The Book Bag, Books for Ages 5 to 8 (September/October 2008)

It was hard to keep this to a small pile. There have been lots of great books from our reviewers this time.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape written by Janet Ruth Heller, illustrated by Ben Hodson. The moon loved to dance. She was full of happiness, until one day she crossed in front of the sun. The moon was deeply hurt by the sun’s mean words, and she began shrinking. It wasn’t until a comet friend encouraged her to visit Round Arms that she understood how the world appreciated her. “This is a nice twist on the traditional folktale about the moon. The illustrations add to distinguishing the book, as the moon is dressed in colorful garb. We also like the lesson that even on a bad day, there are people who love you, and that love should fill your heart.”(Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2006)

Lily and the Paper Man written by Rebecca Upjohn, illustrated by Renne Benoit. Lily loved walking home from school. One day she bumped into a man selling a newspaper. He was not very neat, and Lily was scared. Scared enough that she didn’t want to walk home anymore. On the day of the first snow, Lily sees the Paper Man standing in the cold with no socks. She can’t forget the image and decides she has to get over her fear. “This is an exceptional story. It effectively introduces personal hardship, empathy, and kindness without overplaying any one of those themes. Like Lily, our daughter was initially put off by the Paper Man. But then he became a regular friend at bedtime.” (Second Story Press, 2007)

Cat Nights written and illustrated by Jane Manning. Now that Felicity is 263, she can grow her first wart and FINALLY turn herself into a cat. You can have fun eight times, but use it nine times and you will be a cat forever. “We love this story. Even though this looks like a Halloween story, it is a book you can read all year round. Felicity is a girl who happens to be a witch. Felicity has her dreams and when she gets the chance, she makes them come true. What sets this story apart though, is how her cousins deal with her. They don’t think she knows what she’s doing, and they try to make her conform to their wishes. The adults learn an important lesson, too.” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Magic Trixie written and illustrated by Jill Thompson. Magic Trixie is not happy. First, her baby sister Abby Cadabra seems to have all the luck (and the attention). THEN she told her friends at Monstersorri School that she would have something new for Show and Tell. Friday is almost here and she still hasn’t figured out something new. “Disguised as a graphic novel, Magic Trixie delivers a universal story. The author does a great job adding contemporary style and reference to the tale, with humorous character exchanges and clever illustrations. ” (HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Max and the Doglins written and illustrated by Amanda Montgomery-Higham. One morning, while out in the barnyard, Max (a dog) heard Beryl (a hen) making lots of noise. When she left the hen house, he ran up to see what was going on. Beryl had laid an egg. Try as he might, he couldn’t keep away, and gulp! he ate the egg. This went on for days … until the Doglins moved in with Max and decided they should have Beryl’s eggs. This is a well-crafted story. “The story’s lesson is an important one, and the way the author brought Max’s thinking back around is very clever…The illustrations are wonderful, and Max’s face is very expressive. We loved this book.” (Child’s Play, 2008)

It’s always a great day when we get a Just One More Book! podcast. These past two months, Mark and Andrea have had some wonderful interviews (this one with Jon Scieszka), some tips and tricks (Pondering Self Publishing) and the always-terrific book reviews. We highly recommend that you sign up as a regular listener. You can hear just interviews, just book reviews, or the Review of the Week. Oh, and it’s free!

For this book bag, Andrea has selected books for Remembrance Day, also known as Veteran’s Day (November 11). We’ll include the picture books in this Book Bag and the Chapter Books in the 9 to 12 post.

The Donkey of Gallipoli (A True Story of Courage in World War I) written by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac. Deceptively simple looking folk art illustrations, uncluttered narration and sparse, intimate utterings deliver some of the dark, disturbing details of war in this eye-opening, true tale of courage, carnage and camaraderie. (Candlewick Press, 2008)

A Poppy is To Remember written by Heather Patterson, illustrated by Ron Lightburn. Softly spellbinding words and illustrations relay the story behind the poem “In Flanders Fields” and the commemorative wearing of poppies. Our girls are mesmerized by this book. (North Winds Press, 2004)

Gleam and Glow written by Jean Little. Beautifully bound in a soft unevenly edged journal and told with humour, innocence, intimacy and affection, the daily entries of a fictional twelve year old disclose the spellbinding details of life during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19. (Scholastic, 2007)

The Cello of Mr. O written by Jane Cutler, illustrated by Greg Couch. This straightforward story of hardship and hope reminds us that war may not deter human weakness but neither can it deter human strength. (Penguin USA, 2004)

One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II written and illustrated by Lita Judge. Eye-opening scatterings of yellowed newspaper footprints, handwritten lists and aged, intimate snapshots make vivid this beautifully told true story of hardship, generosity and the pulling together of communities torn to opposite sides of war. (Hyperion Books, 2007)

Seven Brave Women written by Betsy Hearne, illustrated by Bethanne Anderson. Radiant with peace and perseverance, this beautiful string of family remembrances gently sips and savours the contributions of seven remarkably unremarkable women. (Greenwillow Books, 1997)

And to Think That We Thought That We’d Never Be Friends written by Mary Ann Hoberman. Zesty, Seussian rhyme and illustrations hurl us to a crescendo of hardcore harmony. This book’s message is simple: Peace is a choice. illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Dragonfly Books, 2003)

Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair written by Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Mary GrandPre. Warmth, humour and fond remembrance waft through this beautifully worded and evocatively illustrated exploration of a young girl’s family tree — and the traits, trinkets and togetherness that sustain it. (Pelican Publishing Company, 2007)

One response to “The Book Bag, Books for Ages 5 to 8 (September/October 2008)

  1. Dear Friends,

    Thank you for posting in your September/October 2008 issue your review of my award-winning fiction picture book for kids about bullying, _How the Moon Regained Her Shape_ (Sylvan Dell 2006). I really appreciate your time and effort.

    Best wishes for 2009!


    Janet Heller, Ph.D.
    English Dept.
    Western Michigan University

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