Thursday, November 24, 2011

Picture Book Month Mini-Challenge: Final Week

First: HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all followers in the US.
Now back to business: As part of our Picture Book Month celebration, Jen challenged me to read 15 of her favorite picture books and then review them for you all.

Oh no! My mini-challenge is already over.  I have enjoyed it so much, but all good things come to an end. So, here we go.... Last, but not least, the final 5 books.

ChalkTitle: Chalk
Author & Illustrator: Bill Thompson
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
Publication Date: March, 2010
Summary: 3 children enter a playground to find chalk that when you draw with it, your artwork comes to life. 
What I Think: This is a beautiful wordless picture book that tells a magical story.  I loved the concept and the artwork is phenomenal.  I surprised after reading this that it did not win a Caldecott.  No words were needed in the book because the art is so detailed, realistic and well-done.  Also, I loved the clever ending. 

Henry's Freedom BoxTitle: Henry's Freedom Box
Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January, 2007
Summary: Henry has lost everything, can he at least find freedom? This is a true story of a slave name Henry's life and the journey it takes him to become free.
What I Think: Whenever you hear about the underground railroad, you think of Harriet Tubman and slaves running from house to house hiding.  I had never thought about all the other ways that slaves may have escaped. 

Henry's story is probably much like many other stories of any slave living in America in the 1800s, but no matter how many times I read a book with slavery in it, I cannot imagine a world where that is okay. My heart is wrenched whenever I read about the thoughtless and ruthless things that white Americans did to black slaves during this time and this book is no different.  With beautiful illustrations to accompany a sad, yet hopeful story.

Chicken DanceTitle: Chicken Dance
Author: Tammi Sauer
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Publisher: Sterling
Publication Date: August, 2009
Summary: Marge and Lola the chickens want to win the tickets to see Elvis Poultry in concert so bad, but they had to find a way to win the talent contest.  The ducks always won, so they had to find something that they did that was better than anything the ducks could do.  They tried flying (nope) and swimming (nope) and other fancy tricks, but they couldn't figure out what their talent was. So, the day of the talent show they decided just to wing it. 
What I Think: I laughed so hard while reading this book that I woke my cat up from his nap.  The scenes where Marge and Lola are trying to figure out what talent to do at the talent show are hilarious! The text and illustration combination are perfect because they are both filled with whimsy.  

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School ShoesTitle: Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
Author: Eric Litwin
Illustrator: James Dean
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: August, 2011
Summary: Pete the Cat is going to school and he is wearing his school shoes! Remember: Because it's all good!
What I Think: I like Pete the Cat and his positive outlook on life.  He makes me smile. I think, though, that these books really need to be read with a child, because the singing and the interaction are what would really make it magical.  Also, stop by Harper Collins Children's to get some Pete downloadable songs and other activities- it is very much worth checking out!

I Want My Hat Back
Title: I Want my Hat Back
Author & Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September, 2011
Summary: Bear has lost his hat, where is it?
What I Think ***A bit more of a summary with some spoilers!***: This is by far the most talked about book on Twitter over the last month.  It has its own hashtag (#hatback) and people have been splitting themselves up based on Team Rabbit or Team Bear (#teambear #teamrabbit). And at first glance, this book seems simple, but after reading (& rereading) and reflecting, the book is so much more than that.  It really takes you on an emotional journey.   At first, of course you are feeling for Bear.  Poor Bear has lost his hat.  On his journey he meets some wonderful, funny, friendly wild animal characters.  My favorite is the poor Turtle that just wants to get up on the rock.  Oh, and the Armadillo... the poor, not smart, Armadillo.  But then Bear runs into Rabbit and although the rabbit is wearing Bear's hat, he doesn't notice. Also, Rabbit's reaction to Bear asking for his hat is HILARIOUS- made me laugh out loud.  Then after more exploration, Bear finally figured out that he had seen his hat and ran to confront Rabbit.  However, no confrontation happens! Bear doesn't even let Rabbit explain, he just eats him! How dare he?! I don't care if you are pro- or anti- death penalty, this was the death penalty without a court of law. Then my husband says, "They are animals- he was just hungry." NO! That is not right!  This is a book with talking animals, that means that they have a conscious that is past those of just a wild animal- they know right from wrong.  If you assume that Rabbit knows that stealing is wrong than obviously Bear should know that eating someone is wrong.  So, in the end, I have decided that I am #teamrabbit. So, although I loved this book and love the conversation that it has caused and I love the community that has been built around it, I hate the ending.  But a book that can cause such emotional feelings must be a brilliant book. 

Where is Bear's hat?OH! There it is! I cannot believe Rabbit stole it. Bear's on his way to get it back. AH!!! HE ATE HIM!!!

Also, Jen beautifully explained the type of feelings that this book makes you feel in her Love-Hate (Book) Relationship post.  Check it out. 

What I loved most about this month was being able to explore such a wide variety of picture books from biographies to informational nonfiction to all types of fiction- this was quite a picture book journey.  Thank you Jen for pushing me to do this and thank you to all who celebrated Picture Book Month with us! You can check out our other Picture Book Month posts here, here, here and here

Happy reading :)

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