02 February 2011

The Best of January

Here is a wrap up of my 4 and 5 star picture book reads for January, 2011. I haven't differentiated between 4 or 5 (although you can see them all at Goodreads.) I like most books I read--I give out a lot of 3 out of 5's. I am struck by very few, so if I give out 4 stars, then I think the book is great and worthy of note. As for how a book gets 5 stars: if it's not because the book is hands-down-genius, sometimes the difference between 4 or 5 can be as fleeting as a personal preference for the topic or an appreciation of the author's or illustrator's body of work which inclines me to adore everything they do. Not very scientific, but it works for me.

So, without further ado:

Snook Alone (Nelson, Marilyn; ills. Timothy Basil Ering)

The Buffalo are Back (George, Jean Craighead; ills. Wendell Minor)
Tells the story of the near extinction of buffalo from the American west, as well as the devastating effect it had on the plains. Part fable, part non-fiction, this is an impressive book, well-served by the picture book format.

The Worst Person in the World (Stevenson, James)
The Worst Person in the World at Crab Beach

Bear in the Air (Meyers, Susan; ills. Amy Bates)
Sweeter than Edward Tulane--and not nearly as traumatic--this story of one teddy bear's (mis)adventures is full of charm and cheer.

Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse (McCully, Emily Arnold)
Before there was Mr. Ed, there was Jim Key, a horse who learned to spell, recognize colors, and generally amaze and amuse an initially skeptical 19th century world. Trained by ex-slave Bill "Doc" Key, who used nothing but patience and kindness to train the animal, Jim Key's story is as much a referendum on his master as his own talents. Doc Key faced prejudice by those who thought he couldn't possibly be smart enough to read himself, never mind train a horse. Doc's work with Jim eventually earned the recognition of Harvard University and the Humane Society and made them both very famous.

A Beach Tail (Williams, Karen Lynn; ills. Cooper, Floyd)
 Beachcombing and a summer's day spent with a beloved parent--the perfect recipe for a read-aloud.

Jack's Path of Courage (Rappaport, Doreen; ills. Matt Tavares)

Saving the Baghdad Zoo: a True Story of Hope and Heroes (Halls, Kelly Milner and Maj. William Sumner)

An uplifting account of the successful cooperation between the United States Army and concerned citizens of Baghdad as they rescue and revive animals abandoned after the invasion of Iraq.

All Pigs are Beautiful (King-Smith, Dick; ills. Anita Jeram)
Unabashed appreciation for pigs is sprinkled among procine facts in this picture book offering by the late Dick King-Smith.

The Blue House Dog (Blumenthal, Deborah; ills. Adam Gustavson)

A boy whose dog has died befriends a stray whose owner has died. Sensitive and quiet, this book highlights the special relationship that can develop between animals and humans.

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