Book review: Full of Fall, by April Pulley Sayre

Sayre, April Pulley. Full of Fall. Beach Lane Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481479844. 40 pages. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Simple poetry leads the reader through the progression of changing leaves as the landscape prepares for winter.

There is information at the end of the book on the science behind the changing colors and life cycle of leaves.  Photographic illustrations include close ups and far away shots highlighting the beauty of leaves. The words are simple, but combined with the pictures, it is an elegant picture book. Words create motion, “They float and sink. They snag and swirl.”

Verdict: This book makes a great addition to a library with young children. The colors are delightful, the words are simple, and the information at the back of the book helps the children learn about fall.

October 2017 review by Tami Harris.


Book review: Wake Up!, by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder

Frost, Helen. Photographs by Rick Lieder. Wake Up! Candlewick Press, 2017.ISBN 9780763681494. $15.99. UNP. PreK-3. P5 Q8

Wake Up! is an inquisitive poem comprised of words and wildlife photographs. Each photograph is joined by one half of a sometimes-rhyming couplet. Helen Frost has previously published three books with a similar formula, also working with Rick Lieder. This newest one continues the “nature from a different perspective” theme of the series by including unusual shots of animals that are not likely to be observed by the hobbyist hiker or bird-watcher. This particular book would not be broadly recommended if not for the inclusion of additional information about each featured plant and animal. After the poem, a thumbprint of each photograph is followed by each organism’s name and a brief fact. This addendum greatly improves the usefulness of the book.

Verdict: Like the three previous books in the series, the photographs are very good. Though not the favorite in the series, this book would be a good addition to a nature lesson or poetry lesson in a PreK- 1st grade classroom.

September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics, by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López

Engle, Margarita. Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. Illustrated by Rafael López. Godwin Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2017. ISBN 9780805098761. Unpaged. $18.99. Ages 8-12. P7Q9.

Engle uses this beautiful book to bring our attention to a number of Hispanic people who lived in geographic regions that are now part of the US. It isn’t about the most famous Hispanics necessarily, but about people who “faced life’s challenges in creative ways.” Some of these figures include the Cuban poet José Martí, the first woman to pilot a powered aircraft, Aída de Acosta, jazz musician Tito Puente, and curandera (folk healer) Juana Briones. The book is organized chronologically by birthdate, with each person described with an illustration and poem in a spread. The poems are in free verse, and tell each inspirational person’s story in simple but evocative language. I really like the illustration style- it reminds me of political posters from an earlier time (in fact, the illustrator created the Nuestra Voz posters that were used in 2008 during the Obama presidential campaign). López is well known for his use of color and texture that reflects his native Mexico. There is an introductory letter, notes about the each of the individuals in the book, and a list of other amazing Latinos.

VERDICT: This book would be an outstanding addition to any public or school library, and could provide excellent material in a middle school or high school Spanish language classroom.

Engle, Margarita. Bravo! Poemas sobre hispanos extraordinarios. Illustrated by Rafael López. Henry Holt and Company/ Godwin Books, 2017. ISBN 9781250113665. Unpaged. $18.99. Ages 8-12. P7Q9.

I read the Spanish version alongside the English version. My Spanish isn’t good enough to comment on the quality of the poetry in Spanish, but it was a fun exercise to work through each poem. I can imagine the two versions being used side by side in Spanish classes or with Spanish speaking ESL students.

September 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Pomegranate Witch, by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Doyen, Denise. The Pomegranate Witch. Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Chronicle Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781452145891. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P7Q8

When the glowing red pomegranates hang heavy in the gnarled old tree and the old Pomegranate Witch who lives on the farm refuses to share the fruit, the local children declare war.  Told in rhyming text, with eerie, atmospheric watercolor and dip pen illustrations, this rollicking story of inventions and adventures is the perfect lead in to Halloween, when the Pomegranate Witch leaves for the night and the Kindly Lady takes over the farm to share the ripe and luscious pomegranates with the neighborhood children.

Verdict:  From the beginning to the endpapers, this lovely book is one to read and re-read.  Highly recommended for all children’s library collections.

September 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Pig the Pug, by Aaron Blabey

Blabey, Aaron. Pig the Pug. Scholastic, 2017. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-338-11245-0. Ages 4-6. P9Q9

“Greedy and selfish” is the way that the author describes his leading man in this tale about the dog who refuses to share his toys with the dachshund, Trevor. Pig is so anti-sharing that he falls out the window after climbing on top of all his possessions. The broad comedy of the acrylic and pen/pencil illustrations on white watercolor paper extend to the bulging eyes, and the punny rhymes include “pugs cannot fly” about Pig’s fall. Young readers will appreciate Pig’s comeuppance because they most likely experience Pigness in their associates.

Verdict: Originally published in Australia in 2014, the irreverent story about contrasting personalities suffers a bit from lack of poetic scanning, but it will produce giggles if children understand that it’s delightfully ridiculous fiction.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Storyteller’s secrets, by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Peter Bailey

Mitton, Tony. The Storyteller’s Secrets. Illustrated by Peter Bailey. David Fickling Books, 2009. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75190-2. 125 p. Gr. 4 – 6. P7Q9

mitton-storytellers-secretsTwins, Toby and Tess, meet a mysterious old traveler who fascinates them with his magical tales of far-off places, strange enchantments, and unbelievable occurrences. Each time he visits the village he brings them a new tale and a special story-reminder from the bundle that he carries on his back.

Review by student: J. R.

Editor’s note: This frame story of Teller, a traveling storyteller, and the twins Toby and Tess, includes 5 adaptations of folk tales retold in verse: The woodcutter’s daughter, St. Brigid’s cloak, The seal hunter, The pedlar of Swaffham, Tam Lin, The map of marvels, and Five fragments. Brief prose sections frame the overarching story.


Book review: My Autumn Book, by Wong Herbert Yee

Yee, Wong Herbert. My Autumn Book. Christy Ottaviano Books, 2015. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9922-5. Unp. Ages 1-4. P8/Q8

Yee My Autumn BookThis is a cute little book which tiny hands will enjoy holding as they read the poem about Spring leaving and Autumn returning. This is a little girl who is enjoying all the sights and sounds of autumn. The pictures are simple, colorful and peaceful. I like how she collects all the beautiful colors of autumn leaves and takes them home to make a collage. My granddaughters would love this story just as they love to collect leaves. This story gives them a great idea about what to do with all the leaves they collect.

December 2015 review by Melinda Dye.