Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Themed Reviews: Back to School

Heading back to school, or going for the first time, can bring a range of emotions in children and teens. We have broken up the titles in this feature into three age groups: 4 to 8, for the littlest students; 8 to 12, for late elementary and middle school; and older students, ages 12 and up. Help get the students in your life ready to head back into the classroom this fall with funny stories like, 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel [Divided By] 1 Dog = Chaos; or by learning what school was like in the past, with School 100 Years Ago. For the older crowd, novels such as The List, get into the minds of contemporary students as they navigate the academic and social demands of high school.

For more resources to help kick start the new school year check out the new CLCD series about Common Core standards as well as our feature about bullying. Read these articles and search the CLCD database for further resources and titles about school.

Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten
Hyewon Yum

Yum aptly captures the concerns of both parent and child on this major milestone day. In an interesting twist, our narrator, a little boy, eagerly prepares for his first day in "the big kids' school while his mother is reticent and overly cautious. He has a moment of concern when they reach the classroom door, but as soon as his smiling teacher greets him, he knows he is ready for kindergarten. He enters the classroom and makes friends right away. At the end of the day, he finds his mother nervously waiting for him in the school yard. Just as she has calmed her fears, he asks if he can ride the bus the next day. Yum's use of color, proportion, and facial expression deftly expresses the feelings of these two characters. There are no extraneous lines in either the text or the illustrations. Together, they convey the emotions of both parent and child. For example, when the little boy is feeling self-confident and his mother nervous, he is seen in color and much larger than she is. The hug they share after school, when both are "normal" size, is full of warmth. Her positive approach will be appreciated by parents as well as children and will help assuage the first-day jitters of both. 2012, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, Ages 4 to 6, $16.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780374350048

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Themed Reviews: Great Britain

            2012 has been a big year for Great Britain: between Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Diamond Jubilee and London hosting the Summer Olympics, there are many cultural celebrations planned in the country this year-a country with an impressive and rich history dating back to prehistoric times.

            Great Britain, which today consists of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, is the third most populous island in the world, with a population of over 60 million. The selection of nonfiction titles highlighted below focuses on the countries and famous cities making up Britain. The novels are new titles that are ideal for those interested in delving into both contemporary and historical fiction set in Britain.

A Walk in London
Salvatore Rubbino

A mother and daughter set out to explore the great city of London. Sticking to central London this pair has a busy day ahead of them. They hit many of London's most famous sights, but author and illustrator Rubbino makes sure readers get more than just typical tourist highlights. This mother-daughter pair also walks through St. James's Park to visit the pelicans, watches street performers at the Covent Garden piazza while eating fish and chips, investigates the Whispering Gallery inside the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, looks up at The Monument and learns about the Great Fire of 1666, and at the end of their day they take a ferry ride on the river Thames back to Westminster. Rubbino's mixed media illustrations have a distinctly vintage vibe to them and while there is a lot to look at on each page it does not feel cluttered or overwhelming. The main text, narrated by the daughter, is clear and engaging. Many smaller trivia facts are scattered around on each page, providing further depth to the story of this city. Near the end, a large fold-out shows the skyline of London with labeled landmarks. A wonderfully narrated walking tour of London; recommended. 2011, Candlewick Press, Ages 5 to 7, $16.99. Reviewer: Emily Griffin (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9780763652722