Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Book Roundup

Lousy, lame Blogger! This post was supposed to be up and running yesterday, but for some reason, I didn't have a good "connection" to their database or whatever. Yarrrgh. Anyway: I'm back! Forgive me, dear bleaders, for taking so long to post again -- can I beggar pity if I mention that my trip involved 12+ hours of solo driving? Although I was able to fit in a pedicure whilst out and about (ooo, sparkle toes) so I guess I shouldn't garner too much pity. And yes, the wedding was lovely. But -- back to work. Let the new books roll!

The Secret of the Rose by Sarah L. Thomson

There’s a bevy of children’s historical fiction about Shakespeare out there – it’s about time that Christopher Marlowe got his due, if you ask me. The year is 1592, and fourteen-year-old Rosalind Archer is a Catholic at a time when the religion was illegal in England. When her father is hauled off to prison for keeping the faith, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy and heads off to London with her younger brother in order to pay his bail. One there, the children quite literally stumble into Marlowe, who finds them employment – the little brother becomes a player at Marlowe’s Rose Theater, and Rosalind (now Richard) becomes Marlowe’s personal servant. Rosalind soon learns that her master has as many secrets as she. Is Marlowe a devil worshipper? An atheist? A spy? A secret Catholic, like herself? Thomson does a good job giving the details of sixteenth-century London life -- along with its sexual mores, tangled politics, and rather raucous lifestyle – in a way that is clear and easy to understand. With a great deal of overheard secrets, swordfights, secret documents, cloaks, daggers, and – sigh – a cameo role from Shakespeare, Thomson’s novel is an exciting, romantic read.

Five for a Little One by Chris Raschka

I know more than one librarian who refer to Raschka as a “secret boyfriend.” As in his previous picture books, Five for a Little One manages to be whimsical, elegant, and sentimental all at once. It’s basically a description of the five senses, as seen through the perspective of a little rabbit. Raschka uses a combination of ink drawings, watercolor, and block prints to show Rabbit experiencing rather iconic tastes, smells, sounds, etc. The softly rounded, black-and-white rabbit capers about on white pages, encountering a rainbow of cars, flowers, vegetables, and snowflakes. With a gently rhyming text, this atmospheric book would be a great read-aloud for a unit or storytime about the body. “Five senses – just enough – to know the love we have for you,” is the last line in the book. Do you know the love we have for you, Chris?

My Father’s Shop by Satomi Ichikawa

Mustafa and his father run a carpet shop in Morocco. Mustafa loves the colorful rugs, and he admires his father’s ability to converse in many languages with the tourists who visit the shop. But when it comes to actually learning the languages, Mustafa would much rather run around the marketplace. When he does, he meets a rooster – and people from all over the world who tell him how a rooster crows in various languages. It’s “qui-qui-ri-qui” in Spain, but “koke-ko-kooo” in Japan. When Mustafa returns to his father, he’s proud to show off his new “languages.” Ichikawa’s sweet story will bring a grin to the face of many a reader, but it’s the subtly detailed watercolor illustrations that will invite a second and third reading. Ichikawa chooses a palette of earth-tone colors that manages to be subdued yet vibrant – just as a sun-drenched Moroccan market ought to be. Bring a preschooler along for the ride, and enjoy some international barnyard talk together.

Dick Whittington and His Cat, retold by Margaret Hodges, illus. by Mélisande Potter

The world of children’s literature just isn’t going to be the same without Margaret Hodges. An esteemed folklorist (and fellow Pittsburgher), she passed away in 2005. This book, published posthumously, showcases Hodges’ talents one last time – the old story of Dick Whittington’s rise to fame and fortune from the streets of London is told in fine form. We start with Dick as a penniless orphan, who gains a job in the house of a wealthy merchant. When given the opportunity to invest an item for trade on an overseas voyage, Dick contributes his prized mouse-hunting cat, who is later bought by the King of Barbary for a handsome sum, making our hero a rich man. Throughout the text, Hodges uses the Bow Church bells of London to ring out messages of hope or foreboding to Dick as he fulfills his destiny and becomes Lord Mayor of London and spends his time giving relief to the poor. Like her previous works, (most famously her adaptation of Saint George and the Dragon), Hodge’s text is deceptively simple, using only the sparest ornamentation to decorate her story – it’s a perfect read-aloud or read-alone for older children. Potter’s accompanying pastel-and-gray illustrations depict round, goggle-eyed, chunky Londoners dancing, working, and looking altogether rather jolly. As a bonus, it includes a brief history of the real Dick Whittington, chapbooks, and the Bow Church. It’s just a-ringin’ my bells.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice! I found a place where you can
make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
to see what's available in your area.
I made over $900 last month having fun!
make extra money

Anonymous said...

Very nice! I found a place where you can
make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
to see what's available in your area.
I made over $900 last month having fun!
make extra money

jules said...

Oooh, anonymous spammers, go away!

Love to pore over your lists . . . I know he's everywhere and won so many dang awards that it might be time to give someone else a chance, but you just gotta DIG 'Five for a Little One' -- I stared at it a long time (oh, and my 2 and 1/2 yr. old was entranced, too).

Love your blog. -- jules

Anonymous said...

Very nice! I found a place where you can
make some nice extra cash secret shopping.
Kurabiye Kolay Tariflerini hazırlamak