Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – Except the Green One

Pro: A funny and unexpected story – some of which many of us can relate to.
Con: None

The Bottom Line:  What happens when your box of crayons decides to quit? At least they let you know first...
Every crayon has a purpose. Green is used for things like grass. Black makes for great outlines and stormy clouds. Blue is used for oceans – lots and lots of water! Okay, maybe too much water. Yellow is perfect for the sun – or maybe that would be orange? Hmm...
That is the dilemma that Duncan suddenly realizes – while he’s been using his crayons the way he sees fit, his crayons have a different perspective. So one day he opens up his box of crayons all he finds are letters. Each one from a different crayon giving him a reason why it has quit. Blue is exhausted. Yellow and Orange are mad at each other. Green is happy with his position, but he’s tired of listening to Yellow and Orange argue about being the sun. Beige is tired of trying to compete with Brown. The letters go on for each crayon – will Duncan be able to figure out a way to make all of his crayons happy?
It’s a simple storybook that will have kids giggling the whole way through. Illustrated in – what else? – crayon, Oliver Jeffers gives each of them expressions befitting their complaint. Impressive considering they’re crayons. Each page features a letter that is written in the crayons’ respective colors and handwriting, including a few pictures that the crayons are usually used to draw, which just makes it all work even better. Drew Daywalt is the craftsman of this story, and it’s an entertaining one to be sure.
This is the kind of story that kids will want to read over and over – and perhaps even give them some inspiration of their own the next time they open up their box of crayons. If anything, it’s quite likely to make them want to go color something once the story is over. Don’t be surprised if you find a few interesting color choices on their next masterpiece. From beige oceans to pink trees, why not be a little different so all your crayons get a chance to be happy?
Notes from the playlist: "Waiting for the Lights" by Alan Menken

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland - The Perfect Shade of Blue

Pro: The perfect summer read and exactly what I needed (and hoped it would be!)
Con: Nothing, really.
The Bottom Line:  I needed a fun, perky summer book and this one was just what the doctor ordered.
The second I saw this book at work and read the summary, I wanted to read it. I finally managed to crack it open when I had a few days off, the sun was out, and I could sit poolside and enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.
Cricket Thompson is thrilled that she can finally see the beautiful island that is Nantucket when her friend Jules invites her to stay with her family. But when tragedy strikes, the plans go awry, and Cricket ends up on Nantucket alone. Luckily she manages to get a job – it’s not exactly a dream come true, but at least she’s still on the island. Where white sandy beaches stretch out, some surprises await, and she might just fall in love with a boy she never expected to grow close to – and one that she’s really supposed to stay away from.
I liked this book from the start. Cricket is a character that you can really get into. She’s lively on the page, and you get a great feel for the friendship she and Jules have, which is excellent considering that the big tragedy that one usually finds near the middle or in this case maybe even at the end of the book happens right away. I have to say, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book where something that big happens at that juncture, and that alone made this book worth reading.
I loved Leila Howland’s writing. I loved her descriptions of Nantucket, from the houses to the scenery. Heck, after reading this book I really wanted to go to Nantucket – or at least the beach. There was plenty going on to keep everything interesting; a few little side stories to run alongside the main conflict kept me reading even when I got to a point where I thought I should stop and save some book for later. Nope. I gobbled this book up in one day. It’s also why I opted for a teen summer read rather than an adult one. While there is some sadness and necessary issues, they don’t overflow off of the pages. Main characters aren’t depressed and love isn’t all that complicated (I tried Kristin Hannah’s On Mystic Lake next – I still haven’t finished it because everyone is always soooo sad or torn about something).
I think my only qualm was I didn’t quite get how old Jules’s brother was from the get-go, so it was hard for me to picture some scenes later on. He was labeled as Jules’s younger brother so I automatically bumped him down to about 14. But that might also be because I’m 29 and not 17 anymore.
I really do recommend this book for one last summer fling. Buy it for a beach read, an escape into summer (during winter), or just for a good story. I know I’m happy to have it on my shelf.


Notes from the playlist: "A Strange New World" by Brian D'oliveira

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...