Sample Book Reviews by Former Students Dahm2493Picturebooks Book Review 1 Carle, Eric.(Author and Illustrator) The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1969. The days of the week, the numbers 1-10, and eating healthy are all taught through the metamorphosis of a caterpillar. Appropriate Age/Grade Level: Preschool age (3–5 years) Evaluation Criteria 1. Content The content of this book teaches as it tells a story of a caterpillar’s life. This book is great for preschool children where learning must be captivating fun. It teaches them to count, the days of the week, not to eat too many sweets and introduces metamorphosis. This book conveys the material in a simple context as not to overwhelm a child. It is a great educational starting book for children. 2. Illustrations The cover of the book draws a child in instantly. Children love insects, especially caterpillars. The caterpillar has huge popping eyes as though it is looking at you. The caterpillar is on the move which would draw a curious reader in for exploration. The illustrations are simple as is the text. The artist uses primary colors. In the beginning, the egg is so little and not too colorful sitting on a leaf, but by the end, the egg has become a huge brilliant butterfly. The illustrations capture a splendid growing process. It seems like a child could have painted them; yet, you know an artist did it. The food the caterpillar eats has holes giving an exciting view to the reader, especially little ones. The pictures follow the story closely. The ending when the caterpillar turns into a pretty butterfly is spectacular. 3. Theme It is hard to say there is one theme of this book. It seems to educate children about eating habits. One obvious theme is the value of eating well. It is designed to draw children in and to teach them. At the end, the caterpillar turns into a gorgeous butterfly. This is a reward for eating properly throughout the growth process. Personal Reaction Eric Carle did a spectacular job writing and illustrating The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is definitely a book that I would share with my children. It remains timeless indeed. It tells an actual event that takes place in nature, all the while teaching a valuable lesson. The book’s elements are all real and easily identified by adults and children. I think when a child reads the book, his/her center focus will be on the caterpillar; he/she learns from the sequence and content. This book clearly teaches the sequence of events. The text and the pictures go hand in hand to convey the story’s meaningfulness. Discussion questions 1. What was the biggest lesson you learned from the caterpillar’s life? 2. Tell me about the events leading up to the caterpillar becoming a butterfly? 3. What were some things you would do differently if you were the caterpillar? Book Review 2 Freeman, Don. ill Smith, Eric (illustrator) Corduroy. New York: The Viking Press, 1968. Corduroy stayed waiting in a department store until his soul mate found him. Appropriate Age/Grade Level: Kindergarten (5-8years) Evaluation Criteria 1. Content The content of this book is very heartfelt. The story takes adults back to their childhood. It addresses how children feel about stuffed animals. The reality of a child’s relationship to his teddy bear is clear. The reading is a little challenging for a kindergartner. The pictures aid in the feeling of the book. 2. Illustrations The front cover shows Corduroy reaching for a button from a mattress. This is appropriate for he thinks he needs this in order for someone to purchase him. In this book, the illustrations are not as necessary as the text; the story can stand on its own. Children need to see pictures though to bring it to life. Corduroy is a simple bear. The pictures are not the best but they follow the book. The illustrations show him going on a search for his button in detail, such as when he is seen checking all of the departments in the store for one single button. This part of the story clearly shows loneliness and the need to be accepted. Freeman uses subtle colors, but each illustration begs to be studied in depth. The end page shows that Corduroy and the little girl complete one another. 3. Theme The theme is beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Corduroy was perfect for the little girl. She loved him and wanted him just the way he was. A home where a bear is loved is better than a big palace. The author did a spectacular job at getting inside a child’s head. He then spectacularly encompasses the idea of being yourself is important. Personal Reaction Corduroy brought back my childhood. Children will love its simplicity, simple vocabulary, and cute illustrations. The emotions are warm, fuzzy and fill every page. The artwork is okay, but the words are priceless. This book definitely is a prime example of children’s literature. It should have received an award for being able to capture a child’s imagination. Discussion questions 1. How would you feel if you were missing a button from you overalls? 2. Tell me about an experience where you understood your dolls and bears. 3. What things did Corduroy teach you? Adam Graham, Fall 2006 Book Review 3 Henkes, Kevin. (Author and Illustrator) Kitten’s First Full Moon. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2004. Picture: Caldecott Medal Kitten is on her adventure to reach the big bowl of milk in the sky. However, what Kitten wants is already at home. Appropriate Age/Grade Level: Kindergarten (5-8years) Evaluation 1) Content: The content is good for children in grades between first and third. The quality of language is “top notch,” which is shown by short sentences where the text tells quite a bit of the story, even with few lines. As for curiosity about its topic, this book delivers by making the reader think about how nice and loving their home is. 2) Illustrations: The illustrations extend the text to the fullest. In the whole book, the illustrations complete the text to create a nice complimentary relationship between the text and the pictures. For example, if the text told of how Kitten ran away from home hoping to reach the big bowl of milk, the illustrations depicted Kitten in many different places trying to reach the big bowl of milk in the sky. With this great relationship, the story is full and alive. The pictures are still appealing even though they are in black and white. Some children may view this as an oldfashioned book because of the lack of color. The jacket and end pages are appropriate mainly for the setting, no so much the theme, of the book. The jacket page shows Kitten in front of a very full moon, in the grass, cleaning herself, as if she has been out of the house running around. The end page is very simple and includes a full moon with the words, “What a night,” in the middle of the moon showing how Kitten had quite the adventure on that night. 3) Theme: The theme is very worthwhile. In the world of today, children are starting to look away from their homes, for various reasons, to find many things including love, shelter, etc. where they should be looking within the home for those “treasures.” Since the theme of this story is home has the greatest treasures, children can lean quite a valuable lesson. While this theme is important, it is not either too obvious or overwhelming. Instead, it is hidden in just the right way where a little bit of looking will find it. Personal Reactions: The book was very well written and illustrated. The good point about this book is the theme it showcases. It is so important that children learn the importance of home and what a good home can offer so that they grow to be better adults. I read this to my children, and they asked me to read it again. I definitely would use the book in a classroom setting. Discussion Questions 1) What do you think the moon is made of? 2) What is the best part about your home? 3) What is your favorite thing to drink?