Friday, October 26, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews 16

Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of the Olympic Gold
by Deloris Jordan, illustrated by Barry Root
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
May 2012

Michael Jordan's mother offers her perspective on Michael Jordan's athletic success in this lengthy picture book. Her emphasis on "homework first!" felt a bit didactic, and seeing his Olympic dream far outweigh thoughts of a pro-basketball career seemed a little artificial, but no matter. Michael Jordan fans and kids looking for sports books will gobble this one up. Full-color watercolor and gouache illustrations by Barry Root (known for his book covers on sports chapter books by Tiki Barber) elevate would could have been an otherwise dull read.

I borrowed this book from the library.

My Teacher
by James Ransome
Dial Books
April 2012

"Maybe that's why she keeps teaching"

Old enough to retire, and having taught three generations of students at the school, a little girl's teacher tirelessly continues to charm, delight, inform and inspire her students. Keep an eye out for the Folkmanis bee puppet which makes an appearance on the 3rd page! The story is long, and a bit on the overly-sentimental side, but I'd bet there are plenty of educators who won't be able to read this without getting a little verklempt. The illustrations appear to be watercolor and pencil, and portray a diverse, friendly urban neighborhood.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Martha Bakes a Cake
by Susan Meddaugh
HMH Books
April 2012

Martha (of Martha Speaks fame) stars in this beginning reader title. Endpapers feature scrambled alphabet soup letters. This is an adaptation from the Martha Speaks TV show. When Helen (the little girl that Martha lives with) is bummed about not winning a contest, Martha takes it into her head to bake a cake to cheer her up. Martha asks for help from the neighbor and the postman, but she and Skits, the large brown dog of the house, do most of the work themselves. Predictably, they come up with a lumpy, messy cake, littered with dog hair. Thank goodness dad has brought home a fresh cake from the bakery! Short, static sentences that do not use contractions make this an approachable book for young readers.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Marley: The Dog Who Ate My Homework
by John Grogan, Richard Cowdrey and Rick Whipple
HarperCollins
May 2012

This book is very typical of any of the books in the Marley beginning reader series. Marley gets a little carried away and eats Cassie's science project: a mobile of the planets made of fruit. What kind of dog eats fruit, I ask you? Anyway, just when everyone thinks that Marley's ruined everything, Marley saves the day, by bringing the family balls to make the solar system with instead. Cue the 1950's laugh-track! The watercolor illustrations featuring a happy Caucasian family, wearing conservative clothes (especially Cassie's pinafore dress) give this a mildly Dick and Jane feel.

I borrowed this book from the library.

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