Book Reviews

So Few of Me – book review & song

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So Few of Me

Written and Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Published by Candlewick Press

Tribute song  by Elijah T. Grasshopper & Friends

 

Book review by Elijah T. Grasshopper

“So Few of Me” is the story of Leo, so overwhelmed with responsibilities that he is met with a small army of clones to help him through his day. But when the extra Leos create more work than the original could imagine, Leo comes to realize that “doing less and his best” could well be the key to a far more rewarding life… with plenty of time to dream.

When Mrs Grasshopper brought this cautionary tale home last week, we were drawn to reflect and share it with our own over-active lil’ hoppers here on the Dale. Truth be told, in the great Grasshopper tradition we have always advocated the “dreamer” philosophy and Leo’s plight illustrates just how important that pastime might be as our best survival tool… despite what Mr. Aesop has to say about us.

We sense that Leo has a creative soul, yet his over scheduled existence has left him without a moment to breath, let alone dream. What makes this story special is that it speaks to a child’s (and adults for that matter) innate need for organization in their lives. Though it takes time to achieve both in its mental and physical manifestations, especially at a young age, we are never at a loss for trying. Are we victims of our environment with our more, more, more ideals? Are parents just over scheduling kids with every activity, play date or set of chores that a day can hold?

“What to do with this conundrum?” Mrs.Grasshopper and I ponder. So just for fun, we wrote a rousing tune for Leo to celebrate his hard fought lesson learned. And while we hope its frantic pace entertains you, we ultimately seek to inspire you to share this book, pause for reflection… and dream, dream, dream.

“Hop into reading!”
~ Elijah T. Grasshopper


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Floaty – book review

March 6, 2018  

Floaty

Written and Illustrated by John Himmelman
Published by Henry Holt & Company

Book review by Elijah T. Grasshopper

What a breath of fresh air! Mrs Grasshopper and I had heard great things about Floaty, so when the book cart lady dropped it off  last Thursday we were just tickled. The very nature of Floaty’s ethereal being is what drifts so precious here, a beautiful inertia in his “state of uniform motion.” Not just another “Grump finds dog, Grump loses dog, Nicer Grump reunites with dog” story, Floaty moved us on a deeper level. Who among us has not stared into the skies daydreaming of weightlessness?

Um, perhaps Mr. Raisin.

Is Raisin’s heart already too shriveled or can Floaty plump it up to grape status? He certainly tests the ol’ coot’s patience. Freestyling Raisin’s world, Floaty’s hardiness is to be admired and survival instincts in blanket hogging and pizza snatching, hilarious.

What else endears us to Floaty? Could it be his divinely unpretentious name? So cool how Raisin reveals his own whimsical side by this apt choice of moniker for the airborn pup. But soon after the old man professes his fondness, Floaty floats off. Raisin is heartbroken and the futility felt is akin to an untethered astronaut floating helplessly into the exosphere. Our emotions are stirred. “Ground control to Major Floaty.”

But the real hero of this tale is Mr. Raisin, who goes from curmudgeonly bachelor to savior of Floaty’s universe. The grump is no fool throughout with novel ways of his own to maintain the air lifted pup and his tour de force end solution is the best surprise ever.

Encouraging children to preserve their sense of wonder is our belief and this story certainly delivers. “Its a wonder book with a simple premise.” adds Mrs. Grasshopper. No need for fancy fantasy here, just the singular power of a dog who floats and a soul in need. In that regard, Floaty reminds us of songstress, Adele typified by this famous James Corden quote. ” Wow, wasn’t that amazing? You can have all the dancers, the pyrotechnics, all the laser shows you want… But if you sound like that… All you need is a piano! Incredible.” For our purposes, just one floating dog and a curmudgeon is all you need to create magic.

Interesting choice of art-style with the dark heavy lines for a book about Floating, but it works! They underscore the resolute sense of purpose in the characters exquisitely.

What special effect did this magical book have on us? The whole Grasshopper clan hopped outside dancing like butterflies, blowing bubbles for hours and by all means day dreaming. Now if we could only figure out how to stay airborn forever.

One of the coolest PBs we have come across here in the Dale. Hopefully, its available in a book cart near you!

“Hop into Reading!”
~ Elijah T. Grasshopper


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Bunny Bear – book review & song

Bunny Bear

Written by Andrea J. Loney
Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
Published by Albert Whitman & Co

Tribute song  by Elijah T. Grasshopper & Friends


Book review by Elijah T. Grasshopper

The forest can be such an inspiring place. When Mrs. Grasshopper and I go on our daily hops, we can’t help but appreciate the wonders that abound in our local woodlands. Weren’t we surprised to discover a book called, “Bunny Bear” in the trader’s free library box, third tree on the left down Pathways Trail.

Bunny Bear, our shaggy, stompy protagonist with another side that few of his contemporaries understand is an inspiration. He is not afraid to find himself. Yet, when our determined traveler declares he is “just one of the bunnies,” Bunny Bear is met with giggles of derision. Believing he had found his tribe and to be ushered away for his honesty makes for a heartbreaking day. But the bear bounces back finding company in Grizzly Bun, another bold, yet lost soul with a similar dilemma. “You just look one way on the outside and feel another way on the inside. That’s okay.” He tells her. Poignant words in these modern times.

My favorite part is when Bunny Bear discovers the bunny warren, where Ms. Loney endears us to our hero’s true persona. How could you not love this gentle giant of a creature who’s favorite sounds are bunny whispers? That is just gorgeous. As are Ms. Saldana’s watercolor based illustrations, ripe with texture and divine expressions of character that bring this tale to life. Personally, I love her depiction of the elder bunny who reminds me of the original Mr. Peabody cartoon.

My only suggestion, story-wise would have been to insert a hair more time and tension in convincing Mama Bear and the elder bunny to accept the new normal. That certainly didn’t deter us from bringing this wonderful book home to the delight of our little hopper’s who were intrigued by Bunny Bear’s plight and its valuable lessons of identity and acceptance. A charming tale and an important book in these changing times for the better.

“Hop into Reading!”
~ Elijah T. Grasshopper


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Ghost in the House – book review & song

Ghost in the House

Written by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Illustrated by Adam Record
Published by Candlewick Press

Tribute song  by Elijah T. Grasshopper & Friends

 

Book review by Elijah T. Grasshopper

Last October Mrs. Grasshopper and I received a request by our two little hoppers to host a Halloween “Slumber” Party for all their friendies in the Dale. Being a devoted parental unit we proceeded to decorate the landscape and dawn our best disguises for the festivities. Was this a good idea? Not really sure.

Not long after the trick or treaters arrived ready to hunker down from their neighborhood trek, three got tummy aches, two started a sugar induced pillow fight and one missed his Mom and pee’d his pants. The plastic bats we hung in the trees and the skeletons in the hallway closet probably didn’t help that situation much either. Live and learn.

When the sleepover crew finished counting and trading thier assorted booty it was sleeping bag roll out time. We promised them a spooky story hour and even though it was “All Hallows Eve”, we knew we couldn’t go too creepy with our selection for fear of a wee folk freak out.

Mrs. Grasshopper to the rescue for suggesting the perfect picture book with a tender tone. “Ghost in the House” is a gently spooky story just right for our preschool age audience. Its a tale of a lone little ghost, meekly wandering the halls of a big old house. What does it find at every turn? Solidarity! More spooky friends in the same predicament. The Mummy “GROANS”, the hairy Monster “GROWLS” and the Skelly “RATTLES,” as our intrepid crew discover each other with great relief and smiles. But who’s house is this anyway? No spoiler alert here, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Be forewarned as you crawl through the pages of this cutest of tales as you will be treated to Adam Record’s modernly artwork, simply crafted with a potpourri of textures enhancing the bleaky, creaky mood these adorable characters inspire.

Was this a good idea? YES! Our Hallo “wee” gang were enchanted and giggling throughout by this rhythmic page turner. Just enough suspense filled with reassuring resolves make this a fun counting and discovery book that will delight little creepers everywhere.

“Hop into reading!”
~ Elijah T. Grasshopper


 

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