Monday, February 7, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

Madlenka Soccer Star by Peter Sis book cover
Madlenka Soccer Star
by Peter Sis


Madlenka plays soccer in her city neighborhood--with the mailbox, a dog, a parking meter, and some cats.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Young female fans will appreciate following a girl who kicks a ball through the pages.
  • The international passion for soccer provides an ideal subject for Sis's Madlenka series, which connects a young girl's daily life with goings-on in the larger world. 
  • Global enthusiasm becomes visual in the final pages where a brief soccer history and fun facts are written on the face of a large soccer ball. The circular shape is mirrored on the opposite page with a globe surrounded by conversation balloons speaking "soccer" in more than 40 languages. 

April and Esme, Tooth Fairies by Bob Graham book cover
April and Esme, Tooth Fairies
by Bob Graham


On their first assignment, two young tooth fairy sisters journey by night into the huge world of humans to collect Daniel Dangerfield's tooth and fly it safely home.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Young audiences will linger over the detailed illustrations that bring to life Graham’s gentle tale: inside the tooth fairy family’s tiny thatched cottage, teeth dangle from strings like wind chimes; tiny animals made with teeth adorn shelves; the bathtub’s a milk pitcher, the toilet’s an eggcup, the sink’s a thimble.
  • A major treat is Graham’s detail-filled artwork, here punctuated by a fairy toilet made from an egg cup and ceiling decorations of hanging teeth.

Rubia and the Three Osos by Sussan Middleton Elya book cover
Rubia and the Three Osos
by Susan Middleton Elya
Genre: Folklore


Retells the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in rhyming text interspersed with Spanish words, which are defined in a glossary.

Why You'll Love It:
  • The narrative includes bouncy rhythms and smoothly intersperses Spanish words into the English. This technique helps children use context to determine their meaning.
  • Spanish is printed in a purple font, and a glossary is provided in the back.
  • An excellent read-aloud for storyhours and family reading times.

Mouse and Mole by Wong Herbert Yee book cover
Mouse and Mole: A Winter Wonderland
by Wong Herbert Yee


Best friends Mouse and Mole enjoy playing in the snow with Sno-Mouse and Sno-Mole, two more best friends.

Why You'll Love It:

  • This installment is filled with onomatopoeia, repetition, and the occasional rhyme.
  • Young readers will likely enjoy the simple irony and straightforward plot, while the many color illustrations reinforce the action and help them in in their transition to beginning chapter books.

Who Stole Mona Lisa by Ruthie Knapp book cover
Who stole Mona Lisa?
by Ruthie Knapp


Mona Lisa discusses her life in the homes and palaces of artists and kings, and as the object of admiration by visitors to see her at the Louve in Paris, tells of her time in the hands of a thief, and shares the secret of why she smiles.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Short sentences gain momentum from internal rhymes, repeated opening phrases, and humorous details. Beginning with da Vinci’s approach to the portrait sitter’s plight, a museum guide quips: “If she scratched, he asked if she had ants in her pants! When Mona was moody, he hired musicians and clowns to amuse her.”
  • McElmurry’s gouache scenes are lively and varied.
  • The text is rhythmic, but not rhyming:  “If she scratched, he asked if she had ants in her pants! When Mona was moody, he hired musicians and clowns to amuse her.”

Ogg and Bob: Life with mammoth by Ian Fraser book cover
Ogg and Bob: Life with Mammoth
by Ian Fraser


Two cavemen, Ogg and Bob, capture a mammoth and then try to train him as a pet.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Relatively spare text and full-color cartoons, some covering a spread and some full page, will serve reluctant readers well, while in-between readers will pick up on the irony of the sticky situations Ogg and Bob elude. 
  • The books straddle that fine line between early readers and early chapter books, offering very short chapters that still contain a lot of meat and action.

Nora and the Texas terror by Judy Cox book cover
Nora and the Texas Terror
by Judy Cox


When Nora's uncle loses his job and house in Texas, he and his family come to stay with Nora's family in Portland, Oregon, and Nora must try very hard to adjust to her cousin Ellie, who is loud, stubborn, and a tease.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Cox concisely conveys a sense of family dynamics and resolves the crisis of the story—a storm that imperils Ellie’s little brother—as neatly as she dispels Nora and Ellie’s differences.
  • This book would be useful as bibliotherapy for children whose families are having financial difficulties.
  • Realistic situations coupled with modern economic problems make this a familiar story for today's young readers. Humorous black-and-white drawings pepper the story, deepening understanding. Fans of Beverly Cleary should try this one.


Anonymous said...

I love Peter Sis, he is such an amazing illustrator! Thank you for the list. I'm keeping my eye out for the Peter Sis and the Ogg and Bob, which my kids might like. It's been so long since I've gotten new books for the littlest one.

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

Thanks for all the recommendations! We are heading to the library tomorrow and I have put them on my list. (PS. Love your header)

Margo Dill said...

Thanks for the picture book round-up. There are some here I hadn't heard of yet and will go look for them in my library! :)


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