“Believe me, I do understand that. And let me tell you - from one monster to another - that just because somebody tells you you’re a monster, it doesn’t mean you are.”
After being rescued from a pond, things haven’t been quite right for Triss. Her memory is vague. She can’t seem to stop eating, and her younger sister Pen is strangely hostile towards her. However, as events unfold Triss soon discovers a horrifying truth about herself…
This was the first book that I read by Francis Hardinge, and I was greatly impressed. Hardinge delivers a dark and inventive children’s tale that manages to be both heartfelt and nightmarish. I really enjoyed the sisterly dynamic between Triss and Pen - seeing their relationship evolve was a delight. Another character Violet, also proved to be a favorite. Hardinge delivers great plot twists in her narrative- both times it is a gut punch, however in hindsight it makes so much sense. Reading this novel has definitely encouraged me to check out other works of Hardinge’s.
Media Titles: Jambo Means Hello, Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel Feelings; K is for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford; Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang; and Feast For 10 by Cathryn Falwell
Reviewed By: MargeMod
Content Warning/Spoilers: None
Rating: Full Bouquet out of Full Bouquet
How many alphabet, counting or first word books are on your child’s bookshelf? Now, how many are in a different language or show people that don’t look like you? Don’t be shy, in fact be aggressive in making sure that these simple learning books contain representation of people and places that are like your family as well as those that are not like your family. What can be more basic in forming your child’s view of the world than learning the alphabet, counting and language? This review includes four books that show African-American heritage, language and faces.
Media Title: Jambo Means Hello, Swahili Alphabet Book
Author: Muriel Feelings
Pictures By: Tom Feelings
Media Type: Soft Cover Children’s Book (ISBN: 0-14-054652-9)
Genre: Alphabet, Swahili people, Kiswahili language, East Africa
Summary: Adults are failing their children if we do not expose or teach them a second, or third or even fourth language. What better way to introduce another language than through the alphabet? The full-page Introduction explains where Swahili is spoken and how there are no Q or X sounds in Swahili. Each letter presents a word in Swahili, and gives the pronunciation and a bit of explanation. This book is wonderfully illustrated with everyday scenes of activities that happen in an African village and in a child’s life. Just about any age group would find something to catch their interest.
Review: The illustrations are superb. At the end of the book there is a “A note about the art.” The end result of the seemingly complicated process is stunning. Having traveled in East Africa myself in 1974, I can say that Tom Feelings’ illustrations perfectly convey the look, feel and experience I enjoyed during my trip. Some of the Swahili words selected for the alphabet seem familiar (baba means father) and anyone who has seen Lion King should not be surprised that rafiki means friend.
Media Title: K is For Kwanzaa, A Kwanzaa Alphabet Book
Author: Juwanda G. Ford
Illustrated By: Ken Wilson-Max
Media Type: Soft Cover Children’s Book (ISBN:0-590-18995-6)
Genre: Children’s alphabet book, Kwanzaa traditions, Swahili words
Summary: As the title clearly shows this book presents the traditions of Kwanzaa using the alphabet. The origin of Kwanzaa and its seven principles are explained in the first pages, and then the alphabet begins with A is for Africa. Some words highlighted are in Swahili and the short text on each gives its proper pronunciation. The book uses the familiarity of the alphabet to teach a tradition that began in 1966. Older children would enjoy the information provided and younger readers would like the vibrant colors.
Review: This lively book could be at home on a child’s bookshelf or on a classroom reference table. Familiar english words like harvest and neighborhood are included with Swahili words like gele and lapa. The illustrations use bold vibrant colors that complement and support the text. I agree completely with the back page description that “the brilliant pictures bring to life all that is central to Kwanzaa: cultural heritage, family, and community.”
Media Title: Ten, Nine, Eight
Author: Molly Bang
Media Type: Soft Cover Children’s book (ISBN: 0-590-45583-4)
Genre: Children’s counting 1 to 10 book, bedtime
Summary: This bedtime countdown book is made up of only views in the child’s bedroom. A friendly black cat and familiar items hold the reader’s interest. The text is gentle and rhythmic. What family hasn’t at one time or another said “1 big girl all ready for bed”? Intended for very young children, beginning readers would enjoy it as well.
Review: Because it was read so often and carried all over the house by my daughter, this poor little book is stained and torn. I’ve included it in this review because the colors and illustrations are soft, wonderful and the phrasing seems to come straight from the heart. I love all the room details from the flowered wallpaper to the chair upholstery pattern.
Media Title: Feast For 10
Author: Cathryn Falwell
Media Type: Soft Cover Children’s Book (ISBN: 0-590-48466-66-4)
Genre: Child’s counting book, shopping, meal preparation, inter-generational
Summary: This counting book is fun because it counts up to 10 twice! The first time the happy group goes shopping for the makings of a feast. The second counting is the preparation of the ingredients. Throughout it shows helpful children interacting in a common activity. Very young children would enjoy the drawings and how the children participate.
Review: Kudos to anyone who takes five children to the grocery store, but in this book it works. Any family with multiple children would enjoy seeing the hustle and bustle of a grocery shopping trip and then the meal preparation. A one-child family would be delighted as well. The white background allows the action and colors to shine and I particularly like the clear lines and wonderful detail.
Conclusion: I am a (very) white woman. In fact, I’ve been known to describe myself as alabaster. Truth be told, a more accurate description of my skin tone might be pink with lots and lots of freckles. But I loved and married someone decidedly not pink and our child has only two freckles. Her strength of character and tolerant, open world view, I believe was formed because she grew up with a large and loving family from many countries and cultures and with lots and lots of books.
Tags: education, parenting, children, teaching, languages, children’s book reviews, multicultural, MargeMod, bedtime stories, children’s books,
Anyone ever thought that after 100 years the Sleeping Beauty couldn’t possibly have any muscles left?
This is a follow-up to a previous blog post on things kids say at libraries. to see part 1, click here.
Need help finding something? I’m glad to say these mini-patrons have learned early on that we librarians are here to help.
5-year-old: I’d like a book on dogs because apparently I’m a dog person.
8-year-old: Do you have any books on foxes, please? If not, raccoons are okay too.
6-year-old: I’d like a book about fairies. But not, like, a story WITH fairies. I want a book ABOUT fairies, with real facts about them.
6-year-old: I’m looking for books on cats because I like cats because I have cats.
7-year-old: I need a book about DNA, because I wanna bring back the dinosaurs.
Mom: We just watched Jurassic Park the other day. We clearly didn’t learn anything.
Kid: Do you have level three for this series?
Librarian: …Level three?
Kid: *shows the volume number on the book spine*
Kid: I’ve read level two, now I need level three.
Image credit: “Young
Reader, Do You Have a Question for Reference?” by Taekwonweirdo is
licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Meet Sad - a dog who only needs a little love from you! 🥰⠀
book is beautifully written and together with the illustrations, it
brings out a touching story about kindness and belonging. ⠀
I love how the author gives two opposite views in the text: a hopeful and loving one from our narrator (“Sad could draw beautiful pictures”), and a pessimistic/realistic one from the voice of human characters in the book (“Stop digging in my garden!” Mrs. Cripps screamed.). It is something that worths mentioning since it reflects how choosing a perspective shapes one’s experience in a wonderful way or simply withers someone else who has a gentle heart. ⠀
When a new chapter comes to the life of our little character, I realised how the perspective is now of the dog himself: he feels all the love and freedom yet he doesn’t see the ‘flaw’ from his new friend; even the narrator would not point it out to the readers (but let us all see it in the illustrations). This makes the book is more heartwarming. As I quickly finished the book in one go, I felt bittersweet to bid this little dog farewell (how I wish it could be a little longer journey)…⠀