Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading

YOU READ TO ME, I’LL READ TO YOU BY MARY ANN HOBERMAN

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SUBTITLE:  Very Short Stories to Read Together

This book has been around for a little while yet it has not lost its delight to new generations of young readers.  I tutor primary-aged children in reading and math.  For those struggling with reading, this book helps to bring reading to a fun level, encouraging those children to read and be a part of a team of readers.  I, the tutor, read part and the child reads the other part.  The sentences are colored so that one chooses to read the purple and the other gets the red.  Both then read the blue together.  Each double-page spread is a poem or a play that gives the child confidence and a taste of fun that can be had while reading.  The sentences or phrases are short with plenty of repetition, rhythm and rhyme.

I am working with a child right now who loves to read “I Like” every time she comes to a tutoring session.  It is the first thing she wants to do.

The artwork is so full of detail.  You want to look everywhere to see what may be hiding behind a window’s edge or on the shelf.  Michael Emberley used a ballpoint pen, watercolor paint and pastels.  His artwork adds to the delight of this book for both the young and the older reader.

Reading Level:  4 – 8 Years

Awards:  
Fifteen weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List
Notable Book, American Library Association
A Best Book, 2001, Chicago Parent

Author:
Mary Ann Hoberman is a former Children’s Poet Laureate and a winner of the National Book Award. While the Children’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Hoberman visited numerous classrooms and libraries, introducing both children and adults to the joys of reading and memorizing poetry. She is the author of more than forty books for children, including All Kinds of Families! and this award-winning “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” series which includes these other one:“You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You Very Short Scary Tales,” “…Very Short Tall Tales,” “…Very Short Fables,” “…Very Short Fairy Tales,” “…Very Short Mother Goose.”  Her website is http://www.maryannhoberman.com
She can also be found @ http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/mary-ann-hoberman

Illustrator:
Michael Emberley is the creator of the highly acclaimed picture books Ruby and its sequel, Ruby and the Sniffs;Welcome Back SunDinosaurs!; and Mail Harry to the Moon!   Having grown up in a family of writers and artists, he is an avid reader and comic book fan. A native of New England, Mr. Emberley now lives in Ireland.  He can be found @ http://www.michaelemberley.com

Book Information:  

  • ISBN-13: 9780316363501
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 3-5-2015.

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Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

THE STORY OF THE ORCHESTRA BY ROBERT LEVINE

1431814266Subtitle: Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music!

This really fine book would make a great learning tool for families homeschooling and for anyone who wants to introduce their children to classical music and an orchestra’s instruments.  The CD coincides with the book by sharing the type of music discussed as well as samples of each instrument.  I come from a musical background of playing the clarinet and bassoon in high school along with learning piano during my early elementary ages and guitar as an adult.  I don’t play any of them now but I love music so this book delights me.  To know that such a tool exists made my day when I found it.   If I were homeschooling or teaching a classroom full of young children, I would use this great book and CD.

The colorful illustrations are a delight.  Each page is filled with a variety of pictures.  Searching and discovering brings a different kind of fun while learning so much.

I will give you some of the inner workings of this book…BUT not all, I promise!!  There is just too much!!  The Table of Contents gives me a board from which to jump off into this sea of music:

Table of Contents
Orchestra Bob is a “classical music expert,” as he calls himself, and is our “guide to the wonderful world of the orchestra.”  He shows up throughout the book to let us know when to play each track of the accompanying 70-minute CD.

PART I: THE COMPOSERS
A short history of each composer and a history of the particular period from which that composer lives dovetails throughout this section of the book.  A few funny stories of some of the composers are interspersed here.  The book does not touch on every composer we might wish had been included, but there are so many and this is a book for children.  The idea is to keep their interest.  This book is an excellent starting place from which to leap into other well-known composers.

Each period has music (on the CD) to illustrate the type composed during that era.  I list only a few of the many that the CD offers:

Baroque Period
1600-1750
Vivaldi – a part of “Four Seasons”
Bach – “1st Prelude from ‘Well-Tempered Clavier'”

Classical Music Era
1770-1830
Haydn – “Symphony No. 101” or “The Clock”
Mozart – “2nd Movement of ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik'”
Beethoven – “1st Movement of 5th Symphony”
“Last Movement of 9th Symphony”

Romantic Era
1805-1910
Diagram of Orchestra seating arrangement
Wagner – “Ride of the Valkyries”
Brahms – “Hungarian Dance”
Mahler – “Symphony No. 4”

Modern Era
DeBussy – “Arabesque No. 1”
Stravinsky – “The Rite of Spring”
Schoenberg, Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein – no track but brief information

PART II: THE ORCHESTRA INSTRUMENTS
Details of each instrument include names of each part of that instrument and what the instrument is made from with an illustration alongside.  Music of each particular type of instrument are featured on the CD.  Again, this is only a partial listing:

String Section

Examples: Bartok’s “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra,” Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” and Saint-Saens “Carnival of Animals”

Woodwind Section

Examples: Bach’s “Suite No. 2 for Flute, Strings and Basso,” Albinoni’s “Sinfonia in G Major for Two Oboes,” and Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (bassoon)

Brass Section

Examples: Haydn’s “Concerto for Trumpet in E Flat,” Mozart’s “Horn Concerto No. 1” (French Horn)

Percussion Section

Examples: Schedrin”s “Carmen Suite, Section Changing of the Guard,” Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4”

Keyboard Instruments

It is explained that there is usually not a keyboard section in an orchestra, but a piano, an organ, or an harpsichord are often featured in one or more pieces in a concert.
Examples: Bach’s “Toccato and Fugue in D Minor” (for organ or harpsichord), Beethoven’s “2nd Movement – Pathetique Sonata” (piano)

The Conductor
The conductor is introduced as the person who leads the orchestra.  “Most composers were also conductors.”  In this section, the patterns of directing the various beats are given to encourage  practicing and getting to know how music is written.  Some fun may be had here.

I know this is a lot of information.  As a music-loving person, I think that this book is a wonderful teaching tool because of its layout, the fun and colorful illustrations, and the way the CD brings each composer and instrument to life in ways that just reading about the instruments or type of music could not duplicate alone.  This is a $20.00 book with CD, but there are discounted copies available across the internet.

Reading Level: 8 – 13 Years

Author
Robert Levine is an internationally known classical music and opera critic, a writer whose work has appeared in dozens of publications. He was the co-editor of Tower Records’ Classical Pulse! Magazine.   He has been Senior Editor of ClassicsToday.com, a worldwide web-site devoted to classical music. He is the author of many of the texts in the Black Dog Opera Library, as well as Maria Callas – A Musical Biography, and Weep, Shudder, Die – A Guide to Loving Opera. He lives in New York City.

Illustrator
Meredith Hamilton
From Mrs. Hamilton’s website:
“My illustration tools include everything from copperplate pen nibs and French sepia ink to Photoshop. My work revolves around conveying information visually, whether it be in the form of a mobile app or an illustration for a children’s book.
“In 2012 I co-founded BumpBump Books, which makes apps for mobile devices.  My ongoing series “A Child’s Introduction to…”
(Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing) has received both Moonbeam and Parent’s Choice Awards. Formerly an Art Director of Information Graphics at Newsweek, I have an MFA in Visual Journalism from the School of Visual Arts, and an AB in Comparative Literature from Brown University ….and oh yes, three children.” 
You can find her wonderful art @ http://meredithhamilton.com/index.html

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781579121488
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Edition description: Book & CD
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 10.31 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 0.58 (d)

On 5-16-2015, I originally reviewed this especially fine book!

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

ELLIE BY MIKE WU

7167855_origThe zookeeper makes a difficult announcement…the zoo would be closing.  To the animals, this was their home.  What would happen to them?

They wondered if there was something that would keep the zoo open.  What could each one do to “spruce it up a bit?”  Every animal had some ability that they used to clean up the zoo…that is, all but Ellie, the elephant.  But one day, the zookeeper left a paint brush out with orange paint still in the bristles.  Ellie tried using it.  She found that she could paint…flowers, rainbows, animals, people.  And she painted everywhere.  All around the zoo!  Everywhere!

Word got out that Ellie, the elephant, was very creative.  People from the city came to see what Ellie had done and what she could do.  Reporters showed up to get the word out.  Then, people from around the world visited the zoo to watch Ellie painting.  They visited her gallery.  They saw the clean and colorful zoo.  The animals home was saved and more beautiful than ever.

This is a delightful story.  It has a happy ending.  The art is gracefully done and peaceful to look upon.  “Ellie” reminds us that each one of us has something special to give to the world.  Sometimes, it takes a bit of seeking to find that talent, that ability, that specialty.  Ellie found hers after much dismay, but she becomes an happy elephant and the reader becomes happier once the tale is told.

Reading Level:  ages 3-5

Author/Illustrator
This is Mike Wu’s first book, but he is an animator at Pixar.  He has worked on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and Toy Story 3, among other movies.  He has a BFA in Character Animation from the California Institute of the Arts.  Mike lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family.  You can find him online at theartofmikewu.com.

Original review I did was on 7-5-2015
See the trailer from Disney Hyperion:

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

COMING HOME BY GREG RUTH

3555996_origA boy waits as a plane arrives.
He searches for one, his special one.
He notices reunions of others, some in uniform, some not.
In an expression that tells it all, the boy’s face lights up and we, the participant in this homecoming, this reunion, know that his special one is in his sight.
A pair of boots and camo pants are in view.

This beautifully illustrated children’s book has very few words.  The art tells this story.

With so many parents deployed these days, the children of those parents miss that one and so look forward to their return.  This special book honors the families as well as the men and women who serve this country in our armed forces.

As a Navy child, myself, I understand some of what these children go through, although my Daddy did not go off to war during my childhood.  He had fought in WWII before my birth.  But he was deployed to other duty stations without us.  We always looked forward to him coming home, like this young boy.

Greg Ruth wrote about his creation of this book.  He felt like he sculpted in the dark and then turned on the light to see what he’d made.  His last words in the book are “I hope this book works for you.”   He wanted his audience to know he wanted this book to make a difference.  I can honestly say, “Mr. Ruth, it works beautifully for me.  Thank you.”

Thank you to each of you who protect this country through your service in the armed forces of the United States of America.  I wish we did not have to have military defenses, but we do.  I am sorry that you have to leave your families to go fight wars.  But I am always so grateful to you.  I hold you in my prayers.  Truly, I do.

Reading Level: 4 – 7 Years

Author/Illustrator
Greg Ruth
Greg Ruth has illustrated many graphic novels and books for children, including A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade and A Pirate’s Guide to Recess by James Preller.   He is also the author/illustrator of The Lost Boy, a New York Times bestseller, as well as Red Kite, Blue Kite.  He lives Ashfield, Massachusetts, with his family.  You can find his amazingly varied portfolio of illustrations @ http://www.gregthings.com/

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781250055477
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Original review was 5-6-2015

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

BOOKS ALWAYS EVERYWHERE BY JANE BLATT

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  • Toddlers in, around, under, and on books of every size, width, and height.
  • Books imagined as a hat, a chair
  • Places where books can be read, can be found
  • What can be done with books
  • When books can be read
  • Toddlers with animals reading and thoroughly loving books
  • Animals with animals reading and enjoying books
  • Illustrations are cute
  • Illustrations are easy to look at
  • Illustrations are fun to find other things amongst
  • Illustrations and the story make for a book-reading activity

What more can I say? 
…fun
…a together reading moment
…will ignite the love for books and reading

Reading Level: 3 – 7 Years

Author
Jane Blatt is a primary school teacher.  As one myself, I know that the love of teaching reading and getting children to love books is where she gets her desire to write such a book.  Ms. Blatt is an accomplished violinist, making her musical background evident in her lyrical writing.  You can find her great website and her @ http://janeblattatwork.com/

Illustrator
SARAH MASSINI worked as a designer at several major children’s book publishers before devoting herself to illustration full-time.  Her illustration work is “a blend of the hand-drawn, painted, photographed and collaged, which is then tweaked and twiddled digitally. It is always very character-driven, with a spontaneous line and feel.”
She lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, young son, and terrier Tess.  One place to find her is @ https://www.pinterest.com/sarahmassini5/
http://www.sarahmassini.com/

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780385375061
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 1-11-2015

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading

WINTER BEES & OTHER POEMS OF THE COLD BY JOYCE SIDMAN & RICK ALLEN

 

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How do animals of the frigid north survive and “brave” the long and cold winters?

Not only is this book interesting and insightful, but it is artistic and poetic.  It brings the science of animal survival in harsh winters of earth’s northern hemisphere into focus with a delightful poetic flare and extremely beautiful artistry.  This is a book not to be missed.

Ms. Sidman creates a poetic picture about animals of the tundra on one side of each double-page spread.  On the page across, there are scientific facts about that particular animal living and surviving in the harsh winter climate.  Fine artistic renderings of each animal in its wintry habitat spreads across the open two pages.  The vocabulary is rich with a fine glossary at the end to broaden one’s understanding of the many words that may be new or of special interest for the young reader.  Plant life is introduced to allow the reader to know that the harsh winters do open to spring eventually.

The hand-colored linoleum block prints can only draw the reader’s eyes right into this wintry mix of animals, plants and snowflakes.  The texture of the art is incredible, but texture is wrapped around the words and the air one imagines breathing while in such cold winter environs.  From the fox pouncing to the moose and vole looking straight at the reader from the page, you cannot help but feel you are right there.

We read:
Dream of the Tundra Swan
Snake’s Lullaby

Snowflake Wakes
Big Brown Moose
Winter Bees

Under Ice (beavers)
Brother Raven, Sister Wolf
Vole in Winter
What Do the Trees Know?

Chickadee’s Song
The Whole Wide World is Melting
Triolet for Trunk Cabbage

Ms. Sidman’s poetry takes two-dimensional words and turns them into three-dimensional art as in “Winter Bees”“Born with eyelash legs/and tinsel wings/we are nothing on our own./Together, we are One….Deep in the winter hive,/we burn like a golden sun.” 

In “Big Brown Moose,” the large animal chants, “I’m a big brown moose,/I’m a rascally moose,/I’m a moose with a tough shaggy hide…” 

Reading Level:  6 – 9 Years

Awards:
School Library Journal Best Book of 2014
Kirkus Best Book of 2014
Starred reviews in:
Publisher’s Weekly
    Kirkus
    Booklist
    School Library Journal
    Bulletin

Author
“Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman is simply one of the best poets writing for children today. Her accolades include a Lee Bennet Hopkins Award, winner of the Cybil Award, Texas Bluebonnet Master List, two Caldecott Honors, winner of the Claudia Lewis Award, and many stars and notables and best of lists. For her award-winning body of work, she recently won the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.”  She can be found @  www.joycesidman.com

Illustrator
Rick Allen creates.  He creates prints by pressing original linoleum cuts, wood engravings, broadsheets, and more with his wife and creative partner, Marian Lansky, and their assistant, Janelle Miller.   Mr. Allen can be found @ https://sivertson.com/artist.php?id=36
https://kenspeckleletterpress.com
https://kenspeckleletterpress.com/blogspeckle/

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780547906508
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Original Review on 12-11-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

TICKLE MONSTER BY JOSIE BISSETT

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Having just landed his spaceship from Planet Tickle, Tickle Monster is silly and fun, loving to tickle young children, even children of all ages!

The rhyming text leads you to each place this Tickle Monster will attack next throwing in a bit of anticipation when a page end with “…” and you must turn that page to find the spot.

The illustrations are large and colorful and, as you can see by the pictures above, there is absolutely NO fear involved with this “monster.”  This is an easy book to enjoy!

When you purchase the “Laughter Kit” version, it comes with two soft Tickle Mitts that fit on the hands of the reader.  Your fingers stick out from the main part of the mitts and are prepared to tickle!  The book can be bought separately as can the mitts.

The outside of the box of this kit says, “There is no better childhood memory than time spent laughing together.” 

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Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years

Author:
Josie Bissett is a children’s author of Tickle Monster and Boogie Monster, plus the compiler for Little Bits of Wisdom: A Collection of Tips and Advice for Real Parents and for Making Memories: A Parent’s Guide to Making Childhood Memories that Last a Lifetime.  Ms. Bissett was the 2008 Celebrity Mom of the Year.  Josie is an actress and first gained international notoriety for her role as Jane Mancini on the hit TV show, Melrose Place. She has appeared on more than 40 magazine covers.  She lives in Seattle with her two children, Mason and Maya.

Illustrator:
Kevan J, Atteberry
Kevan is an illustrator/writer living in the Seattle area. He illustrated Josie Bissett’s Boogie Monster as well as other children’s books.  He created that “Clippy the paperclip helper” in Microsoft Office.  Remember that big-eyed paperclip?  He says it still “annoys millions of people every day.”  You can find Mr. Atteberry @ http://www.kevanatteberry.com/#! and http://www.oddisgood.com/pages/home2.html

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781932319835
  • Publisher: Compendium, Incorporated, Publishing & Communications
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 36
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 3.00 (d)

Original review 12-11-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

THE NUMBERLYS BY WILLIAM JOYCE & CHRISTINA ELLIS

6584013_origOh my!  The creativity that I found in this book is absolutely amazing!  For a mind to think up this fun and unique story, to illustrate with such delightful intention, is just beyond my imagination.  Yet it made every creative juice I have begin to flow!  This book reads vertically, horizontally and vertically again.  It is in browns, grays, sepia tones at first, then gradually adding colors to dominate the pages.

“Once upon a time there was no alphabet.  Only numbers.   Everyone liked numbers.  They had nice shapes and kept things orderly.  Everything added up…so life was sort of…numberly.”  The book is read on the vertical at this point.

But five elf-like friends thought they needed “MORE.”  They were “TIRED OF THE SAME OLD THING.”  In trying to create something “DIFFERENT,” they struggled.  They did not give up though; their creativity just increased.  The book turns to the horizontal now.  Letters began to take shape.  Color comes into their world.  The more alphabet, the more color…then the book goes vertical again.  New and fun things begin to happen.  And I must, oh I must! leave you on that note because you really HAVE TO read and devour this book!  Such a cool, imaginative book!  I just love it!

Reading Level: 3 – 7 Years

Authors/Illustrators
William Joyce is a busy man…creating films, apps, even participating in Olympic curling, but he really loves children’s books (The Numberlys, The Man in the Moon, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, Toothiana, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also an Academy Award–winning short film).  He has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books.  He lives with his family in Shreveport, Louisiana.  He and his creative passions can be found @ http://www.williamjoyce.com/

Christina Ellis is an illustrator, telling fantastic stories through her characters and their worlds. Christina joined Moonbot Studios after studying illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design. She lives in Shreveport, Louisiana also.  The Numberlys is her picture book debut.   She has a website @ http://www.skellopia.com/

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781442473430
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Moonbot Books
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 56
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

9479722_orig1514005_origOriginal review 9-24-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY BY KAZUNO KOHARA

3721507A library which opens for the night only is run by a young girl who is the librarian, of course.  Not your ordinary library, I must admit!  This special librarian is also not ordinary.  She is a girl and has three assistants who happen to be owls, those birds who just happen to love the night hours!  Animals are the patrons who want books, of course.  The four staff members help each one find just the “perfect” book, just to their individual liking.  Each patron would stay and read in this open-all-night peaceful and quiet library.

(BEWARE!!  This review is filled with spoilers!!)

One night, though, a “band of squirrels” came in, set up, and began playing loudly, disrupting the patrons.  But our little librarian knew the answer to the problem.  Rather than kick them out, she took them upstairs to the activity room where they could play and find a “good song” for their next concert.  So the night library returned to its peaceful and quiet self.

Later, as the librarian put books back on the shelves, she thought it was raining inside, but it was a wolf in the library which could not contain his tears when he got to a very sad part in his book, leaving him unable to finish reading.  The librarian took him to the storytelling corner where the owls finished reading the book (knowing that he needed to hear the tale completely because it had a happy ending).

Preparing to close the library, one patron would not leave because he, the tortoise, wanted to finish his book, but he read as slowly as turtles walk across streets.  The librarian made him his own library card so he could check out the book in order to read it at home, making him so very happy.

The little librarian had an answer for everything!  And upon closing, she and the owls prepared for bed where she read a bedtime story to them for a good day’s sleep before another night at the Midnight Library.

I loved this book.  Not only is it an original story filled with imaginative characters, events, and outcomes, but it is done in three simple colors (gold, black, blue) making it easy on the eye.  Being a retired children’s librarian, I highly recommend this book as a bedtime story and as a story about libraries and books.  You will love it!!

Reading Level: 3 – 6 Years

Author
Kazuno Kohara  grew up in Japan and went to the United Kingdom as a student, where she studied printmaking at Anglia Ruskin University, graduating in 2007 with her Masters in Art.  Kazuno currently lives in Cambridge, England.  You can find her @ http://www.bookstart.org.uk/books/authors/96923

She has written three other books:

  • Ghosts in the House!, Roaring Brook Press, 2008  Her book Ghosts in the House was named a Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008 by The New York Times.  (The Haunted House was also the title of what looks to me to be the same book, but a different publisher, but could not find any information comparing the two.  The covers are the same but maybe I am missing something.  Both are described as her first book.?)
  • Here Comes Jack Frost, Roaring Brook Press, 2009
  • Little Wizard, Roaring Brook Press, 2010

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781596439856
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Original review 7-6-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD BY WATTY PIPER

473166CLASSIC!  CLASSIC!!  CLASSIC!!!

Can I say it any more emphatically?  This is truly a classic and one that continues to be read to the young, lessons learned by all.  Don’t let the original publication date of 1930 fool you or scare you away as the book holds its story so well.

There have been many editions, even some before 1930.  Sunday school lessons, stories entitled “The Pony Engine,” “Thinking One Can,” “Story of the Engine That Thought It Could,” “The Royal Engine,” and more were published in magazines, newspapers, as a small book, even the first title in a series that were sold door-to-door.  Roy E. Plotnick (of the University of Illinois @ Chicago) did some extensive research on the history of this little book.  Rather than go into detail here, I will refer you to http://tigger.uic.edu/~plotnick/littleng.htm if you are interested in that history.

The little train, filled with toys, stuffed animals, dolls, and even food (candies and nutritional fruits, milk, and greens), has to get to the other side of the mountain.  It just doesn’t have the ability so some of the toys disembark along the tracks.  The clown begins asking other engines passing by if they can help.  There is a “Shiny New Engine,” a “Big Strong Engine,” and a “Rusty Old Engine” which all answered that they could not, would not because they were a passenger train or a freight train or just too tired.  These excuses led to a sadness amongst the toys until a little blue engine came along.  When asked for help, she told them that she had never been over the mountain plus she was little.  But she decided to try.  She hooked the cars of the train to her engine and began the journey up over the mountain with an attitude of “I think I can.  I think I can.”  And she did.

“The Little Engine That Could” continues to teach the reader and listener the value of hard work and optimistism.   This little engine keeps right on chugging!

Reading Level: 3 – 5 Years

Author
Arnold Munk is the real name of the author.  “Watty Piper” was his pen name as an author of children’s books and as the editor (and owner) of many of the books that Platt & Munk published.  He was born in Hungary, and as a child, moved to the United States with his family, settling in Chicago, and later, New York.

Illustrators
The illustrator for his original version in 1930 was Lois Lenski.  In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations done by George and Doris Hauman.  “It was the work of George and Doris Hauman that earned The Little Engine the title of being worthy to sit on the same shelf as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” **  Since then, the tale has been re-illustrated by Ruth Sanderson in 1976, and Loren Long in 2005.  The version I am reviewing is the one illustrated by the Haumans, republished by Penguin in 1976.  I recommend looking at the version done by Loren Long for his art is wonderful.  You can find him at http://www.lorenlong.com/Books 

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780448405209
  • Publisher: Platt & Munk, Publishers, a division of Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1978
  • Edition description: Original Classic
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 7.06 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.35 (d)

**  Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane Goetz Person. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group, Aug 1, 2003.  Pg. 634

I originally reviewed this classic book on 7-31-2014.