Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 Blue Spruce™ Nominees: the first 4 books

A Flock of Shoes by Sarah Tsiang, Qin Leng

Abby loves her pink and brown sandals with the lime green trim, and she wears them wherever she goes. But as summer draws to a close, Abby’s mom announces that it’s time for the sandals to go. Abby is determined to keep them on — until one day, while swinging at the park, her sandals flip off and fly away. All winter long, Abby wonders what her sandals are up to. Postcards of sandy white beaches and glorious sunsets reassure her that they are having a wonderful time in far away places.

Come February, Abby realizes that she has also grown to love her cozy, comfy boots. As the warm weather comes, she watches sadly as they march off, but a swish in the sky announces the return of her pink and brown sandals — all ready for another summer of fun. Full of whimsy, this circular tale is enhanced by rich, evocative language and delicate pastel illustrations that are sure to delight any young child.
This book shows excellent use of imagination in a very original story. The motions Abby experiences can be used by students to make connections in many ways. Perhaps they are leaving summer camp friends, visiting distant family, moving or even playing their last game on a sports team - anything where the event is seasonal or temporary and the leaving causes sadness but eventually the new setting/people become just as valuable.

Giraffe and Bird by Rebecca Bender

It’s true that getting along can be difficult, but Giraffe and Bird don’t even try. When Bird makes a face, Giraffe sticks out his tongue; when Bird tweets in his ear, Giraffe invades Bird’s personal space. And so it goes. Bird can’t put up with Giraffe’s bad breath; Giraffe can’t abide it when Bird eats too much fiber and then…Well, you know. If you ask them, Giraffe and Bird will tell you: they can’t stand each other. One day Giraffe loses his patience and Bird is fed up. “Scram!” says Giraffe. “Get lost!” says Bird. And so they do.

You would think they’d be happy now, but you might be wrong. Without each other, how will Bird and Giraffe weather the coming storm?

A hilarious debut by author and artist Rebecca Bender, Giraffe and Bird combines a clever text introducing synonyms with bright, expressive art to tell the funny and slightly tender story of two enemies who eventually realize they are much better off together.
This is my favorite book from this years selections! I thought it was fantastic! The illustrations really enhance the story and made me love the characters. However, I not not at all sure that students will "get" the humour in this book or will understand the frenemies nature of their relationship. I hope they do because I really enjoyed it.

Kiss Me! (I'm a Prince!)
Heather McLeod, Brooke Kerrigan

“If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a prince!” says the frog. But Ella thinks that a talking frog is much more interesting than living like a princess in a castle. And during his stay with Ella and her family, Prince Frog discovers a world of fun beyond the castle gates.
This book has a cute idea with a good message about following your own ideals and not needing to conform to the traditional endings. I found it to be a little drawn out but note that students may not notice the pacing as much as I did. I really liked the portrayal of Ella as sporty, intelligent and aware of herself. She came across as any girl in the illustrations and was not limited to a traditional princess nor a traditional tomboy. She was Ella. I also liked that the book showed that Ella thought through her decision about kissing the frog prince - what the consequences would be for her and for him.

The Little Hummingbird
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

This inspiring children’s book—a revised edition of the award-winning Flight of the Hummingbird—is based on a South American indigenous story about a courageous hummingbird who defies fear and expectations in her attempt to save the forest from fire. The illustrated story is supplemented by a natural and cultural history of hummingbirds, as well as an inspiring message from Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. The evocative artwork by internationally renowned Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas complements the optimistic tale that encourages everyone to take responsibility for their home and the planet.
I can see several uses of this title beyond story time. It is a great book for use by eco-clubs and for Earth Day activities. Explaining elections and how every vote counts to primary students could be helped by this story. The illustrations could also be inspirational for creating art work during native studies by students. This book illustrated the message of every person making a difference, no matter how small.

**Images and book descriptions taken from the OLA site.

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