John, Paul, George & Ben

April 10, 2008

This book by Lane Smith was easily my favorite from the selection for class last week. It combines history, Beatles references, and humor to create a very entertaining book. I highly, highly recommend it. Actually, the more I read Lane Smith books, whether they are his own or an effort with Jon Scieszka, the more I love his work. Not only are these books fun for kids, but also for adults who read with kids (or just for the fun of it on their own). This story shows a look at five American leaders as children and how their actions as children may have impacted them as adults.

Like with Martin’s Big Words, Scholastic also put out a video for this book. The video is definitely just as good as the book. It works in some new animation as well as includes music that sounds very similar to Beatles songs. James Earl Jones also narrates. The video is great to watch if you have the opportunity, otherwise check out the book. It will absolutely make you laugh.

Here’s an advertisement for the book and video.

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Martin’s Big Words: Video/DVD

April 9, 2008

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last week, I thought I’d revisit Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Scholastic released a video version of the book, which I think contains different aspects. Instead of adding new animation for the video, Scholastic decided to give movement to the pictures from the book. The video zooms and pans across a page to make it appear as if the pictures are actually moving. This gives more detail to the pictures. The video also uses a narrator (actor Michael Clarke Duncan) but occasionally includes text that moves quite a bit on the page. Some kids who are learning to read may find this distracting.

Overall, I think the video is a good adaptation of the book, and it’s nice that Scholastic released it as part of their video collection.  It includes a portion of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in his own words. If you want to view, listen, or read the entire speech (which I highly recommend), go here.