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Published: Sunday, 7/3/2011

Mazza Summer Institute celebrates children's literature

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 Melissa Cain, professor at the University of Findlay.

The University of Findlay will be hosting the 2011 Mazza Summer Institute July 11-15. The author/artists presenting are Harry Bliss, Nick Bruel, Richard Cowdrey, Candace Fleming, Chris Gall, Cheryl Harness, Laura Jacobsen, John Manders, Eric Rohmann, Anita Silvey, Seymour Simon, and James Warhola.  Besides the presentations by these author/artists, there will be pull-out sessions led by teachers/librarians with ideas for the classroom.

Please consider being a part of this wonderful experience. For more information or to register, contact Ben Sapp, director, at 419-434-5343 or sapp@findlay.edu.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming. Illustrated with photographs. Random House. $18.99. Ages 8-12.

Everyone knows how Amelia Earhart's attempt to fly around the world ended, but Fleming makes it compelling by alternating the story of her disappearance with the story of how she got to that point. Historic photographs and additional facts about the history of aviation help readers create vivid images of those early days of flying. Fleming characterizes Erhart as a feminist and celebrity, but not the most careful pilot.

Bad Kitty Meets The Baby. By Nick Bruel. Illustrated by the author. Roaring Brook Press. $13.99. Ages 9-12.

This is the latest book about Bad Kitty, who, when in a temper, looks like he is being electrocuted. Bad Kitty has just adjusted to his family's new dog when they adopt a baby. His kitty friends come over to meet the new beast and decide she must be a kitty. They hold a Pussycat Olympics to prove it. This funny, heavily illustrated novel should appeal to even reluctant readers.

Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot. By Anita Silvey. Illustrated by Wendell Minor. Clarion. $17.99. Ages 4-8.

Henry Knox was at George Washington's side during all the major battles of the Revolutionary War and as he crossed the Delaware. His greatest contribution was bringing 12,000 pounds of heavy artillery across mountains, snow, and ice from Fort Ticonderoga to fortifications he built to defend Boston. When the British saw the artillery in place, they abandoned the city. Minor's textured paintings reveal the drama of this patriot's story.

Global Warming. By Seymour Simon. Illustrated with photographs. Smithsonian/Collins. $17.99. Ages 5-9.

After a difficult winter and a spring full of catastrophic weather events, people may wonder about global warming. Simon, one of the country's most admired science writers, explains the greenhouse effect, causes of greenhouse gas, and the impact of global warming on glaciers, ice caps, coral reefs, and animals that depend upon stable natural environments. Beautiful photographs illustrate not only the issue, but also possible solutions.

Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex. By Lisa McClatchy. Illustrated by John Manders. Random House. $16.99. Ages 4-8.

Columbus resident McClatchy presents dinosaur-lover Erin, who is determined to invite Tyrannosaurus Rex to her sixth birthday party. The story is her letter to him, through which she outlines all of the fun things he can do with her friends. Manders' lively paintings, often from interesting perspectives, bring the adventures -- from breaking a pinata to sliding down the dinosaur's tail -- to life and reveal a surprise ending.

Substitute Creacher. By Chris Gall. Illustrated by the author. Little Brown. $16.99. Ages 4-8.

Not since James Marshall's Viola Swamp has there been such a wacky substitute teacher. This one is a one-eyed, green, octopus-like creacher, hired to make Ms. Jenkins' troublemaking class behave. Readers will surely shiver and giggle as he tells what happened to former students who ate glue, played pranks, or daydreamed, though his own story beats all. Gall's dynamic cartoons feature dot patterns reminiscent of early comic books.



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