I’ve been rather out of the loop when it comes to new kids’ books lately, mostly because the libraries I’ve frequented this summer are not the ones that get many new books at a time. However, we returned to another one of our local libraries this week–the one that does get the new stuff–and came home with at least a couple of gems.
Y’all, I love a good informational picture book. If it’s about history, it’s all the better. Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley is wonderful. Never mind the fact that there was absolutely no “reason” for us to read a book about the American Revolution here, this last week of summer vacation–my girls were on the edge of their seats for this one. (This may or may not be an indication of how much I have passed my nerdiness down to my children. 😉 ) Those Rebels, John and Tom is obviously about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. It profiles their many, many differences and how they came to be fast friends, and how their friendship helped them lead the forging of the very disparate colonies into a force that could reckon with England. Kerley’s style is very interesting, colorful, and readable:
And then there were all those taxes! A tax on sugar. On coffee and tea. On glass, on paint, and on calico cloth. Newspapers, contracts, even decks of cards! King George and his government taxed them all. They thought America was nothing but a big fat piggy bank to be turned upside down and shaken for coins.
Of course, I can’t replicate the font styles here, but the fact that various styles and sizes of fonts are used makes the text very varied and interesting. And then there are the illustrations! This beautifully written book is made twice as good by Edwin Fotheringham’s illustrations. Fotheringham uses a limited color palette–light blue, navy blue, red, brown, yellow, white, and “flesh tone” ;-)–which just happens to be a combination I love anyway. His tongue-in-cheek style is what makes the book so delightful, especially for the more mature reader. 😉 For example, the illustration on the page facing the one with the text quoted above is of a rather piggish-looking King George, a pile of coins already heaped in front of him, shaking a rather frightened-looking piggy bank. (You can see the actual illustrations in this book by going to Fotheringham’s website and clicking on BOOKS–>children’s.) I should mention, too, that the book does broach the topic of slavery, which I know is a very hot-button issue when it comes to our Founding Fathers. I especially enjoyed reading the afterword to my girls about Jefferson’s and Adams’ falling out over how much power the federal government hould have and how they got to be friends once again as old men. I give this one a Highly, Highly Recommended for anyone who’s interested in U.S. History, ages six to ninety-six! (Scholastic, 2012)
Dolphin Baby by Nicola Davies is another newish informational picture book we picked up on that same library trip. This one is very soft, soothing, and sweet, but it’s also jam-packed with information presented in a seamless narrative format. (There are extra facts on each page, but since those tend to interrrupt the flow of the story, I usually don’t read them aloud.) I didn’t know, for example, that when baby dolphins are born that their flukes are “floppy” from their time in utero and take a while to stiffen up. Brita Granström‘s gorgeous acrylic paintings add to the sweet spirit of this book. While I think this one is just on the edge of being a little too young for my rather sophisticated eight year old and six-and-a-half-year old, I predict that sea creature lovers will really like this one, regardless of age. (Candlewick, 2011)
I’m beginning to get excited about this year’s Cybils! I am planning to host the Armchair Cybils (all the dates on that page are from last year, but it gives you and idea of what it’s about) again this year, and I’d love to have you join in.