Wednesday, August 06, 2008


MINJI'S SALON by Eun-hee-Choung (Kane/Miller) While mother is getting her hair done, a preschool stylist is working her magic on the family dog. With Mama's progress on one page and Minji's efforts on the other, readers can witness for themselves two beauty transformations worthy of an Oprah makeover show. It's amazing what a little strawberry ice cream can do as a hair relaxer...who knew?! Good-intentioned mischief relies heavily on the expressive mixed-media of the illustration for its storytelling arc, making it a real winner for emergent readers still relying on visual cues. Just look at that thoughtful pout as Minji scrutinizes her work! Faaaaabulous, dahhhling! Fans of Niki Daly's charming and original South African Jamela series and Peter Spier's OH, WERE THEY EVER HAPPY! (out of print, for shame!) will appreciate Minji's freewheeling, problem-solving personality. Your multicultural shelf will be all the prettier when you add this tribute to creativity. (4 and up)

Also of interest:
More girl (and liberated boy) power!

LADYBUG GIRL by Jacky Davis and David Soman (Dial) Now, I'd be lying if I told you that I adored this story; while not bad, I'm afraid that girl-being-left-out-by-brothers was a little been-there-done-that for my taste, but I'd also be lying if I didn't tell you that I was asked to "read it again" seven times by a five-year-old girl. No wonder, the illustrations on the end papers alone are as worth poring over as a wordless picture book: a spirited double-page cavalcade of a girl vogue-ing in costumes such as a ballerina, movie star, unicorn, astronaut, aviator, roaring tiger, detective, swami, pirate and more! This loose-lined, confident style with Manga influence is a departure for the illustrator, and an exciting one that speaks to her versatility and makes her an artist to watch. This title's popularity is sure to flourish among reading fashionistas who enjoyed Jane O'Connor's FANCY NANCY, and might also induce similar haute couture on the kindergarten catwalk. (5 and up)

Also in the lovely pictures category is MERMAIDS ON PARADE by Melanie Hope Greenberg (Putnam), a very busy, colorful and summery tribute to Brooklyn's East River Mermaids who strut their stuff in a competitive parade. Besides, there's instructions on "how to make a mermaid tail in 3 easy steps," people! (5 and up) Net it along with THE MERMAID'S TREASURE by Stephanie True Peters (Dutton, 6 and up) for more fish-tailed fun and folklore.

THE CHICKEN OF THE FAMILY by Mary Amato, illustrated by Delphine Durand (Putnam). After Henrietta's taunting older sisters call her a "chicken" one time too many, she decides to go and live in the coop, where she will be appreciated. A quirky family story about appreciating our differences and speaking kindly, with a googly-eyed underdog (or underchicken) that is hard to resist. (6 and up)

BOOMING BELLA by Carol Ann Williams, illustrated by Tatiana Mai-Wyss (Putnam). Bella's teacher is nearing the end of her rope...does this girl think anything she doesn't say, and say loudly? But when there's a mix-up on the school field trip, Bella's verbal verve saves the day. The illustrator has a smooth, understated watercolor style that so beautifully captures school-aged children, which is not an easy thing to do. Call kids to storytime with a megaphone, and read this along with Sofie Laguna and Kerry Argent's TOO LOUD LILY (Scholastic) and Alexis O'Neill and Nancy Carpenter's LOUD EMILY (Simon and Schuster). Shout it out, sisters! (6 and up)

Shop with Esme
Did you know that Target has been carrying a super adorable oversized Fancy Nancy doll? Serious cuteness. Matching costumes in little-girl sizes. Tea party in the hizzouse, ya'll!

On a personal note
Yes, I still review chapter books. I'm just gunning for some stellar new ones for intermediate readers that kids don't hand back to me after two chapters or don't require sequels or read like movie treatments, or are actually for kids. Coming soon (I hope), but meanwhile, Tweendom and Kidsreads seem to have better luck than I do.

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Esme for reviewing my book. Really appreciate it. So exciting to find in a google search :)
All Best, Melanie


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