Books My Son Loves: Snow Sounds by David A. Johnson

Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic StoryI picked up this book from the library due to my son's overwhelming love of snow.  I grabbed it, flipped through it, saw it had very few words, and decided it was good for our reading time.  (On a sidenote, I absolutely hate when I don't do this and I get a book with wordy paragraphs that my son cannot handle yet.  He wants to read the book, so he won't let me stop reading, but he climbs all over me because he finds wordy paragraphs boring.)

When I got home and read it to him, I was a little surprised by the subtitle of the book "An Onomatopoeic Story", but we started it together nonetheless.  I admired the gorgeous watercolor pages, full of expressive drawings.  These pictures make you remember the feel of a snow day from your youth, with the dark and the quiet.

My son settled into my side and after I started to make sounds, but not tell a story, he became impressed by the snow plow sounds I was making.  I encouraged him to tell me a story about what was going happening on the pages.  The lack of a story to tell became a story to hear from him.  I'd prompt him, "What is the boy doing at his window?"  "What is the boy eating?"  "What is he feeling?"  At first, my two year old would simply looked stumped and say, "Hmm..."  (No lie, my son puts his finger on his chin thoughtfully and says hmm.)

After the second or third reading, with prompts, he started to answer and tell me more about the pages.  "People drive the snow plow", "Boy eat cereal.  Cat get some too.", and "Boy get toy.  Boy happy?"

We'd have rudimentary discussions about the different types of snow plows in the book, and who was awake, and why.  Now, it's a nightly story at bedtime.  I don't know how I'm going to explain to him that we don't own this book!  It might be a keeper and one we have to grab off of Amazon.

I'm pretty sure that this is at least a nine in my son's eyes!


Breaking Up by Aimee Friedman

Breaking Up(Fashion High Graphic Novel)(A really short description of the book) From the author's website:  "What happens when your best friends hate your boyfriend?"

Since that doesn't do it justice, I'd like to add that this is an exploration of the junior year of high school for Chloe, the main character.  It explores the topics of friendship, romance, and popularity like most books aimed at teens.

I've had this book on my Amazon wish list for years, but I was recently shocked to find that my library had gotten a copy and I immediately reserved it.  I got home, and read it immediately (and quickly), and decided I had to promptly tell you that I really liked this graphic novel.

Then, I began to ponder how to describe it and it all seemed so generic.  It's about romance, and popularity, and friendship, and getting to know yourself.  Can't that describe almost any work aimed at young adults?  But, it transcends that simplistic description by being realistic, a word I find is often hard to use when it comes to describing characters in young adult novels.

Chloe, the main character, is flawed.  At times, she's cruel to Adam, though never intentionally.  She's a touch triumphant at another character's pain near the end.  She makes stupid decisions.  The thing about her is that she's also likable and human and the choices she makes are understandable.  She's a teenager and she's learning from the mistakes she makes, as well.  I never wondered where her actions came from, they all seemed so natural.

Her three closest friends also all seem very real, even Mackenzie, who quickly emerges as an antagonist to Chloe.  Mackenzie never seems to be acting maliciously just to be malicious.  She has clear reasons for the way she acts, even if those reasons might not seem good enough to a person reading from Chloe's viewpoint.

I was cheered that the ending, while happy, wasn't saccharinely so.  I can't use the word real any more in this review, so I'll simply say that it felt less like an ending and more like a simple step to the next point in Chloe's life.  By the end, Chloe seemed to better know who she was and what she had to do to make herself happy with regards to both friendship and romance.  I can't imagine a better ending than that!

Since this is a graphic novel, I feel that I must point out that the art is very good.  It's easy to separate the characters just from a glance, and every page looks polished.  It was rather neat to see the way Adam's looks evolve over the course of the book as Chloe's opinion of Adam evolves.  I'd love to check out more work by Christine Norrie, the illustrator.

Verdict:  8.  I think it's time to re-add this to my 'for keeps' wish list.

Thoughts:  Why did this never get more reviews?  It only has six reviews on Amazon!  I'm so happy that Comics Worth Reading mentioned this work years ago!  Also, it's kind of odd it is set in an artsy school, but didn't seem to capitalize on that fact.


Books My Son Loves: Snow by Uri Shulevitz

Snow book & CD setI've decided to introduce a new feature (again) to the blog!  I have a very young child (two and a half years) and we've been reading together a lot recently and borrowing books from the library.  I want to highlight some of the books he loves for our memories and for your edification.  I plan to try and post these on Wednesdays.

The first book I plan to start with is Snow by Uri Shulevitz, a book that I had thought that my son would not like.  It turns out that the Caldecott committee that decides which books are noteworthy are vastly better at figuring out my child's interests than I am! 

This story is about a young boy with a dog who notices some flakes of snow and his enthusiasm for the snow even in the face of everyone's disbelief of the snow lasting.  After the snow really starts to fall, the boy and his dog play and dance in the snow while it swirls around them.

I'm going to tell the truth and say I was not impressed by either the illustrations or story in the beginning.  I read it tentatively to my son, and he so enjoyed the beginning of it that I have read it several times since.  While he tends to lose interest at the point that the snow falls heavily (my favorite part), he loves the early parts where a certain number of snowflakes fall.  He likes to count the snowflakes and point them out to me.  This makes the reading last a little longer which is nice. 

All in all, my son rates this pretty highly.  From his enthusiasm, I'm going to rate it around a seven for him.