Review: If Apples Had Teeth

If Apples Had Teeth
If Apples Had Teeth by Shirley Glaser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a reprint of a title originally published by Knopf in 1960. The words and illustrations are delightfully wide-eyed, deranged, and possibly subversive. Apples bite back. The soup talks back! Alligators masquerade as luggage. (Watch out!) Each page posits ‘what if,’ and offers a delightfully absurd response. Some pages rhyme. Some don’t. But there’s a zippy rhythm to the text that makes for good reading aloud. Five to eight year olds who like to laugh will love this one. Young wordsmiths and artists will be eager to create their own ‘what ifs’ and draw them. It’s a book that makes the reader feel energized and want to participate.

There’s nothing I didn’t like about this book. It’s joyous and goofy and the color palette of yellow-orange, turquoise, pink, orange, and green is fully in the spirit of the time of its original publishing date.

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Review: Welcome to the Slipstream

Welcome to the Slipstream
Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was very powerful. Van is a young teenager who has led a nomadic life with her talented but troubled mother and their family friend, Ida. They are well-off now, but Van remembers lean and scary times from when she was very young. She is old enough now to understand that her mother Sofia has a mental illness as well as brilliance. Van and Ida work together to keep Sofia out of hospitals and jails. As Van gets older, she begins to see the appeal of the normal life she did not get to have.

The characters in this book were wonderful, particularly Ida and Van. Their relationship was lovely and well written. Van’s growing awareness that her own talents and intelligence may also have their seeds in mania, and the realization that she may need to separate from her mother to stay sane is heartbreaking and effectively presented.

The only thing I din’t like was the speed with which the Silver Saddle staff came to love and truly care for Van and Ida didn’t ring true. It was a false note in an otherwise skillfully presented story.

Burian is an author to watch.

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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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