Book Reviews: Children's Literature

Reviews of Children's Literature by
January 2008 Featured Reviews:

For Lovers of Dinosaurs, Art and a Hatchet!

In the category of terrific-value-for-the-price, Dinosaurs rule, much in the way that the creatures ruled the earth 65 million years ago. The title is simple, but the subtitle is so much more: “The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages” (Random House, $34.99; ages 8 and up). There are no pop-ups, no flights of imagination, just straightforward science and high-interest detours like why Jurassic Park couldn’t happen in real life. Dr. Thomas R. Holtz has done a bang-up job assembling these 430 pages of info that will surprise everyone, even diehard dino fans. With realistic paintings by Luis V. Rey, a genuine paleoartist.

Budding artists will find inspiration, insider tips and delight in Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art (Philomel/Penguin, $30; ages 7 and up). This beautifully designed volume, benefiting the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, features the childhood drawings, photos of studios, and quirky self-portraits from Maurice Sendak, Chris van Allsburg, Tomie dePaola, Jane Dyer, Leo Lionni, Rosemary Wells, Alice Provensen and other familiar friends.

It’s hard to imagine a child’s literary life complete without Hatchet (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, ages 8 and up), the nail-biting Newbery Honor Book by Gary Paulsen. Now there’s a new deluxe 20th-anniversary edition. Drew Willis contributes handsome pencil drawings to accompany the story of 13-year-old Brian stranded in the wilderness with only his instincts – and his hatchet – to rely on. New sidebars by Paulsen put you into the writer’s mind as he was writing. Priceless.

 - Kathleen Krull

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