Kid reviews for February will be posted soon. In the meantime, here are some extremely informal reviews of February's sweet books. As you can see from these reviews, I love how sweet books draw you in...
A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood, ill. by Laura Rankin
From @ Author Bridget Heos, on Facebook:
"Nothing against bookmarks BUT what if everytime the other kids got a balloon, you got a bookmark instead? Just because you're a porcupine! Read about this horrible injustice in one of our Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book) books. It's by Deborah Underwood, who also took the PB world by storm with her The Quiet Book."
What I didn't get the chance to say: It is amazing how this picture book of few words weaves together, by my count, three plot lines, which beautifully come together in the end. We have Isabel, who is frankly tired of getting bookmarks on special occassions, Walter, who takes for granted the fact that his father is in the candy business, and Ms. Quill, who upholds the no balloon rule even though she is a porcupine who suffered the same injustice as a child.
How could an author juggle so many plot lines in such short space? Well, maybe it would help if she used to be a street performer! Apparently Deborah Underwood was a street musician, not a juggler, but it is still awesome. I learned this from her Web site. http://deborahunderwoodbooks.com If you are a teacher, do you look at authors' bios with your class? There is often fascinating stuff there!
Grandma's Chocolate/El Chocolate de Abuelita by Mara Price, ill. by Lisa Fields
Keep your kings and wars. To me, the history of the world is learned at the kitchen table. In this book, Sabrina's abuelita brings gifts from Mexico, including cacao. As they make hot chocolate (chocolate caliente) Sabrina learns how important cacao was to her ancestors.
Many of you will remember having similar conversations in the kitchen of your mother or grandmother--whether it was about distant or recent history. Kids will enjoy learning the history of chocolate and may wonder about the history of other foods, too--especially if they can learn it while cooking with somebody they love!
Otis & Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever by Laura Numeroff, ill. by Dan Andreasen
Look at these bears. Something about their cuteness--and the sweet story--draws you into their world, like Russell Hoban's Frances books. In fact, after reading it, my son said that Otis and Sydney had decided for their next party not to have pink frosting on the cake. (See, he'd climbed inside and had a conversation with them.)
You know Laura Numeroff from her If You Give a...(Mouse a Cookie, Pig a Pancake, etc.) series, which kids love (and grownups can certainly relate to!) You've probably seen Dan Andreasen's work, too, though in a different style. He's illustrated some of the American Girl books. AND he illustrated Orville Redenbacher on the popcorn box!
Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Jennifer Rofe, ill. by Mary Peterson
As children follow these mischievous pumpkins through the farm, they hear the different prepositions...like through, over, around.
I've always loved the prepositions. They are the true jobbers of the English language. Unglamorous--but never unimportant. Whether kids share my love or not, they'll think this story is a lot of fun.
They'll love the colors and patterns in the book, too. I like how everything is so green and light brown (and a little pink,) except when they begin and end in the pumpkin patch. Then everything is orange. It just looks cute. I'd like to wear this book to someplace important. Or just live in it.
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
Balzer + Bray, 2010
My love for Henry in Love is no secret. Here is the love letter I wrote to it on Powell's: "This book is both sweet and real. Henry is having one of those days. The kind where everything goes his way! His mom packs a blueberry muffin as a snack. A big kid football player tosses him the ball. And as for his love, well you'll see."
I almost won a gift certificate for that review...but forgot to check my email that day. I'm sorry. Henry's story is much more interesting than that one. Again, the illustrations and sweet story conspire to draw you in. To this day I wonder what Henry is up to.
Considering that "love" was in the title I was surprised how much my sons loved this book, but they did. In my mind, it could even be called a "boy book."