Monday, May 14, 2007


No, this is not going to be a post about football practice, even though the Steelers are holding mini-camps as I type. This will eventually be a post with two short picture book reviews after I bemoan my avid use of draft; blogger post draft. Recently, the blogger post draft option has become my friend. As I write this post I have two book discussions/reviews sitting in draft format waiting to be published and a third I am thinking about. The interesting thing about using draft is that no matter when I finally publish the items, the draft date is the one that posts with the information. So even though it appears I have not posted in two days, when the drafts become live I will have.

After discussing poster session options with the university print shop on Friday, I am almost ready to begin drafting poster layout ideas in Microsoft Publisher. Since the campus printer can handle print jobs ups to 38 inches in width, I will be able to do two banners (each 12 inches) and two posters (each 36 inches) and meet the 4 x 8 requirement for poster sessions. Printing the banner/title/headers on one 8 foot section and having them cut in half will save me at least $45 in printing costs. Armed with that information I was thinking about the screen shots I will be using (posters are a visual medium) and considering the quality of jpgs necessary to create from said screen shots two small, yet niggling, details pushed themselves into the forefront.

Much to my chagrin I have a seriously dated blog. My plan to review a new juvenile book each week derailed in February, as noted by the absence of reviews after February 12th. Additionally, I had yet to transfer the same book review blog over to new blogger so I could take advantage of the labeling option. Friday afternoon I migrated over to the "new" blogger and cleaned up several posts. And today I did two book reviews which served the dual purpose of adding to the blog and removing books from my reading shelf. That brings me to the two-a-day post title and the following two juvenile book reviews.

Courage of the Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker has been a recent favorite. It discusses culture and race differences without preaching a message; so much so that it could easily be a read-aloud without any follow-up discussion on children being different. However, that would be a mistake. Blue Boy's world is completely blue and the other places he visits are equally saturated in monochromtic tones. These choices make the colorful world more visually appealing and interesting.

Blue boy and Polly, his calf, live in a land where everything, including them, is blue. They dream of seeing other places of colors and travel to lands of yellow, purple, orange, red, pink, and green. Blue and Polly feel oddly out of place in each as the only thing blue, but soon arrive in a wondrous multi-colored city. It fills them with joy until they notice once again they are the only blue thing. Gathering his courage, Blue decides to add his own hues to the city so it will represent all colors and but enable him to remain true to self. In doing so, “He wasn’t just blue anymore. He was every color of the world.” Vibrant illustrations, done on watercolor paper and colorized by computer, are saturated with color making Blue and Polly starkly noticeable on the landscape when visiting each land. This book is a nice introduction to multiculturalism for youngsters and would be suitable for discussions regarding courage and self worth.

Today's second title is Winston the Book Wolf, written by Marni McGee and illustrated by Ian Beck. Some of the supporting characters presented in this tale may slip by readers; the three little pigs outside the library and a food cart operator who looks suspiciously like Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame, but it will not detract from the overall appeal of the book.

In this fractured tale Winston Wolf has somewhat of a different appetite; instead of Little Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs, he favors books to eat. One day, after a particularly disruptive trip to the library, a young girl named Rosie (aptly dressed in a red jacket with a hood) tricks Winston into leaving the library and shows him a better way to feed his hunger for books. “You do not have to chew on a book to taste the wonderful words inside. Words taste even better when you eat them with your eyes!” Fluid text placement illustrates Winston devouring his new treats and soon, with Rosie’s help, a clever plan to return to the library is revealed. Book design, along with pastel toned illustrations, echoes Winston’s healthy appetite as bites are taken out of the cover, various text blocks within the book, and an assortment of page borders throughout the tale. Readers will enjoy finding other cleverly placed fairy tale characters as they follow Winston’s adventure.

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