Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pretty Monsters

Fire: A Companion to Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Fire is the prequel to Graceling and I must admit to have been very excited to read it. Fire is a monster, literally. Only she is the last human monster alive. She is beautiful, stunningly beautiful, and has the ability to read thoughts and plant her own thoughts in people's minds. The kingdom is on the brink of war and the king wants Fire to use her power to help discover the plots against the kingdom. Fire is uncertain that she wants to use her power at all because she father, Castrel, used it to the detriment and harm of so many. Eventually Fire tentatively uses her power and while living in the palace comes across a number of prisoners who have "fog" in their minds. She learns that this blankness in their minds comes form a young boy, with two different colored eyes named Leck. Fire is kidnapped and realizes the extent and limitations of Leck's power. She is able to escape and make it back to her guard just at the war begins.

This review was a long time coming. I just finished the book last night but I was dragging my feet while reading it. Not because it wasn't interesting, because I didn't want it to end. I really enjoyed this book. It was very different from Graceling, and Leck is the only character who appears in both stories, and this is in no way his story. I liked how Fire struggled with who she was, what she could do, and what her father did with the same powers. It was refreshing to read her struggle and really think about the implications of her actions, even if they were meant for good. Adding to Fire's character development, the other characters are given some equally hard issues to deal with and struggle through which gave the book a more interesting plot. This is an entirely new world from what we are introduced to in Graceling. I am still not completely clear on how Leck even gets to this new land, but I liked that there is a lot of mystery surrounding him. I also liked how the author told the story. The reader learns things as Fire does and while we, the reader, may have a few more hints about how things are going to turn out we are able to grow with the character. There is a romance in this book, and I think it is the perfect backdrop to everything else that happens. I appreciated that the romance did not overwhelm everything else that was going one, it was one piece of the story, and it was interwoven to the rest of the narrative very well. This is a great read for young adults 12-16.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Duck & Goose Are Friends

Duck & Goose written and illustrated by Tad Hills

Duck and Goose come across a large, round, spotted object one day. Both claim it as their own but what is it? An egg of course. After some fighting they end up on the egg together, trying to keep it warm so it will hatch. Duck and Goose start to talk about all the things they are going to teach their little one. They find out that they do a lot of the same things, like waddle, swim, and fly. After a day and night of sitting on their egg they feel a little kick and think it is time for the egg to hatch. When the look down they see a bluebird who wants to play. Angry at disturbing their egg they tell bluebird to go away. Bluebird does go but first asks if she can play with their ball. Duck and Goose realize that they have been sitting on a ball not an egg and decide to play with it.

Adorable! That is really the best word to describe this story. From the illustrations to the story itself, it is adorable. Duck and goose are both drawn to look very cute and cuddly. They each have their own personalities and ideas about what to do with their egg. This is a great story about sharing and learning to get along with someone who is different. Young readers will also realize that the "egg" is not an egg at all but a ball and have a lot of fun knowing that while the two main characters do not. The illustrations are brightly colored and there are some great facial expressions from duck and goose. Otherwise though it is a very clean book with pleny of white space on the page so you can take in everything without being overwhelmed. I highly recommend for young readers ages 2-5.

Vamps, Tramps, and Snowmobiles

Frostbite: A Vampire Academy Novel by Richelle Mead

Book 2 in the Vampire Academy series begins with Rose heading off campus for a guardian test. Not much time has passed between book one and two and we immediately see that Rose is still having issues controlling her emotions around her instructor and mentor Dimitri. This book takes place in the span of a couple weeks, cramming all the action into the time right before and after Christmas. There is an attack on a royal vampire family that only lived four hours from the school. Worried that the Strigori are getting closer to the school and possibly organizing their forces while using human to orchestrate daytime attacks, the school is thrown into panic. Parents do not want to have their kids traveling for Christmas so most come out to Montana where a large ski lodge is rented for the school's use. While there, news of another attack sends fear through the Moroi and guardian community. After a few of Rose's friends try and take on a cell of Strigori alone, Rose goes after them to try and stop them before they find anyone. The end I will leave you to find out for yourself but it is not all that happy.

I was very excited about reading this book after I finished book one but for some reason this story left me feeling blah. I think one of the major problems is that this story focuses so much on Rose and hardly has Lissa in it at all. One of the great parts about the first book was the two girls figuring things out together. In this book Rose feels like she can't tell Lissa things for a variety of reasons so we only really hear about Lissa. I also think that the time frame for this book was very fast compared with that of the first book. I was expecting the second book to have the same time frame of the first (which was about 4-5 months) instead it was only three weeks. And while a lot happened in those three weeks it feels like I am missing part of the story, maybe that is to get me to read book 3. Another problem associated with the short time frame is character development, it is hard to have characters grow and learn when you are only given three weeks. Honestly you are not going to discover yourself or learn self awareness that quickly, even in a world where vampires exist. Without the character development the story seemed a little flat. Would I recommend this book? I don't know. I am going to read the third installment and see what I think of the series then. Right now I am not as big of a fan as a I was after reading the first book. We will see if the third offers any more insight into the characters and the relationship that pulled the reader into the series in the first place.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Hunger Games Squared

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I picked up both of these books from the library the other day (actually I had to wait a while to pick them up because so many people had the pitifully few copies on hold) and thought it was about time I read this series. I made one mistake in that the next book doesn't come out until August and now I am stuck in the mother of all cliff hangers. Ugh. That should give you a clue that I liked the books but I will get to that soon enough. Since this is going to be a two book review I will be giving away the ending of at least the first book and probably the second, so I will tell you now that these are great books for 11-15 year-olds and that I highly recommend them in case you don't want to spoil it for yourself.

Hunger Games begins with the reader meeting Katniss, a girl living in what used to be the United States sometime in the future. Things have changed a lot and her world is almost nothing like ours. Katniss lives in District 12, under the ruler ship of the Capitol, there are twelve districts in all and each one is poor and oppressed. Katniss is already something of a rebel, she wants to survive and will do anything to help her family make it, (like hint illegally outside the fence on government property). The day we meet her is the day of The Reaping. Many years ago there was an uprising against the Capitol, when it was crushed the Capitol started the Hunger Games in which each district must send one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death in an arena. Watching the televised event is mandatory to remind the people that there is no fighting the government. The day of the reaping it is Katniss's little sister that is chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place and she is shipped off to the arena. The story gets more complicated from there when the boy that was chosen from her district, Peeta confesses his love for her. His announcement though could be what saves her life. In the end when it is just down to the two of them, she suggests poisoning themselves so that there will be no victor. They are stopped just before they swallow the poison, and for the first time ever the Hunger Games has two victors.

Catching Fires starts with Katniss and Peeta being home with their families and their new riches. Katniss is uneasy about her victory since she defied the Capitol to keep Peeta alive. Her fears are confirmed when President Snow pays her a visit demanding that unless she convince the districts that she defied the rules for love, there will be terrible consequences for her and her loved ones. Katniss doesn't realize it but she is now seen as a symbol of rebellion and there is nothing she can do to stop it. But the President has other ideas and when the Hunger Games are announced for that year he states the the competitors will be chosen from the former winners. The only female winner from District 12 was Katniss, she is headed back to the arena. Peeta goes with her as well to protect her and see that she makes it out alive. At this point you really might want to just block out a couple hours and read straight through to the end because you will not be able to stand the tension.

I read these two books over the weekend and I must say I found myself horrified from time to time thinking that children are reading these books. Then I remembered that many children's books cannot be read by adults, we just can't take it. I don't know when that change occurs, when you can easily dismiss anything horrible you read to understanding the deeper implications of what you are reading but sometimes it is a drag. I miss the days of picking up a book and being unconcerned with how morbid it was, or who kills who. Because, of course, we all knew then that in every good story someone dies, right? Putting aside by silly adult tendencies and trying to look at these books as either an educator (different kind of adult) or a young reader I see the absolute brilliance in them. For starters these books are all I could talk about all weekend. My apologies to family who had to listen to me telling them every detail about the gruesomeness of the Hunger Games. But that is exactly what a good book is meant to do, get some sort of reaction from the reader. In this case I am not surprised that they are so popular, I defy anyone to read the books and not tell someone about what you read, you can't do it. The reader is immediately pulled into the story and never given and time to lose interest. From the moment these to books starts you are on a wild ride with these characters and you honestly do not want off until you know what happens next. The character development is very good and as we learn more about each of the characters we like them more and more. I like that for all of Katniss's survival skills she is relatively clueless about people's character's and picking up on subtext. It is the perfect flaw for our heroine. Now I said at the beginning I recommend for ages 11-15, partly due to the content, length of the books, and vocabulary. Of course I enjoyed them immensely so adults feel free to enjoy as well. As I said though, the last book is not out until August, so beware that if you start theses two books you will be left wanting more, much more, until then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Glorious Day for a Nap

A Glorious Day by Amy Schwartz

Henry lives in a little red apartment building with four other families. He wakes up and spends the day with his mom and friends. Henry likes to go to the supermarket, play with trains, nap, and go to the park. The other children in his building also do similar things throughout the day. At the end of the day when he is tucked in and ready for sleep he thinks that it was a glorious day.

Eh, this book is O.K. It is not a bad book but I was not particularly interested in it either. You know you are not enjoying a book when you can't wait for it to be over. The story mainly focuses on Henry but we hear about the other children in the building as well as they go through similar activities. I didn't feel like the story held my attention though, there was nothing interesting about Henry or his day. What may have contributed to that feeling are the very blah illustrations. The illustrations just look boring, there is not a lot of detail on each page and that doesn't help the story at all. I also didn't feel like I wanted to know anything more about the characters, there was nothing to draw me in and make me want to turn the page. But like I said it is not a bad book. It is well written and it might be a good story to wind down with before nap or bedtime. I would say pick it up if you are looking for something without a lot of bright colors or things to distract your young reader before sleepy time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Groundhogs Are So Unappreciated

Groundhog Gets A Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Groundhog is upset when on February 3rd no one seems to care about him anymore. He decides to tell the other animals (a squirrel, crow, and reporter groundhog), whether they want to hear it or not, why groundhogs should have their own appreciation month, or what makes groundhogs so special. Groundhog begins by telling the animals his different names that include Whistle Pig and Woodchuck. Then then explains about groundhogs burrowing habits, size, animal relatives, movement capabilities, predator detection, habitats, food sources, teeth, hibernation, and getting girls. In the end the reporter groundhog publishes the notes he has been taking and people everywhere line up to get a signed copy of Groundhog Gets A Say.

This is a very funny book. Groundhog spouts off a lot of facts about his species while Crow and Squirrel make comments in little text bubbles. They are not convinced until the end that there is anything special about groundhogs. There is a great deal of factual information in this book about groundhogs and this book could be used in a classroom to kick off a unit about the animal or about finding facts. I liked that the story was lighthearted, you never felt like you were learning the information just that you were reading a fun story with some silly characters. In the end that is a great way to sneak in something educational when kids least expect it. The illustrations really follow the mood of the book. Every animal looks a little cartoon-y and has tons of personality. The pages are really clean, meaning that although there is a lot going on with the narration and the extra text bubbles you always know how to follow the text on the page and the illustrations are not too crowded to make the book feel jumbled or confusing. The illustrator uses a lot of bring colors and it just meshes well with the upbeat tone of the book. I can say that I learned something new about groundhogs, I did not know that people who study them are called marmoteers. Very entertaining and great as a read aloud at home or for a classroom, I recommend for children ages 3-7.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Something Wickedly Weird Wins

Something Wickedly Weird: The Wooden Mile by Chris Mould

Right off the bat let me say that I did pick up this book for the cover. There was something about the illustration that just called to me when I was browsing the library shelves the other day. With that out of the way on with the review.

We meet Stanley Buggles as he learns that a great uncle has died and left him everything. That includes a large house in the village of Crampton Rock by the sea. Stanley, anxious to go see his new property, decides to spend his summer at the house leaving behind his parents and siblings. Stanley meets Mrs. Carelli at the train station, his house keeper, cook, and guardian for the summer and they set off to Candlestick Hall. Stanley quickly realizes just from walking through that town that there is "something wickedly weird" about the village of Crampton Rock. Stanley is not allowed to step foot in the town until he proves he lives there, no one is allowed out after dark, and no one ever goes us onto the moor. To add to all of that there is a sweet shop in town with a very sinister looking owner and no customers and Stanley could swear that he heard a pike mounted on the wall in Candlestick Hall speak to him on two different occasions. Stanley is determined to get to the bottom of things no matter what and that is how all the trouble begins.

There is so much more to this book but if this short description has piqued your interest I do not want to give away anything else. This was a really fun book. It is perfect for an adventurous 3rd-5th grade reader. Stanley is a very likable character who is about eleven years old (if I had to guess) and full of his own ideas about the world. He likes to explore and get into a little bit of mischief. The rest of the cast of characters are equally as likable or despicable (depending on what the author wants us to feel) and we very quickly have our favorites. The plot moves along very quickly and at no point in the story was it slow. I actually flew this this book in about an hour and a half because I needed to know what happened next. This is a series from a British author and in the states four of the six book are out. The book reminded me of the Series of Unfortunate Events but I must say that I like this series a lot more because it is not as depressing. The illustrations look to be drawn with pencil and ink pen and are all in black and white. They convey the weirdness of the town and situations of danger very well, but are not scary, and very accurately reflect the tone of the book. I am excited to read book two and find out what happens when Stanley returns to Crampton Rock for his winter holidays.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Watch Out Kids or the Weeping Woman Will Get You

The Weeping Woman: An Hispanic Legend told in Spanish and English by Joe Hayes, illustrated by Vicki Trego Hill & Mona Pennypacker

Maria was very beautiful and she knew it. As she grew up she decided that because she was so beautiful she would only marry the most handsome man in the world. One day a very handsome young ranchero came to her village and she decided he was the one for her. She made him love her and they were married. After a few years they had two children and life seemed good. But when Maria's husband started to ignore her and only pay attention to the children Maria got angry. She heard that he was thinking of leaving her and marrying a rich woman of the upper class. One day he drove by her and the children in his carriage with a fine lady, he talked only to the children and then drove off. Maria was enraged and took her anger out on the children and threw them into the river. The next instant she regretted what she did and cried out to them but they were gone. She spent the night walking up and down the river screaming for her children and in the morning she was dead. The villagers buried her by the river and they say at night you can her her crying for her children and walking the riverbed looking for them.

The introduction to this book warns that it is not a happy tale but I was not expecting it to be so morbid. There is a section at the beginning and end of this book explaining about different stories and legends that have been passed down in Mexico and I really liked the succinct explanation. The story itself is told in Spanish and in English which is great if you are teaching your children one language or the other. The illustrations look like they are done in pencil and have a very earthy feel to them. The story itself is well written but morbid. I do know some kids who would find this story fascinating but I have a hard time recommending it for bedtime reading. I would say that if your child can handle a little ghost story now and then pick it up and it will give you an opportunity to explain about oral traditions and legends. If you child or young reader is easily scared maybe wait on this one until they get a little older.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kindergarteners Have More Fun

Miss Bindergarten has a Wild Day in Kindergarten by Joseph Slate Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Miss Bindergarten's day begins with Adam (the alligator) throwing is his hat too high. The book continues with one sentence for each student in her class getting into some kind of interesting predicament throughout the day. Every few students we read the phrase "Miss Bindergarten is having a wild day in kindergarten." The students' names go in alphabetical order and the letter of their name corresponds to the letter of their species (Matty the Moose, Tommy the Tiger, etc...) At the end of the book we are given some extra information about what the students were working on and the names of all the students and teachers.

This is a very clever alphabet book. I really enjoyed going through and seeing what each student was up to throughout the day. Miss Bindergarten has a very lively class. The illustrations are packed with detail. On each page there is a lot to look at and discover. This is great for a one-on-one read when you and your young reader can really sit and pour over every page to find all the little fun details the illustrator has thrown in. Although some pages look a bit too jumbled it will be fun to read again and find details you missed the first time around. I also liked that the last page is the class roster. The names of the students and their species are in bold so that you can see the correlation in the letters. There is a rhyming scheme in the book but I thought at times it was a little weak. It does not detract from the story at all it just seemed forced every once and awhile. Another great aspect to this book is that it shows kindergarten to be a fun and wild time. Some kids are nervous about going to school and I think almost every child can find something fun in this book to get excited to go to school. In the end this is a great alphabet book and one that makes school look like a lot of fun. I would highly recommend for boys or girls ages 3-6.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Wrong Color can Sometimes be the Right One

White is for Blueberry by George Shannon pictures by Laura Dronzek

Think you know the colors of nature? Think again. White is for Blueberry teaches us it depends on when you look at something, how near or far you are, and if you look on the outside or the inside because colors change throughout the growing cycle of plants and animals. The book begins with a crazy statement like "PINK is for crow..." and then you turn the page to reveal that when a crow has just hatched it is pink. The book continues in that format until you reach the end and are reminded of how plants and animals change.

This is a wonderful book! A refreshing change to the standard color books. I feel that teaching children multiple colors for one item is O.K. I know that some people disagree with me and feel that it confuses children but I am here to say that children only get confused when they are exposed to this type of book too late (by age 5 or 6). When children are young they are so curious and what to know "why" about everything. This type of book helps to encourage and pique that curiosity by challenging some of the assumptions they have already formed at a young age. Challenging those assumptions early helps a child to understand that things change and that there is not always one correct answer to every question. Having that attitude as they grow up makes for a very teachable child. What is a teachable child? It is a child who does not fight you when you tell them that the Indians and Pilgrims did not get along all the time, it is a child who can accept that there is such a thing as imaginary numbers, and it is a child who is willing to think about new concepts without being threatened by them. Alright, now that I am down off my soap box let the book review continue. The illustrations are great for this book. They look like they were done with pastels and have a rough and fuzzy quality to them. This helps the concept that you have to really look at something and examine it. The color choices are bright when they needed to be and muted when that was called for, in other words Dronzek did a good job of determining what needed more or less emphasis. The format of the book with a color being attributed to an unlikely object and then the reveal when you turn the page is great for having a young reader guess how the author is going to make the color and object align. I highly recommend this book, not only for the mental stimulation which I think it will give a 2-4 year old but also because it is well written and a fun book to read.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Story Got Lost in the Fog

The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt

In this book we travel through the forest to discover what is happening. On one page there is a dark silhouette of some activity with the words "What can this be in the foggy foggy forest?" When the page is turned the image is colored in and there is a sentence, in rhyme, about what is going on.

I must admit that I picked up this book for the cover. I immediately loved it. Inside the books pages are almost like a wax paper and you can see through the open spaces. The darkened silhouette pages are gorgeous and very artistic. But when you turn the page I must say that I was let down. The detail in the drawings are minimal and the color choices seem flat and uninteresting. Because the cover and silhouetted pages are so striking I was expecting something as equally stunning on the other side, that is not the case. I must also admit that I do not like the rhymes the author came up with either. I think though, that if I liked the illustrations more I would be fine with the text. There is only one passage where the rhyme does not work at all and because all the characters in the forest are from fairy tales there are many options to replace that page. That may be the other part that I do not like about this book. There is no narrative to this story. Each page is a completely separate rhyme with a character from some fairy tale or legend. It is fun to have a whole bunch of your favorite fairy tale characters together but not if they are not tied together in any way shape or form. Overall I am at a loss about whether or not to recommend this book. Half of it is very interesting and it is a good exercise for children to try and guess at the darkened shape. The other half though is a jumble of fairy tale characters with no ties to each other (and in some cases to ties to a forest) and some bad rhymes. In the end I must say that I do not recommend, just goes to show that you really should not only judge a book by its cover.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meatball vs. Meatball

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved how silly it was and I thought it would be so fun to live someplace where the rained food. For those of you who don't know the story, in the small town of Chewandswallow the weather rain down food three times a day. The people who lived there never had to buy food in a store but would travel around with their plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons to be able to catch and eat whatever came down. But one day the weather started to get a bit crazy, the portions got too big and they were not able to clean up after the food. Once houses and buildings started to be destroyed by the huge food the townspeople decided to abandon the town. They built boats out of bread and sailed to a new land.

I recently watched the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and was pleasantly surprised by the good job they did updating the story. The movie premise is that in the small town of Chewandswallow there is a young man who is an inventor. His inventions never work and on the grand opening of a new tourist attraction his latest invention (a machine that converts water into food) goes haywire and destroys the new theme park. However, later that afternoon his machine, which has been launched into the atmosphere, makes it rain hamburgers. Everyone is thrilled and a weather girl, in town to cover the theme park opening, now has a new weather phenomenon to report. At first things are fine but then the food starts to get bigger and bigger until the town has to be abandoned because it is being destroyed by giant food. Our hero is able to turn off his machine to stop worldwide food storms and is even able to find a use for another one of his "failed" inventions.

These two versions follow the same story line but are surprising different. I like in the movie version that they added in an explanation for why it was raining food and that the hero feels self-conscience about being smart and liking to invent things. I thought the movie kept all the silliness of the book while adding in some of its own. It is definitely a kid's movie though, and it did not translate as well for my husband who had it watch it with me. Now, he had never read (or did not remember reading) the book as a child, so that may have something to do with it, but he felt the movie was far too silly. I feel that the movie had just the right amounts of silliness and science to make it fun to watch for anyone who has read the book. The book is just wonderful. I know I am biased because it was one of my favorites when I was little, but it really is just a fun read. The illustrations are so amazing and there are tons of small details that make you giggle once you discover them. The word to image ratio is great for a read aloud but if you have younger listeners you can easily paraphrase the story to go with the pictures if it is getting a bit too long. I recommend the book and the movie, they both are a lot of fun about something very silly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don't Listen to This Cuckoo Sing

Cuckoo retold and illustrated by Lois Ehlert

This is a retelling of an old Mayan tale about the Cuckoo and some other forest animals. Written in English and Spanish the story begins with Cuckoo knowing it was beautiful and the other animals thinking she was lazy for just singing about her beauty all day. Cuckoo did not help with collecting seeds to store up through the winter for next year's planting. That night Cuckoo is up and bored and flies to mole's hole where the seeds are stored. There is a fire and no time to wake the other birds to help, it is up to Cuckoo to save the food stores. Cuckoo works all night and is able to save every seed. In the morning she is blackened and hoarse but she can still sing "cuckoo." The other animals realize that Cuckoo is not lazy even though beautiful.

This is an odd story. I was waiting for a moral at the end or maybe an explanation of why certain birds act they way they do, but nothing like that happened. There is a little moral in not judging people by their appearance but the birds were right in the beginning, Cuckoo was not helping the other animals. Maybe the moral is that people can change or step up to a challenge, but I don't see that as a moral but as good advice for life. The story itself is fine, but I didn't particularly care for it. There was something missing for me, maybe it was the moral, but I think it was something else. Perhaps the lack of description of the other animals, the abrupt way the story ends, the disconcerting illustrations, or everything combined made this story not one of my favorites. The illustrations are not bad, but the color choices are hard to look at. There are a lot of pink on reds and red on reds that make you squint to see the outline of the form you are looking at. I did think it was interesting that some of the illustrations are cutouts with the negative space showing you what is happening and some are made of shapes that are pinned together but having those two techniques in the same story with the awful colors made me not like looking at the pages. Overall, I do not recommend. It is not a bad book, but one that I do not think is worth your time. If you are looking for a read aloud with very bright colors, cutout illustrations, or an ancient Mayan tale give it a try, but otherwise do not bother.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Knew Colors Could Be So Cute?

Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott

From Simon & Schuster this is a retelling of how the world was given light and color. It begins with the Lord of the Night, King of the Gods, Soul of the World using his magic mirror to look down at the earth and seeing that the people there lived in darkness and were unhappy. He calls Wind to him and asks him to go to Sun and free the four musicians imprisoned there, Red, Yelllow, Blue, and Green. He gives wind a shield of thunder and bolts of lighnting to help him defeat Sun. After a long journey over the earth and sea Wind makes it to Sun. Sun does not want to give up his musicians but Wind is able to defeat him and take Red, Yelllow, Blue, and Green to earth. There they play for the people and there was color on the earth, the people and even Sun was happy by the music they played. All gave thanks to the Lord of the Night.

This story is part of an Aztec legend and retold by McDermott. The illustrations in this book are great. They were created with fabric paint, opaque ink, and oil pastel on paper. There is a wonderful use of texture and color (or lack thereof) throughout the book. Even in the beginning when only grays and browns are used you get a great sense of movement and the South American landscape. At the end of the story there is a section explaining how this story was preserved, I enjoyed learning about the origins of the written version of this tale. The word to image ratio is great for a read aloud to a classroom. There are many things to look at on each page and a great opportunity to learn about another culture. Add to all these great things that the color musicians are really cute and you have a wonderful read aloud. I recommend for children ages 2-5 or for an elementary classroom learning about the Aztecs.