Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Silver Path

a picture book by Christine Harris, illustrated by Helen Ong

Niko and Penny are pen pals on opposite ends of the world. Just like their locations, their lifestyles are very different. Penny lives in a nice, peaceful world, with a big garden to play in with her dog, Scruff. Niko lives in a world destroyed by war. Forced to flee from their village, Niko and his mother live in a hotel that houses refugees.

In his letter to Penny, Niko writes of his hopes that one day he and his family will be free to return to their village, and be happy again. He describes the view from the balcony of the hotel at night. "When the night comes, the moon builds a silver path over the sea, going all the way from where I am to where you are, Penny. I close my eyes and imagine I am running... to meet you."

The Silver Path, by Christine Harris, is a moving story that speaks of an unidentified setting and conflict, the innocent people (children especially) who are its victims, and the everlasting hope for a better and happier life. The story is told beautifully, not only by the words, but by the stirring illustrations by Helen Ong. This is a story that will make young readers aware of the hardships of war. It will help them relate, on their level, conflicts and tragedies like those going on in the world today.

Under the Moon

a picture book by Dyan Sheldon, illustrated by Gary Blythe

While digging in her backyard, Jenny finds an arrowhead poking through the soil. She spends the rest of the day trying to imagine life before cars and cities. But no matter how hard she tries, she isn't able to picture the world when "the land was as large and open as the sky."

Then Jenny falls asleep, while camping in her tent, and wakes up in the very place she had tried so hard to imagine. There, she meets the Native Americans that made/own the arrowhead. They tell her about the world when it was "just the people, the animals, and the land itself," and she comes to know that the beautiful place she discovered was once very real.

Under The Moon, written by Dyan Sheldon, with beautiful and breathtaking paintings by Gary Blythe, is a story that will open the eyes of readers of all ages to the wonder and marvel of what America once was.

Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat

a picture book by Carol Purdy, illustrated by Petra Mathers.

Mrs. Merriwether was very ordinary. "Every day of the week was exactly like the other." Well... except Tuesdays. Tuesdays were dreaded by the neighborhood, especially Mr. Crump, because on Tuesdays, Mrs. Merriwether gave piano lessons to the children of Peach Tree Lane.

First came Morton, who "mangled Mozart" and "butchered Bach and Brahms." Then Florence Danube, whose "one-two-threes kept coming out as three-two-ones." Rhonda was next; she had energy, fire... but, sadly, no talent. Always last to arrive was Mr. Crump, who went only to complain about the noise.

One day, a cat appeared, and Mrs. Merriwether named him Beethoven. With a swish of his tail, the music was instantly glorious, and "Peach Tree Lane was never ordinary again."

Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat, by Carol Purdy, and illustrated by Petra Mathers, is an endearing story about believing in yourself. When I first read this book, I was taking piano lessons, and I could relate to the students (pre-Beethoven, that is) :-p

This is a fun book, with illustrations to set the mood that will bring a smile to your face.