Abe’s Honest Words

April 13, 2009

abeshonestwordsAbe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln is the second picture book by Doreen Rappaport that I have reviewed on this blog, the first being Martin’s Big Words.  As good as that one was, I think the Lincoln biography is even better.   This one, unlike the last one, is illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  The pictures are beautifully realistic – large and filled with detail.  Rappaport’s words are mixed with quotations from Lincoln.  They’re easily distinguished from one another yet flow perfectly together.

This is a great biography.  While reading it, I felt as if I were listening to a documentary and hearing the narrator speak, offering background, before Lincoln’s own voice came in.  The book goes through a quick rundown of Lincoln’s life.  Although it doesn’t go into many real details, overall it is extremely well done and should definitely be one of the frontrunners in the new batch of books on Lincoln to come out over the past year.  The end of the book offers a timeline of important dates, as well as a suggested bibliography.

For more nonfiction books, check out Nonfiction Monday Round-Up at Abby (the) Librarian!

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Bats at the Library

December 23, 2008

Two batwings up for Bats at the Library, written and illustrated by Brian Lies.  It came out this year and has been on lots of best-books lists.  The story, written with fun rhythm and rhyme, is super cute:  Bats discover that a librarian has left a window open to the public library, and since they love to learn, they fly in to read books all night.  The pictures are beautiful, and there’s lots of clever literary references, particularly when the bats get “lost” in the book during storytime.

Brian Lies has several other books out, including another featuring the friendly bats – Bats at the Beach.  I will definitely be checking that one out soon!


Old Penn Station

March 23, 2008

William Low’s Old Penn Station is beautifully illustrated. The story presents the history of the station as if it were telling the life of a living, breathing person. The realistic, detailed paintings further bring the station to life. Old Penn Station romanticizes the older way of life, when trains were the primary means of transportation and grand stations were filled with travelers. It’s hard to miss the message of losing the past and “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” The book feels more like a coffee-table book than a children’s book, but older kids who enjoy trains, art, or history might appreciate it.


The Arrival

March 5, 2008

Of the 25 children’s books I read for Resources for Children this week, The Arrival by Shaun Tan was my favorite. As soon as I figure out where Barnes and Noble shelves it, I’ll own a copy. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel; the story of a father and husband traveling to a foreign place to make a better life for his family is told through beautiful sepia pencil drawings. Tan alternates between large drawings and series of smaller “film strip”-like images to capture the feeling of alienation, confusion, and longing.

Although The Arrival is essentially a picture book, the concept and subtle detail of the drawings may be best for slightly older ages. Since its publication in 2007, it has already received numerous honors, including New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007, Horn Book Fanfare Book of 2007, and ALA’s Notable Children’s Book of 2008.

Rating (out of 5): 5+