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Tuesday Book Review: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” “The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” and “Bunnies, Crocodiles, And Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings”

April 24th, 2012

Hey. I started writing this book review several days ago, and it just is not going to write itself now, is it? Wait. I need another cup of coffee…

OK, I’m back. First up…

Presenting: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” by Jane Yolen, with photographs by Jason Stemple ($16.95, WordSong, 2012, 30 pages). Do you know Jane Yolen’s work? Yes, you do. She writes the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series (“How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms?” “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?” etc.) and has published a whole bunch of other books, too. As far as I’m concerned, those guys making the big bucks in the NBA are nothing.

Jane Yolen is the rock star you should be worshipping.

She’s the author of “Owl Moon,” one of my favorite read-alouds when I do library work, and one of the best Young Adult books I’ve ever read about the Holocaust: “The Devil’s Arithmetic.” Jason Stemple? Yes, another unsung hero. His photos are spectacular and no, I am not using that word lightly. Go take a look. Visit their websites at Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple.

This is a fun poetry/science book wrapped into one. Twelve different bugs, plus a swarm, are profiled. Each gets a lovely poem, a cool photo, and a science fact box. My favorite is the honey bee. The poem begins like this:

“O Bee mine,
O blossom, please,
you are the best,
the true Bee’s knees.”

Ahhhhhh!

“The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” was written by Peyton Leung and illustrated by Hilary Leung. ($16.95, Kids Can Press, 2012.) A pirate girl receives an unusual letter from her pirate grandpa and sets off on an adventure. What will happen along the way? This one is allegedly for the little kids, but my big kids had fun making the different origami designs illustrated in the back of the book. You can try your hand at making a hat, boat, or shirt, or all three. (The author was inspired by an origami model called “The Captain’s Shirt.)

“Bunnies, Crocodiles, and Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings,” is one of the sweetest, kookiest kid books I have ever come across. It was edited by Frederic Houssin and Cedric Ramadier, and is a compilation of works by nine different artists, including Peter Allen, Anne Brouillard and Katja Gehrmann. I do not know how this book came into my possession. I think it was in a box of goodies I was given when I was teaching.

Inside, you’ll find monsters giving birth to a new baby; bunnies upside down in a sonogram; and “A New Day,” by Bruno Gilbert:

“Sun is sleeping
peacefully
in his starry bed.”

It’s art, it’s poetry, it’s quirky and I think your kids will like it. Keep an open mind, and happy reading!

(I received two of these books as review copies. See disclaimer here.)

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