Wow, a lot of cold and flu going around. Time for a reading prescription.
I FEEL BETTER WITH A FROG IN MY THROAT by Caralyn Becker (Houghton Mifflin)
Which is the surest cure for a wound: honey, moldy bread, puppy kisses, spider webs or maggots? All of these prescriptions were employed at some point in history. Millipedes were used for stomachaches, holes drilled in the head for migraines, and necklaces were made of earthworms for sore throats, all with varying degrees of success starting with zero. What fun, in multiple choice format, to discover the surprising answers of which alchemy rated an A+. Well written in an inviting conversational style, the text is enhanced with humorous digital mixed media illustrations that suggest rich paintings with tongue applied firmly in cheek. Following up on her unusual and enticing children’s nonfiction such as WHO PUT THE B IN BALLYHOO and THE RAUCOUS ROYALS, likewise, this well-researched, bibliography-backed volume doesn’t flinch as it conveys the finer, funnier and freakier details of history. A picture book boon for older children, this doubles most definitely as a sure cure for reluctant readers. (8 and up)
Also of interest:
A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook) Zookeeper Amos takes mighty good care of his friends. Every day, He plays chess with the elephant, races the tortoise (and lets him win), wipes the rhinoceros’ substantial runny nose, keeps a shy penguin company and reads to the night owl who is afraid of the dark. But when Amos gets sick with the flu, it’s the animals who come and deliver the necessary caretaking. Such zoo-in-the-home stories have a long line of grandparents, from A ZOO FOR MISTER MUSTER by Arnold Lobel (1962) to Peggy Rathmann’s inimitable GOOD NIGHT, GORILLA (1994), visually referenced in Stead’s illustrations with a familiar red balloon and tiny supporting-character mouse making several appearances throughout. This book has a sensitive pencil line and woodblock backdrops, and a muted, restrained palette that is rare these days, understated and lovely. Just like the kind of man Amos reveals himself to be, unafraid of being kind and soft, the great strength of this book is in its brave gentleness. Look at that mighty elephant trunk curled carefully around the wing of a penguin, animals patiently waiting at the stop for a public bus, or Amos playing hide-and-seek under a peacock-patterned coverlet! An excellent friendship story hinging on the underserved but important theme of reciprocation, it goes to show another day at the zoo is always welcome. (4 and up)
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
More Esmé stuff at www.planetesme.com.