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Karen's Book Reviews

| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction/Biography | Fiction, Fantasy, and Young Adult Literature | Author Study - S. E. Hinton | Censorship Project
Picture Books


Van Allsburg, Chris.  1986. THE STRANGER. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.  ISBN: 0395423317.

The Stranger is a picture book for young children. The setting is given immediately when the farmer notices a cool breeze has replaced the summer heat. He finds a man who loses his memory and resides with the farming family. The reader tends to feel sorry for the stranger because of his memory loss, but rejoices in his happiness with the farmer's family. The young daughter notices the stranger is different. While exploring the countryside, the stranger suddenly remembers he must be on his way.

The dust jacket catches your eye because a wide-eyed man is staring at soup about to be scooped into his dish by a young woman. It leaves you contemplating what he is about to encounter. The author uses short sentences of varying lengths to appeal to young readers and keep their attention. 


The illustrations are very colorful and have the look of a watercolor base and enrich the text by following the storyline. The illustrations help children ponder and discover who the stranger was. Their imagination is tested. The style of illustration  fits the text

because they are  needed to enhance the text and give children a clearer picture. of the intended message.


The ending of the story is interesting because every fall thereafter, the trees surrounding the farmer's house stay green for a week and then overnight change into their autumn foliage and "see you next fall" is written in the frost on the farmhouse windows.



The Caldecott Celebration is a childrens book written to show the work of six acclaimed winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrating children's books.  Each section of the book depicts a decade with a winning author and a view of the book they illustrated and how the book was created.


Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg is a widely known story because of the movie made from the book. It is interesting to see how the author chose many different ways to convey the view of the monkeys. He  had his wife pose and drew her to show a more lifelike pose for the monkeys.


Robert McCloskeys book Make Way for Ducklings was illustrated with no color because the cost of printing color was more expensive in 1942. He drew many pictures of ducks in order to have the perfect ones for his illustrations.


Maurice Sendaks book Where the Wild Things Are was created in a small dummy version that could be held in an adults hand. He changed the title from Where the Wild Horses Are to Where the Wild Things Are for the completion of the book.


Marcia Browns book Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper drew, cut and pasted characters to place them in just the right spot.  She had to pre-separate colors to get just the right combinations for her illustrations.


And last but not least, David  Wiesners Tuesday was another medal winner. This was a whimsical story of flying frogs on lily pads which intrigued many who encountered his story. After hearing of winning the award, he also appeared on the Today show for his excellent work.


Rohman, Eric. 2002. MY FRIEND RABBIT. New York: Scholastic, Inc. ISBN: 0439576830.


My Friend Rabbit is a picture book story for the young child. It is story about a rabbit who befriends a mouse who constantly has things go wrong. He uses his imagination to get them out of trouble. It is a fantasy story as it shows the supernatural strength that the rabbit has by using his imagination to retrieve an airplane stuck in the trees. He attempts to stack various other animals so that he may climb them to reach the airplane.


The cartoon illustrations set the mood as a fantasy theme. There are eleven of the thirty pages that contain actual text, while the others show the rabbit in action. It is a very humorous story for a young child. The text is only needed in a few areas to help the reader understand the rabbits motives. The text probably could not stand alone without most of the pictures to show that the rabbit means well but what kind of trouble appears whenever he is around.


The plot is surprising in the end because the airplane was stuck in the tree once already without any passengers, but at the end it is humorous because after retrieving the plane once, now the rabbit and his friend, the mouse, are stuck in the airplane in  a tree. The rabbits famous words are, Not to worry, Mouse, I've got an idea! The expression on the friend's face tells another story.




Martin, Rufe. 1992. THE ROUGH-FACE GIRL. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN: 0399218599.


The Rough-Face Girl is written for young children. This is a Native American Cinderella story of three sisters that plan on marrying the invisible being. The older sisters treat the younger sister with contempt and make her do work constantly. They talk their father into giving them his best so they can try to win the heart of the invisible being. However, the sister of the invisible being asks questions of them they cannot answer and sends them away.


The work of keeping the fire going inside their teepee causes damage to the skin and hair of the younger sister and everyone chides her for being ugly. When she asks the same of her father, for his best, he claims all he has is leftovers, and the rough-face girl takes what is given her and goes to the invisible being. To the amazement of his sister, the rough-face girl answers her questions correctly, and they send her to bathe in the lake and her skin and hair once again becomes beautiful. She and the invisible being are married and live happily ever after. 


The illustrations are by David Shannon. He does a beautiful job of illustrating the story with paintings of American Indians. The story needs the paintings to help children understand the characters better. The sentence structure varies from short sentences to longer sentences. The dialogue is meaningful and flows throughout the story.  The plot is interesting and moving as the rough-faced girl realizes she is beautiful. The illustrations would help children understand Native American folklore a little better.  




Reading helps you slip away!



Boyd. Liz. I LOVE MOMMY. 2004. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763622168.


I Love Mommy is a picture book for younger children.  The story is about a mother who spends most of her time entertaining her children. The story expresses the love that not only the mother has for her child, but also how much the child loves the mother and values the things she teaches her. The child understands that the mother takes care of her needs and knows just how she likes things a certain way. The characters in the story are frogs.


The setting is mostly in the home, but the mother does take the child in the story outside and to the park. The illustrations are in gouache. The characters have a cartoon-like appearance which a young child can relate too much like the cartoon characters they watch on television.  The illustrations add to the story and are needed for a child to be able to understand. For example, in the story the child says, I flip-flop around the house. The illustration shows the child turning cartwheels as the mother admiringly looks on.


The sentences are short for the age group intended.  The illustrations are drawn with objects in almost perfect squares or circles. This is a very nice story for a child to understand the relationship between a parent and a child. Although this book is not as elaborate as some of the other books, children from age one to four would enjoy the book.



What is Your Favorite?

So far,  My Friend Rabbit is the best!