One-Minute Book Reviews

August 4, 2007

Good Picture Books About Real and Imagined Beaches: David Wiesner and Faith Ringgold

Acclaimed artists depict magical summertime journeys in Flotsam and Tar Beach

Heading to the beach with a preschooler? Or hoping to keep alive the memories of an earlier trip to the seashore? Pick up David Wiesner’s Flotsam (Clarion, $17.95 ages 3 and up), an eloquent, wordless picture book that won this year’s Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association Flotsam tells the story of a boy who finds an underwater camera that washes up on a beach and takes him on a magical journey to distant times and places.

Consider Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach (Dragonfly, $6.99, paperback, ages 3 and up) , a Caldecott Honor book, for children who can only dream of a trip to the seashore. It tells the story of Depression-era girl who spends summer nights on a Harlem rooftop she calls “tar beach,” a place that inspires dreams of flying above the George Washington Bridge. As often in her work, Ringgold incorporates motifs from black history and culture. Her heroine’s magical journeys build on the flight-to-freedom theme in African-American literature.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

One-Minute Book Reviews is an indepdendent blog created by Janice Harayda, who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer, and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. A new review of a book for children or teenagers appears every Saturday on this site.

July 6, 2007

Science Fiction for Teenage Boys – Books David Wiesner and Brian Selznick Loved When They Were Young

[Note: The books mentioned in this review aren’t just for boys. But — as any librarian will tell you — it can be harder to find books for teenage boys than for just about anyone else. And many people visit this site looking specifically for books for boys. So I’ve put the word “boys” in the title of this post to make their search easier — not because Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury wouldn’t also delight many girls.]

Two of America’s most popular illustrators talk about books that captivated them in junior high or high school

By Janice Harayda

If you’re looking for books that teenage boys will love, why not take a tip from two former teenagers beloved by boys?

Two of American’s most popular picture-book artists talk about books that influenced them in adolescence in The Art of Reading: Forty Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary (Dutton, $19.99), a book inspired by the literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental, with a foreword by Leonard S. Marcus.

Brian Selznick loved Ray Bradbury’s science-fiction classic The Martian Chronicles when he was 14. Selznick calls the book “a collection of stories that form a narrative of man’s first visits to Mars and the eventual colonization of the planet.” He especially liked the Martians Yll and his wife, Ylla, “who dreams of strange men from the uninhabitable planet Earth (too much oxygen to support life!).”

David Wiesner was captivated by Arthur C. Clarke’s novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. Wiesner had seen Stanley Kubrick’s movie version. And when he saw the novel in a book-club catalog, he decided had to have it.

“The book turned out to be as fantastic and absorbing as the movie, and I couldn’t put it down,” he says in The Art of Reading. Wiesner was “fascinated by the way the same idea had been presented in two different mediums, one visual and one literary.” And he’s still exploring the links between the two. Wiesner won this year’s Caldecott Medal for Flotsam, a picture book about a boy who finds a magical camera.

Furthermore: Selnick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 2007 bestseller for roughly ages 9-to-11. He illustrated the Caldecott Honor book, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, by Barbara Kerley. Wiesner won Caldecott Medals for The Three Pigs and Tuesday before receiving his third for Flotsam In The Art of Reading they re-envision scenes from their favorite books.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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