Salsa

Image Credit: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), Jorge Argueta/Duncan Tonatiuh

Image Credit: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), Jorge Argueta/Duncan Tonatiuh

I couldn’t stay away for long…I’m reviewing another book illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Check out my review for his book Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. This book is written by Jorge Argueta and the topic is something many people will agree is very delicious, SALSA!

Salsa is bilingual (Spanish and English) and takes the reader on a journey through all aspects of salsa. It’s a “Cooking Poem” with rhythm and vivid imagery. Argueta begins the poem with a volcano whose hardened lava becomes the rock that makes molcajetes and tejolote which Nahua, Aztec and Mayan people used to grind, grind, grind delicious things. Cultural tradition continues to this day and the family in the story use these ancient tools to make delicious salsa! Lots of similies and metaphors fill the pages and bring the words and illustrations to life. Like musical instruments, they use their ingredients to make a “salsa orchestra.”  While enjoying the poem, we also learn how to cook salsa!!

As always, Tonatiuh’s signature illustrations draw from his indigenous Mexican heritage: I always enjoy the ears and lips of his people. He hand draws the images and digitally collages in interesting textures for color and design. I love how each illustration is framed top and bottom with a motif that reflects the stage of the recipe process; look at the wise chili peppers with faces like grandmother and grandfather! This beautiful book is a delight and your family or classroom will enjoy learning about delicious Salsa. 🙂

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Food Culture, Poem, History, Mexican Food, Family, Teamwork, Read-Aloud
Book Info: Salsa by Jorge Argueta/Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, 2015 Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), ISBN: 9781554984428

The Fox and the Star

Image Credit: Penguin Books, Coralie Bickford-Smith

Image Credit: Penguin Books, Coralie Bickford-Smith

This beautifully illustrated and written fable has the potential to be a new classic. It is gorgeous and the story flows with steady confidence and a quiet voice.

Little fox lives alone and gains strength from the star he sees every night. The star is his friend, guides him through life and is his world. But one night his star disappears and everything changes; the poor fox is lost without his dear star. He burrows deep in his den and is almost overtaken by the creeping darkness but…overcomes it. He ventures out to explore the world again. At one point he rests and wakes to find his world changed again, but will he ever find his star?

Image Credit: Penguin Books, Coralie Bickford-Smith

Image Credit: Penguin Books, Coralie Bickford-Smith

The Fox and the Star’s illustrations are exquisite. As soon as you pick up the book, feel the cloth-bound cover and look at the intricate design, you know that you’re in for a treat. The story and the art are well suited. Coralie Bickford-Smith tells Fox’s story through careful words and detailed screen-printed illustrations. There are only a handful of colors used in the book but they make the images very striking. If you appreciate great storytelling and beautiful illustrations, add this book to your collection.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Discussion, Emotions, Inner Strength, Fable, Colors
Book Info: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith, 2015 Penguin Books, ISBN: 9780143108672

Virgil and Owen

Image Credit: Bloomsbury  Children's Books, Paulette Bogan

Image Credit: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Paulette Bogan

Virgil and Owen is a quirky and funny little book; definitely one of my favorites this year. Virgil the penguin has control issues. He’s very possessive when it comes to friendship and decides to keep a polar bear that he finds (without asking him how he feels about it of course). As Virgil leads the polar bear around, the polar bear has a great time playing with the terns and other animals but Virgil does NOT have fun. Virgil gets angrier and angrier and keeps pulling the bear away from the fun. Virgil reaches his boiling point when the polar bear has had enough! Luckily, Virgil learns his lesson and realizes that real friendship is about kindness.

Bogan’s illustrations are so sweet; the little penguins, terns and seals are adorable. She uses watercolors and pens to create a blustery arctic backdrop. Pay attention to how she draws expressions; they’re pretty hilarious! This story is great for discussing emotions and how to make friends. It’s also excellent for story time and learning animals. Remember…the next time you find a polar bear, be kind to him and you just might make a lasting friend!

Recommended for: Toddlers and up
Great for: Morals, Emotions, Friendship, Animals, Storytime, Humor
Book Info: Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan, 2015 Bloomsbury Children’s Books, ISBN: 9781619633728