Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "Y" in an alphabetical list of children's books reviewed on ReadThatAgain.com... All these books are also listed by Author in another section of the site.
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Written by Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Rosemary Wells
Yoko, an adorable, innocent little kitten-child of Japanese-American descent, is one of the main characters in Rosemary Well's popular elementary-school series, set in Mrs. Jenkins' semi-idyllic classroom. Here we meet Yoko and some of her classmates, and share in her dismay when the other kids in her class make fun of the food she packs for lunch -- traditional Japanese sushi, mademade by Yoko's mom. The teacher proposes an "international food day" to promote tolerance and awareness of diversity, but it turns out to be kind of a bust for Yoko: none of the other kids want to share her "yucky" food. No one, that is, except her friend Timothy, who tries some and decides he really likes it, and helps the other kids come around, too. A nice first-grade fable about peer pressure, rejection and anxiety, and about friendly resolutions as well. Wonderful artwork, too -- this series is one of Wells's best creations. (B+)
"Yoko's Paper Cranes"
Written by Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Rosemary Wells
The most enchanting and beautifully illustrated of Well's "Yoko" books, this tells the story of how Yoko came to America from her home in Japan, and how she kept in touch with her grandparents in Japan, writing letters, cards and thank you notes all year long. When it was winter time in Japan, Yoko decided to send her grandmother a present of some paper cranes, to remind Obasan about the birds they had seen together in the Spring. She folds the origami paper just as her grandfather had shown her and send the package to her delighted grandparents. The story is sweet, but the illustrations are fabulous -- some of the best artwork Wells has ever done. Wells incorporates Asian motifs into the graphics, and frames each panel with beautifully patterned paper... The first edition also had a bright gold gilt running through the pictures -- there's still a metallic sheen on later editions, although not quite as vivid as the first version... All in all, a wonderfully classy book: a real favorite. (A)
"You And Me, Baby"
Written by Lynn Reiser
Illustrated by Penny Gentieu
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
This definitely is destined to become a board-book, but you might want to pick up the big version while you can... A fine picturebook for pretoddlers, filled with cheery pictures of parents and little babies interacting -- smiling, waving, taking baths, playing peekaboo -- with plenty of love and affection oozing from each frame. Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of photographic picturebooks, but this is an exception to the rule. Penny Gentieu, a well-known (even ubiquitous) commercial photographer, has a nice touch, and the interactive, contextual aspect of the pictures, with babies in the middle of their primal social relationships, should draw the littlest readers in... The text is pretty basic, but if you're in the newborn/infant headspace, it'll be absolutely perfect. Nice one! (B+)
"You And Me, Little Bear"
Written by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Barbara Firth
One of the best books in Waddell's outstanding "Big Bear & Little Bear" series... Big Bear is busy with housework and has to balance Little Bear's demands for attention with the need to get the cave clean. Little Bear is so eager to spend time with Big Bear that he tags along and helps with the chores. Later, when the chores are done, the two sit down and read a book together, and Big Bear reassures Little Bear they will always be together, even if sometimes Little Bear will have to be patient and wait for Big Bear to do grown-up things. The physical awkwardness/super-cuteness of small children is perfectly captured in Barbara Firth's artwork; equally charming is the gentle depiction of a parent making space for a small person's needs, including letting the child help out with housework and develop self-esteem and a sense of connection as a result. It's also nice to see such a compassionate, nurturing male figure as this powerful, cuddly papa bear. Highly recommended! (A+)
"You Can Do It, Sam"
Written by Amy Hest
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
Sam Bear and his mother have a big, secret project: to wake up at dawn on a snowy morning and bake cakes for everyone in the neighborhood, then leave them on their doorsteps before anybody wakes up. This becomes a story about independence and confidence building when Mom tells Sam to run up the sidewalks by himself and drop the bundles off... Mom gets extra cool points for driving a beat up old GM-style 1940s pickup truck... And, once again, there appears to be no dad to be seen... So more power to Mama Bear! This is cute, and though it's not my favorite in the series, it's still definitely recommended. (A)
"You'll Be Sorry"
Written by Josh Schneider
Illustrated by Josh Schneider
Violence, consequences and behavior modification. A girl named Samantha has a little baby brother who see wants to hit... She's been warned not to, of course, but she can't help herself, and she gives him a big (off-camera) wallop, which makes the baby cry and cry and cry and cry. Well, it turns out the adults were right: Samantha is sorry after she hits her brother, although not for the reasons you might imagine. As the tears keep flowing, everything starts to flood -- first the family's house, then their neighborhood, then their entire town. Stuck in a rowboat and unable to go to the park, or the store, or even to school, Samantha has a lot of time to think about what she's done, and she decides that making all those tears flow might not have been such a great idea after all. She says she's sorry, and later, when she's tempted not to hit, but to pinch her brother at the end of the book, she holds herself back. Yay, character growth! The casual violence that starts the story might be alarming to many parents, but Schneider's over-the-top, tall-tale outcome is pretty funny, and since he makes his point through humor, rather than a lecture, the message comes through in a nice way. Worth checking out if hitting (especially hitting a sibling) is an issue. (C+)
Written by Linda Sue Park & Julia Durango
Illustrated by Sue Rama
(Henry Holt, 2005)
The follow-up to Park's entertaining Mung-Mung, this explores different ways common expressions or interjections are represented around the world. Sure, it's all ah-choo, hooray! and yuck! to us, but elsewhere it's ap-soo, ballay-ballay! and foo. The artwork and content are appealing -- it's the layout I have trouble with: instead of showing us the word in English first ("ooh, look -- they're going to show us how to say 'yikes' now!") we see four non-English versions and then, after you lift the flap, you can see what the word is in our language. Maybe it's just a matter of temperament -- for some the mystery might be the real motivator. Anyway, this is a cute book. Interestingly, the variations of human speech turn out to be less surprising than how different cultures represent animal sounds... but there's still enough of a comparison that this book may be of interest to culture-conscious kiddies.
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