Friday, May 18, 2018

Mini Reviews [5] Birds of a Feather & Ivy in Bloom

Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly
Pictures by Vanita Oelschlager,
Robin Hegan (Illustrator)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Children are innately curious about words, especially phrases that make them laugh ("Ants in your pants!"), sound silly ("Barking up the wrong tree" or "Goosebumps") or trigger images that tickle a child's sense of the absurd ("Like a bull in a china shop"). Birds of a Feather introduces children to the magic of idioms words that separately have one meaning, but together take on something entirely different. Birds of a Feather introduces idioms with outlandish illustrations of what the words describe literally. The reader then has to guess the "real" meaning of the phrases (which is upside down in the corner of each spread). At the end of the book, the reader is invited to learn more about these figures of speech.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I really loved the idea for this! The illustrations were beautiful, but I did have a problem with one: Let the cat out of the bag. It was a little too much. I understand the need to adequately convey the idiom through imagery, but I also think it sends the wrong message to kids. We shouldn't put animals in bags and tie them up, not even as a joke in a children's book. I feel like this could have been depicted in a better way.

My second issue with this book was the captions. They're upside down. Do you know how difficult it was to continuously flip the book over (impossible on an iPad that keeps adjusting the screen), to read the descriptions for the idioms? The idioms themselves were short and to the point, but the upside down portion (explanation and example) were a lot longer. My son was also frustrated because he wanted to look at the pictures, and I had to try and angle the book in a way that would allow me to read the captions. About halfway through I stopped flipping the book over and just gave my own explanations. I think it was a lovely idea that could have been executed better.


Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great
Poets and Writers from the Past
by Vanita Oelschlager,
Kristin Blackwood (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Ivy in Bloom captures the weariness of a young girl tired of a long winter. "I stare out the window," she says on the first spread of brown and gray, "looking for birds or flowers / or even warm showers / but I don't see any such thing." But then Spring comes when "March is out of breath snow melting to flowery waters and watery flowers spring rose from its wintry rest." And Ivy's "heart dances with daffodils." As these words also dance across each spread, Ivy's world erupts into a riot of color.

Ivy in Bloom introduces the poetry of Dickinson, Longfellow, Browning, Wordsworth, Frost and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivy's eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I thought Ivy in Bloom was very clever and creative! The author combines poems from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, E.E. Cummings, and a few others. Pieces from their individual poems are layered together to create one comprehensive story.

Even though I know why it didn't flow well (people have different writing styles), the book was smooth in some places and choppy in others. I do think the author put a lot of research and work into this book, and the illustrations are gorgeous. They really brought this story to life and kept me turning the pages. There was also an unexpected reference to God at the end that didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the spring theme, but it didn't actually detract from the overall story. 

I enjoyed reading this one, and I like that the author breaks down the individual poems at the end. It shows us where they came from, who wrote them, and how they fit together.

10 comments:

  1. i so wanna do kid's books review one day too!

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    1. I thought there were a lot of books *I* wanted to read, but my son loves to grab 50+ books from the library every trip (yes, my library actually lets you do that). There's no way I can review them all, so I stick with the ones we really enjoyed, or the ones that stood out in some way.

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  2. Replies
    1. They were unique and interesting, but also different from what we usually grab at the library!

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  3. Ah, I agree about the cat in the bag :(((

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    1. It's a cat literally tied in bag with a small hole for the nose. The tail is sticking out and a butterfly sits on the nose, but that doesn't make it any better. A cat trapped in a bag is a horrible, sad thing that shouldn't be in a children's book to make a point. It sets a bad example.

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  4. I like the idea of Birds of a Feather! Sounds like it'd be better to buy it on paper though if I was to do that!

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    1. I think a physical copy might work better, but I still wouldn't enjoy flipping the book up and down every page.

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  5. Oh goodness. Yes, I can totally understand the issues with Birds of a Feather. Sounds cute overall, though :)

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    1. It was! I loved the concept. You don't see too many children's book about idioms.

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