Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Book: Floating on Mama’s Song 
Author: Laura Lacamara
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

On her seventh birthday, Anita discovers that her mother has a new and amazing gift: when she sings, she and everyone around her can float up in the air! Anita floats happily on her mother’s song until Abuelita brings them back to earth with a stern reprimand. Mama promises never to sing again, but it makes her sadder and sadder. Finally, Anita discovers a family secret that could free their song again.

Underneath the lyrical and fanciful story, there’s a very real theme about women who force themselves and their daughters into a particular mold. “What will the neighbors think?” Abuelita asks, bringing her daughter and granddaughter down to earth (literally). But she’s not really the villain, she’s merely applying her own bad experience with the family gift.

I make no secret of my devotion to Yuyi Morales. I am a Morales fangirl and it’s gotten so I can spot her artwork across the library. With rich colors, swirling lines, and sweet details (my favorite are the animal-shaped clouds in the spread where Anita visits the healer), there’s really nobody else who could have illustrated this story.

This bilingual story is pretty long to use in storytimes, but it would work for a classroom readaloud or reading together with a child, especially since you get the chance to discuss the emotions and motivations of the adult characters.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading Roundup September 2011

Late again . . . sorry, guys.

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Early Readers: 4

Library: All

Writing: Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Barry Moser
A simple-enough cautionary tale of a daring mouse who barely escapes with his little mousy life, but lives tothe tell the chilling tale to other daring mice. It's the tongue-twistery rhyming text that made this a favorite for me.
Illustration: Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris
All sorts of dragons, and all sorts of kids to go along with them. While the text makes no mention of different parts of the world, kids and dragons are very clearly from different countries and ethnicities. Bravo. These delicate illustrations swirl and flow, drawing the eye toward rich and exotic details.
Overall: Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby
A very, very small rabbit is annoyed because he's too small to do much of anything. Then he discovers that the answer to his loneliness might be in acquiring a friend just as small as he is. The simple illustrations pair with the straightforward storytelling to create a book without an overabundance of cutesy details. Just right.

Because I Want To Awards
Three-Hanky Alert: The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
On the last day of a cat's life, she moves around her beautiful little world saying goodbye. Probably best used as a read-together, especially when a child is mourning the passing of a pet or grandparent with a long and full life.
For Your Creative Types: Polka Dot Penguin Pottery by Lenore Look, illlustrated by Yumi Heo
The small writer-protagonist of this longer picture book is suffering from writer's block, and when she goes to a pottery painting studio, discovers art-block as well. How can she tap into her creativity again? I read this book and immediately handed it over to a friend who runs an art-and-writing program for early elementary kids.
Hey, Neat!: Dear Primo: a Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh
Two different cousins, one in a US city and one in the Mexican countryside, share their lives with each other via letter. Besides the clear message of similarities even in different surroundings, I really enjoyed the Aztec-influenced art. This one is going on display in my library, where many kids have cousins in other countries.