Thursday, May 17, 2012

Drawing from Memory

Written by: Alan Say

Why you should read this book: Celebrated Caldecott winning illustrator Alan Say turns his focus inward, relating his earliest memories in text and illustration, along with reproductions of a few historical artifacts. Having learned to read at a very young age, Say fell in love with comic books, decided to become an artist, and spent his entire childhood honing his craft, screwing up the courage at age twelve to approach his favorite cartoonist and draw his way into an apprenticeship with Noro Shinpei, who became his sensei and served as father figure (his own father claimed that artists were lazy, scruffy, and not respectable) while giving him the tools he needed to succeed in his chosen path. The story follows him until he leaves Japan, at age sixteen, to travel in America, and includes an author's note, which details his life-long relationship with the sensei, who passed away in 2002.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe artists are lazy, scruffy, and not respectable.

Dragonology: Tracking and Taming Dragons A Deluxe Book and Model Set Volume 1 European Edition

Written by: Ernest Drake

First line: "Where can I find dragons?" is such a common refrain these days that it seems to crop up almost every time our favourite flying beasts are mentioned.

Why you should read this book: In truth, I purchased it in careless error, thinking I was buying a souped-up edition of the original Dragonology book, but alas, this "Tracking and Taming" "Guide for Beginnings" is a sort of small and silly pamphlet with brief overviews of the fictional world of Dragonology, along with some very basic notes about tracking and training animals, which might be applied to a dragon if one were to be found. The illustrations are amusing but, for the most part, not particularly clever or interesting. The book itself is basically a companion for the actual meat of this product, which is a really lovely dragon model, comprised of twelve pieces that can be easily assembled by the youngest model makers and hung from the ceiling; purchase it if you or your child want to assemble a beautiful but very simple three-dimensional dragon, not if you want to read an engaging book (and not if you're into really complex models, which this is not).

Why you shouldn't read this book: You want to read the original Dragonology book.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

Written by: Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

First line: In olden times, when men still worshiped ugly idols, there lived in the land of Greece a folk of shepherds and herdsman who cherished light and beauty.

Why you should read this book: Complete with maps of ancient Greece and the night sky, family trees of heroes, and the detailed genealogies of the gods, this is the class compendium of Greek mythology presented for young readers. Beginning with the love affair between the earth and the sky and ending with Aeneas's exodus to Italy, this large and handsomely illustrated volume details the relationships, inventions, triumphs, and failures of the gods, goddess, and heroes of legend, written in accessibly language, with some of the really outrageous parts left out or glossed over. Clever and comforting, this book brings to life a world of wonder and awe.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're wondering how Odysseus made it home from Troy.