each spread, there are objects for you to find in the sculptures.

It’s finding those objects that makes you look closely and get your mind blown with all the junk. It also helps you realize just how big these sculptures are. Some of the objects to look for include a cigarette lighter, sunglasses, an inhaler, a steering wheel, toothbrushes, multiple toys, shoe parts, and even the front of a stereo.

And the art itself is stunning. Looking closely and realizing what it’s made of makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

Take a look at this book. I don’t believe that you can fail to be moved.

kellycrull.com
washedashore.org
lernerbooks.com

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but 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.

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Review of Before Music, by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Madison Safer

Before Music

Where Instruments Come From

by Annette Bay Pimentel
illustrated by Madison Safer

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2022. 88 pages.
Review written September 7, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

I was not at all prepared for how charmed I would be by this book. Before the title page, pictures filling up oversize pages show you a boy with a drum and a woman with a stringed instrument making music. There’s a bit of text:

Music doesn’t come out of nothing.
It always starts somewhere. . .
with something. . .
with someone.

I expected to learn about the instruments of the western orchestra. But instead, the first instrument presented is a rock gong, and the next one a pututu, made from a seashell. Yes, instruments from western orchestras are included, but they’re a relatively small part of the many, many ways that humans make music.

At the back of the book, the author explains that different cultures classify musical instruments in different ways. “In writing this book, I was inspired by the ancient Chinese system, which focused on the materials instruments are made of.” Each group of instruments is presented first with a large painting and pictures of someone making an instrument of that type. Next, the book explains how that material makes music, then we see many more instruments made with that material, subdivided using the Indian and Javanese focus on how they are played.

And there are so many kinds of instruments! Leafing through the 88 pages, I see instruments made from rock, found objects, clay, gourds, strings, metal, wood, reeds, flexible sheets, and human voices. Mixed between the descriptions of instruments and how they are made are features of musical innovators, people who figured out how to make new sounds from materials already used for instruments or how to improve what was being used.

As an example of the amazing variety found here, on the gourd instruments page, I see thirteen instruments from countries all over the world, only two of which I’d ever heard of before.

This book is fascinating and beautiful. There are suggestions at the back for kids to make their own musical instruments.

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Review of Women in Art, by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Art

50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World

written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

Ten Speed Press, 2019. 128 pages.
Review written August 5, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

I’ve gotten a little tired of collective biographies that tell about a bunch of people and after awhile they all lump together. This one was different and distinctive. It probably helped that I had it checked out while the library was closed during the pandemic, because I found I only wanted to read about one artist per day, since there was so much information packed on each spread. I was in no hurry and didn’t have to worry about having to return the book before I was done.

The stylized illustrations are wonderful, featuring a page that highlights a portrait of the artist opposite the page with the text summary of her life and accomplishments. Both the portrait and the text, though, are surrounded with highlights from her life and images of her work.

There was a huge variety in the types of art these women made. The earliest woman featured combined poetry and painting in ancient China. The book includes more painters and sculptors, but also quilters, graphic designers, filmmakers, architects, fashion designers, photographers, and animators. I’d only heard of a small fraction of them before reading this book.

This wonderful book inspired me and reading it became a delight rather than some sort of educational chore. Here’s a paragraph from the conclusion:

Throughout history, female artists have pushed boundaries, created important works, and inspired the world. Many of these artists had to struggle against sexism, classism, racism, or other obstacles to get their work seen and taken seriously. Now we can include these women in their rightful place in art history and celebrate their contributions. Let us honor their legacy by continuing to create. Build what you see in your wildest dreams! Express yourself by creating something new! Share your ideas with the world! And go out there and make your own masterpiece!

RachelIgnotofskyDesign.com
tenspeed.com

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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.

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Review of Silent Cities, by Jeffrey H. Loria and Julie Loria

Silent Cities

Portraits of a Pandemic
15 Cities Across the World

by Jeffrey H. Loria and Julie Loria

Skyhorse Publishing, 2021. 366 pages.
Review written March 11, 2022, from a library book.

This book is a large-format doorstop of a book full of large photographs. I read it at the library, looking at photos from a city or two each day, so I wouldn’t have to carry it home and back.

The idea is simple: Photos of fifteen cities taken during the start of the pandemic, when those cities were more deserted than they will ever be again. It’s striking to see the famous buildings and sites without crowds of people.

I think I will enjoy this book more in about ten years. Now it’s almost painful to remember back when the world felt we were all in this together. There are many photos celebrating healthcare workers as heroes, and almost every person who does show up in the pictures is wearing a mask.

The cities featured are London, New York, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, Paris, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Rome, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and Washington, DC. The photos were taken by different photographers during the beginning of the pandemic and collected by the authors. They provide very little commentary, as the pictures speak for themselves.

This book is worth taking the time to look through and see what happens to our great cities when the people are pushed out of the picture.

skyhorsepublishing.com

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but 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.

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Review of Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum

illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Random House, 2019. 77 pages.
Starred Review
Review written September 13, 2019, from a library book.

This fascinating picture book look at Art is based on manuscript notes and sketches found in Dr. Seuss’s files. I haven’t been completely impressed with some of the other things dug out of his collections after his death – but this book is a delightful way to get kids thinking about Art.

Here’s how the book begins:

ART.
What’s it all about?

This is what ART is about…
ART is when an artist looks at something…
… like a horse, for instance…
… and they see something in that horse that excites them…
so they do something about it.
They tell you about it…
… in any one of a number of ways.

Artists have been excited by horses for as long as there have been artists. But what an artist tells us about horses and how they tell us is different for every artist.

What an artist sees in a horse depends on many different things – their background, likes and dislikes, you name it.

So come with me…

Let’s look at how different artists have seen horses. Maybe we can find some new ways of looking at them ourselves?

The pages that follow incorporate 35 different pieces of art that include horses. They talk about what the artist may have seen in a horse to express it that way. The book goes through different time periods and styles of art as well – all looking at horses.

The result is brilliant – lots and lots of artwork, all expressing horses, and all looking completely different.

There is extensive back matter, with more information about each piece of art and details about Dr. Seuss and his relationship with art (He was self-taught.) and the manuscript and sketches for this book and how they went from there to completion.

Future artists should read this book.

Seussville.com
rhcbooks.com

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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.

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Review of Play Like a Girl, by Kate T. Parker

Play Like a Girl

Life Lessons from the Soccer Field

by Kate T. Parker

Workman Publishing, 2020. 204 pages.
Review written October 31, 2020, from a library book

Play Like a Girl is another book packed with wonderful action shots of people from the author of Strong Is the New Pretty and The Heart of a Boy. This book features female soccer players – girls and women from all levels of soccer competition. Every photo includes a quote with the subject’s first name and age. Professional soccer players featured are given a short bio at the back.

The book is organized into ten chapters with ten “Rules,” things like “Keep Your Head Up” and “The Team Is the Thing.” The first page of the chapter has a short inspirational text with lessons from playing soccer. The rest is all quotes and photos.

This is another astonishingly beautiful book to look through. Almost made me wish I played soccer! This book would be a wonderful gift for any girl who plays soccer.

katetparker.com
workman.com

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Review of Journeys, edited by Catherine Gourley

Journeys

Young Readers’ Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives

Library of Congress Center for the Book
edited by Catherine Gourley

Candlewick Press, 2017. 226 pages.
Starred Review
Review written July 5, 2019, from a library book

This book is a collection of fifty-two letters written by young readers to authors about how their lives were touched by the authors’ books. Here’s an excerpt from the Foreword:

Over the years that Letters About Literature has invited young readers to share their personal responses to authors with us at Center for the Book, we have learned that children often approach reading with reluctance and that writing about what they read is often a challenge and, for some, a struggle.

This volume of letters is a showcase of young minds and hearts inspired and at times healed by the power of an author’s words. As the letters so poignantly illustrate, not all books are right for all readers. Likewise, two readers can interpret and respond to the same book quite differently. For some children, finding that right author, that right book, is in itself a bit of a journey. Once a reader finds that author and that book, something remarkable occurs. Readers discover themselves within the pages of the book. They begin to feel and to understand.

The letter-writers range in age from fourth grade to twelfth grade. Almost all of them are deeply personal. Since the editors chose from twenty-five years of letters, this isn’t a surprise. Each letter is showcased with a short description of the author and book they responded to.

I’m going to include a few random excerpts from letters. It’s not hard to find good quotations:

About Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi:

I want to be a writer that opens up doors for people. I want to set scenes and describe occupations that not everyone can become. People may not have the physical or mental capabilities to be an astronaut, race-car driver, teacher, dancer, or baseball player, but for a time, I want them to experience what each of those professions would be like.

I am a ten-year-old boy. I have mild cerebral palsy, but for one cool fall afternoon, I became Crispin, living in the Middle Ages. Thank you for that gift.

About The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak:

I used to be afraid. I used to wake up screaming and seeing a yellow star sewn onto my clothing. I have read many books about the Holocaust, but none of them struck me like The Book Thief. Instead of pain and fear, it is a book that focuses on courage, kindness, the power of words, and hope.

About the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, from a girl who’d been forbidden to read them:

You have given the world a gift, Ms. Rowling. You have given millions of people a friend, an adventure, and a happy ending that never ceases to amaze. So now, I thank you. Thank you for giving a little girl and her siblings someone to admire and dream about. Thank you for teaching the children of this world how magical love is, and most of all, Ms. Rowling, thank you for giving me Harry.

From a high school student about The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien:

When the soldier eventually kills himself, I was jolted awake. Why are death, war, and loss such taboo subjects? Why must we bury them down deep inside, cover our fears and uncertainties with a strained smile, and ignore a whole part of ourselves? No longer was I going to hide the past and the pain. I wouldn’t give up because people were unwilling to listen. I would spin words into poetry and attempt to define the indefinable. Circumstances had broken my heart, weighed down my shoulders, and given me a lifelong burden to carry. Yet I was unwilling to succumb to the same fate as the disillusioned soldier. I would not be shattered.

Your last story simultaneously opened fresh wounds and gave me the first real comfort since my mom’s death. I cried when Linda died. It was tragic. She was so young. I thought of my mom and it was almost unbearable. However, I realized from your book that stories could keep a person alive. Stories allow us to visit the past how it was: untainted in its beauty and unmarked by death or struggle.

And I love this one, about The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros:

“We are tired of being beautiful.” Thank you for writing those words. I was thinking them. I felt their unspoken pressure until they broke off your page and got stuck in my heart. That was your trick, I suppose. You wrote what everyone was thinking. You are so far away from me, so different, and still you spoke to me and I understood you. You knew me all along.

I am not fat anymore. I never was, I suppose, or maybe I still am. But I’ve stopped thinking about it and I am fine. “I am too strong for her to keep me here forever,” you wrote. I know that by “her,” you meant Mango Street, but I read it as “my body” and “my mind.” My heart came back together then, and I have you to thank for that. You didn’t tell me how to pull myself back together; you just showed me that I could. I was tired of trying to be somebody else’s definition of beautiful, and you told me that was okay. Beauty is not in the beholder, but in she who is beheld.

If you’ve ever wondered whether books can truly change lives, I highly recommend reading this book.

loc.gov
candlewick.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.

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Review of Consent (for Kids!), by Rachel Brian

Consent
(For Kids!)

Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU

by Rachel Brian

Little, Brown and Company, 2020. 64 pages.
Review written January 28, 2021, from a library book

What a perfect idea! Rachel Brian, the creator of the viral short video Tea Consent has made this little graphic novel explanation of consent in a completely kid-friendly way.

It turns out you don’t have to talk about sex to explain that you are in charge of your own body.

The book begins by explaining boundaries. That different people may have different boundaries, and that you may have different boundaries for different people, and those boundaries may change. The cartoons show things like high-fiving, hugging, and waving. It covers things like tickling, tackling, and pinching. What may be fine for one person may not be fine for someone else.

They’ve thought of more issues about consent than I would have ever realized are there, and it’s all done in a child-friendly and empowering way. I like the page where they show that someone’s outfit does not tell you if they consent. It shows a kid dressed in a bathing suit standing by a pool. But after she stops some kids from pushing her in, she says she doesn’t plan to swim at all. She just likes wearing the bathing suit and is planning to wear it to dinner. (This is all done with speech bubbles.)

The book also covers finding who you can trust, earning trust, and listening when other people talk about their own boundaries.

I was going to say that I’m sad this book needs to exist, but once I think about it, I’m not sad. Why, it does even me good to be reminded that I’m in charge of my own body. And I love that kids are getting taught that even when they’re young.

[Hmm. Where should I put this review? I hadn’t made a category in Children’s Nonfiction for Current Issues. I think for now, it fits best with the books in The Arts.]

LBYR.com

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but 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.

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Review of The Imaginaries, by Emily Winfield Martin

The Imaginaries

Little Scraps of Larger Stories

by Emily Winfield Martin

Random House, 2020. 80 pages.
Review written July 11, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

This book is a worthy addition to the tradition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. What you have are a set of fantastical paintings, each with a scrap of text, with the text usually shown as actually written on a scrap of paper.

The caption that goes with the picture that appears on the front cover is “Lily wanted to be a good place to land.”

One of my favorites shows a monkey holding a key and says, “Ask the monkey what he knows.” It’s written on the back of an envelope.

There’s a picture of five children wearing dresses at the edge of a forest, and they have the heads of animals. The caption says, “Their parents never knew the secret.”

A few characters seem to appear in more than one picture.

A note at the front from the author says that she found these scraps of words and pictures over the years, “illustrations for stories that do not exist,” in various places.

I found one in a lighthouse, one in a packet of seeds, one in the trunk of a hollow tree.

There was one tucked in the corner of a forgotten diorama, one hidden like a pearl in an oyster shell . . . one forgotten in a paperback from a used bookstore in Paris.

These pictures will send your imagination circling as you browse them, and may provide seeds for all kinds of stories.

A wonderful offering.

rhcbooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but 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.

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Review of Drawn from Nature, by Helen Ahpornsiri

Drawn from Nature

by Helen Ahpornsiri

Big Picture Press (Candlewick), 2018. 60 pages.
Starred Review
Review written April 29, 2018, from a library book
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#5 Children’s Nonfiction Picture Books

I don’t think this book is eligible for either the Newbery or the Caldecott Medal, because the author lives in the United Kingdom – but that’s too bad! The art in this book is incredible! (I’m going to wait to post this review until after the Newbery is announced, just to be careful.)

All of the art in this amazing book is made from actual plants. Here’s how the artist explains it in the back:

Everything you see in these pages – from the gleam in a fox’s eye to the delicate line of a cobweb – is made from a plant.

Flowers and foliage are always changing with the seasons, but here they have been paused in their life cycle, kindled with a new story. Ferns have been transformed into feathers, and the colorful wings of insects are formed from the very flowers they feed on.

Each collage is made from hundreds of leaves and flowers, which are responsibly grown or foraged in the wild and preserved with traditional flower-pressing methods. The plants are then delicately arranged into bold new shapes and forms. They are all brimming with the twists and tangles of the wilderness, all capturing a perfect moment in time.

The text is about nature as it goes through the seasons, beginning with Spring and birds building nests, through Summer in the meadow, through Autumn with falling leaves, and finishing with Winter and hibernation and bare branches. But that’s a very brief summary – besides the incredibly detailed illustrations, the words reveal a knowledge of details of life in the wild that show careful observation.

I could look at these illustrations for hours. They are the sort that prompt me to show everyone in the library. One co-worker said that she has ordered cards from this artist on Etsy. The beauty and detail of her work is simply astonishing.

candlewick.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 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?