Saturday, November 11, 2006


These kind folks have outdone themselves this month, and I am the very happy recipient! Who knew what delectable reading discoveries were hiding out in the children's section of the bookstore?

Christmas will be here before you know it, and I always love to give books. Adults are a little trickier to choose for, but book shopping for children's literature is a joy. If you don't have a little one in your life to read to, then just pretend...or borrow a small child quick; you can't pass up the chance to sample a couple of these:

Just say, "CHEESE"! Eve Titus' stories about the little mouse, Anatole, are certainly classics, and so irresistable! You can never go wrong with a Caldecott winner. Sadly, Ms. Titus has passed onto that Big Bookstore in the Sky, but fortunately for her fans, books live forever.

One gets the feeling when reading about Beethoven's five legless pianos and the enigma of moving them about early 1800's Vienna that the author (Jonah Winter) was really targeting adults for his audience with his book, The 39 Apartments of Ludwig von Beethoven. The drawings by Barry Blitt are quite creative and wonderful and the story very quirky, but I just don't think this one will be a big hit with my grandchildren. None of them play the piano, and I doubt even the oldest grandson, at age 7, would know who Beethoven was, and without that background, the story does not mean much. However, for those readers aged 10 and older, and especially for any piano students, this story will be fun to read. "wah, wah, wah, WAH!" (sung to the opening notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony ;-)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading stories from The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History, written by Jennifer Armstrong and illustrated by Roger Roth. This is the way history lessons should always be taught - by a consummate storyteller like Ms. Armstrong. The book is recommended for ages 6 and up and lends itself easily to be read aloud. The stories are just long enough to "set the facts", but also perfectly brief enough to capture and hold even a squirmy six year-old. The illustrations are wonderful, and with just the right touch of humor (page 156 begins the story, "Shoot-out at the O.K. Corral", and the accompanying illustration has vultures roosting on the western town storefronts and the signature scary steer skull complete with horns just underneath the makeshift sign welcoming stranges to Tombstone). Here is a link to a few of Roger Roth's creations, and a glimpse into the pages of 100 True Tales. Especially good: at the end of each tale, Ms. Armstrong gives a few more pertinent facts directing and encouraging her young readers (and not so young!) to further investigation. I adore this book!


Trace said...

What gorgeous illustrations! I think children's literature would be good for all adults, as well. We need to keep ourselves young, alive, imaginative...Oh how I wish I had a little child around I could grab for a bit.

SpookyRach said...

Good stuff!

I like to say "Anatole". Ha ha!

Karen said...

I'm having trouble for some reason tonight posting comments. I'll try again.
I just purchased Lynne Cheney's book for kids about the 50 states and I so love her books for children. So well written and the illustrations are to die for.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking notes (especially now that I have a daughter who can identify the works of more composers than I can).

Jennifer Armstrong said...

Hi, I just found your review of my book, The American Story. Glad you are enjoying -- and I bet you were pleased to see the Spindletop story make the cut!