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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Poetry Book Review: DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT by Joyce Sidman



DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT by Joyce Sidman



1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Sidman, Joyce. 2010. DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT.  Ill. Rick Allen. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0547152280

2.  PLOT SUMMARY 
In Sidman’s poetry book about the night, she showcases the wonders of nature from a different perspective. Welcome to the night and discover how bats wrap up, or how the crickets speak.  If you have ever wondered what comes alive in the dark hours of the night, then this book will sure to enlighten and pique the interest of multiple audiences.

 3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS 
Sidman’s poems about all things nocturnal is comprised of 12 different poems that are written in various poetic forms and rhyme schemes - which makes the poems even more dynamic to recite orally. The poems are also matched with an artistic representation of each title and stretches across two full pages – each following the same pattern: title and poem on the left page, main illustration and scientific details on the right page.  Sidman writes poems from the perspective of the animals and insects, and shares their night-time routines with the reader.  In “Night-Spider’s Advice,” the poem is told from the spider’s point-of-view and gives details about what this spider does on a nightly basis: “Build a frame/ and stick to it, /I always say. /Life’s a circle. /Just keep going around.”  On the opposite side of the page, Sidman provides scientific information about the orb spider, along with appropriate terms and vocabulary to offer insight to the delicate art of web spinning. In “I Am a Baby Porcupette,” you see the world through the eyes of this small creature and its characteristics: “I am a baby porcupette. / My paws are small; my nose is wet. / And as I nurse against my mom, / we mew and coo a soft duet.” Children can learn even more scientific facts about the baby porcupette on the opposite page and how he learns from his mother.

Allen’s illustrations are beautifully designed to enhance the reading experience.  The poems and illustrations are well organized and designed to help young readers gain an insight to nocturnal animals and insects.  The colors express the time of day, from the first poem “Welcome to the Night” which introduces the reader to the beginning of the night with a picture of sundown in hues of soft pinks and oranges.  As the daylight decreases, the colors become less vibrant and slightly dim as the night progresses. When the moon is out the delicate colors of moonlight are expressed through white and yellow highlights.  Together with Sidman’s poetic imagery, the Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Nightis a great book to share with young children ages 6-9, and to teach science and social studies themed lessons on nature in the forest at night. 


4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
Newbery Honor Award

HORNBOOK starred review: “The dark lines of Allen's skillful lino-cut prints make the perfect accompaniment to a book of night poems, with their subtle colors allowing the reader to seek out the creatures slowly, just as one's eye becomes accustomed to finding things in the dark."

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “The bookmaking is beautiful with the concept of night lending itself generously to poetry."

BOOKLIST starred review: “…poems about the woods at night reveal exciting biology facts that are explained in long notes on each double-page spread.”

 5. CONNECTIONS
* This book is great to share with young children when introducing science and social studies curriculum about nocturnal animals.

*Collect other poem books written by Joyce Sidman: SWIRL BY SWIRL: SPIRALS IN NATURE, RED SINGS FROM TREE TOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS, SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN AND OTHER POND POEMS, BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW.

*Other poetry books about nature:
Frost, Helen. STEP GENTLY OUT. Ill. Rick Lieder. ISBN: 0763656011
Salas, Laura P. A LEAF CAN BE… Ill. Violeta Dabija. ISBN: 0761362037
Yolen, Jane. COLOR ME A RHYME: NATURE POEMS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. Ill.  Jason Stemple. ISBN: 1590781724

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Traditional Literature Review: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka




THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS! by Jon Scieszka and Ill. By Lane Smith

1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Scieszka, Jon. 1989. THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS! Ill. by Lane Smith. New York, NY: Puffin. ISBN: 0140544518

2.  PLOT SUMMARY 
The story of the three little pigs has been all wrong.  That is, according to Alexander Wolf, aka: the Big Bad Wolf.   His version of events is quite different than the original tale we heard as children.  Indeed, he explains that it has all been one big misunderstanding.  Al, as he likes to be called, says “the real story started with a sneeze and a cup of sugar.” 

3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS 
Scieszka’s take on the children’s classic The Three Little Pigs, is a leader in the trend of fractured fairytales.  Told through the eyes of the wolf, he blames his bad rap on one big misunderstanding.  According to Mr. Wolf, he was baking his grandmother a cake for her birthday but ran out of sugar.  He was also sick, and would have these terribly large sneezes.  When visiting his neighbors, the pigs, to ask for sugar he felt a sneeze coming.  Instead of huffing and puffing, as told in the original tale, Mr. Wolf “sneezed a great sneeze.”  Unfortunately, because the homes of the first two little pigs were made of straw and sticks his sneeze blew their houses down, and regrettably the pigs didn’t survive either.  Not being a wasteful wolf, his reason for eating the first little pig was because “It seemed like a shame to leave a perfectly good ham dinner lying there…”  And of course when the second pig died, he explained that “food will spoil if you just leave it out there in the open.”  His logical rationalization is his justification for his actions, which if told in truth would be believable.  And that’s exactly what makes this story so endearing – through the eyes of the wolf it does sound like it could happen.

The clever artwork throughout the book depicts the wolf as a sophisticated animal and not some wild beast out there killing pigs for no good reason.  He wears glasses to give him an intelligent charisma that makes you want to believe his story is true.  After all, who wouldn’t trust a well-spoken, charming wolf in a sweater and red bow tie?  On the other hand, the pigs are portrayed as rude and ill-mannered with no common decency or courtesy to help a neighbor in need. 

4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
Golden Sower Awards, 1992

Parent’s Choice Award, 1996

BOOKLIST: “Though this sanguine attitude may not play well with the youngest (Mr. Wolf ruminates on eating rabbits, and one memorable picture shows a cheeseburger with bunny ears coming out of the bun), older kids may have to wrest the book away from adults.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “the bespectacled wolf moves with a rather sinister bonelessness, and his juicy sneezes tear like thunderbolts through a dim, grainy world.”

 5. CONNECTIONS
* This book is great to share with children of any age to compare and contrast the original classic with this fractured version.

*Collect other books written by Jon Scieszkasuch as: THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES, MATH CURSE, BALONEY (HENRY P.), and COWBOY AND OCTOPUS.

*Other picture books featuring alternate versions of the Three Little Pigs:
Artell, Mike. THREE LITTLE CAJUN PIGS. Ill. by Jim Harris. ISBN: 0803728158
Schwartz, Corey Rosen. THE THREE NINJA PIGS. Ill. by Dan Santat. ISBN: 0399255141
Teaque, Mark. THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE SOMEWHAT BAD WOLF. ISBN: 0439915015
Trivizas, Eugene. THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG. Ill. by Helen Oxenbury. ISBN: 9780689815287