Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
That Book Woman

That Book Woman

Fall 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Heather Henson
Illustrator: David Small
ISBN: 978-1-4169-0812-8
Hardcover Price: $16.99
It would be downright difficult for any librarian not to take this book to heart. Based on the 1930's WPA project that came to be known as the Pack Horse Librarians, it tells the story of Cal, the oldest boy in an Appalachian family who "live way up as up can get." Cal scoffs at his sister, Lark, who keeps "her nose a-twixt the pages of a book daybreak to dusky dark," and vows that, unlike her, he "was not born to sit so stoney-still a-staring at some chicken scratch." Even when a lady on horseback arrives at the door bearing free books and a promise to return in two weeks to "swap these books for more," he remains determinedly unconvinced. It is, finally, the woman's courage and dedication that help Cal rethink the value of what she risks her life to bring them and he asks Lark to teach him "what it says." The text is presented as verse, an unnecessary device that does not match the sturdy straight-forward voice of the narrator. Nevertheless, it reads well out loud and there is just enough dialect-passel, critters, nigh-to flavor but not confuse. David Small's illustrations, done in watercolor, ink, and pastels, are delicately rendered and contrast an expansive sense of the terrain with the intimate interior of the cabin. The reader sees Cal from many perspectives-extreme close-up, reflected in a window, expressively slumped over a game of checkers-which makes him seem very real against the lightly sketched-in backdrops. Share this one with kids during Children's Book Week to help them understand that libraries have not always been just around the corner and that librarians can go the distance. An author's note and a brief list of titles and websites complete the package.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

Look for this product at:
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers

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