Tag Archives: children’s books

Review of Carin Berger’s “The Little Yellow Leaf”

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"Yellow Leaf" Cover

The theme of this story is one we have seen many times, but a very important theme nonetheless.

It is a theme that is hard to put into words, but encompasses many things.

The best way I can describe this theme without giving too much away is:

The Little Yellow Leaf” is a wonderful story for reassuring anyone that doing something you’ve never done before is much easier when you’re not alone. To fit with the theme, this story is told in a very soothing, gentle, somewhat heavy style.
Many of the best picture books are both timeless and unique. The theme of this book is timeless. What makes it unique is both the illustrations and the subject/focus. The subject of this story is the leaves, particularly the “little yellow leaf” of the title. Leaves and their trees being the subject allows for illustrations that are relatively simple compared to those found in other children’s books, where the subject is usually a human or animal character.  This does not at all keep the illustrations from being exciting and beautiful.
Since leaves and trees are the focus of the story, they are the main subjects of the illustrations. Many of the illustrations’ embellishments are highly stylized, such as:

"Yellow Leaf" Illustration 1

The sun, beckoning the leaves to fall

"Yellow Leaf" Illustration 2

The moon and the stars

"Yellow Leaf" Illustration 3

The snowflakes

In some illustrations, trees are stylized, too. A group of trees is made to look circular, making it easier for these subjects to act as the focus.  Here is an example:

"Yellow Leaf" Illustration 4

Embellishments that are not stylized include mushrooms, apples, pumpkins, acorns, and geese flying south. The latter are very simply drawn.
At first I thought the illustrations were painted, but as it turns out, they are all created through collages made with different kinds of paper. This includes magazine paper, hence the unrelated text on some of the illustrations. This makes the illustrations even more unique. What’s more, this book is making me really want to try illustrating some of my stories with collages. I think autumn illustrations lend themselves especially well to collages, but maybe I’m biased since I enjoyed doing autumn collages so much as a child.

All in all, this is a wonderful book.  The story made me cry, and the illustrations made me want to expand my horizons.

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Thank you Ajoobacats for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! http://ajoobacatsblog.com/

Rules for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  2. Put the award logo on your blog
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate ten blogs

Here are the ten questions Ajoobacats sent me:

  1. When did you realize you had a passion for reading?

    Probably when I was very young and my parents read books to me. I loved that.

  2. How does blogging enrich your life?

    Blogging enriches my life by helping me make friends with people all over the world and share my writing with them.

  3. Are there any films you’ve seen that are better than the book upon which they are based?

    I think the movie James and the Giant Peach is in some ways better than the book by Roald Dahl (even though I love the book and he’s one of my favorite authors). I also think the newer version of Charlotte’s Web has one component that makes it better than the book or the older movie, which is Fern being much more active in the plot. (Although, again, Charlotte’s Web is still one of my favorite books). I’m also under the impression (though I haven’t finished any of the books) that the movie Leminy Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is better than the series it is based on, mostly because as I understand it, part of the point of the books is to be parodies that they don’t have happy endings. The movie does, which is part of the reason I like it. I’m glad a story with such a dark premise is able to have a happy ending, even when the author doesn’t intend it to.

  4. Can you remember the first fiction book you ever bought?

    I’m guessing it was a book from the “Baby-Sitters Little Sister” series about Karen Brewer (an offshoot from “Babysitters Club”), since those were the very first chapter books I read.

  5. What do you do with your old books?

    I keep them and reread them from time to time. To me, one of the most special things about book characters is that they’ll always be there when you open the book.

  6. If you were to write a book, which genre would you choose?

    Definitely children’s literature, probably middle grade fantasy. As you can probably tell from my previous answers, I love children’s books. I am hoping to be a published children’s author someday.

  7. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

    I’m a cat person. I always have been. I like dogs in theory, but they’re too overstimulating for me in person. I love, though, how calm cats are, and how they purr when I pet them.

  8. What’s your pet peeve when it comes to grammar?

    Getting plurals wrong, like calling feet “feetses” or books “bookses”

  9. What do you do to unwind after a particularly emotional read?

    Unwind? Why should I unwind? I love it when books make me emotional! (Even though making me feel emotional is not hard, whether you’re a book or not). I bask in the feeling when I read an emotional book!

  10. Do you prefer stand alone books or a long running series?

    Stand alone books, though I have enjoyed shorter series before.

Here are ten questions for my nominees to answer:

  1. Do you have any hobbies that you hope will become something more someday? If not, how do you keep yourself from getting too ambitious with your hobbies?
  2. How do you stay in touch with your inner child?
  3. What do you do when none of the books you pick up are appealing, or you can’t get through them?
  4. What was it like having siblings growing up (or being an only child if you were one?)
  5. What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
  6. If you could change one thing you’ve done in the past, what would it be?
  7. If you could make three wishes right now, what would they be?
  8. What’s your favorite fairy tale? Why?
  9. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose? Why?
  10. If you could be any fantasy creature, which one would you choose? Why?

Review of Kalli Dakos’ “If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand”

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I love the poems in Kalli Dakos’ “If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand.” I love how some, like the title poem and “She Should Have Listened To Me,” are funny, while others, like “The Cry Guy,” are sad. All of the poems, though, even the silliest like “If We Had Lunch at the White House,”, are very honest. They illustrate very vividly what it is like to be a child. Some of the poems, in fact, like “They Don’t Do Math in Texas,” are neither sad nor funny. They just paint a very believable picture of childhood.
I don’t, however, think the poems are organized very well. When reading the book from cover to cover, I found it very disorienting to read a silly poem either right after or right before a very sad one. For instance, “A Teacher’s Lament,” a funny poem, comes right after “Were You Ever Fat Like Me?”, a sad, but uplifting poem. Similarly, “Why Can’t A Girl Be the Leader of the Boys?”, another funny poem, comes right before “JT Will Never Be Ten,” which is probably the saddest poem in the book, not to mention one of the saddest children’s poems ever written. The poems in this book would be much easier to enjoy for both children and adults if the book, like other books of poetry, were divided into sections with themes. This would be especially helpful for children, since it would make it easier to know if they’re about to read a funny poem or a sad one. The “Kids Pick the Funniest Poems” volumes are all divided up into themed sections, but this is less necessary for an anthology where all the poems are funny. I think themed sections are even more important for collections and anthologies whose poems have a variety of different moods.
That being said, the poems in this book are wonderful. Any adult who wants to explore his or her memories of being a child should read them, and they could probably get just about any elementary-aged child liking poetry. Please check out the book at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Here-Please-Raise-Your-ebook/dp/B004A90BXI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421530654&sr=1-1&keywords=if+you%27re+not+here+please+raise+your+hand+poems+about+school