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Bob Dylan’s lyrics fit perfectly into Sophisticated Picture Book format, but the surprise here is the enormous difference illustration and general presentation make to words that true Dylan devotees regard as timeless.
Of the three examples here, Forever young (Simon & Schuster, 2008) is a Good Fairy-type wish for a child
‘May God bless and keep you always, May your wishes all come true…’
that is often sung at christenings.
Paul Rogers’ illustrations to the picture book version, however, take the message firmly into the adolescent area, and the retro-American style makes this the 1950s period of Dylan’s own adolescence. While the Illustrator’s Notes at the back are mainly about Dylan and his works (Paul Rogers is obviously a True Fan) they include useful snippets of information about Martin Luther King, the Beatles, Jack Kerouac, and other people whose lives touched Dylan’s in various ways. A good book for giving an older child a picture of life in the 50s and 60s, but, alas, it does not include a CD, so you’ll have to sing it yourself.
Blowin’ in the wind and Man gave names to all the animals do include CDs, Dylan’s original version of the songs in both cases.
This is perhaps the only problem with Blowin’ in the wind (Sterling Children’s Books, 2011). Jon J. Muth’s illustrations, though beautiful as always, seem to be aimed at a younger target audience than the lyrics, especially with Dylan’s gravelly diction included in the mix. The beauty and peace of the illustrations, linked by a paper crane motif, provide a strong contrast to the bitterness of the words— maybe this is the intention. The lyrics, can of course, speak against discrimination or unfair treatment over a much broader spectrum than the song’s original focus on racism, This is made clear in the afternote from music historian Greil Marcus, and keeps this definitive protest song, even wrapped up in a pretty package, as relevant today as it was when first written in 1962. The times may have kept on a-changing, but sadly, half a century on, many attitudes haven’t changed all that much.
Man gave names to all the animals (Sterling, 2010), illustrated by Jim Arnosky, is a much simpler proposition. A 1979 song from Dylan’s brief Christian period, this one is definitely a children’s song, and Arnosky’s illustrations make the picture book version a masterpiece.
The clear bright colours bring to life the ‘land of primeval beauty’ suggested to him by Dylan’s bouncy, light-hearted lyrics. There are hidden animals to find on each page, and an interactive element to make this a great read-aloud. It deserves a place, not just in every Sunday school, but in the bookshelf of every child who loves animals.
Of the three illustrators, I feel that Jim Arnosky is the one who made best use of the picture book medium to bring Bob Dylan’s words to life for a new generation.
review by Cecily
Image by brizzle born and bred
First published in 1954 and long out of print, this new edition was my first introduction to the work of author Palmer Brown. It shares a timeless quality with some of the best fantasy stories, and while there is much that is sweetly quaint about it, the adult characters all had a definite edge to them which made me sit up and take notice. Anna Lavinia herself is as dauntless and practical a child hero as you could hope to meet. Her triumphant return home with long lost father, treasure and knowledge should leave any reader well satisfied.
Even better, another Anna Lavinia adventure is waiting in The silver nutmeg. Palmer Brown’s own delightfully wacky pen and ink drawings set both stories off perfectly.
review by Pamela
Image by Rob Innes
Sojourner Truth, (the name was taken after a religious experience), was the daughter of slave parents and was sold away from her family as a child. Truth’s life of engagement with slavery issues, black civil rights and the rights of women is remarkable in itself but is all the more astonishing when one considers that she died in 1883, - less than 20 years after the end of the American Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves. Even at the time of her death ‘Blacks’ in the United States were a long distance from experiencing the same rights and freedoms as whites. As a black woman, Sojourner might have been expected to be “doubly subservient”. At a time when women and ‘Blacks’ were still regarded and, in many situations, treated as lesser citizens, Truth stood up for what she believed was right.
While as a reader I was left wondering what her stance meant for her in daily life and how she was treated, how people reacted to her.
However Katherine Krohn gives a factual insight into a truly remarkable personality and this is enhanced by the “fast facts”, time line, glossary, recommended internet sites and bibliography. All of which will allow the interested reader to delve more deeply into Sojourners’ amazing life.
review by David
Image by madelinetosh
The title of this picture book sums the message of the story up. This story is told through the eyes of a young boy, Tyson and begins with his reluctance to attend the Anzac Dawn Parade because for him it is all about celebrating war. But after talking with his whānau he realises he doesn’t have the full story and begins to see another side of the story about the importance of this day. Come dawn the next morning, he attends the Parade with his mum and Koro and stood in remembrance of those who died.
Elspeth Alix Batt’s pen and wash illustrations work well for the time periods of the story with every page linked to ANZAC poppies by using their colour. The red against a sombre grey background at the dawn ceremony emphasises the solemn occasion.
This book is also available in English. The te reo Māori version was shortlisted in SLANZA Te Kura Pounamu awards 2012. The late Katerina Mataira won the Te Rōpū Whakahau award Te Tohu Pounamu 2012 for her translation of this book.
review by Alice
Image by striatic
Jane Brocket’s clever concept book about patterns is an exceptionally bright, bold, and colourful one, full of vibrant photographs that demonstrate what patterns are, how they are formed and how they help us to decorate, plan, and predict.
Creative use has been made of familiar items like flowers, vegetables, sweets and socks, before moving through to the more complex patterning details of quilts, tiles, building facades and even shadows.
This title will have children looking around their environment for patterns, and wanting to create their own.
Professor Cook’s dynamite dinners by Lorna Brash is one of a series that uses fun delicious recipes and zany humour to explore the science concepts that happen as food is transformed into something edible.
Each double page spread is a brightly coloured mix of photographs and text boxes showing the recipe, step by step instructions, and the associated science idea. The variety of dinners include Sticky chicky burger stacks, incredible edible bowl soup, tongue-tingling sweet and sour noodles, thirsty couscous cakes and scrambly egg fried rice, plus more. Each title has a glossary, an index, and a list of useful websites to explore further.
Other titles in this series are: Dynamite dinners; Smashing snacks; Mind-blowing bakes; and Fascinating fruits.
review by Karen
Image by photoholic1
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