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Bookends: Children’s Books with a lot of variety October 15, 2015

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Children’s Books with a lot of variety

By Dan Davidson

March 4, 2015

– 669 words –

This column features a trio of quite different children’s books. The only introduction I need to make is that the falling Loonie has meant a shift in the prices of these books, and the publishers have chosen not to be specific. The prices listed are in American dollars. Beside that number, each of the books bears the notation “Higher in Canada.”


Bats in the Band

Written and illustrated by Brian Lies

Houghton Mifflin HarcourtBats in the Band

32 pages


Brian Lies has produced a series of books on the recreational activities of bats, donating a portion of the sales proceeds to Bat Conservation International. Don’t let that scare you away. This is the fourth story since 2006 and he seems to be having a lot of fun with the concept of how the bats might spend their nights.

So far they’ve been to a ballgame, the beach and the library. This time they’re assembling in a vacant barn to play music, all kinds on music.

Appropriately, this is the rhyming story of how the bats find a place to gather and what they do when they get there.

“We sing together as one voice / It seems the very walls rejoice! / All together, rafters ringing … / it’s as though are souls are singing.”

The painted illustrations are both realistic and fantastic, catching the spirit of an amazing evening’s experience. It’s a lot of fun.

Madame Martine

Written and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Albert Whiteman and Company

32 pages

$16.99Madame Martine

Madame Martine lives an ordinary repetitive, solitary life in Paris, so used to the amazing sights all around her that she does not notice them. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from her window and she has never bothered to climb it.

“Eh. It’s a tourist thing,” she says, echoing an attitude I sometimes hear here in Dawson.

Her life is like that until one day she takes in a stray dog, which she names Max. Max has ideas about doing new things, one of which is to lure her up to the top of the tower, where she has the most amazing view of the city.

Max brightens her life – even causes her to change the drab clothes she always wears for more vibrant colours. After that, while much of her weekly routine remains the same, “Every Saturday they tried something new.”

This is an easy to read text with watercolour illustrations that reflect the change in Martine’s life very nicely.

Fall LeavesFall leaves

Story by Loretta Holland

Illustrated by Elly MacKay

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Holland and MacKay have produced what is probably the most complicated of the three books. The two words of the title appear in various combinations, with other words that fit the season, in large letters on each left hand page: FALL ARRIVES, BIRDS LEAVE, LEAVES TWIST, RAIN FALLS and so on.

This part of the text plays with the different meanings these two words may have as homonyms and as different parts of speech. So that’s the simplest way to read the book.

Beneath those large colourful words is a descriptive text in simple, but scientifically accurate, language, dealing, in this example, with different kinds of leaves and why they fall, what causes them to be green in the summer and why they change in the autumn.

The right page of each double page entry is an illustration created with ink, yupo paper, light and photography. They are saturated with the colours of autumn and early winter, with a sharp focus on at least one figure in the pictures, while everything else is ever so slightly out of focus. This gives the flat page a kind of depth that it might not have otherwise.

The final page is a set of instructions for making leaf prints.

This is a very nice package with all sorts of possibilities for having a great parent-child reading session.




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