Friday, August 28, 2009


September is right around the corner. The school supply circulars are in the newspaper. The leaves are whispering that fall is coming...I can practically hear them. I have a big queue of nonfiction and chapter books and back-to-school books, all ready for review. But summer isn't over until the sunburned lady sings, people, and I ain't singin' just yet. What's say we have one more afternoon on the picture book playground?

HIGHER! HIGHER! by Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick) Who hasn't swung so high on a swing that they believed they might hit a bird? That their toes might graze an airplane? That they might fly through a cloud? As a good pusher-man daddy boosts his pigtailed princess ever into the stratosphere, this little book fearlessly plays it all out to the nth degree, with such exuberant good cheer that you can practically hear the children screaming and the squeak of the metal playground chain as it makes its pendulum swing back and forth. This funny author deserves an affectionate fan base similar to that of Mo Willems (DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS), but for the younger set. Oh, baby baby, this gets a one -word book review: Wheeeeee. (2 and up)

Also of interest:
Another early childhood book that takes a concept to its limits.
JUST HOW LONG CAN A LONG STRING BE?! by Keith Baker (Scholastic) Like curious preschoolers themselves, A bird and ant puzzle over the possibilities of a piece of string. "Will it finish a necklace?/A banjo?/A mop?/Will it partner a puppet?/A yo-yo?/A top?" As we follow the friends through their sunny investigation, appealing horizontally oriented double-page spreads help to stretch the string as well as the story (a technique Baker also made the most of in HIDE AND SNAKE). The effect of Baker's palette could not be more smile-inducing, like opening a box of 64 crayons when you were expecting only 12. Visually orderly but always vivacious, illustrations like the bird flitting across a trellis of snap peas, yanking a light switch in his beak or skipping rope with friends infuse this book with a kind of well-behaved dynamism. Well-balanced and wonderful from one end to the other, it's everything we hope a preschool book can be. Teachers and librarians, you can preface the story by holding up a piece of string and asking the children to answer the question. At the end of the story, have the children use pastel crayons to create scenes where a string might be used, and give each child a real piece of string to glue into the picture. What an attractive bulletin board full of artwork that would be! Well. I guess it is almost September. (3 and up)

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