Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review of What Can You Do with a Palenta? by Carmen Tafolla. Illustrated by Magaly Morales

What Can You Do with a Palenta? by Carmen Tafolla. Illustrated by Magaly Morales

Tricycle Press

2010 Charlotte Zolotow award winner

The stories in some books seem to come out of nowhere. Sure, probably most of us grew up with some kind of ice cream wagon visiting our street.It was a big treat then, and maybe that's why even if you've never heard of a palenta, you'll get this story. A palenta is a icy fruit treat on a stick that is popular in Latino neighborhoods (and any place you can get them.) We know that when you get a palenta you should lick it and slurp it and eat it, but what else can you do with it? That's where the magic of the story comes alive. As it turns out, you can do lot's of creative things with a palenta. Paint with it, cool off, or make people happy. Once you get the question, you can come up with your own ways of doing creative things with a palenta. The story takes the reader on a magical and creative ride through a Latino neighborhood, meeting people, having fun, and all the time enjoying a gooey, cold, and flavorful treat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In 2012, author Carmen Tafolla was named the first Poet Laureate of San Antonio. Besides being a children's book author, she is a well known and published poet. In addition to the Zolotow award, she has also been recognized with the Art of Peace Award,  recognition by the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies for giving “voice to the peoples and cultures of this land,” and by the Library of Congress (in 2010) with the Americas award.

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review of How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

Review of How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

Candlewick Press

2009 Charlotte Zolotow award winner

If you were ever a kid (I hope you were) or had kids, you've likely experienced a moment when you saw an injured animal. If you live in cities with lots of trees, you have mostly likely seen an injured bird, or a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest. I ran across a tiny kitten once that had no home. I walked it to a nearby firehouse, and a fireman took it, washed it, fed it, and adopted it. In  the big city, when a bird flies into a tall building, and falls to the ground, I am sure few people take note. In this story everyone passes by the injured pigeon until a small boy notices. Will is a caring child who wants to help. His mother and father take part in showing him how the bird might get well -- but it takes time, and nursing. Finally, the bird gathers enough strength to fly away.

This story is about a world where even the smallest bird is important. It is a story about how the strong should take care of the weak. It is a story of how there are no quick fixes, but healing takes time. And it is a story where those we help may leave without thanking us, and our only satisfaction is knowing that we have made the world a better place. All of these emotions are captured in Bob Graham's story.

Bob Graham is an illustrator and writer born in Australia in 1942. Perhaps his most famous book is Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child published in 2002. Other well-known works are Max and "Let's Get a Pup," Said Kate. In 2012 he was awarded the Hand Christen Andersen Medal. 

For more about Alan Elliott visit www.alanelliott.com.