Children's Book Reviews

OWTK Bi-Monthly Book Suggestions – August/September 2006

The OWTK book suggestions for August/September include an elegant arachnoid, a happy whistler, a family of bunnies, and discussion of chrysalis.

Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli with illustrations by Jane Dyer
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My wife fell in love with another of Spinelli’s books, “When Mama Comes Home Tonight”, which was a gift from my mother just before our girl, then three months old, was to start in daycare. Since, we have searched for other works by the author and recently came upon Sophie’s Masterpiece, a spider’s tale told with such elegance and with brilliant illustrations that it has become a OWTK household treasure. Sophie is a kind, talented, and thoughtful spider whose weaves were always well regarded by her peers but enjoyed less by the humans she now must call neighbors, in a boarding house. She is seen, by most, as nothing more spectacular than a bug to be swatted at and pushed aside. This is not the case, however, of the one lone resident whose room would become the site of her masterpiece. Sophie’s Masterpiece is a tale of kindness, selflessness, and grace. It is one of the most lovely pieces of children’s literature that OWTK has come across, and receives our highest recommendation.

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
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This classic, simple book is all about persistence. Most children will be able to relate to how rough it is when you try your best but are unable (physically) to do something yet, like whistling.

It is for this reason that Peter, the boy at the center of Whistle for Willie, becomes such a likeable figure that you and your child will want to root for and eventually, when the whistling power finally come to his lips, cheer for him. Our girl does – she will clap and shout “Yay, Peter!” during each read.

Keats captures children’s attention with his very clever drawings, which are in direct correlation with the words on the page, bringing clarity to the story. There is a lovely little exchange in the middle of the book between Peter and his mom. It comes out of nowhere, as so many of the most charming childhood moments do, and is a delightfully simple glimpse of a young boy’s interaction with his favorite gal, his mother.

A statue of Peter and Willie resides in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Replicas of the statue can be puchased here.

Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon by Karen Viola
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A clever story about mother and father bunnies trying to convince their little one that it is time to go to bed (a challenging task most parents should be able to relate to!). Each time they explain that it is time for bed, the little bunny sees something else that he absolutely must do, play with, or ask a question about. Our daughter enjoys this book’s interesting design as much as she does the pleasant storyline. The pages are fanned in such a way that the bright sun is displayed as the story begins but with each turn of the page it slowly begins to disappear revealing a full moon by the end of the story. Our little bunny will then comment “there goes the sun!”. This is a perfect bedtime book – simple and quiet.

The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne

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We love the way this book shows the life cycle of this amazing creature in a way very young readers can understand. Our daughter makes the connection at the end that the new catepillars will go through the same transformation that was completed at the start of the story. The illustrations are very well-done providing just the right feel for the book’s subjects – flowers, catepillars, etc. Our little one enjoys picking which butterflies are her favorites, counting the catepillar eggs, and consistently shushes us when the butterfly goes to sleep. Milbourne uses very readable language and tone making this book ideal for even very young children.

If you wish to purchase any of these titles, please visit your local independent bookstore or purchase from Powell’s or Amazon – by clicking on their ads on the right or the links above. Your online purchases help OWTK – and for that we are extremely thankful.

Jeff Bogle

Out With The Kids

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