This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by four area teachers of children's literature. Today's reviews are by Dr. Melissa Cain of the University of Findlay.
The Mazza Summer Institute, to be held July 22-26 at the University of Findlay, will showcase several well-known writers and illustrators of children's books. Here are a few of the latest works by this year's guests.
THE SAILOR WHO CAPTURED THE SEA AND OTHER CELTIC TALES. Written and illustrated by Deborah Norse Lattimore. HarperTrophy. Ages 7-10. $4.25, paperback edition.
Lattimore is a folklorist known for her colorful depictions of ancient cultures. The black line drawings illustrating these three original short stories, while not as lavish as in previous books, convey an appropriate spirit of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The three stories are original, drawn from the rich legends of the British Isles, and their ghosts, knights, and shape-shifters should appeal to the fourth grade intended audience.
GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL WAR. Written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness. Simon & Schuster. Ages 7-10. $17.
The ghost of Willie Lincoln takes a modern girl on an informative and interesting tour of the Civil War. Full-color illustrations of people and events are jammed with extra details. Maps show where the battles occurred and conversation bubbles tell readers what people on both sides of the conflict were saying and thinking. The timeline format lays out the Civil War so that it is understandable to both children and adults.
TEN IN A BED. Written and illustrated by Jan Ormerod. DK Publishing, 2001. Ages 2-5. $9.95.
This is not a typical version of the well-loved song. Amelia has a bed full of stuffed toys. As they leave the bed one at a time, her play with them mirrors the care Mommy and Daddy give their baby. Warm illustrations depict a day in the life of a loving family. The right margin shows toddlers who is left in the bed.
THAT SUMMER. By Tony Johnston. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Harcourt. Ages 7-up. $16.
A typical lazy summer for two brothers is changed forever when they discover that the younger one, Joey, is dying. Johnston's poetic prose fully explores the emotions of each family member as they work through their grieving by making a memory quilt. The illustrations alternate between full-color depictions of the events of the summer and halftones on gray watercolor paper that look like old photographs in a family album. The courage and determination of the entire family are an inspiration.
I INVITED A DRAGON TO DINNER, AND OTHER POEMS TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUR LOUD. Illustrated by Chris Demarest. Philomel, Ages 10 and up. $16.99.
The poems in this book were written for a contest designed to find fresh talent in writing children's poetry. They are illustrated in Demarest's lively cartoon-style watercolors. Not since Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein have we seen such a collection of kid-pleasing, purely fun poetry. The reader is left hoping there is a similar contest next year.
THEY CALLED HER MOLLY PITCHER. By Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Cynthia Von Buhler. Knopf, 2002. Ages 8 and up. $15.95.
Probably best known as an illustrator, Anne Rockwell demonstrates her writing talent in this story about the life of Mary Hays, the brave woman who, in 100-degree weather, dodged bullets to bring cold water to the Continental Army. Then, after her husband was wounded, she took over his job of firing a cannon, for which General George Washington made her a sergeant. Oil paintings on stretched linen canvas were finished with a crackle glaze and burnished in sepia tones to give them the appearance of age, which perfectly complements the legendary story.
For further information on the institute, call Ben Sapp at 419-434-5343.