Pig-out on good books
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He incorporates urban detail into every scene - from Calvin's studio apartment, complete with a full collection of door locks, to the slightly awkward and embarrassed expressions of office workers who share the elevator with our messenger man. Readers with a city background will delight in the familiarity of the settings; rural and suburban children should enjoy viewing the fascinating, frenetic world of a bike messenger.Skip to next paragraph
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Barbara Maitland's Moo in the Morning is all about another type of messenger, the heralds of the morning. At first, we hear the way-too-noisy morning sounds of the city: "There are buses going BBLSH! and cars going VROOM! ... and voices calling 'HEY!' There's the garbage truck whirring, crunching, screeching...." So, bleary-eyed mom and her narrating child go to Uncle Jack's for country quiet. But what's a rural morning like? It's full of loud quacking, clucking, mooing, and cock-a-doodle-doing. What can this little urban family do but return to the familiar and less disturbing sounds of the city! Illustrations by Andrew Kulman are bright, bold, and pleasingly stylized. This book is a real treat for morning lovers everywhere.
For beginning readers
The six-and-up crowd has a new series to look forward to this fall. Acclaimed Newbery Medal-winner Cynthia Rylant has just introduced her first two High-Rise Private Eyes stories. These are compact little books, each four chapters long, with delightful G. Brian Karas illustrations on every page. Bunny and Jack are a gumshoe team that solves simple crime mysteries in the city. Fortunately, the "crimes" in the first two installments are more like misunderstandings.
Rylant adds interest to the stories with good characterization and feisty dialogue between the two detectives - something that's hard to do with few words and a fairly restricted vocabulary. Alliteration in the titles hints at more fun to come. These first two are "The Case of the Missing Monkey" and "The Case of the Climbing Cat." (We're told to be on the lookout for "The Case of the Puzzling Possum.")
For years, books on dinosaurs have tromped out of publishing houses and into reviewers' offices. So many come that it's tempting to ignore the literary herd. But this season an exceptional dino is featured. It's Sue, the largest T-rex skeleton ever found - and her fascinating story just can't be ignored. A Dinosaur Named SUE, by Pat Relf, is a captivating book about this "colossal fossil." Relf worked with the Science Team at Chicago's Field Museum (where Sue resides) to create an interesting, accurate, and readable account of this discovery. The story, which unfolded over the past decade, has something for everybody: For adventure lovers, the surprising find of Sue by a young fossil hunter and her dog in the Black Hills of South Dakota. For budding paleontologists, detailed reports of the excavation and preparation of the valuable bones. Artists will note with interest the remarkable solution to displaying a skeleton that is as big and heavy as a bus! Naturalists will learn briefly about the earth as Sue would have known it, as well as the observations scientists have made about Sue. There's also the information gained by shipping Sue's head to Boeing's Rocketdyne lab, which had the only scanner large enough to view the skull. All will share the drama of Sue's confiscation by the FBI, and the government-sponsored auction that resulted. The fascinating story, photos, and illustrations make this book a worthwhile read and a marvelous tribute to 67-million-year-old Sue.
Many young people who love to read also love to write, and these reader-writers will enjoy Author Talk, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. For this project, he interviewed 15 popular children's authors, and what has resulted is this engaging and informative volume. In an easy-to-follow Q&A format, readers get an inside look at the lives of some popular writers of children's books. Such authors as Judy Blume, Gary Paulsen, Lois Lowery, and Jon Szcieszka discuss their reading and writing habits, interests, and work. They tell stories about their childhoods, give advice on how to become a writer, and share photos of themselves and their work spaces. Information in this book is accessible, satisfying, and entertaining, so this could easily become a top choice for students' perennial book-report assignments.
*Karen Carden reviews children's books regularly for the Monitor. To join the conversation about books at 'MonitorTalk,' go to our Web page: csmonitor.xcom
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