Saturday, April 22, 2017


Language is the category for today's list of book reviews from ReFoReMo 2017.

A CHILD OF BOOKS by Oliver Jeffers

A little girl, who calls herself a child of books, sets sail across a sea of words. She goes to a little boy's house, and together they set off on an adventure into the wonderful world of storytelling.

This is one of the most unusual and delightful picture books I have ever read. The illustrations set this book apart from all others. The illustrations are comprised mostly of words, not just lines and squiggles comprising a thing, but a series of words, in blocks and swirls and ribbons, that illustrate the text. And, many of the words are from children's classics.

The lyrical text and the "wordy" illustrations work magically together to illustrate the power of words and of storytelling.

BARK, GEORGE by Jules Feiffer

George is having trouble barking. When his mom says, "Bark, George," he says, "Meow." When she tells him to bark again, he says, "Quack, quack" and then "oink" and then "moo."
In frustration, George's mom takes him to the vet. The reason for George's strange noises is certainly improbable, but kids will find it fun and delightful. The ending is just perfect, too!

BE A FRIEND by Salina Yoon

Dennis doesn't talk. He acts everything out, like a mime. Not surprising, he doesn't fit in with the other kids. Things change one day, though, when he kicks an imaginary ball and someone returns it!

This is a great book, with delightful illustrations, about being different and about friendship.


"Yelfred and Omak have been best frints since the were little blobbies." Thus begins this wonderful story about two alien creatures and their special friendship.

Author Antoenette Portis mixes real words and made-up ones to tell this delightful story - one any earth-child can relate to.

DU IZ TAK? by Carson Ellis

This is one of the most unique books I have ever seen. While the story is told mostly with pictures (the definition of a picture book), it is almost like the story has no words (there are some books that are nothing but pictures). But, this book does have words, sort of.

Are you confused? Author Carson Ellis took the concept of language and gave it a real twist. He invented his own words. Yes, you read that right. He made up words to tell the whole story. The effect is rather startling and daunting, as well as imaginative and freeing. If that sounds like a contradiction of terms, it's because it is a contradiction of terms.

The story is about a group of insects who come across a "green thing" in the ground. They ask, "Du iz tak (What is that?)? They watch it in wonder as it grows. When it gets big, they use a ladder and build a "tree fort" in the plant. But, since it is a plant in a garden, and they are insects, of course, there is a bird - a booby voobeck. But since it is a plant in a garden, its story also illustrates the circle of life, with the plant dying in the fall, the snow covering the ground in the winter, and new life popping up from the ground in the spring. New insects then come along and ask, "Du iz tak?"


There's a bit of wordplay going on here as a little girl searches for her trumpet. But, she is not looking for a musical instrument, she is looking for something else. See if you can figure it out.

Questions are asked throughout the book, the first one being: Have you seen my trumpet? Each question is answered with clues contained in the last word of the question.

For instance, for the question "Who is blowing a dandelion?" The answer is a "lion". Notice the word "lion" is highlighted within the word "dandelion".

The next question is "Who is being selfish?" Can you figure out who is selfish and can you figure out what the trumpet is?

I YAM A DONKEY by Cece Bell

A very funny look at the craziness of language and grammar. It also highlights the need for both.

Donkey says, "I yam a donkey."

Yam says, "What did you say? I yam a donkey? The proper way to say this is, I am a donkey."

Thus begins a crazy mixed-up conversation between a donkey and a yam, with the yam trying to explain to the donkey the proper way to say things. Needless to say, the yam has a difficult time trying to explain the ins and outs of our crazy language. 

Then, some more of Yam's friends get involved in the conversation, which leads to a funny and unexpected ending.

MOO! by David LaRochelle

Can you write a story using just one word over and over again to tell your tale? Author David LaRochelle accomplishes this seemingly impossible task quite brilliantly. He uses the word "moo" over and over again in various ways to tell a story about a cow's misadventures. The result, with the wonderful illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka, is a funny book that kids will want to read over and over again!

When the animals from the zoo are sent to a restaurant (and the restaurant's regular food is sent to the zoo), a young diner ends up with a giraffe in his soup - - as well as an alligator, an elephant and a whole parade of different animals.

This is a great book of word play with a wild cast of characters.


A duckling finds a book lying on the ground. He picks it up and opens it. But, there are no pictures in the book, just words. "This is not a picture book!" he yells.

At first, he is not happy that there are no pictures in it. Then, a bookbug asks him, "Can you read it?"

"I'm not sure," the duckling says. But, when he looks closer he sees words that he knows. And, that makes him very happy.

I love the creativity of this book. The back matter gives a running synopsis for the book. The back matter starts like this: "One day, a little duckling was taking a walk, when he saw something red lying on the ground. 'A book! he said excitedly."

The actual text for that reads: "A book!" The story is told with the pictures.

But, the front matter also has a synopsis for the story, sort of. The front matter's synopsis mirrors the back matter's, except the letters of most of the words in the front matter are all mixed up. The front matter starts like this: "One day, a itllet nuickdlg was anigtk a wkla, nhwe he wsa itegmohsn erd myigl on the gonrdu. 'A book!' he said etyclxied."

Isn't that cool? Isn't that fun? What a great little book to celebrate the power of language and the written word!


Beautiful, lyrical verse celebrates the colors of the seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter.

The book starts out with Spring. "In Spring, red sings from the treetops: cheer-cheer-cheer, each note dripping like a cherry into my ear."

What a wonderfully colorful (pun intended) way to describe how a redbird sings in the trees. The whole book is written like this. Enjoy!

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