Shining Willows 2012

The busy beaver by Nicholas Oldland 

Beaver is always busy but rarely careful.  He makes a big mess of things in the woods. When his carelessness causes an accident in which he is the main victim, he learns his lesson. Is it soon enough to turn things around?

Nicholas Oldland’s beaver and friends are a delightful crew. The story is a bit pat but the humour keeps things lively. A picture book story for K-2 which may be enjoyed by older readers as well. Highlights the themes of responsibility, caring for the environment and the art of apology.  A decent addition for the K-6 library.

Rating: good

Ella May and the Wishing Stone by Cary Fagan and Geneviève Côté

Ella May finds a special stone at the beach and brings it home. Her wishing stone creates a stir among her friends and neighbours and soon she is wondering if having a wishing stone is what is cracked up to be.

Cary Fagan and Geneviève Côté team up to create a light and enjoyable story on friendship and sharing. Although the topic lends itself to didacticism, Fagan manages to avoid the pitfalls of being preachy.  A cheerful addition for the K-8 library. Well-worth purchasing.

Rating: very good

The Flute by Rachna Gilmore 

A baby girl is born beside a rushing river under the light of the moon.  Her mother names her “Chandra” after the moon which watched over her birth.  The moon keeps watch as the girl grows and life brings challenges.  When it appears things can not get worse, the girl experiences care from an unknown source.  Could it be the Moon?

The Flute is a picture book for older readers.  It has denser text and harsh life experiences.  It has the feel of a folk tale. Gilmore’s text is simple but rich which sounds paradoxical but fits. The illustrations by Pulak Biswas compliment the cultural overtones of the text.  A worthy addition for the K-8 library which will likely be appreciated by teachers and older students although it may be used in earlier years when studying Canada’s diversity and folk tales.

Rating: very good

I know here  by Laurel Croza and Matt James

Moving can be a disorienting experience and difficult for families. “I know here” relates the story of a girl who needs to move to a new place and is afraid of what is coming and leaving everything she knows behind.

Laurel Croza’s story is evocative and heart-warming. Matt James’ illustrations are breezy and child-like; matching the text and tenor of the story.  This story will speak to Canadian newcomers and families on the move for work. A great addition to Canadian literature for children and any library collection.

Rating: excellent

In the Bag!  by Monica Kulling and David Parkins

In the late 1800’s, women were not inventors, at least not very many.  Margaret Knight was not content to be an ordinary woman.  She looked at her work and its problems with an inventor’s eye and thought about what could be done.

Biography can be dull but Monica Kulling brings to life the story of Margaret Knight while still letting the facts of her life uphold the story.  David Parkins illustrations are detailed and full of character.  They bring richness to the text and information collected by Kulling.

This non-fiction selection is a great addition to any library.  Teachers will find the material helpful for units on early North America, and inventors and inventions.  Definitely worth purchasing for a K-8 collection.

Rating:  excellent

Loon by Susan Vande Griek and Karen Reczuch

Early in June baby loons hatch.  Over the next year, they grown and learn and mature.  Susan Vande Griek tells the life cycle of  the loon in this beautiful poetic picture book.  Karen Reczuch’s paintings are lovely.  The information about loons is detailed and descriptive.  I wish there might have been a way to tell more about how people can put baby loons at risk when they are hatchlings but perhaps it would have broken the poetry of the telling.  A book worth having as loons are such a well-known symbol of Canada.

Rating: very good

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid captures the varied seasons and shapes of trees in this visual and textual poem.   I approached this book with caution knowing that perhaps it got chosen because the committee were fans of her work but this one belongs on the list.  My only critique is of the text about mid way, it seems to lose flow for a time, still this is a wonderful, beautiful picture book.  I will be interested to see if children love it as much as I do. Worth adding to your school library or home collection.

Rating: excellent

Small Saul by Ashley Spires

Small Saul was born for the sea when the Navy won’t take him. He counts on pirates to make him at home.  Things don’t work out quite as well as Saul would hope as he isn’t tough and crazy about treasure. Still Saul and his pirate friends learn that all kinds of skills and aptitudes can be appreciated.

Ashley Spires has written and illustrated this light-hearted and whimsical story of a boy finding his way and learning how to make a contribution. Although the book could be used to teach lessons about appreciating each others differences, it is not preachy or didactic. A good addition to the K-8 library.

Rating: very good

Tooter’s Stinky Wish by Brian Cretney and Peggy Collins

Tooter is a skunk with a problem.  Tooter can not make stinky spray.  After much trial and error, research and thought, Tooter is ready to give up.  Then Tooter meets a bug.  Will his new friend be able to help him?

Brian Cretney’s story is light-hearted and somewhat in the style of Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel.   Peggy Collins’s illustrations take the story from average to very good.  I found the story a bit didactic and will be interested to see how children like it.  I think it is a story which may play very well.

Rating: very good

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Filed under children's lit, education, library, reading

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