Prairie Town

March 11, 2009

prairieBonnie Geisert has written four picture books based on various types of towns in the United States.  Each one was illustrated by her husband Arthur Geisert.  The first, published in 1998, is Prairie Town.  Next came River Town, which was followed by Mountain Town and Desert Town.

riverAlthough I haven’t read Desert Town yet, I expect it to have the same style as the others.  In each one, Geisert uses simple narration to describe the town over the course of a year and explain how the seasons affect it and the people living there.  Her husband’s birds’-eye-view illustrations make readers feel they are silent, secret observers.

mountainThese books are great for depicting towns and people across the United States.  They are realistic examples of specific parts of America.  Although they’d be great for geography lessons, these books work best in one-on-one reading.  The details in the pictures are best seen up close.  With so much detail in the pictures, however, the story is new every time it’s read.

desertAt the end of each book, Geisert also includes a note to mention events that happened throughout the year (a wedding, carnival, dedication, etc.) that the reader may have missed.  It’s fun to go back through the pages of the story to find evidence of those events in the town.  These are definite reads for anyone interested in small towns across the country.


Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little

January 5, 2009

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is a cute story.  The nine-year-old main character has to read Stuart Little before the first day of school – the next day.  She’s carried it around with her all summer “in case of in-between” and although she loves to read, “Moxy liked to read what she wanted to read and not what someone told her to read.”  I don’t know anyone who can’t relate.  In her attempt to put off reading Stuart Little, Moxy gets sidetracked deliberately or unintentionally and ends up getting herself in trouble.

This 2007 book by Peggy Gifford is a very quick read.  That’s partly due to the extremely brief chapters – 42 chapters in only 92 pages.  Gifford clearly displays her fun writing style in each chapter title…”Chapter 5 In Which the Word ‘Consequences’ First Appears,” “Chapter 18 In Which Moxy Has the Most Brilliant Idea of Her Life,” “Chapter 34 In Which the Screen Door Slams and Dum…da dum-dum…”

I loved finding out what Moxy was going to do next.  While reading, two things came to mind that reminded me of Moxy.
1 — the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and sequels)
2 — the comic strip The Family Circus where son Billy went everywhere else before going home

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is also illustrated with photographs by Valorie Fisher, which add a unique flavor.  I will definitely be reading Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes to see what other kind of distractions Moxy finds.


Encyclopedia Brown

April 17, 2008

The first book in this series by Donald J. Sobol was released in 1963 but reissued in 1982, which allowed for a new generation of readers to meet the famous boy sleuth. The books center around a young boy who solves crimes in his hometown for customers during the summer when he runs a detective agency (only 25¢!) or for his father, the chief of police. Each book features 10 short mysteries for Encyclopedia and readers to solve and has a few reoccurring characters – Bugs Meany, the neighborhood bully who is often the reason for Encyclopedia’s many cases; and Sally Kimball, Encyclopedia’s feisty partner who has knocked out Bugs and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

I used to read this series when I was younger, and they are still enjoyable as an adult. Since the books were written in the ’60s, the language can be dated, but this usually just adds to the charm and humor. This series is definitely worth a try for fans of mysteries.


Our 50 States

April 16, 2008

This book by Lynne Cheney is filled with interesting information about all 50 states. The book has a loose plot of a family traveling throughout the entire country, but with each page dedicated to a state and jam-packed with pictures and trivia, the book certainly does not read like a story. The family vacation concept does pop up on each page though; if you’re paying attention you will find the two kids sending their grandma or friends emails and text messages about the exciting things they see or learn. Our 50 States is a great way to learn about geography and the diverse culture of the United States. With so much information on each page, this is definitely a book where each look may provide you with something new.

Mrs. Cheney has also written four other books for children, including A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women. Each of her books for children includes an aspect of American history, and most, including Our 50 States and A is for Abigail are illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and feature fun, colorful illustrations.