Thursday, February 19, 2015

PB 14: 14 Day 4 ~ A BEAUTIFUL MOON

Continuing the Christie Wild Wright PB 14:14 Challenge, I will review BEAUTIFUL MOON and focus on one of the Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books.

My goal is to dedicate this blog to nonfiction books. But once in a while, I find a book so enchanting, I have to share it with the world. This is THAT BOOK!!! So here goes.

Author: Tonya Bolden
Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
Type: Fiction
 Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publishing Year: 2014
Word Count: TBD
Picture Book Element: Theme

Summary: A young boy awoke. He forgot to say his prayers. Outside his window, a beautiful harvest moon illuminated the city around him and its many inhabitants. As the moon slowly made its way across the heavens, the boy offered a simple prayer for the homeless, the hungry, and others.

In January, I sat in Barnes and Noble, read this book, and bawled my eyes out. It has been awhile since I read a picture book and cried. And I hate to admit my experience, but this is true. From the moment I looked at the cover of this book, I was captivated. The boldness of the blue, the calligraphy of the title, and the praying child tugged my heart.

This book is amazing. The first spread has people walking through the city at night. The text on the page reads: The amber orb floats, washing the night with radiant glow. Stars hide. Only city lights glitter. It's not a silent night. Car horns beep and blare. There is music in the air. And someone calls out, "I love you!"

On the second spread, a little boy is crawling out of bed. The text reads: A little boy wakes up, scrambles out of bed, and drops to his knees. He forgot to say his prayers.

On the third spread, the little boy kneels, clasp his hands, and prays. The text reads: Just before he shuts his eyes, he spots a wonder in the sky. "What a beautiful moon," he whispers. Then he bows his head. 

Besides the beautiful illustration, the theme throughout this book is noted on every page - COMPASSION. There are sub themes as well. 


***Homelessness~ "Blocks away, a woman, bundled up, a park bench her bed, gazes at the beautiful moon, willing herself warm."

***WAR ~ "...The little boy prays for war to end."  

***SICKNESS ~ "...The little boy prays for the sick to be healed." 

***HUNGRINESS ~ "Around the corner, by the light of the beautiful moon, sad souls stare at bare kitchen cabinets, longing to see them stocked with rice and beans, noodles and peas, chicken soup and cereal."

"The little boy prays for people, little and big, to have the food they need." 

***COMMUNITY ~ The little boy goes on to pray for his grandmother, mother, father, turtle (cute), and teacher. 

And on the last spread, the little boys sleeps. The text reads: "He promises that when tomorrow night comes, he won't forget to pray. And the beautiful moon goes on its way."

I dabbed the corner of my eyes. The amazing illustration mixed with the poetic text put this book in a category all by itself. I love this book. 

What are you reading?

Monday, February 16, 2015


Continuing the Christie Wild Wright PB 14:14 Challenge, I will review A SPLASH OF RED:THE LIFE AND ART OF HORACE PIPPIN and focus on one of the Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books.

Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Type: Nonfiction
 Publisher: Knopf
Publishing Year: 2013
Word Count: 1720-words
Picture Book Element: Character and pacing

Summary: This inspiring story shares the life of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who, despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved and was recognized as a celebrated artist and remarkable man.  

Who is Horace Pippin? Pippin was an African-American painter and World War I veteran. The author brought Pippin's character out in this book.

The book introduced Pippin to us as a little boy who was growing so fast, it was hard for his family to keep up with the mending of his clothes. His hands and feet were getting bigger and bigger. On the first spread, we see him hugging his mother. I love how the illustrator showed that his feet were bare. Genius. It also gives us some insight as to who he is - loveable.

I loved this paragraph. "Horace put his big hands to work. He fetched flour for his mother. He sorted laundry with his sisters. He played with his baby brother. He held the horse while the driver delivered milk."

I loved the pacing here. Short succinct sentences. It painted the characterization of Pippin. We know that he is helpful, right? Look at all the things he did. It continued to say, "At night, he piled wood for the stove and arranged dominoes so his grandmother could play. Then, if he could find scrap of paper and a piece of charcoal, he drew pictures of what he'd seen that day."

We see his discipline here, right? He did everything he had to do and then he sat down to draw. As he grew, he continued to draw, but only after he finished his work. "For several years, Horace's big hands were always busy: stacking grain sacks at a feed store, shoveling coal at a rail yard, mending fences on a farm, carrying luggage at a hotel, making brakes in an iron factory...packing oil paintings into large wooden crates..."

What are you reading?

<script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

Sunday, February 15, 2015

PB 14:14 Day 2 ~ BARACK

Continuing the PB 14:14 Challenge, I will review BARACK and focus on one of the Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books through the analysis format.

Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: A.G. Ford Type: Nonfiction Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Publishing Year: 2010 Word Count: 1288-words Summary:This illustrated biography of Barack Obama focuses on his family origins and childhood. 
Picture Book Element: Beginning/Ending and Pacing

I love this illustrated biography about the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

I love the story. Jonah Winter "hooked" me immediately.

BEGINNING: "Looking back, it's hard to believe how far he has come, the man whose name the world now knows - BARACK OBAMA. This is a journey that began in many places."

Now look at the ending. Is it satisfying? Did the author tie it in to the beginning? You be the judge. 

ENDING: "Here, right here, in this country with its history of slavery and racism, an African-American named Barack Obama rose to unimaginable heights because he refused to let other people tell him who he was, because again, once again, his journey was just beginning."

* The author spoke of his journey in the beginning. And summed it up in the end. Yes, this ending is definitely satisfying.  

I loved the PACING of this book. One of my favorite paragraphs which is a perfect example of pacing is: 
     "He arrived here during a dark time in American History. All across America, people were losing their jobs, losing their houses, losing their sense of hope. 
     Many people were tired of a war that had gone on too long. They were tired of fighting with their neighbors over politics. They were just tired."

I loved how the author used the power of three to drive his point home - "losing their jobs, losing their houses, losing their sense of hope." And "Many people were tired...They were tired...They were just tired." 

 What are you reading?

Saturday, February 14, 2015


February is my favorite month for two reasons. One, it is Black History Month, a month to celebrate achievers and the spirit of the African-American culture. Two, it is month we celebrate Valentines Day. 

Thanks Christie Wright Wild for this challenge, I will continue to celebrate and focus on nonfiction books which embraces our culture. 

Today, my book of choice is:
Author: Ilyasah Shabazz
Illustrator: A.G. Ford
Type: Nonfiction
Publisher: Atheneum
Publishing Year: 2013
Word Count: 3539-words
Summary: This biography of Malcolm X focuses on his childhood and the events that influenced later choices and actions in his life. 

I love this book. I am a huge fan of Malcolm X. I always felt like he was misunderstood. I love the first sentence in the book.
BEGINNING: "Malcolm X was one of the most influential man in American History. But before he became Malcolm X, he was Malcolm Little." 

The first page introduces Malcolm and his family. The book tells us that Malcolm's mother was from the West Indies (like me). It tells us he was a follower of Marcus Garvey (like me) {Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica - like me}. 

My favorite paragraph on the first page stated, "Malcolm's father was Earl Little, but there was nothing little about him. Papa Earl was a strong, broad, and towering man. His smooth dark skin was as beautiful as the midnight sky. His voice resounded like gentle thunder whenever he spoke. His protection and guidance stretched up and around his family like the great live oak trees in his home state of Georgia."

I love the use of lyrical language. The way the author refers to the midnight sky as beautiful.  I love the first spread of his mother and father. A.G. Ford is amazing. 

ENDING: "Malcolm Little, the boy who was raised on the vision of freedom and justice, was elected class president by the students in his seventh grade class!" 

This is not the book ending. But I think this is where the book should have ended. It would have brought the story full circle. It would also show the development of Malcolm as a leader. It showed that he was destined to lead the life of an activist. 

What are you reading?