Jul/Aug 2009 Reviews & Interviews

Summertime delights for the little ones

Carin Berger.
Harper Collins. 2008. 396 pp.
ISBN 9780714531502.

Blueberry Girl
Neil Gaiman.
Harper Collins. 2008. 396 pp.
ISBN 9780714531502.

Review by Tanya M. Twete

Buy now from Amazon! Ok Go, written and illustrated by Carin Berger, is an artfully created book that attracts a diverse audience. At first a simple story with a poignant message, it soon shows it's many levels. For younger children, the vibrant colors and creative pictures are mesmerizing and captivating. For preschoolers, it serves as a wonderful first reader that introduces Pre-K children to simple words. This book also works on a "Where's Waldo" level with children finding all the hidden pictures within the collages. School aged children will use it to attain the skill of detail. My son loved counting the many "Gos" and making sure he said them all. Then he would find all the letters in the alphabet hidden in the artwork. Next came the numbers. You could spend hours with your child reading this over and over to find new things. As if that wasn't enough, children can then grasp the concrete message about pollution and alternative transportation expressed in the illustrations. Berger has something she wants to say here and she accomplishes it in a big way with a fold-out spread advising many new ideas such as "Ride a Bike, Mike and Ike" and "Bring a Pal, Sal" which urge not only leaving the car behind when possible but traveling together or using public transportation. She also has some cheeky designs to support recycling and cleaning up our environments and mentions in a short note at the end that all the collages she created for OK Go were made from "...found papers, magazines, ticket stubs, old letters, and newspapers..."

Overall, OK Go opens the door to a great conversation about an important, typically "grown up" topic while being very fun and hip at the same time.

If ever there was a book for a mother to buy her daughter, it's Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman—it is just simply beautiful. The poetry is melodic and soft but the words have the strength of a mother lion. I love how Gaiman adds touches of folk and fairy tales that hint at a fantastical story but then grounds the wording with reality. It balances perfectly the charm of girlishness and the "I am woman, hear me roar" attitude that we all hope our little girls grow up to have. It's almost as if he has captured the give/take, push/pull of motherhood where you want your child to have the strength to leave but yet you also want to hold on tight for fear of them being hurt. The rolling melody help to accentuate this with it's flowing rhymes and then sudden changes.

The illustrations by Charles Vess only add to the loveliness of this book. I felt that the pictures were what my mind's eye would have seen if I had only been hearing the words. They seem to just "fit." The lines and curves that Vess uses on each page seem to mimic the lines and curves in the words as they are spoken and his depiction of a multicultural universe of happy little girls will be welcome to mothers across the country and around the world.

Blueberry Girl is a title I would buy as a keepsake for my daughter although my two boys love having me read this to them at bedtime as well. When it first arrived I think I read it ten times in one sitting. With each reading they snuggled in closer. This is a must for any child's bookshelf.

Ok Go
By Carin Berger
Harper Collins 2009
ISBN 978-0-06-157666-9

Blueberry Girl
By Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Charles Vess
Harper Collins 2009
ISBN 978-0-06-083808-9


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