Review by New York Times Review
Henson dramatizes the story of the "Pack Horse Librarians," women hired by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s to take books to families in distant hamlets of the Appalachian Mountains, where there were "few schools and no libraries." Small's illustrations - in ink, watercolor and pastel chalk - unfold at times almost as in a graphic novel: succeeding panels show a "book woman" guiding her horse through "rain and fog and cold," carrying new books for a boy named Cal and his sister Lark to read and swap for the old. THE HOUSE IN THE NIGHT Written by Susan Marie Swanson. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin. $17. (Ages 3 to 6) This year's winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal is composed of just three colors: black, white and an intense sunflower yellow. The scratchboard and watercolor drawings zoom in and out, giving an aerial view of neat checkerboards of fields around a little "house in the night ... a home full of light," where on a bed waits a book "all about the starry dark." Krommes's widening perspective manages to exude both comfort and daring. CLOUDS Written by Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Frané Lessac. Collins/HarperCollins. Paper, $5.99. (Ages 3 to 6) The Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series is notable for its clear, detailed lessons on everything from gravity to volcanoes, illustrated in a jaunty, colorful style. Here, the standard earthscience lesson on where clouds come from and how they're classified has the charm of a Grandma Moses painting. In a tableau of children playing with flashlights on a dusky gray day, the text helpfully says: "There's one kind of cloud you can feel standing on the ground. That is fog. It's the lowest kind of cloud." DO YOU LOVE ME? Written and illustrated by Joost Elffers-and Curious Pictures. Bowen/HarperCollins. $14.99. (Ages 2 to 5) An eye-catching valentine to children everywhere who love to get reassurance on the basics (even if they don't always admit it): "Would you leave me? Never ever. Do you want me? Only forever." The book's superbright pictures of friendly squishy faces - the creatures are credited to Elffers and, curiously, Curious Pictures, the studio behind "Little Einsteins" - are instantly appealing to children (and not just the intended preschool age group). WASHINGTON AT VALLEY FORGE By Russell Freedman. Illustrated. Holiday House. $24.95. (Ages 8 to 12) Here's one way to commemorate George Washington's birthday: Read about the very first time it was celebrated publicly. As we learn in this fascinating account of the winter that nearly finished the Continental Army (a failed supply system was largely to blame for leaving the soldiers starving and barefoot), General Washington overcame doubts about his leadership to win the lasting loyalty of his men, and on Feb. 22, 1778, he was surprised by a serenade of fifers and drummers in the snow. Many such stories enliven this history. HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN WING Written and illustrated by Bob Graham. Candlewick. $16.99. (Ages 3 to 6) The simplicity of Graham's story contains a surprising power. In few words, he tells the tale of a pigeon who lies unnoticed on a sidewalk until a boy finds it and takes it home to heal. Parents may recognize the barely concealed alarm of the mother and father, but take note: They help anyway. JULIE JUST SWAMP THINGS A podcast with Carl Hiaasen talking about "Scat," his new novel for young readers, at nytimes.com/books.
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [October 27, 2009]
Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* A young girl is given a golden key to a house. In the house / burns a light. / In that light / rests a bed. On that bed / waits a book. And so continues this simple text, which describes sometimes fantastical pleasures as a bird from the book spirits the child through the starry sky to a wise-faced moon. The cumulative tale is a familiar picture-book conceit; the difference in success comes from the artwork. Here, the art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes' illustrations expand on Swanson's reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, This is the key of the kingdom ) to create a world as cozy inside the house as it is majestic outside. The two-page spread depicting rolling meadows beyond the home, dotted with trees, houses, barns, and road meeting the inky sky, is mesmerizing. The use of gold is especially effective, coloring the stars and a knowing moon, all surrounded with black-and-white halos. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2008 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter--a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, "Here is the key to the house./ In the house burns a light./ In that light rests a bed./ On that bed waits a book." That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep ("dark in the song, song in the bird, / bird in the book, book on the bed"). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3-6. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 1-Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed-." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song-all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Here is the key to the house. In the house burns a light." So begins a soothing bedtime verse that ends with a child tucked in bed, bathed by the light of the moon. The quiet patterned text is accompanied by dramatic black-and-white scratchboard illustrations with just enough gold touches to fill the pages with gentle light. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Inspired by a traditional poem from The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, Swanson's cumulative tale begins, "Here is the key to the house." Readers are welcomed inside the house, where they find a light, a bed within the light, a book on that bed and a bird inside that book. The book opens to reveal a bird that sings a song about the dark, and within that song are the moon and the sun shining on the moon's face. And then, from deep in the night, the poem begins to climb back out of itself: "Sun in the moon, / moon in dark, / dark in the song, / song in the bird," and so forth, finally arriving back to "the house in the night" which is, indeed, a "home full of light." Krommes's breathtaking scratchboard illustrations, in black and white with accents of yellow and gold, embody and enhance the text's message that light and dark, like comfort and mystery, are not mutually exclusive, but integral parts of each other. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.