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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Emu Dads


Two facts surface when I consider emus: they are the second largest birds after ostriches and they cannot fly. I also know the word emu is used often in crossword puzzles, perhaps because the unusual letter combination fits with others. And so I have learned a lot from reading Claire Saxby's book simply titled Emu. Emu dads raise the chicks. When the first chick starts to cheep in the egg, the other chicks development is hastened so they will all arrive within a few days of each other. They sprint in zigzag formations to confuse their predators, like eagles, that would not relish the severe pecking of the dad's beak or the tearing from his sharp claws.

The book is a perfect combination of narrative nonfiction and facts. The former are displayed in Adobe Garamond Pro type, and the latter are in in Providence Sans, making it easy for the reader to notice the difference. A note after the index, in fact, encourages readers to look at both types of fonts to discover all there is to know in the text. The author's use of wonderful word sequences most definitely encourages appreciation for sounds and images. Here are a few of my favorites:

"honey-pale sunshine"
"eight granite-green eggs"
"blink-eyed chicks crack their way into their new world"
"the breeze bustles, green and sweet"

The word images are complemented by digital artwork (by Graham Byrne) that shows the adult emus' feathers and the striped feathers that camouflage the young birds. Not until they are 18 months old do the young birds live away from their dads. My favorite fact about them is that they are very inquisitive!


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ask Me


Ask me why I like Glacier National Park.

Why do you like Glacier National Park?

I like Glacier National Park because it has cerulean colored mountain lakes, a multitude of mountain goats, reflections unmatched, and layers of peaks. 

Ask me why else I like Glacier National Park.

Why else do you like Glacier National Park?

I like Glacier because of its hundreds of miles of trails, its many wildflowers, its unique chalets and lodges, and its incredible geologic and human history. I like it because I can hike on trails and hardly see other people all day.

I could elaborate about my favorite park. Suffice it to say, I love this place. I also love Ask Me, a book written by Bernard Waber and illustrated by Suzy Lee. Bernard Waber was an author who never failed to see things from a child's perspective, and this book, published post-humously, is another example of his understanding of young minds, 

The book is a dialogue between a girl and her dad. She asks him to ask her what she likes and loves as they move through an autumn day of strolling, eating ice cream (which she loves, loves, loves), remembering, kicking leaves, wondering, and getting ready for bed. Her passion for the things she loves and her convictions bring to mind the many children I love and their enthusiasm for life. Her dad's model of genuine interest, patience, and complete absorption of her endearing personality is stellar (making me wish I had been that good as a mom). 

Readers will, no doubt, think about the things they love, recognize the unique way the book is structured, and comprehend the concept of voice easier with this book. It is a gem. Suzy Lee's pencil illustrations are the perfect accompaniment.