Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art & Max by David Wiesner

You can count on a David Wiesner book looking fabulous.  This adventure takes deconstructing art to a  whole new level as young Max first tries to copy the master artist, Art, and then when Art suggests Max paint him, the little lizard takes the master seriously.  The student learning from the master and the master learning from the student is playfully explored here with an explosion of colors, textures and styles worked into the adventure.  Fabulous artistic play combines with a light story here to create a picture book that is sure to appeal across the board - parents, children, teachers, and more.

Octavia Boone's Big Questions About Life, The Universe, and Everything by Rebecca Rupp; Read by Ellen Grafton

For Octavia Boone seventh grade starts out well enough but when Octavia’s mother, a life-long seeker of faith, joins the Fellowship of the Redeemer church, her world rapidly changes.  For her artist father, Henry David Thoreau seems to have had all the answers but her mother finds very different answers and wants Octavia to accept them as well.  Then, when her parent’s disparate world views collide and Octavia is forced to live with her mother and a couple of fellow “Redeemers” Octavia’s anger overflows.   Octavia must confront her own prejudices, explore her feelings about God, and discover a way to move forward without her ideal life in tact.  Reader, Ellen Grafton, does an excellent job giving voice to Octavia’s emotional turmoil.  Her pacing will keep readers engaged as will her variety in tone and pitch.  Listeners will quickly connect with this engaging young character and will come away hoping for an encore.

Theodore Boone - Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

Theo is an intelligent, interesting character who helps his friends solve their legal problems.  He tackles everything from helping a girl whose parents are divorcing, to hooking a boy up with a bankruptcy lawyer in an attempt to save his home.  However, when a key witness in a local murder trial comes to Theo for help he finds he is in over his head.  The witness, an illegal immigrant, refuses to come forward but has information that could ensure justice is served.  I really liked the premise of this book and the characters, particularly Theo, are well-drawn.  That said, there just isn't much action here to sustain the reader.  And, the fact that Theo basically solves his greatest challenge by turning it over to the adults feels like a let-down.  I suspect there will be further books following this intelligent hero and hope they better realize the potential of this young lawyer-to-be.