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Montgomery’s View: Counting Lions (a picture book)

posted: , by Mary Peverada
tags: Montgomery's View | Recommended Reads | Kids & Families


by  Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton

Published by Candlewick Press

10 double-page spreads introduce the numbers 1-10 – and animals that are vulnerable and endangered. Each spread includes an illustration of animals in the accompanying number and has a short free verse poem about the species.  The book is hard to categorize: it doesn’t totally work as a counting book because the numbers are spelled out only; the information about the animals really targets school aged children and not preschoolers; the subtle hint that counting the species is a reminder of dwindling numbers targets adult readers; the impassioned foreword by Virginia McKenna (animal activist and actress from Born Free) is definitely written for the adult reader. Still it is an important book – but where will it go in the collection?

The illustrations are exquisite.  They are charcoal drawings that are photo-realistic.  The cover drawing of the lion is as rich and detailed as any photo. The book is over-sized which will make shelving difficult.  It is like a coffee-table book for the younger reader. It is a beautiful tribute to endangered species and worth looking for a place on your shelves to host it.

Pick up a copy at the Portland Public Library

Montgomery’s View: LOOK UP! (a picture book)

posted: , by Mary Peverada
tags: Montgomery's View | Recommended Reads | Kids & Families
look up


by Jung Jin-Ho

Published by  Holiday House

The reader needs to study the opening scene of this book and figure out what they are looking at. It appears to be a view of a sidewalk from above with a line of trees to the left and people walking. Turning the page a wheelchair begins to edge into the scene from the right – another turn shows a head peering over a balcony to watch below. The scene is always the same except for the changing bodies – dog walkers, bicyclists, walkers, children playing games, kite flier,umbrellas in the rain and so on. The monotony and loneliness of the girl are palpable by the sameness and the lack of color. In this scantily worded book – the girl calls out to those below to “look up” – she wants to be noticed and a part of the scene. Finally, a boy looks up and notices her.  He lies on the ground so she can see more than the top of his head. A woman joins him and soon there are nine people and a dog on the ground looking up. Then the girl looks up at the reader and smiles. The turn of the page shows the same scene with color – the world is now different and kinder.  If you look carefully you will see an empty wheelchair with a smiling girl and boy standing next to it. The interesting perspective of this book delivers its power.  It is a tale of friendship, warmth and grace.

In its simplicity it packs a wallop.

Pick up a copy at the Portland Public Library

Montgomery’s View: Unbound (a children’s novel in verse)

posted: , by Mary Peverada
tags: Montgomery's View | Recommended Reads | Kids & Families


by Ann E. Burg

Published by Scholastic Press

Burg (Serafina’s Promise and All The Broken Pieces) tells this verse novel through the voice of Grace. Grace, a light-skinned & blue -eyed nine year old, is called up to the “Big House” to work in the kitchen. She is light enough to pass which makes her desirable. Mama, Uncle Jim and Aunt Sara warn her how to behave and what will befall if she crosses the Master and Missus. Grace cannot control her sense of fairness and she talks back to the Missus. In retribution the Missus gets her husband to sell Mama and her two little brothers at the auction block. Getting wind of the plan Grace alerts her family and they take flight. They go deep into the swamp to seek safety in the Great Dismal Swamp. An author’s note provides historical context and background. Written in verse the author has captured the southern lilt of a slave child determined to find freedom.
As the author states on her webpage: “Some words are beautiful. Some are not. Some sparkle like glittering fireflies.  Others are heavy and hurtful as rocks. I’ve collected them all. Words shape my world.” And words shape this story of Grace and her determination to find freedom and justice.
Beautifully done.

Pick up a copy at the Portland Public Library

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