Saturday, January 12, 2008

Picture Books

I'm going to start reviewing picture books on a regular basis. Reading picture books is one of the things I miss most about being a children's librarian. Who needs an excuse???

So, with no further ado, here are my first two reviews.

Featuring such names as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald, Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon is a great introduction to jazz music for little ones. You can feel the excitement of going to a jazz club to hear these musicians, tapping and clapping all night long.

The illustrations are simple and muted, but they complement the text well. After all, it's the music that's important. The book comes with a CD of samples of music by the musicians featured in the book, but the library copy had the CD removed. I feel that was an unfortunate omission, since hearing the music would have added so much. The book also includes a short biography of each musician at the end.

Overall, this book was enjoyable, but it isn't one that I could see kids asking to hear over and over, which to me is the best sign of a winning picture book.

Now, this was a delightful picture book! Based on the traditional children's song, "Over in the Meadow," Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme by Marianne Berkes will have kids bopping in their seats, along with the parrots, boas, honey bears, and leaf cutter ants. This book is more than just a rhyming book. Kids are encouraged to count the rainforest animals, and Ms. Berkes provides her ideas for motions for the kids to do to the rhyme. Also included is information about the animals featured in the book, and a link to more information about the rainforest. The illustrations by Jeanette Canyon, photographs of relief art created with polymer clay, are vibrant and detailed enough to keep kids occupied for long periods of time. I loved this book and wish I had the opportunity to share it with kids in a storytime!

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