Sunday, June 15, 2014

Folklore, Poetry, Art and Gators

Tani’s Search For the Heart by Keith Egawa
Genre: Folklore, Upper Elementary, Middle Grades
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

 My Thoughts:
Tani is a young girl who who lives near the shores of the Salish Sea in  the Pacific Northwest. Tani lived with her grandmother who spent her time teaching her the legends and ways of her people. She was preparing Tani for the day when she would no longer be there with Tani. She taught her of the Stick Indian. He was scary enough to keep children following the rules yet was a protector.

Tani learns about protecting the world she lives in from her grandmother. Her grandmother tells her that they will be coming to cut down more trees and that one day Tani will need to be the voice to stand up to them. She also tells her that Tani will need to go on a quest to find the heart of the world.  She will be helped by many  in the forest.  Her grandmother dies and Tani goes to live with her uncle’s family. Soon she hears a voice telling her she must leave for her journey.  She is helped along the way by many animals.  They in turn teacher her much.  How will Tani find the heart of the world?  Where is it?  I would recommend you read this book to find out.  The great thing about this book is that I got it as I was doing my unit on Fables, and Folklore.  My students compared it to “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss and to “The Talking Earth” by Jean Craighead George.  The sory is not only wonderfully told, buthte pictures are absolutely beautiful.  I recommend this story for all families.

Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country by Dawn Menge
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I received a copy in exchange for my honest review

Queen Vernita is off to visit her friends in Gator Country, In January she meets her friend Neomi. Where she learns all about the roots of Jazz music and its connection to slaves. In February she visits Sidney where she will spend her time on a paddle boat learning about it’s history. Throughout the rest of the book she spends a month with different friends learning about Mardi Gras, alligators, the French Quarter. She visits zoos, aquariums, a plantation.  She learns about slavery and the underground railroad. She sees the wonderful world of the bayou.
The reason I have enjoyed the books so much is because they are full of history and so many things for children and adults  to learn. It is done in such a fun manner that children don’t realize that they are getting history lessons.  The illustrations by Pamela Snyder are wonderful and capture the feeling of the story.  As always I look forward to reading the Queen Vernita series. They are a refreshing change of pace from the usual picture book.

The Secret Kingdom by Michele & Richard Bledsoe
Genre: Fantasy
Source: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

This book is wonderful, but at the same time hard to classify.  We have the beautiful illustrations and then we have the beautiful poetry.  Not everyone will get this book.  I happen to be one of those quirky people that love things like this. We are welcomed into the world of dreams.  The first page tells you that you can wear your monster suit and shows the other character as a masked face with leaves for hair and a wooden body with a wooden hand holding a heart.  Then it tells you that it is good to share dreams with a friend.  This is not a young kids picture book even though is says it is juvenile fiction.  This is for the older child.  Many of the pictures are so abstract they might not get them. One of my favorite is of the green alien. The message is one of being friendly to strangers from a faraway land. It also talks about the universality of pictures.  You don’t have to speak the same language to understand art.  A lot of the art is symbolic in meaning as is the wordage.  I would definitely recommend this book to the older child.  My copy is being passed to a fellow teacher as he fell in love with the book and wanted to share it with his daughter.

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