A River of Words

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A River of Words
The Story of William Carlos Williams

Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008

From the dust jacket: “Willie’s words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So when he grew up, he went off to medical school and became a doctor – one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry.

“In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be poet.”

I checked this book out not necessarily for the story, but for the illustrator, Melissa Sweet. The LoC fell in love with her artistry after reading The Right Word. We love collage! And in this case, the artist accentuates her collage with watercolor. I was familiar with the story of William Carlos Williams and it was good to see his story illustrated for kittens. Most poetry just flies above my head but his is about every day things in every day language. Beautiful, succinct word pictures. Expose your kittens to both collage and poetry – read them this book! A fun summer activity would be to have them write a poem about whatever they want and then create a collage using magazine pictures and coloring book pages! I just might do that myself!!

Rating 5 out of 5 for glorious artistry!

Reviewer: PeggySue peggysue-loc

 

 

The Right Word

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The Right Word
Roget and His Thesaurus

Jen Bryant
Melissa Sweet
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014

From the back of the book, “If only all the ideas in the world could be found in one place, then everyone would have one book were they could find the best word, the one that really fit. Peter carried this idea with him like a secret treasure.

“The story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus, one of the most widely used reference books ever published, is presented in this delightful picture book biography…”

So the reason we picked up this book (at a library sale – for a $1.00! Score!) was because of the illustrations. We came for the art and stayed for the story!!

The story of Peter Roget is fascinating – he collected words in long lists for most of his life. When he was 8 he wrote his first book filled with lists of words! Words and their meanings became his passion which ultimately ended up in a one-of-a-kind book categorizing words according to their meaning, not their spelling.

The illustrations are something else altogether. The artist created collages out of mostly watercolor (I think) as well as other mediums (acrylic, gouache, etc). These collages are so intricate and stunning, you have to read the book first, then go back and linger over every page to make sure you see everything. If you’re familiar with author/artist Graeme Base and how detailed his illustrations are, then you’ll have an idea of what M. Sweet’s pictures look like. Gorgeous! Fascinating! Amazing!

If you see this book at the library, check it out!!

Rating 5 of 5 paws for fabulousness!!

Reviewer: simon-locSimon

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In the Great Green Room

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In the Great Green Room
The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

Amy Gary
Flatiron Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “The extraordinary life of the woman behind the beloved children’s classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny comes alive in this fascinating biography of Margaret Wise Brown. …
“Clever, quirky, and incredibly talented, Margaret embraces life with passion, lived extravagantly off of her royalties, went on rabbit hunts, and carried on long and troubled love affairs with both men and women. …
“…Margaret died unexpectedly at the age of forty-two, leaving behind a cache of unpublished work and a timeless collection of books that would go on to become classics in children’s literature.
“Author Amy Gary captures the eccentric and exceptional life of Margaret Wise Brown and, drawing on newly discovered personal letters and diaries, reveals an intimate portrait of a creative genius whose unrivaled talent breathed new life into the literary world.”

My Auntie loves Margaret Wise Brown’s books, especially Goodnight Moon. She said she read it to her sons many, many times over their younger years. We don’t normally read biographies – I think this is only the third one we’ve read and reviewed; but because Auntie loves the author’s books so much, we thought we should read it. It was very good!

You can tell the author, Amy Gary, put a great deal of time and research into her book; it is well informed, rich with detail and emotion and super easy to read. In fact, it reads like a novel. The reader is taken chronologically through Brown’s life, not shying away from potentially controversial subjects – who knew that one of the world’s greatest children’s author was bisexual? While it might make a difference to some folks, it’s no matter for us. Talented – no – gifted & artistic people come from all walks of life and generally lead wide-open lives. Brown changed the world of children’s book publishing to what we enjoy today. All of today’s authors really have her to thank for it.

This isn’t a spoiler – you know right from the beginning she dies young – and it was so sudden and tragic, I actually had tears in my eyes. I felt so bad – it was like a friend dying for a stupid reason. You’ll see what I mean when you read the book. It makes me wonder how much more she would have contributed to the world had she lived and continued to write. But don’t let the sad end keep you from reading about this gifted author. If you’ve read any of her books, please read this one!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because in spite of the tragic ending, the author brilliantly captured the wild and wonderful Margaret Wise Brown.

Ps. What does the title mean? You’ll have to read halfway into the book to find out! It is significant!!

Reviewer:

jack-loc
Jack

Sarah Gives Thanks

Mercy

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The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh
Founder of the ASPCA and Friend to Animals

Nancy Furstinger
Illustrations by Vincent Desjardins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Henry Bergh was born in 1813 to a wealthy family and lived a privileged lifestyle. As many rich children often do, he had no desire for real work and instead wandered the globe as a young man living off his family’s wealth. He eventually settled down and got married. While on his honeymoon in Europe he and his wife witnessed the horrific and bloody end of 25 horses and 8 bulls in an afternoon of bullfighting. His response to the enthusiastically cheering crowd  was “Never before has a similar degree of disgust been experienced by us, or such a hearty contempt for a people calling themselves civilized and at the same time Christians.”

Later on he spent time in Russia where he came to the defense of a wagon driver beating his horse. In 1865 he moved back to New York with a new found mission in life – that of saving animals from a life of abuse and cruelty. February of 1866 saw Bergh form the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals. From that time forward he spent his life fighting for the rights of abused animals everywhere. Through the hard and diligent work of Mr. Bergh we have laws against animal cruelty today.

I enjoyed reading this book – it is written for middle grade kittens but is easily accessible to all ages. For younger kittens, it might be wise to have an older cat read this to them so they may skip over the abusive parts. Although not overly graphic in description, the abuse suffered is nonetheless terrible and for sensitive kittens, it might be nightmare inducing. The illustrations are interesting but don’t necessarily add anything to the overall message of the book. There are photographs as well and it is always interesting to look at records of a long-gone era.

This biography provides a good overview of Mr. Bergh’s struggle with changing the way society looks and treats its animals. It reinforces a lesson of perseverance in the face of resistance. Mr. Bergh endured years of humiliating articles and cartoons in newspapers as well as ridicule and mocking. But he continued to work without fail. Through his life we can learn to fight for what we believe in, and know that it is okay to go home, have a good cry and get back up the next day and do it all again. If you are in animal rescue and need encouragement, want something uplifting and very quick to read (I read it in about 3 hours), consider this book. It may have you reenergized to get out and fight the good fight.

Rating: 4 paws

jackReviewer: Jack

 

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Mr. Bergh was known for stopping overloaded trolley horses and making people get off. (The average life span of a trolley horse was TWO years.)
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Mr. Bergh developed a humane rescue system for horses stuck in water and mud.
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Stray dogs were tempted into service by food then when they could no longer work they were abandoned.

 

We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge!

Topic: Read a book of Non Fiction!

Click on the logo to go to our SRC 2016 page!

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Also published on Sunny Book Garden under the non de plume, Debby.

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