Review: Worm Loves Worm

“Worm loves Worm. ‘Let’s be married’ says Worm to Worm. ‘Yes!’ answers Worm.”

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Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato.
Balzer + Bray imprint, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2016.
Picture book, 28 pages.
Lexile:  not yet leveled
AR Level:  2.0 (worth 0.5 points) .

Worm loves Worm.  So Worm proposes.  They want to be married.  But then Cricket and Beetle and the rest all have their own ideas about what a wedding should look like.  Will Worm and Worm ever be able to just be married?

Worm Loves Worm cover resized

This book got a lot of attention while marriage equality was still in the news, but the buzz has died down.  Although immigration has replaced marriage equality as the hot topic of the moment, Worm Loves Worm is still a valuable addition to your library.

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Board Book Review: Tango Makes Three

Our 35th board book was enjoyable, but would read better in a larger format.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.
Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015, orig. pub. 2005.
Picture book converted to board book format, 32 pages.

The true story of two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a family, and their adopted daughter Tango.

And Tango Makes Three cover resized
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.

This is a picture book converted to a board book.  Such conversions are always tricky.  Some cut valuable information and lose the meaning of the story or the grace of the illustrations.  Others simply shrink down the size of the book and create a hybrid that might not work for either the original picture book audience or the babies and toddlers that typically use board books.

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My Evolving Thoughts

Dear readers,

Over the course of Colorful Book Reviews, I’ve reviewed almost 200 books, ranging from board books to academic works.  I’ve also learned a LOT from you, the diverse book blogging community, reviewers, authors, publishers, readers, parents, teachers, and children.

Sometimes what I learn is that I got it wrong.  Usually when that happens I go back to my review post and add in a note that it’s been edited and what my opinion is now and maybe why it’s changed.

Whether a different edition shows me something about the book to like (or dislike as the case may be) or another person points out a problematic aspect that I’d missed, it’s usually an easy fix to the blog’s content.  However in this case my views on an entire subject have changed.

At one point I did not like books which used strong language for elementary school children.  The more I’ve read and listened to people talk about this issue, the more my views have changed.  The tipping point was reading this interview with Mildred Taylor.

I still have not worked out how to handle some words in a diverse classroom setting, but that is no longer such a concern as my career is taking a different path these days.  At home, I’ve realized that softening the words and events of the past is part of the problem.

While we do soften or avoid some topics with young or particularly sensitive children, downplaying the Holocaust, lynchings, or apartheid stops us learning from those horrible events and working to prevent them.  This can be done on a developmentally appropriate level, although it does take a bit more effort and education as a parent and teacher.

I will continue to mention instances of slurs or especially swears as I notice them in books, so that parents or teachers can make their own informed choices.  However for historical fiction and nonfiction, that will no longer impact my overall opinion the same way.

Thanks for listening,

CBR

Review: The Shadow in the Moon

“I tell my family I am thankful for them, especially wise Ah-Ma. Maybe even for my little sister.” page 27

The Shadow in the Moon: A Tale of the Mid-Autumn Festival by Christina Matula, illustrated by Pearl Law.
Charlesbridge, Watertown, Massachsetts, 2018.
Picture book fiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  640L  .
AR Level:  not yet leveled
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the author as a part of the 2019 Multicultural Children’s Book Day, in exchange for an honest review.

The story of a young girl in the modern day celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, including her grandmother’s telling of the traditional story of Chang’e and Hou Yi.

the shadow in the moon cover resized

Our family loves learning about different holidays.  We are Christian and American so you can guess that we celebrate Christmas and Fourth of July.  We’ve been lucky enough to access community gatherings or have friends invite us to many other celebrations, including the Lunar New Year.  But none of us had ever heard of the Mid-Autumn festival before.

Looking for other books on the topic, I could only find a half-dozen books about this specific festival, some of which didn’t have reviews.  There were two by big-name authors – both Grace Lin and Amy Tan have written picture books on the topic.  All of which is a rather lengthy notice that this is a welcome addition to our holiday bookshelf, and sorely needed.

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Review: Lion Dancer

“Today it is very hard for me to sit still. Chinese New Year starts tonight. And tomorrow morning, I will dance in the street.” page 7

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low, photographs by Martha Cooper.
Scholastic, New York, 1990.
Nonfiction picture book, 32 pages.
Lexile:  540L  .
AR Level:  2.9 (worth 0.5 points)  .

The is the story of six-year-old Ernie Wan’s first Lion Dance, which he’s been preparing for since he was three.  For the Chinese New Year, he will perform on the streets of New York City.

Lion Dancer cover resized

Ernie is one-fifth of a loving family.  His father is, according to the dust jacket text, “a kung fu master” so studying kung fu is very important to his family.  (I put that portion in quotes not because I disbelieve his qualifications but because I wasn’t sure if that’s how he would describe himself.  Often the jacket text isn’t written by the author so it’s difficult to tell just how accurate this might be.)

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Review: My Brother Martin

“We three stuck together / like the pages in a brand-new book. / And being normal young children, / we were almost always up to something.” page 10

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet.
Simon and Schuster, New York, 2003.
Picture book nonfiction, 40 pages.
Lexile:  970L  .
AR Level:  5.0 (worth 0.5 points)  .

Personal remembrances of Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood from his older sister Christine.

My Brother Martin

I debated a lot before buying this book.  Our local libraries didn’t have it and the cover, especially in a small thumbnail version, is just so unattractive.  However, I was hoping for something different from the standard stories, which is exactly what this book delivers.  Luckily the interior art is excellent!

The book does skew a bit toward older readers with denser text and more difficult words like chifforobe, Cyclorama, Auburn, cruelty, bigotry, nourishing.  The main focus here is on MLK’s childhood, specifically on two fronts – both the ways in which he was an ordinary, sometimes mischievous little boy, and the events that shaped his personality.

My Brother Martin p28-29 resized
Martin Luther King’s congregation includes his son MLK, Jr. on pages 28 and 29 of My Brother Martin.

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019

The last few years I’ve been hearing about a cool thing called Multicultural Children’s Book Day, but never had everything together enough to participate.  This year I was finally able to be an official part of this event!

I’ll have two reviews for this event going up later this week, but for now, here is the official list of sponsors and hosts!  Lots of familiar names on this list as well as many new to me.

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