Posted on January 29, 2009 by thereadingzone
Anytime I see a new monarch butterfly book I get excited, so when I received a review copy of Adios, Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable from Scholastic, I was very happy. Even better? This isn’t your typical monarch migration story. It’s a new twist on the topic and it is great!
Oscar is a caterpillar who lives on a plant near a window. One day a monarch butterfly named Bob happens upon his plant. Bob is in an awful rush and tells Oscar to look him up when he gets to Mexico someday. Well, Oscar is just enamored with Bob, his gorgeous orange-and-black wings, and this talk of Mexico. When a bookworm named Edna decides to help Oscar learn about Mexico in preparation for his journey, he is ecstatic. Soon it is time for him to go into his pupa phase before emerging as a butterfly.
Or so he thinks.
Oscar is heartbroken when he emerges from his cocoon and discovers he has short grey wings instead of the gorgeous orange-and-black ones he anticipated. And instead of the urge to fly to Mexico, he has the urge to eat sweaters! And fly around a light! Oscar’s friends all mock him for the time he spent learning Spanish and Mexican culture, and he is heartbroken. But that all changes when he finds a note Edna left behind for him.
I loved this fable about a moth who believes he can do anything, even fly 2000 miles to Mexico. And Elwell sprinkles Spanish phrases throughout the book. He also includes an afterword with some information on monarchs and moths and the differences between the two. The illustrations are also adorable, in a great cartoon style. I can’t wait to share this with my class and the Monarch Teacher Network!
Filed under: monarch butterflies, picture books | Tagged: adios oscar, monarch butterflies, peter elwell | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 18, 2009 by thereadingzone
While browsing in Barnes and Noble today, I happened upon a display of Love Story (Amiri And Odette) by Walter Dean Myers in the Teen section of the store. The gorgeous cover drew me in, and I was curious to see what a picture book aimed at teens would be like, so I picked it up and began to page through it. Before I knew it, I was completely enwrapped in the story and could not put it down.
This is a gorgeous book. The illustrations by Javaka Steptoe are in mixed media and the contrast of colors in each page is just stunning. And the poem, the love story of Amiri and Odette (based on Swan Lake) is breathtaking. In the poem, a boy searches for his love among the Swan Lake projects, only to find that she belongs to an evil street lord who means her harm. It is only through perseverance and undying love that the girl is returned to the safety of her one true love. It is a gorgeous book and I can’t wait to get it into the hands of my students.
I think this will appeal to some of my “cool” readers, those who live and breathe New York and hip-hop. What a fantastic way to infuse poetry into the lives of students who don’t always think of poetry as the coolest type of writing. I’ll be sure to share their reactions to the book when we get back to school!
Filed under: picture books, poetry, reviews | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 3, 2008 by thereadingzone
“This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about Love. ” (page 1, Walt Disney’s Cinderella )
Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors, and one I frequently rely on for great mentor texts. When I saw that she had retold Walt Disney’s Cinderella with illustration by Mary Blair, I knew I had to read it. The book does not disappoint.
This is the traditional, Disney version of Cinderella. However, Rylant has put her trademarks of beautiful language and deft storytelling on this edition. The story is gorgeous. Though you already know what happens, you can’t help but to keep turning the pages. And I noted so many spots that I can’t want to point out to my students. It is just a gorgeous book!
Mary Blair’s illustrations are also awe-inspiring. Blair was one of Walt Disney’s most brilliant conceptual designers, defining the look of classic Disney films like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. She spent 34 years working as an artist for Disney. Her illustrations are immediately call to mind the classic Disney films that she helped create. Each page is full of large brush strokes, gorgeous backgrounds, and complementary colors. There were many pages that I wish I could have as a print to hang in my home! (If you click on the link, you can search inside the book on Amazon. It’s not the same as viewing them in person, but you get a good feel for the mood the illustrations set).
This is a purchase I am very glad I made. In fact, I can imagine sharing this beautiful book with my own children someday. It’s just that wonderful and classic!
Filed under: books, picture books, reviews | Tagged: cynthia rylant, fairy tale retellings | 3 Comments »