Anytime I compare Jane Yolen releases, I am absolutely amazed. Poems, silly picture books, picture books teaching lessons, looks at nature — she truly does it all.
Pretty Princess Pig is co-written with her daughter Heidi Stemple, which makes this book even more precious in my mind. This is a very bright, very pink book illustrated by Sam Williams. The whimsical and cute pig character drawn by Williams goes perfectly with the story about a tea party that she decides to throw. She does everything from baking to decorating to making floral arrangements. But when it’s time for her guests to arrive, the house was in shambles. The repetitive rhyming text will appeal to preschoolers, and the fun plot twist might appeal to their moms, because it’s often how I feel as a hostess. Fortunately, like my guests, Pretty Princess Pig’s appreciated the work she did for the tea party and overlooked the mess.
Birds of a Feather is one of her nature poem books, like A Mirror to Nature (linked to my review). The photographs are by her son Jason Stemple. There is a lovely foreword by ornithologist Donald Kroodsma, Ph.D, who says “Scientists collect numbers and study the details, but these poems and photographs give us another angle, reminding us that birds are far more than an accumulation of facts. The birds in this book are not confined to the pages here but, instead, soar into our lives.”
This book is more than beautiful photographs and thoughtful poems. In addition to a beautiful crisp photograph that leaps off the page, each two-page spread has a poem, varied in tone from thoughtful to cleverly ironic, and a sidebar box with some interesting facts. They go beyond the typical to the interesting — facts that I’m quite sure my 7-year-old will remember and share when the opportunity presents itself.
I’m not quite as enthusiastic about The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye, but when I shared this story about an old cat’s last day on earth with my son, he pronounced it as “a good book.” I can see the need for a book about death, and actually can see a parent using it after a beloved elderly or ill relative dies, because Yolen makes it clear that the cat was old and loved and ready to move on, as is often the case when people die. I’m not sure that she even uses the word “death,” so maybe that’s why it didn’t seem so morbid.
Jennifer Donovan blogs at Snapshot, in not quite as diverse way as Jane Yolen — generally covering the usual topics of books, parenting her 7-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, travel and books.