The Magic Dogs of The Volcanoes by Malino Argueta and Stacy Ross (Picture Book)


The Magic Dogs of The Volcanoes by Malino Argueta and Stacy Ross

Argueta, M. Ross, S. (1990). The magic dogs of the volcanoes. Group West.

Brief Summary:  This book is written in English and Spanish about magic dogs called Cadejos who live on the mountains in El Salvador. People in the nearby village love the Cadejos and believe they keep them safe from danger. The magic dogs are a large part of the village people’s lives.  The owner of the land does not like the Cadejos and sent soldiers out to hunt them. The Cadejos turn to the sun and volcanoes for help.

Age Range: 6 & up

Related Works:  The Lizard and the Sun / La Lagartija y el Sol by Alma Flor Ada

Specific Appeal:  This book has amazing bright illustrations and the strong connection to nature.

Limitations or Weaknesses:  None.

Overall Assessment: 5/5

The New King by Doreen Rappaport (Picture Book)


The New King by Doreen Rappaport

Rappaport, D. (1995). The New King.  New York. Dial Books for Young Readers

Brief Summary:  A young prince learns of his father’s death.  He runs away to find the greatest medicine man, magician, councilor, and wise woman in his region yet no one can bring his father back to life.  The wise woman shares with him a story of how the first people had to decide to die like the moon or like a banana tree.  As the moon, one lives alone and never really dies. As a banana tree, one sends forth shoots and seeds, and when one dies, the other carries on the work as children do.  The prince knew it was his time to carry on the work and spirit of his father.

Related Works: The painted illustrations are done by E.B. Lewis who also illustrated the Fire on the Mountain.

Specific Appeal: The illustrations are beautiful.  It is a touching folk tale about dealing with loss.

Limitations or Weaknesses: It is a very sad story.

Overall Assessment: 4.7/5

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (Historical Fiction/ Based on a True Story)


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park 

L, Park. (2010). A long walk to water: based on a true story. New York. Clarion Books

Brief Summary:  Based on a true story. Salva is a young boy who escaped his war torn Village in Sudan.  A young girl Nya travels for eight hours every day to fetch water. Salva and Nya are from rivalling tribes in Sudan. The tribes are fighting for water. Salva is almost killed by a lion and a crocodile while walking on foot to refugee camps. He is selected to leave Africa to live with a family in the United States of America. Salva returns to Africa with a plan to help and the young girl Nya learns about true compassion when she meets him and learns of his plan.

Age Range: 10 & up

Related Works: The book is similar to The Story of Ann Frank’s Diary as both are accounts of true life told through the eyes of young people.

Specific Appeal: It is an amazing and heartwarming true story.

Limitations or Weaknessess: None. If anything this book is too short.

Overall Assessment: I cried at the end of this book.  The books is very beautiful and inspiring. 5/5

Gobble, Gobble, Slip, Slop: A Tale of a Greedy Cat by Meilo So (Picture Book)


Gobble, Gobble, Slip, Slop: A Tale of a Greedy Cat by Meilo So

So, M. (2004). Gobble, gobble, slip, slop: A tale of a greedy cat. New York. Alfred A. Knopf

Brief Summary: A beautiful book rich in colourful illustrations follows a very greedy cat as he gobbles up everything in his path.  It is unbelievable how greedy this cat is and what he is capable of eating. He eats people and larger animals. He eats his friends and strangers.  In the end he learns a valuable lesson and promises not to be so greedy ever again.

Age Range: 5 & up

Related Works: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Specific Appeal: The illustrations are lovely in this book. The text is suitable for ages 5 and up.

Limitations or Weaknesses:  The story of a cat eating people is rather dark and morbid.  The cat betrays and eats his friend the parrot and in the end the parrot helps him to recover.  This is an important lesson as everyone makes mistakes. The parrots trust for such a disloyal friend is both questionable and commendable.

Overall Assessment: 5/5

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco (Picture Book)


The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

Polacco, P. (2001). The keeping quilt. NewYork. Aladdin Paperbacks

Brief Summary: The Keeping Quilt is a beautiful story which follows the life of a quilt as it is passed down from generation to generation. The quilt was made for a young girl named Anna from her great Aunts scarf brought from Russia to America.  The story speaks to the importance of family and tradition.

Age Range: 6 & up

Related Works: The Blessing Cup also by Patricia Polacco.

Specific Appeal: The illustrations are unique in this book.  The drawings are done in pencil sketches with the exception of the quilt which stands out on each page with vibrant colours.  The text is for a slightly more sophisticated young reader. This book would appeal to a 7-8 year old and up.

Limitations or Weaknesses: The layout, portion of text, and images of this book is appropriate for children however the flow of the story and subject would likely not appeal to young children.

Overall Assessment: This book is beautiful. I bought it for myself because I fell in love with the story line and illustrations 4/5

Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz (Picture Book)


Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz

Kurtz, J. (1994). Fire on the mountain. New York. Simon and Schuster Books

Brief Summary: A brilliant folktale about a young boy who visits his sister and find himself challenged by  a very rich and proud man to survive a night in the mountains alone with no blanket.  The boy succeeds and is accused of cheating because he imagined a fire. The next night the boy and his sister and all the servants of the rich master serve him imaginary dinner and play imaginary music and ask if that satisfied his appetite.  He was outraged and then agreed to his end of the barging. He gave the boy a bag of money and a cow.  It is a story about strength, pride, wit, and justice.

Age Range: 5 & up

Related Works: My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel

Specific Appeal: The painting in this book are beautiful.  I would recommend this book for all readers.

Limitations or Weaknesses: None

Overall Assessment: 5/5

The Three Questions: Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy (Picture Book)


The Three Questions: Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy

Muth, J. (2002). The three question. United States. Scholastic Inc.

Brief Summary: A boy named Nikolai is on a quest to find answers to his three questions.  He asks a heron, monkey, dog, and a wise turtle “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Only after an adventure saving a Panda and her son does he receive his answer.

Related Works: Winnie the Pooh by by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard or The Toa of Pooh by by Benjamin Hoff

Specific Appeal: This is a beautiful book for anyone.

Limitations or Weaknesses: The premise might be advanced for children who would be reading picture books however this book is wonderful!

Overall Assessment: 4.7/5


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