Friday, February 27, 2015

Final Picture Books 14:14

Word Play

Locomotive by Brian Floca
Illustrated by Brian Floca
Publisher: A Richard Jackson Book (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Published: 2013
ISBN-13: 97814169941252
Personal Copy
Word Count:  (estimate)

Oh how I love this book...and several of the elements could have been used for my review, but I decided on Word Play.

As you start the book, you can hear the sound of the hammers hitting the spikes...

This begs the reader to go on and "hear" what else is going on. And there is more...

And more...

Is that all you ask? Heavens no...Brian Floca uses a variety of figurative language through the book.


               She's bright in her paint and her polish -
               the pride of her company and crew.

               It's tricky sometimes to use it,
               when the train is
               rolling, running, lurching,
               leaning left and right.


               he knows her moods and tempers,


               Smell the switchgrass and the bluestem,
               hot beneath the sun.

Now it is your turn to read and find all the luscious language that is used in Locomotive.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

The Cart That Carried Martin
The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Don Tate
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Published: 2013
ISBN-13: 9781580893879
Library Copy
Word Count:  537 (estimate)

Eve Bunting tells the story of the cart that carried the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his funeral procession. Don Tate provides the most beautiful soft watercolor illustrations complement the tone of the story exquisitely.

With so little dialogue in this book, I'm sure one might wonder why I chose dialogue. I chose it because I felt that the dialogue that was used was used purposefully and with impact. And how interesting that no one has names in the book. Only Dr. King and the two mules that pulled the cart.

Two men walking by an antique store find the perfect cart to carry Dr. King in, but the store is closed.

               "We'll borrow it," the first man said.
               "We can't do that," the other replied.
               "We can. We'll bring it back when he's finished with it."

The men show honor in the fact that they will return the cart once "he's finished with it." Interesting words...when he is finished with it.

They take the cart away and prepare it for the funeral.

               "It's the color of grass when it rains," a woman said.
               "He would like that," a man said.

They hitch Belle and Ada to the cart to pull it.

               "Ordinary mules for an ordinary funeral," the people told 
               one and other. "That was what he wanted."

               "The mule is a symbol of freedom," someone said. "Each
               slave got a mule and forty acres when he was freed."

Not hardly an ordinary funeral...but these things made it ordinary...and symbolic.

               The cart was not heavy.
               The coffin was not heavy.
               The man inside it was not heavy.
               His great spirit had been the heaviest part of him.
               It could not be kept in a coffin.

The coffin was placed in the hearse...

               "Is it over?" someone asked.
               "It will never be over," replied another."What he stands for
               lives on."

So little, but so powerful. That is why I chose dialogue.

The book ends...

               This is the humble cart that, not so long ago, carried greatness.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A SickDay for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Publisher: A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press)
Published: 2010
ISBN-13: 9781596434028
Personal Copy
Word Count: 450 (estimate)

Amos McGee, a kindhearted zookeeper, had a routine that he followed every day when he went to his job at the zoo. His morning routine over the first three spreads lets us know that Stead wants us to know Amos and how his day unfolds.

As Amos arrives at the zoo, he first makes time to visit his friends. Each page lets us see the kind of friend Amos is to the animals, as well as his dedication to them. These pages help us to learn more about the character Amos. (This is also a wonderful book for character and theme.)

But then...Amos is sick, and he doesn't go to work. The animals wait for Amos by preparing for the activity that he fulfilled with each one. This is done, however, on one page. This pacing shows the animals anticipation of their friend's arrival.

The animals decide that they are going to find out where there friend is. They follow the same route to go to Amos's house as Amos uses to get to the zoo. This takes several spreads in order to heighten the reader's curiosity.

They make it to their friend's house. Amos cannot accomplish all the activities that he usually does at the zoo, but each animal has their turn with him just as they do at the zoo (circular story). Each animal receives page of their own - again to demonstrate the friendship and devotion they have with one and other.

This beautiful story ends with a bedtime story, saying goodnight, and...

a restful night's sleep.

I hope this will help as you think about pacing your story!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

A World of Food:
Discover Magical Lands Made of Things You Can Eat!
Rhyme/Word Play

A World of Food by Carl Warner 
Illustrated by Carl Warner
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young  Readers
Published: 2012
ISBN-13: 9781419701627
Library Copy
Word Count:  800 (estimate)

Besides making me very hungry when I read it, A World of Food kept me turning the pages wanting more. The food, the colors, the illustrations - all phenomenal!

The book is written in poetic form with stanza in a ABCB pattern

                                     If all the world were yellow,
                                          A desert it would be
                                Of couscous, rice, and yellow beans
                                        As far as you could see.

Warner also uses a variety of Word Play in the book. For example, internal rhyme...

In the mellow yellow shade.


Beneath a lamp of cinnamon sticks
And silent starry skies

This book begs to be read aloud...but it also wants the reader to get lost in its beautiful pictures. ENJOY!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

I, Vivaldi

I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman 
Illustrated by Tom Shefelman
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Published: 2008
ISBN-13: 9780802853189
Library Copy
Word Count: 1720 (estimate)

Antonio Vivaldi was born on the day of an earthquake. When he was born, he struggled to breath. His mother prayed that if he was spared that he would become a priest. (This part is not confirmed as true according to the back matter...but it does create the conflict in this story.)

As Vivaldi grew, he listened to his dad play the violin. At the age of four, his father gave him a violin. His mother was not happy, but because he was ill from birth, she allowed it. Once he tried to play with the other children, but his chest got tight. His mother called him back inside and reminded him that she vowed that he would be a priest.

               "God meant me to be a violinist, Mama, not a priest."

As time went on, he continued to practice and play with his father. He once played in front of Papa's conductor who praised Vivaldi's talent.

               Then and there I made a vow that music would be my life.

Nevertheless, Vivaldi became a priest. He got in trouble for leaving the altar during Mass and was punished. His was made to teach violin to orphan girls. Not only did he teach them, he composed music for them. (Not confirmed to be true.)

Vivaldi kept not only his mother's vow, but his own as well. The conflict was resolved positively for both characters.

Unfortunately Vivaldi died poor and forgotten. But The Four Seasons is one of the most popular pieces of classical music today.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

A Library Book for Bear

A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker 
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: 2014
ISBN-13: 9780763649241
Library Copy
Word Count: 770 (estimate)

Bear is certainly a character in this book. Would you believe that he thinks he only needs the seven books he had at home. Mouse convinces him to go to the library for a look see.

Bear starts out as being rather indignant about going to the library.

          "Completely unnecessary," Bear announced. "I have all the books I need  
          right here."

Because Bear had promised Mouse he would go to the library, he did. Bear didn't change his mind once he got there either.

          "There are far too many books in there," he protested. "Most

Mouse tried and tried to find a book for Bear but to no avail. Bear was quite obstinate about the whole book idea. And then he became rather annoying...

          "I will find my own book. I can assure you
        that pickles are quite interesting!"

Suddenly a voice came from around the corner.

          "So the Very Brave Bear began to inch his way toward the treasure
          chest..." the voice was saying.

          "I'm ready -" began Mouse.

          "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" exclaimed Bear.

The librarian got up and looked around a bookshelf at Bear. She invited him to story time. Bear was enthralled with the story.

Bear changed his mind and was open to new to be exact.

This book shows how a character does not have to be stagnant...that dynamic characters add so much to a story!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Picture Books 14:14

Back of the Bus
Plot and Pacing

Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 2010
ISBN-13: 9780147510587
Personal Copy
Word Count: 750 (estimate)

A boy and his mother are on their way home on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. But their ride home is no ordinary ride. Rosa Parks is on the bus this day…

This story is told from the point-of-view of the boy as he rides in the bus, doing things a boy would do to pass time. 

The first spread sets the setting of the story…

              Winter’s here in Montgomery, but I got the window down
              and a warm breeze blowin’ in…

              We’re sittin’ right where we’re suppose to –
              way in back.

I love that it is not just winter - there is a warm breeze in Alabama.

As the bus travels, the boy takes out his marble – a tiger’s eye – and starts to play. His marble rolls up front to Mrs. Parks who smiles and rolls it back. But Mama is not happy, so he holds onto his marble.

When the bus stops, people pile on. The bus driver tells the black riders in front to move to the back. Someone doesn’t move, and the police are called. Conflict has begun. The bus sits as the people wait for the police to come.

The story continues at a pace that keeps the reader engaged. Anticipation is created on the bus as everyone awaits the arrival of the police.

And Rosa just sits… Reynolds uses strong words to reinforce the atmosphere of the plot.

              her eyes all fierce like a lightnin’ storm

The reader becomes that boy sitting and observing everything that is happening. His emotions are shown in these words…

              ‘cuz I’m getting shaky legs.
Rosa is taken away, the bus starts moving, and people sit. But there is a change…

              and the air ain’t warm no more.

Beautiful wording lets the reader know that the feeling on the bus is now cold. The bus conflict is resolved with Rosa’s arrest. This does not end the conflict of the boy who knows more troubles are coming. But because she stood up to the police, the boy now feels strong!

              But instead of feelin’ all shaky, I feel a little strong.
      Like Mama’s chin.

This book is an outstanding example of plot and pacing.