Tuesday, December 16, 2014

REVIEW: Thank You Bear by Greg Foley

Thank You Bear by Greg Foley, Viking, 2007.

2008 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

This is the greatest thing ever! Have you ever had that experience? You saw something or found something and said I know who’d like this. It will be a hit. Then reality (in the form of other people’s opinion) sets in. “That’s not so great,” they tell you. They are naysayers. Party-poopers. Wet blankets. Some refer to them as toxic people. These "friends" tell you they are being practical. Come on, let me dream a little!

That’s what Thank You Bear is about. Bear finds something he thinks a friend will like, but others don’t see it that way. Read the book to find out how Bear's dream turn out.

Thank You Bear is a great experience into how to hold on to our dreams, even when other people put them down.  It is a simple read with engaging illustrations, and as we would want, has a happy ending.

About the Author/Illustrator: Greg Foley hails from Austin, Texas. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and now works in Greenwich Village. Thank You Bear, and a number of other Greg Foley's follow-up books are in many languages -- because the tell universal stories.

This is a one of a series of reviews of Charlotte Zolotow picture book winners. 
For more about Alan Elliott, go to his website, www.alanelliott.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review of Moon Plane by Peter McCarty

Review of Moon Plane by Peter McCarty

Henry Holt

2006 Charlotte Zolotow award winner

What a delightful book full of imagination!   How many times have you seen an airplane flying overhead, and wondered about the people inside, where they were going, and what they were doing. There is something romantic about flying. As the young boy sees a plane overhead, he wonders. But his wondering isn't limited to a normal flight. No. He can fly the moon plane, get out and walk around, and fly above the craters. But the dream only lasts a while. When a plane goes up, it must come down, and so the boy returns to earth, and to his home and family. The (almost) black and white drawings give a sense of mystery and nostalgia–- a perfect fit for the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter McCarthy, an author and illustrator born in Connecticut in 1966, had a childhood full of imagination. He first considered a career of math and science, but he also liked to draw. The lure of illustrating captured him (with encouragement from friends) and he entered the School of Visual Arts in NYC in 1992. His first major illustration came in 1995 with Night Driving. From that point on, he’s made his mark and received a number of awards along the way, including the   Charlotte Zolotow award for Moon Plane in 2006.

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review of My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman

Review of   My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis.


2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

Every summer millions of kids learn to swim at public pools or at organizations like the YMCA. I used to go every weekday at 8am for the “free swim” at our local public pool. Almost every day there were the same kids – and some of them became friends.

My Best Friend is about six year old Lily who wants to be friends with seven year old Tamika. But Tamika has her own friend. Lily tries everything she can think of to make friends with Tamika, but nothing works. She’s disappointed. Keesha wants to be friends with Lily, but Lily ignores her. (Irony?) Eventually Lily and Keesha become friends.

This is a great story of reality. Someone once said that kids should be disappointed at least once every day to get them used to the real world. That may be a little harsh, but learning to deal with disappointment and move on is a - real good  life skill.  This story illustrates the hurt of disappointment, the recovery through realization, and the joy of moving on. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Ann Rodman is known for her award winning YA novel Yankee Girl selected as one of the "25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read." Although she’s lived a number of places, she is one of those wonderfully gifted writers with a compelling southern voice and story. She currently lives in Georgia and has followed My Best Friend with a number of other picture books.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review of Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Review of Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Scholastic, Inc

2005 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

Rarely would a black and white children’s picture book make it into production nowadays. But Kitten’s First Full Moon works perfectly because of the story. Anyway, what is cuter than a little kitten? And it’s a curious kitten at that. This story has everything going for it from the cover. The author had me on the first page. Kitten sees the moon and thinks it is a bowl of milk in the sky. She tries all manner of ways to get to it – most of them ending in (humorous) disaster. Kitten is inventive and determined in her quest of the sky milk-bowl. Of course, she never reaches the milk in the sky, but the ending is as satisfying as a bedtime warm glass of – you know what.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Henkes (born 1960) is an author illustrator who has more than 40 books in his portfolio. Not only has he won the Zolotow award with Kitten, it also won a Caldecott Medal, and he’s been nominated for a Newbery. He’s written and illustrated for his entire career. 

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review of What James Likes Best by Amy Schwart

Review of What James Likes Best by Amy Schwartz

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

2004 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

James and his parents take several trips to visit people and places. At each place James experiences things to do, people to meet and play with, and sights. After each visit the question asked is "What did James like best?" The answer is left to the reader which gives plenty of opportunity for a child to guess what James liked, to use his or her imagination, and to even think about what they liked best. The illustrations are simple and clear – showing the various modes of transportation as well as the people and things James encounters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Schwartz’s first picture book, published in 1982, was Bea and Mr. Jones, named a Best Children's Book by School Library Journal and one of the year's 100 Best Children's Books by the New York Public Library. She started her career in fine art, but as she was doing illustrations, stories popped into her head and she began writing and illustrating them. At last count, since her first book she has written and illustrated 11 books and illustrated 9 more.

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review of Farfallina and Marcel by Holly Keller

Review of Farfallina and Marcel by Holly Keller

Greenwillow Books
2003 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

Farfallina and Marcel is a book about friendship. It is also about change.  Farfallina is a caterpillar who makes friends with a little gray bird named Marcel. They learn to play together and become fast friends. But one day Farfalinna doesn’t feel right. She climbs up into a tree and doesn’t come down. Marcel waits for her but finally has to carry on with his own life, disappointed in losing a friend. However, Farfallina is not lost, she is in her cocoon. When the time arrives Farfallina comes out of her cocoon as a butterfly. She searches for Marcel, but does not find him. She only sees a big beautiful goose in the lake. When she strikes up a conversation with the goose they discover what has happened – they have both changed, and they renew their friendship again.

Holly Keller is an author and illustrator born in 1942 who got degrees in history before turning to illustration. Her first books were published in 1981, Cromwell's Glasses and Ten Sleepy Sheep. She’s received a number of awards including the Library of Congress Book of the year, Best Book of the Year, School Library Journal, and others. She has authored or illustrated over 60 books.

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review of Clever Beatrice: and the Best Little Pony by Margaret Willey

Margaret Willey, Clever Beatrice: and the Best Little Pony. Illustrated by Heather Solomon.


2002 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner

Clever Beatrice is a folktale where the smart and inventive Beatrice is able to outwit a mischievous gremlin called a lutin. When strange things start happening to her best pony, Beatrice solicits the help of the local bread maker who is also known to explain all kinds of mysterious happenings. He agrees to help Beatrice. As it turns out, Beatrice has all the best ideas and the baker adopts them as his own. Together they are able to solve the mystery of the pony and catch the lutin. This isn’t the first Beatrice story – it is one of several where Beatrice shows her cleverness in solving a problem. Each story shows how inventive and clever thinking can be used to solve even the most mysterious puzzle. Girls and boys will benefit from these stories because they show how to not give up, but to come up with solutions to problems.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Margaret Willey grew up in Michigan, the oldest of eleven children. She began her children’s book writing career with The Bigger Book of Lydia in 1983. Another of her tales is The 3 Bears and Goldilocks, told from the bear’s perspective. Margaret also writes YA books the recent (2012) novel Four Secrets.

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com