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review 2017-05-14 00:03
Shadow by Marcia Brown
Shadow - Blaise Cendrars,Marcia Brown

Genre:  Fantasy / Africa ./ Folktale / Horror


Year Published: 1982

 

Year Read:  2010

 

Publisher:   Charles Scribner's Sons

 

 

Shadow

“Shadow” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Marcia Brown and it is about what shadows do around people and what they do when they are not looking. “Shadow” may be a bit scary for smaller children, but it is truly a mesmerizing book that children would enjoy for many years.

Marcia Brown has wonderfully given a vivid description of what shadows do and what they are like and put the description of shadows in a poetic format and Marcia Brown does a great job at making shadows seem so mysterious as they constantly follow people around in ghostly figures. Marcia Brown’s illustrations are truly eerie yet creative as the people in the book are drawn as black shadows while the shadows themselves are drawn as white ghostly figures following the shadowed characters, however, there are some shadows that are dark figures such as the shadow coming out of the ash from the fire. The images perfectly blend color and black and white to bring out a more effective look at the world of shadows such as putting shadowed figures against colorful mountainsides or forests.

Shadow

Parents should know that there are some scary images in this book which involves images of the shadows taking frightening shapes such as one shadow wearing a very frightening mask and another large shadow that has ash for eyes and is walking on four wobbly legs. Many small children would also be frighten about the idea that shadows can come to life when they least expect it and it might cause many small children to not go to sleep at night because they might be afraid of their shadows coming to life to get them. Parents need to explain to their children that shadows do not come alive and they are apart of people.

“Shadow” is a brilliant book that takes on the views of the mysterious world of shadows and it will have many children mesmerized for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the images are truly frightening and smaller children might be frightened at the idea that shadows come to life in this book.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-11-17 04:12
Zella, Zack and Zodiac by Bill Peet
Zella, Zack and Zodiac - Bill Peet

 

Genre:  Family / Animals / Adoption / Drama / Africa


Year Published:1986


Year Read:  2016

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company

 

Zella

I have read many of Bill Peet’s works in the past, but I had never read a story from Bill Peet that dealt with family issues such as adopting a child and handle the issue with such care. “Zella, Zack and Zodiac” has proven to be one of Bill Peet’s most heartwarming books that I had ever read!

The story starts off with a baby ostrich chick named Zack who had just hatched out of his egg and it was then that he discovered that his mother had left him when she heard a lion’s roar in the distance and had taken the other chicks with her. Suddenly at that moment, a zebra herd came zooming by and Zack tried to yell up at them to help him, but none of the zebras took any notice of Zack. However, one zebra managed to hear Zack and came to his aid. The zebra was named Zella and she decided to raise Zack as if he was her own child and the two had so many dangerous and heartwarming adventures on the savanna together. But unfortunately, as Zack the ostrich chick got much older, he started to ignore Zella and Zella started to worry about whether or not Zack remembered how she raised him for all those years and if he still considers her his mother. Luckily, it turned out that Zack remembered Zella and how she raised him and he ended up greeting her after a few years apart from her. It turns out that Zella is pregnant and she is expecting a baby soon and she planned to call her child Zodiac. When Zodiac was finally born, Zella was overjoyed, but then she realized that there was something different about Zodiac…

What is so unique about Zodiac and are Zella and Zack still together?

Read this book to find out!


In all the times that I had read Bill Peet’s books, I never would have thought that I would stumble upon a Bill Peet book that would detail the importance of family while also discussing about adopting a child who is different from you. Bill Peet has done a splendid job at portraying the relationship between Zella the Zebra and Zack the Ostrich as they truly care for each other, despite their different appearances and I loved the way that Zella went to great lengths to protect Zack from any danger in the savanna as it shows how much of a good adopted mother she is towards Zack. I also loved the fact that Bill Peet made this book much more heartwarming than most of his works as it focuses on a zebra mother’s love for both her adopted child and her real child and it made the book extremely touching to read through. Bill Peet’s artwork is as beautiful as ever as we get to see the savanna in all its glory and I loved seeing the images of Zack riding on Zella’s back as they run across the savanna as it makes it a truly iconic image for this book!

Overall, “Zella, Zack and Zodiac” is a truly heartwarming book about the importance of family and how two unlikely species managed to become a truly close and effective family. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book, unless the scenes of the various predators going after Zella, Zack and Zodiac might scare some children.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-09-03 01:19
A Story, a Story by Gail E. Haley
Story, a Story - Gail E. Haley

Genre: Africa / Folktale / Trickery / Storytelling

 
Year Published: 1970


Year Read:  1993

Publisher: Atheneum

 

 

Story

I have actually first watched “A Story, A Story” on a Weston Woods video (which was a children’s series I have grown up with for a many years) and I have enjoyed it ever since. “A Story A Story” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Gail E. Haley and it details the adventures of Ananse, the Spider Man and his attempts at obtaining the stories from Nyame, the Sky God. “A Story, A Story” is a clever book that fans of African folktales will definitely love!

This is the story about Ananse the Spider Man and the sky god named Nyame, who owns all the stories and keeps them in his golden box next to his royal stool. One day, Ananse decided to visit the Sky God and asked him if he could buy his stories and Nyame told Ananse that in order to get his stories, he must capture Mmboro the hornet who-stings-like-fire, Osebo the leopard of-the-terrible-teeth, and Mmoatia the fairy whom-men-never-see. So, Ananse sets out and tries to capture the three beings that Nyame wanted from him.

I have always loved reading different folktales from around the world and African folktales are my favorites! Gail E. Haley has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this ancient African folktale about Ananse the Spider Man. Gail E. Haley’s illustrations are truly creative and beautiful as the illustrations are woodcut and it gives the story a more traditional and creative vibe to the characters. My favorite illustrations were of Mmoatia the fairy-whom-no-man-sees as she is small and she wears a green grass skirt and a colorful red and white blouse shirt that truly made her look majestic. Gail E. Haley’s writing is cleverly creative as she incorporates various African sound effects like “yiridi, yiridi, yiridi” when Ananse was running through the jungle to make the characters’ movements have more meaning. I also loved the different ways that Ananse tricks each creature in the forest, especially the scene where Ananse uses a gum baby doll to trick Mmoatia the fairy as it was a reminiscent of the traditional “Brer Rabbit” tales with Brer Rabbit being tricked by the tar baby.

Story

Overall, “A Story, A Story” is a truly incredible tale for anyone who loves “Ananse” stories and also loves folktales that deal with tricksters. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the African phrases might confuse smaller children.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-09-03 00:27
Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric A. Kimmel
Anansi and the Talking Melon - Eric A. Kimmel,Janet Stevens

Genre:  Animals / Folktale / Africa / Trickery


Year Published: 1994


Year Read:  2016

Publisher: Holiday House

Series: Anansi #2

 

 

Anansi

Now, I have been reading the “Anansi” series ever since I was little and I was always so amazed at the gorgeous artwork and the hilarious writing in each book! So, when I stumbled upon another “Anansi” story that was written by Eric A. Kimmel along with illustrations by Janet Stevens, I was pleasantly surprised by how this story turned out to be as entertaining as the previous “Anansi” stories!

The story starts off with Anansi looking down on Elephant’s melon patch from the trees and he wanted to have a melon. But since Anansi was always too lazy to do any work, he decided to wait until Elephant went off on break to eat a melon. So after Elephant left the melon patch, Anansi took a thorn from a tree and started digging a hole inside the melon to jump inside and eat the melon from the inside out. Once Anansi was done eating inside the melon, he tried to get out from inside the melon, but he become too fat to get out and he had to wait until he got thin again. Elephant then comes back to the melon patch and picks up the melon that Anansi was inside of and Anansi decided to play a little trick on Elephant by pretending to be the melon and successfully convinces Elephant that the melon is really talking. Elephant is so excited about this development that he decided to tell his friends and the king about the talking melon.

Will the King be impressed by the talking melon or will he realize that it is Anansi playing this trick?

Read this book to find out!


Wow! I must admit that I was quite surprised that I have not read this book yet since I have been reading the “Anansi” series ever since I was a child! Eric A. Kimmel has once again done an excellent job at writing this story as the story is highly creative and hilarious at the same time and I really loved the scenes where Anansi tricks the other animals into thinking that the melon is actually talking to them. I like the fact that in this story, Anansi does not actually steal anything like he did in the previous book “Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock” since it makes him into a less amoral character (although he still did dig inside one of the Elephant’s melons without Elephant’s permission) and the fact that he is just playing tricks on Elephant and the other animals just for the fun of it, makes him less malicious in nature. Janet Stevens’ artwork is as usual gorgeous to look at and I loved the way that Janet Stevens is able to convey the emotions on the characters’ faces, especially whenever the melon seems to insult each animal character and you get to see the animals’ angry expressions really close up.

Anansi

Overall, “Anansi and the Talking Melon” is a truly hilarious book that is another great addition to Eric A. Kimmel and Janet Stevens’ “Anansi” series! I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-07-03 17:50
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel
Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock - Eric A. Kimmel,Janet Stevens

Genre:  Animals / Folktale / Africa / Trickery


Year Published: 1988


Year Read:  1997

Publisher: Holiday House

Series: Anansi #1

 

Anansi

“Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock” is an old African folktale retold by Eric A. Kimmel, along with illustrations by Janet Stevens. This book is about how Anansi the Spider tries to trick all the animals in the forest by showing them a mysterious rock. This book is surely a delight to anyone who is interested in African folktales.

The story starts off with Anansi the Spider walking through the forest when he spotted a strange looking moss-covered rock and then he exclaims:

“Isn’t this a strange moss-covered rock?”

Suddenly, Anansi falls down unconscious and when he wakes up again, he is confused at what had just happened and when he repeated:

“Isn’t this a strange moss-covered rock?”

He falls back down again and when he wakes up the second time, he realizes the power of the moss-covered rock and he decides to use it to his advantage. Anansi then goes around tricking the other animals such as Lion and Elephant, by leading them to the moss covered rock and once the animals repeat the magic words:

“Isn’t this a strange moss-covered rock?”

They fall down unconscious on the ground and Anansi goes back to their houses and steals their food. Meanwhile, Little Bush deer has been watching Anansi the whole time and she decided to teach Anansi a lesson when Anansi tries to trick her into going to see the moss-covered rock.

Will Little Bush Deer fall for Anansi’s trick or will Little Bush Deer have the last laugh?

Read the rest of this book to find out!


Eric A. Kimmel’s retelling of this ancient folktale is hilarious and charming as Anansi uses a magical rock to get what he wants or at least that what he thinks. I thought that the idea of using an unlikely substance such as the moss-covered rock to take advantage of people by knocking them unconscious was ingenious since we usually hear about how people would simply use magic spells to control people. Janet Stevens’ illustrations are done beautifully as she illustrates each animal with realistic features that they make the animals seem to come alive in this book. The illustrations are also extremely colorful especially of the images of the forest itself as the plants are mainly in colors of pink, green, brown, and all manner of other colors and they make this book extremely bright to look at. Probably, the image that stood out the most was the image of Anansi himself as he has small beady eyes and long legs.

Lion

“Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock” is a superb tale about how tricking someone can get you in massive trouble if you are not careful and many children would definitely call this an instant treat to read over and over again. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since I do not find anything wrong with this book, unless children might have a hard time pronouncing Anansi’s name.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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