Review: Gwendy’s Button Box

Gwendy's Button Box
Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eerie, creepy, melancholy, claustrophobic. A good old fashioned mixed-blessing Twilight Zone type read. I haven’t read much Stephen King, (I hate to be scared), but I HAD to try a Castle Rock book because Hulu might be filming a Castle Rock television series in my town!!!!!

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Review: 7 Ate 9

7 Ate 9
7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Capital I the private eye takes a case from scared number 6: 7 is missing and so is 9. Word on the street is that 7 ate 9, and the worry is that 6 will be the next victim. What follows is full of numerical puns and wordplay (the waitress had the scoop; the 8 hangs out on the corner of 2nd Ave & 4th Street; finally I put two and two together) which will be fun for the savvy young reader and his or her adult story time companion. I walks the city streets meeting 8, B, 11, and 5, and the mystery is solved with an “A-ha!” that is fun and clever. The noir private detective setting and some of the turns of phrase may be lost on the little ones who pick this up, but the colored pencil and watercolor illustrations are spot-on evocative of 1940s city life.

Recommended for children who love numbers, elementary math teachers, writing teachers wanting to illustrate colloquialisms.

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Review: Water’s Children: Celebrating the Resource That Unites Us All

Water's Children: Celebrating the Resource That Unites Us All
Water’s Children: Celebrating the Resource That Unites Us All by Angèle Delaunois
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Each page of this book features a child or children in a different part of the world expressing what water means to him or her. There are warm climate settings, cold climate settings, town, farm, forest and desert settings. There is a balance of boys and girls depicted. Most are interacting with the water (or its products). Each page also shows how to write “water is life” in the language the child would speak in that region.

The first page has an unseen person asking “Child of here, child of there, child of water . . . tell me about the water you see, the water you drink, the water that bathes you.” On the pages that follow, children answer. This is a perfect set-up for a discussion during story time, a writing activity for older elementary students, a thoughtful art activity for children of any age. What is water? How do you use it? What does it mean in your life?

The text itself is poetic and dreamy. On repeated readings, it is almost a lullaby and could become a bedtime story.

There are different colors and moods on every page. On some, the children look happy. Some are playing and some are working. Some pages are gloomy. Young readers will understand, through the text and illustrations, that some children struggle to get the water they need to drink and produce food.

Gerard Frischeteau is famous as an animator and commercial artist, and the illustrations here do have the feel of television animation. It’s up to each reader whether that’s a plus or a minus.

It would have been wonderful if the book included a map showing the locations of the children’s countries and the ecosystem depicted. Also useful would have been a pronunciation guide for the translations of “water is life.”

This is an excellent story time resource, particularly for this year’s summer reading theme, “Build a Better World.”

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