Week-end Book Review: Bye, Bye, Motabhai! by Kala Sambasivan and Ambika Sambasivan

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Bye, Bye, Motabhai! by Kala Sambasivan and Ambika Sambasivan (Yali Books, 2013)
Kala Sambasavin, illustrated by Ambika Sambasivan,
Bye, Bye, Motabhai!
Yali Books, 2013.

Ages: 6-10

The “large, lumpy, yellow-brown camel” Pavan is a camel with a dream – he longs to escape from his owner Motabhai, a sabzi-wala (vegetable-seller) in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, and head for the glamour of the life of the racing camels in faraway Dubai.

One day Motabhai is fully occupied dealing with the repercussions of Pavan’s mischief and Pavan seizes his opportunity to escape – with four children on his back. They are supposed to be on their way to school but there is no doubt that they embark on the adventure as gleefully as Pavan himself. The ensuing chase not only draws in a donkey, Bijilee, who wants to make friends, but also various irate officials, as well as the animals’ owners. With a little ingenious help from the children, Pavan and Bijilee manage to escape detection, paving the way for the next story in what is set to be a four-book series. By the time young readers get to the end of this naughty camel’s hilarious adventure, they too will be joining in the chorus that forms part of the book’s title: “Bye, Bye, Motabhai! / Off I go to Dubai.”…

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Week-end Book Review: Dill the Little Elephant by Ming & Volker, illustrated by Yusof Gajah

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Dill the Little Elephant, retold by Ming & Volker, illustrated by Yusof Gajah (Oyez!  Books for Children, 2013)Retold by Ming and Volker, illustrated by Yusof Gajah
Dill the Little Elephant
Oyez! Books for Children, 2013.

Ages 4-8

“One day in the forest, a baby elephant was born” – an elephant called Dill who will capture young readers’ hearts from the start, as a newborn looking out at them through one intelligent eye. Dill’s adventures begin only a few days later, when he becomes separated from his herd. His search to be reunited with his family is a catalogue of misadventure, but at every stage of the journey (bar one, when Dill is teased by a crocodile) he encounters animals who offer help and friendship, even a home – though circumstances always intervene and the journey continues…

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Week-end Book review: The Matatu by Eric Walters and Eva Cambell

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

The Matatu by Eric Walters and Eva CampbellEric Walters, illustrated by Eva Campbell,
The Matatu
Orca Book Publishers, 2012.

Ages 5-8

No wonder children love trains, planes, buses and the like – they take people places; and when you’re not one of the passengers, you can let your imagination fly about where they’re going and what awaits at journey’s end. These are the kinds of exhilarating ideas that The Matatu inspires in its young readers. Little Kioko has dreamed about jumping aboard the colorful matatu, the brightly painted local buses that pause on route through his Kenyan village in a cloud of dust, carrying passengers inside and luggage and livestock piled precariously high on the roof — and now, for his fifth birthday, oh joy! His grandfather is taking him for a ride all the way to the end of the line and back again. He can hardly wait! …

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Week-end Book Review: What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World, by Andrea Curtis and Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

What's for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World, by Andrea Curtis, photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden (Red Deer Press, 2012)Reviewed by Charlotte Richardson:

Andrea Curtis, photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden,
What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World
Red Deer Press, 2012.

Ages: 8+

What’s for Lunch? uses a comparison of school lunches around the world as a jumping off point for a wide-ranging discussion of food issues presented in a poster-like layout. Yvonne Duvenvoorden’s attractive photographs of the lunches will draw children in, as will Sophie Casson’s appealingly goofy illustrations. Children will learn not only about the varieties of foods served in schools globally but also about their presentation…

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Week-end Book Review: A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master (Albert Whitman, 2012)Reviewed by Charlotte Richardson:

Irfan Master,
A Beautiful Lie
Albert Whitman, 2012.

Ages: 11+

Irfan Master sets his ambitious debut novel, A Beautiful Lie, in India just before the 1947 Partition. Gathering tension on the national scene is seen through the eyes of Bilal and his three friends, who live in a thriving market town. Bilal’s father is dying, and the boy determines to protect him from the ugly truth of India’s division. Already half an orphan since his mother’s death, his only sibling is an unreliable older brother, so politically involved that his infrequent visits bring danger–and potentially the taboo truth–to the fragile little world Bilal has created for his father in their humble two-room home…

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Week-end Book Review ~ The Year of the Snake; and The Year of the Dragon, by Oliver Chin and Jennifer Wood`

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Book covers: The Year of the Snake; and The Year of the Dragon by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Jennifer Wood (Immedium)Oliver Chin, illustrated by Jennifer Wood,
The Year of the Snake: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac
Immedium, 2013;

The Year of the Dragon:.Tales from the Chinese Zodiac
Immedium, 2012.

Ages: 5-8

The latest two offerings in Oliver Chin’s series of Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, this year’s The Year of the Snake and last year’s The Year of the Dragon are welcome additions to this imaginative menagerie of endearing characters, whose stories embody the chief characteristics of each animal of the Chinese Zodiac in turn.

These are also tales of friendship and finding a place in the world…

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Week-end Book Review ~ Juba This, Juba That, by Helaine Becker and Ron Lightburn

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Cover: Juba This, Juba ThatHelaine Becker, illustrated by Ron Lightburn,
Juba This, Juba That
Tundra Books, 2012.

Ages: 3-8

Adapting a traditional “juba” rhyme, and certainly maintaining the toe-tapping snappiness for which juba is renowned, poet Helaine Becker and illustrator Ron Lightburn have created a dynamic, joyous picture book that will have young readers up on their feet dancing along in time to the words. While the poem creates a narrative of Juba having a fun time at a fairground, the illustrations contextualise the sequence within the suggestion of a dream; so despite its lively energy, the book would also work well as a bed time story…

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Week-end Book Review ~ The Great Race: An Indonesian Trickster Tale by Nathan Kumar Scott and Jagdish Chitara

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Reviewed by Charlotte Richardson:

Retold by Nathan Kumar Scott, illustrated by Jagdish Chitara,
The Great Race: An Indonesian Trickster Tale
Tara Books, 2011.

Ages: 3+

With The Great Race, Tara Books continues its stellar presentation of picture books illustrated by talented indigenous Indian artists. Nathan Kumar Scott retells the simple Indonesian trickster tale, a version of the tortoise and hare story. The traditional craft of illustrator Jagdish Chitara, a Waghari textile artist from Ahmedabad, is painting ritual cloths that celebrate the Mother Goddess in brilliant white, red and black. He uses the same ancient techniques and colors to depict the many stylized animal characters in this endearing folk story, his first secular project…

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Week-end Book Review: The Secret Keepers by Paul Yee

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Reviewed by Abigail Sawyer:

Paul Yee,
The Secret Keepers
Tradewind Books, 2011.

Ages: 11+

It is 1906 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the world has just come to an end; the world of Jackson Leong and his family at least. After their father’s death several months earlier, Jack, his older brother Lincoln, his two younger sisters, and their mother relocated from a farm in the Sacramento area to be near family in the bustling city. Now 16-year-old Lincoln, who “was big and tall and had quickly learned everything the family needed to know about their new hometown” has been killed in the aftermath of the great earthquake, leaving Jack to keep the family together while trying to manage the nickelodeon business his brother had begun. On top of all this, Jack’s “yin-yang eyes” see ghosts everywhere: and they seem to be trying to tell him something…

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Read our interview with Paul Yee, in which he talks about The Secret Keepers.

Week-end Book Review: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Reviewed by Aline Pereira:

Grace Lin,
Starry River of the Sky
Little, Brown, 2012.

Ages: 8-12

Grace Lin’s new middle-grade fantasy, Starry River of the Sky, is a gem every bit as compelling as its companion, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and cut from the same bedrock too: it masterfully weaves Chinese folklore into a richly textured yarn about magic, unexpected connections and the power of stories to shape our lives.

When Rendi finds a job as a helper at an Inn after running away from home in anger, he finds the small, in-the-middle-of-nowhere village of Clear Sky and its inhabitants mysteriously odd and out of sorts. For starters, the moon seems to be missing…

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