Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review Set #4

Eyewitness Books: Ancient Greece by Anne Pearson, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Genre: non-fiction, history of Greece; Total pages: 63

Target Age: 6 and up

Annotation: Eyewitness Books hits another home-run with this book on Ancient Greece. It is a wonderful, concise overview of ancient Greecian culture where the picture and the text work together to make learning fun.

Review: This book covers the overview of ancient Greece through totally annotated color pictures and a brief textual description on each page. This book covers many different topics, each on a two-page spread, including the role of women, a history that often is ignored. This is a great resource for a research project, though perhaps lacks a bit in textual details. I love this book!

Critical Reviews: School Library Journal also raved about the beautiful illustrations and two-page treatment of each subject. They said that this was a must-have for any collection as it is such a stimulating treatment of the subject. Amazon.com's critical review said that the book was, "Extremely informative, intriguing, and entertaining." These two reviews sum it all up: this is a fabulous book for a general overview of Ancient Greece.

All the World's A Stage by Michael Bender, published by Chronicle Books

Genre: nonfiction, biography; Total pages: 15; Age: 7 and up

Annotation: Shakespeare's life and works pop to life in this 3-D and colorful journey through Elizabethan England.

Review: While most people would think of a pop-up book as a book for young children, this book is ideal for fifth grade and up due to its vocabulary and sentence structure. It would even be great for a ninth grader and their first journey into Shakespeare!

All the World's a Stage has a comfortable approach to learning about Shakespeare and his plays. Each of the different plays is categorized and condensed to a few sentences and illustrated via pop-ups. The few details of Shakespeare's life of are told chronologically and interwoven with details about the plays. The book contains a brief glossary in the back to explain the content-specific vocabulary that are bolded throughout the text.

Critical Review:     School Library Journal called this book a "mediocre example of both biography and pop-ups," saying that it lacked "ingenious paper engineering." While the pop-ups might not be spectacular (how many pop-ups can have light sabers that light up like the Star Wars pop-up book?), they are pretty and show the context of the story very well. Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe both said that the book is "A pleasant, three-dimensional glimpse of the Elizabethan era." I think people expect Shakespeare and works about Shakespeare to be more than they are, because we've historically said that the Bard is suitable for all generations and audiences. This book is not appropriate for under fifth grade due to its vocabulary. The pop-ups are simple like Shakespeare's sets. It is an understated book that's a fun approach to Shakespeare.

Pajama Time! By Sandra Boynton, published by Workman Publishing

Genre: board book; Total pages: 19; Age: 2-4

Annotation: Pajama time is party time. Your kids will beg you to read this book before bed due to its fun rhyme and sing-song story.

Review: This is a fun book for teaching about going to bed. Pajama Time! Shows that going to bed is not something to be avoided, but embraced. The catchy rhythm will make this a bedtime favorite for both kids and parents. The board book will encourage child interaction with the book and the rhythm will have your children reading along with you early and often. Soon you'll learn how to "Pajammy to the left! Pajammy to the right! Jamma jamma jamma jamma P!J!"

Critical Review: This book is just plain old fun, and that's what School Library Journal says in their review: "Boynton's characters are as lovable as ever, all with expressions sure to win over toddlers." This review points out that the all of the characters parade by in a variety of different pajamas to party before settling down for bed. This is such a fun book that it's hard to say anything else.

beetle bop by Denise Fleming, published by Harcourt, Inc.

Genre: picture book, concept (bugs); Total pages: 28; Age: 4-8

Annotation: beetle bop is a fun frolic through the world of beetles. It shows the many different types of beetles with beautiful and bold illustrations.

Review: This is a fun read, even if you're not interested in beetles because of the beautiful pictures and the onomatopoeia throughout. Beetle bop mentions several different types of beetles and it is fun to try to find them in each picture. The relentless rhythm throughout the story would make it a fabulous read-aloud book and will get your kids chanting along with you. This is a good book for all your kids interested in the crawly things. J

Critical Review:

Booklist wrote about the beautiful illustrations and the pounding rhythm throughout the book as those are the two driving forces for this book and its joyful celebration of all things beetle. Similarly, Publisher's Weekly writes that the book is "Part boisterous read-aloud, part field guide for entomology enthusiasts, this arresting volume has something for everybuggy." Despite its buggy subject, this is not just a book for nature lovers. This is a book for those who like gorgeous illustrations and pounding rhythms.

Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever by Richard Scarry, published by Golden Books

Genre: picture book, Mother Goose book; Total pages: 94; Age: 5-9

Annotation: The iconic Richard Scarry animals dance and work their way through Mother Goose's tales , acting out the different stories. Each story is condensed to about a page, with an additional page for the illustrations.

Review: This is the first time I've ever read this particular Richard Scarry book, and I was initially disappointed. The illustrations were not what I remembered from other Scarry stories, with the busy animals doing a million different tasks. But, the pictures are spot-on with illustrating the nursery rhymes and the whimsical graphics add needed imagination for the much-worn Mother Goose rhymes. At 94 pages, this might be too lengthy for younger children, but the stories themselves are only 1-2 pages, so it is easily broken up for short attention spans. In fact, the large pictures and the brief rhymes would make it a good Storytime pick.

Critical Review: Amazon.com's review states that the pictures are wonderful (with the Cow Who Jumped Over a Moon wearing pearls and a pink dress) and that a 25-year old classic has been charming students and children for decades. This review recommends the book for toddlers. I think it might be more appropriate for older children because the book would seem so intimidating to younger readers due to its length. Overall, Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever is a great collection of childhood classics and a worthy volume for the collection.