November 2, 2016

Dear Mrs. Naidu

dear-mrs-naiduTitle: Dear Mrs. Naidu
Author: Mathangi Subramanian
Publisher: Zubaan Books, 2015
Pages: 286
Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural
Themes: Activism, Friendship, Economic Diversity
Ages: 10 and up

Synopsis (Zubaan Books website):

Twelve-year-old Sarojini’s best friend, Amir, might not be her best friend anymore. Ever since Amir moved out of the slum and started going to a posh private school, it seems like he and Sarojini have nothing in common. Then Sarojini finds out about the Right to Education, a law that might help her get a free seat at Amir’s school – or, better yet, convince him to come back to a new and improved version of the government school they went to together. As she struggles to keep her best friend, Sarojini gets help from some unexpected characters, including Deepti, a feisty classmate who lives at a construction site; Vimala Madam, a human rights lawyer who might also be an evil genius; and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a long-dead freedom fighter who becomes Sarojini’s secret pen pal. Told through letters to Mrs. Naidu, this is the story of how Sarojini learns to fight – for her friendship, her family, and her future.

Why I Like This Book:

This book is a window into another world, another lifestyle, one filled with hardship, friendship, and community coming together to improve the education for the lower class students. I love the main character Sarojini, who shows that even a 12-year old, a girl full of heart and courage CAN make a difference.

The story is told in epistolary style. Sarojini is writing letters to a deceased Mrs. Sarojini Naidu as part of a school assignment. Mrs. Sarojini Naidu was an activist and freedom fighter during India’s struggle for independence from the British. As the story unfolds, we see the young Sarojini gain strength. She makes friends with the Deepti the new girl from the construction site, and together they are the heart of the Child Rights Club.  Their fight is to make their government school a better place for kids — by advocating for a playground, clean drinking water and more. But gathering support from the community and the local government is a challenge.

I enjoyed the realistic representation of the neighborhood Aunties and the headmaster of Sarojini’s school. While the Aunties initially dissuade the girls and remind them of the dangers of talking to the press, they eventually come to help the Child Rights Club. The headmaster we learn has lost faith in the government from a previously failed attempt, hence the reason he has become jaded.

While this book was published for the Indian audience, I do think there is an audience for this book in the United States. It’s not just for children of Indian ancestry but for any child that is interested in learning about other cultures and what life is like elsewhere. Adults may need to provide some background information on the following topics – fight for Indian independence, slums, government vs private schools in India, views on Hindu-Muslim relations. Short glossary of common words – roti (thin bread), dosa (South Indian rice paper roll), Amma (mother), Appa (father).

Read the Author’s Note to find out the extent of research the author undertook. Impressive.

I highly recommend this book for any middle-school collection.

Find Dear Mrs. Naidu at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & NobleGoodreads
ISBN-10: 9383074981
ISBN-13: 978-9383074983

September 30, 2016

They All Saw a Cat

they-all-saw-a-cat_fcTitle: They All Saw a Cat

Author/Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016
Editor:  Ginee Seo
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3 and up! (all ages should read it)
Themes: Perspective, Subjectivity

Opening Lines:

The cat walked through the world,  with its whiskers, ears, and paws …
and the child saw A CAT,
and the dog saw A CAT,
and the fox saw A CAT.
Yes, they all saw the cat.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):cat-eggs

In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat,
what do you see?

Activities:

Why I Like This Book:

A gorgeous thoughtful book sure to become a modern classic. I love the dichotomy of taking simple picture book text paired with colorful child-appealing art to talk about a big, abstract, philosophical idea. Pure Genius!

The book follows a cat as he walks through the world and the reader gets to see how each of the other animals – a fox, dog, rat, fish – view the cat. What I find amazing about this book is that the big idea is not addressed anywhere in the text. It only exists in the reader’s mind as he/she is reading the text and looking at the pictures. It is something to be realized and felt inside.

A variety of materials were used to make the art: colored pencils, oil pastels, acrylics, watercolor, and more. The author used different styles to help show each animal’s unique perspective of the cat.
This is an important book, one that I hope will find its way onto every bookshelf.

Find They All Saw a Cat at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1452150133
ISBN-13: 978-1452150130

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

 

September 12, 2016

Race Car Dreams

race-car-dreamsTitle: Race Car Dreams

Author: Sharon Chriscoe
Illustrator: Dave Mottram
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Editor:  Marlo Scrimizzi
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-6
Themes: Cars, Bedtime Routine

Excerpt:

All sparkly and clean,
his tummy feels strange.
He lifts up his hood.
It’s time for a change.

He guzzles and gulps
each dark, oily drop.
His hood slams ker plunk!
Lights dim in the shop.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

After a day at the track of zipping and zooming, a race car is tired and ready for bed. He washes his rims, fills his tummy with oil, and chooses a book that is all about speed. All toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, he shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!

What I Like About This Book:

In the plethora of bedtime books, this is a fresh take. It is Pixar’s CARS meets GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE. An adorable blue race car is tuckered out from a long day at the track and heads off for his nightly routine. He visits the car wash for a bath, the garage for some fresh oil, and finally the library to find the perfect night-time read.

The rollicking rhyme and adorable toddler-like illustrations make this a perfect read-aloud for any car loving child. I love the roundness of the car with its circular eyes and big smile.

A perfect book to help kids zoom off to sleep.

RaceCarDreams_int.indd

RaceCarDreams_int.indd

Find Race Car Dreams at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0762459646
ISBN-13: 978-0762459643

The review is part of the RACE CAR DREAMS BLOG TOUR. Do check out these other stops.

9/6 My Word Playground
9/7 MomReadIt
9/8 Unleashing Readers
9/9 Once Upon a Time…
9/10 Stacking Books
9/11 Geo Librarian
9/12 Flowering Minds
9/13 Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books
9/14 Little Crooked Cottage
9/14 MamaBelly
9/15 #kidlit Book of the Day
9/16 Just Kidding

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

August 29, 2016

Beautiful

KidsLogoORIGINALFILETitle: Beautiful

Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Publisher: Running Press Kids (September 13, 2016)
Editor: Lisa Cheng
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Identity, Girl Power, Self-Esteem

Opening Line:

“Beautiful girls … have the perfect look.”

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable. . . .Every girl is BEAUTIFUL.

Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong!

BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential.

Why I Like Love This Book:

This book takes the sugary, sweet, stereotypical praises and compliments for little girls and turns it on its head in a superb way! This is a must have book for any young child. I think it’s important not only for girls to see who they can be, but also for boys to realize it too.

I love the interplay between text and art. The text contains the typical saying while the art shows a new and smarter interpretation of the words. Take a look at the examples below.

BEAUTIFUL_int.indd

BEAUTIFUL_int.indd

I love the energy, enthusiasm, and contentment of the girls enjoying the activities they are partaking in. This is where their beauty shines.

The large type and big illustrations make it perfect for a group read-aloud. Use the book as a conversation starter on breaking gender roles and asking what is beautiful.

Find Beautiful at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0762457813
ISBN-13: 978-0762457816

The review is part of the BEAUTIFUL BLOG TOUR. Do check out these other stops over the next two weeks.

8/29 Flowering Minds
8/30 Kids’ Book Review
8/31 My Word Playground
9/1 Stacking Books
9/2 Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books
9/3 MomReadIt
9/5 Enjoy Embrace Learning
9/6 Geo Librarian
9/7 A Foodie Bibliophile
9/8 MamaBelly
9/10 Diapers and Daydreams
9/11 The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
9/12 Unconventional Librarian

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

August 17, 2016

Return (Journey Trilogy #3)

If you haven’t already head over to the Journey & Quest Giveaway for a chance to win the first two books in the Journey trilogy.

ReturnTitle: Return

Author/Illustrator: Aaron Becker
Publisher: Candlewick Books, 2016
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Fantasy, Adventure

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall. Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker delivers a suspenseful and moving climax to his wordless trilogy, an epic that began with the award-winning Journey and continued with the celebrated follow-up Quest.

Activities:

  • Check out this activity kit containing drawing prompts, coloring sheet, and tips for adults on how “to read” a wordless picture book aloud to kids.

Why I Like This Book:

It’s like watching a silent action-adventure movie. Who knew a wordless book could be filled with such tension. I love that it’s high-fantasy in a picture book format. The art is gorgeous and it is interesting to see the evolution of Mr. Becker’s art from the first book to the last. I do like how the series starts and ends with family.

A timeless trilogy for all.

Enjoy the magical trailer and RETURN to wonder.

Find Return at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1452138168
ISBN-13: 978-1452138169

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

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