|October 2013 Book Reviews
Author: Pamela Heller
For Younger Readers
by Michael Hall
This is the story of a perfect square that is perfectly happy with “four matching corners and four equal sides.” On Monday, the square is cut and poked full of holes. But not to worry, it made itself into a fountain that “babbled and giggled and clapped.” Each day the square is shredded or wrinkled, snipped or ripped and challenged to make a new shape and purpose. As its week progresses, the reader will wonder what the square will do next? This is a wonderful book using shape, color and time to introduce children to thinking outside the box for solutions, and to eagerly work toward solutions to the challenges they may face in their own lives. What can you do when the story ends? For ages 4 to 8.
by Lois Ehlert
Bestselling author Lois Ehlert is known for her simple text and boldly-colored collage illustrations made from found objects. “RRRalph” adds humor and silliness to her list of assets. Inspired by family jokes about dogs, Ehlert has created a story about a talking dog involved in a question-and-answer session between the narrator and a spunky pup named Ralph. What’s on the tree? (“Bark, bark, bark”), How does the path feel? (“Rough, rough”). Children will delight in trying to guess Ralph’s answers to the questions. This book is a wonderful read-aloud with the potential for a follow-up collage-making art activity. For ages 4 to 8.
For Older Readers
Kenny and the Dragon
by Tony DiTerlizzi
This is the tale of the challenges facing the friendship between Kenny, a clever rabbit and Grahame, a poetry-loving dragon. The fearful townspeople want the dragon killed and so the king summons a retired knight (named George) to do battle to the death. Yes, this is a reference to the legend of St. George and the dragon, Kenneth Grahame’s poem, “The Reluctant Dragon and Beowulf.” However, DiTerlizzi’s writing style and pencil illustrations bring humor, kindness and wisdom to this retelling of an age-old story. Themes run from friendship, loyalty, prejudice and the civilizing influence of literature. For ages 8 to 12.
by Cynthia Voight
This is a coming-of-age story of Fredle, a young mouse suddenly cast out of his cozy, familiar home into the wild outside world filled with wonders and dangers. With the help of newfound friends, Fredle learns to embrace this new adventure and all its possibilities. It is Voight’s use of language, pacing and themes that make what appears to be a story written for a younger audience actually more appropriate and enjoyable for older readers. Adolescents may relate to the conflicts facing Fredle as he navigates the path from childhood’s desire and dependence for family protection and adolescence’s discovery of freedom, which eventually matures into a desired balance between dependence and independence. For ages 9 to 14.
Pamela Heller, an artist and education consultant, is an avid reader who endeavors to find books of all genres that are timeless, meaningful, interesting, fun and heartwarming.