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Archive for April, 2013

April 30, 2013

May: Celebrating Grandparents

May is Older Americans Month.  While the purpose of this celebration is to honor older Americans’ contribution to their communities, it’s also a good time for the young to think about their relationship with their grandparents.  There is no better way than through books.  Throughout history, elder members of families have been the source of wisdom.  In some cases, grandparents were and are the primary caregivers to children.  As we think about older citizens in our society, let’s not forget the role of grandparents in other cultures.  The respect of the elder may well be a value that unites cultures.  Many schools celebrate Grandparents Day in May or other times during the school year.  Public libraries have a role too.  Here are programming suggestions, along with titles from Random House that focus on grandparents:

Ask the very young what they call their grandparents.  Read the following books to spark this conversation:

      I Call My Grandpa Papa by Ashley Wolff

      I Call My Grandma Nana by Ashley Wolff

Invite grandparents to the library to read to children.  Encourage them to select a book that is a favorite among the children in their family.  Or maybe they choose to share a favorite poem from their youth.

Ask children to share something they like to do with their grandparents.  Perhaps it’s a craft activity, gardening, a sports event, reading books or magazines, playing games, singing or listening to music, watching television, etc. Then have them locate a book that they could recommend to their grandparents about their favorite activity.  Suggestions from Random House include:

      Gardening – Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown (picture book)

      Singing – Wheels on the Bus by Raffi (picture book)

             Picnics – Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (picture book)

      Sports – You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? by Johah Winter & illus. by Andre Carrilho (picture book)

      Cooking -  The Magic Cake Shop by Meika Hashimoto & illus. by Josee Masse (middle grade)

Suggest that readers select a favorite book to share with a grandparent.  Let them know that if their grandparents live in another city or state that they might share the book via telephone, email or a letter. Then have readers write a one-page paper titled “The Book I Most Want to Share with My Grandmother or Grandfather.”

Introduce books where grandparents play a major role in a family.  Engage readers in a discussion about the relationship between the main character and her grandparent; how the entire family views the grandparent; what the main character learns from their grandparent.  Book suggestions from Random House include:

      Estie the Mensch by Jane Kohuth & illus. by Rosanne Litzinger (picture book)

            Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman & illus. by Stephen Gammell (picture book)

      Alida’s Song by Gary Paulsen (middle grade)

      Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (middle grade)

      Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White (middle grade)

      Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank (middle grade)

         Crow by Barbara Wright (middle grade)

      Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (middle grade)

      Journey by Patricia MacLachlan

      Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall (middle grade)

      Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff (middle grade)

      The Lost Songs by Caroline B. Cooney

      The Secret of Gumbo Grove by Eleanora Tate (middle grade)

      The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle grade)

Whittington by Alan Armstrong (middle grade)

Suggest books where the main character is searching for a grandparent, or a surrogate grandparent.  Suggestions from Random House include:

      Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier (middle grade)

      Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff (middle grade)

      The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (young adult)

Ask young adults to read a book that reveals the role of grandparents in other cultures.  Sponsor a panel discussion titled “Global Grandparents: The Similarities and Differences of Grandparents Across Cultures.”  Suggestions from Random House include:

            The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staple

            Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry




April 30, 2013


★ The life of the classical Chinese painter Wu Daozi is imagined as a magical artistic adventure.

Look’s text is brief and impressionistic, conveying with quick brushstrokes the mythical genius of the artist and his own wonder at the miraculous work of his brush. She begins with Wu Daozi as a boy studying calligraphy but discovering that his brush has other plans: “Each day something new and surprising dripped out of Daozi’s brush,” as lively lines turn into trees, a fish, a horse. So’s friendly ink-and-watercolor paintings are a mix of graceful lines and careful detail, conveying a world in motion. The black and white of Wu Daozi’s classical-style paintings as she depicts them come alive in bright colors: A butterfly, a camel, a flying dragon fill with color and flap or step off the wall as Wu Daozi finishes painting them. A seated Buddha smiles in glorious colors as Daozi adds a last touch of his brush. Brush strokes emphasize and echo the liveliness of Wu Daozi’s work in the flying sleeves of his robe and a swirling shock of his black hair. An author’s note gives Wu Daozi’s dates and explains his importance to Chinese art, including the fact that none of his 300 frescoes have survived; a note about the legend that Wu Daozi possibly cheated death by painting himself into paradise follows the last enchanting illustration.

A cheerful introduction not only to Wu Daozi, but to the power of inspiration. (Picture book. 4-9) – Kirkus Reviews


★ Swirling back through the mists of Chinese history, collaborators Look and So bring children the story of Wu Daozi, an artist with magic in his brush. As a boy in the late seventh century, Daozi was taught calligraphy—at least the monks attempted to teach him. But instead of letters, worms and horse tails fall from his brush, and when he takes his art into the city, his flowers and clouds are so full of vivacity and life that people from all over come to admire his work. But what’s this? As Daozi grows older, he’s startled to see the butterflies he draws take flight from the paper. A camel walks away from the wall. His crowds of followers dissipate, perhaps because they don’t believe the art has come to life, but eventually, a new generation brings him to such heights of popularity that the emperor invites Daozi to paint a magnificent mural on a palace wall—one that takes him the rest of his life. The author’s note calls this picture book a reimagined life of the painter who brought spirit and motion to Chinese art. Certainly, Look and So have dipped deep into the well of artistry and creativity to produce a book that captures Daozi’s essence. The richly colored artwork is stunning in both its scope and particulars; inky calligraphy brushstrokes accent people and places. And the words are equally well chosen, such as when the elderly Dazoi is “drenched in the moon’s silver tears.” This combination of talents happily never forgets its audience in an offering as child appealing and whimsical as it is handsome. – Booklist 


★ Lenore Look, illus. by Meilo So. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-87001-9

Look (the Alvin Ho series) blends mystical realism and biography to create a magical portrait of one of ancient China’s famous artists, Wu Daozi. As a boy during the T’ang Dynasty in the seventh century, Daozi is unable to conform in calligraphy class. Instead, “His straight lines splintered into trees. His hooks caught fish. His dots burst into eyes.” Later known for his dynamic murals, Daozi paints subjects so realistically they seem to come alive (“Daozi’s birds fluttered away. His horses galloped into the mountains”). The young artist’s cherubic face with big, black eyes and plump, rosy cheeks will pull readers in at the first page; the brisk narrative and vibrant spreads will keep them reading. So’s (Water Sings Blue) breezy ink-and-watercolor illustrations evoke Daozi’s flowing style. In some scenes, her naïve paintings showcase detailed patterns and myriad colors, like the spread of a mural unveiling featuring vivid banners, buildings, musicians, and dancers. Other spreads of Daozi practicing his craft alone employ a more limited color palette. A fine biographical tribute to the enchanting power of art. Ages 4–8. (June) – Publishers Weekly


★ Young Wu Daozi tries to please his calligraphy teacher, but his brush drips out squiggles and twists and dots, his lines turn into trees, his hooks catch fish, and “his dots burst into eyes, then pigs, and monkeys.” Wu Daozi paints on walls in temples and teahouses, and even the great wall surrounding the city. His work becomes known and admired throughout China. One day he paints a butterfly so beautiful and delicate that it appears to be real. When the wind blows, the wing moves, just a little, and the butterfly suddenly flits off. Soon everything he creates either flutters, gallops, or rolls away. No one believes that his paintings come to life, except the children. Then one day, the emperor asks Daozi if he would create a masterpiece on a wall of the palace. Stunning ink, watercolor, and pencil artwork brings to life ancient China and the beautiful children who remained faithful to Daozi. Highly detailed and vibrantly colored, the illustrations render Daozi’s paintings with brilliance. Children will appreciate the imaginative aspect of the text as well as the inspiring story of a boy who follows his dreams. Inviting and appealing, this title serves as a great addition to a unit on ancient China or Chinese Art.–Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH – School Library Journal