Posts Tagged ‘animals’

I grew up on these books. If the only version of Pooh you know is from Disney, I beg of you to read the originals, with the original illustrations. Please. The language is fantastic, and will quite possibly add phrases to your family’s lexicon. The illustrations are just right, without the cutesiness of the Disney version. The books of poetry are also good, but the original two books of stories ought to be part of any child’s storybank, and any adults who missed out the first time still have the chance to catch up. Then, play a game of Poohsticks.

Author: A.A. Milne

Illustrator: E.H. Shepard


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When Gregor falls through the hole in his laundry room, he ends up in a world under New York, populated by giant cockroaches, rats, bats, and very pale humans.  Collins says she set out to write an urban Alice in Wonderland, and she generally succeeded.  The series is fairly formulaic – Gregor gets a prophecy at the end of each book that gives us a hint for the next book.  Not to be a spoiler, but the ending is fairly predictable and a little disappointing.  But the characters are great (even the roaches!), and the adventures are real and engaging.

Author: Suzanne Collins

Order: Gregor the Overlander; Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane; Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods; Gregor and the Marks of Secret; Gregor and the Code of Claw

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Author: Michelle Paver

A well-imagined series set in Ice Age Europe.  Torak must make his way through the intrigues of sorcerers, clan tensions, and becoming an adult.  Luckily, he usually has his friends Wolf and/or Renn at his side to help keep him on the road.  Paver did good research for these books, so the way of life rings true.  Wolf is absolutely wolf-like, and the magic is just on the edge of believability – you could read it as magic or as magical thinking, depending on your proclivities. A great preview for a trip to a natural history or anthropology museum.

Order: Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker, Soul Eater, Outcast, Oath Breaker, Ghost Hunter

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Title: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Author: Paul Fleischman

Newbery 1989

Having got it out of the library originally, I actually went and bought a copy of this book.  I love it!  The concept of poems written to be read by two people simultaneously is really cool, the poems are so much fun to read aloud, and the illustrations are beautiful – anthropomorphized insects that manage to be still buggy and not too cute.  Some of the poems are quite a challenge to read aloud – you need good rhythm, some practice, and a sense of humor.  He did two other books of poems for two voices, and I want them, too.

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TuesdayTitle: Tuesday

Illustrator/Author: David Wiesner

Caldecott 1992

While I loved this book, as usual, I have to wonder a bit at why Wiesner has gotten so many Caldecotts.  Granted, the story is funny, scientifically accurate (except for the flying), and beautifully rendered, but so was Flotsam.  At least The Three Pigs (review to come) has a distinctively different illustration and storytelling style from the other two.  This one, however, is very similar to some of his other work.  Nothing against the book – I love it – but one wonders who else could have gotten the recognition one of those years. Regardless, the book is gorgeous and the frogs fabulous.

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SylvesterandtheMagicPebbleTitle: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Author/Illustrator: William Steig

Caldecott 1970

This was one of my absolute favorite books as a child.  It’s even good for pre-readers, because the pictures are so clear you can follow the story without the words.  There are also a couple of jokes in the pictures that are not there in the words (confused ducks and lions, for example). The donkeys are nicely anthropomorphized – wearing human clothes and walking on their hind legs, but clearly donkeys nonetheless.  The final image of Sylvester and his parents on the couch is, I think, permanently in my brain. All of Steig’s books are classics in the truest sense.

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GingerPyeTitle: Ginger Pye

Author/Illustrator: Eleanor Estes

Newbery 1952

Kids’ books used to be so much simpler and yet richer.  Over the course of this book, very little “happens,” plot-wise, but it fits a child-like sense of time, space, and wonder.  The children in this book are very accurate – once they’ve decided what the Unsavory Character looks like, they are looking for a guy with a silent-movie-villain moustache, for example.  Ginger pup is very cute, and his humans are cuter.  It takes place a decade or two before it was written, so there is some nostalgia there, as well, though it is not overt.

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