The Children's Book Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Harcourt

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea by Tony Johnston.  Illustrated by Stacy Innerst.  (2011)  Pages not numbered.  Harcourt.  Ages 6-12.  Picture book.

The subtitle for this rollicking story is “A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants.”   That is exactly what Johnston achieves.  She has created a tall tale of how Levi Strauss made blue jeans famous.  She writes in her author’s note, “The story of Levi Strauss and the invention of blue jeans is mostly legend with threads of truth, which my version stretches to near popping.”  Johnson uses colorful language that adds flavor to her tale– “Levi Strauss rushed away.  The miners barreled right behind, rattling and racketing and rolling.”  Innerst painted his animated illustrations on old Levi’s. which gives texture to each picture.  Read this one aloud and then lead your listeners to divine the true facts about Levi Strauss as you read the author’s note.


Ugly Pie by Lisa Wheeler.  Illus. by Heather Solomon.  Harcourt.  Pages not numbered.  Grades Preschool- 4.  Picture book.

It’s fall and the perfect time for a book about making an apple pie.  The first lines of this book capture the reader’s attention.

“Ol’ Bear woke up one morning with a hankerin’ for pie.  Not just any pie.  Ugly Pie. But the only ugly thing he had in his kitchen was some gooey sweet molasses.  It tasted just fine, but it wasn’t what Ol’Bear was itchin’ for.”

Ol’ Bear then goes through his neighborhood asking for “Ugly Pie.”  Each neighbor invites him to try some pie, but none of them are “Ugly Pie.”  So Ol” Bear keeps on his quest.  As he continues the neighbors give him some “ugly things” – raisins, apples, walnuts.  Finally he has enough to make his own “Ugly Pie.”  As he goes from house to house, he sings a fun song:

“Got the apples of my eye.

Ruby raisins-not too dry,

sweet molasses, my-oh-my!

But I’m still itchin’,

twitchin’, wishin”

for some Ugly Pie!”

O’ Bear finally makes a delicious “Ugly Pie” to share with a passel of neighbors.  The rich, lilting, rhythmic language will have children singing along with Ol’ Bear.  Solomon’s humorous illustrations add to the fun of the story and enhance the characterizations.  The perspectives in the pictures vary showing close-ups and bird-eye views of the action.  Best of all after enjoying the story children will want to make their own “Ugly Pie” from the recipe at the end of the story.

Wolf Pie by Brenda Seabrooke.  Illus. by Liz Callen.  Clarion Books.  48 pages.  Grades 1-4.  Beginning Chapter Book.

Connect Ugly Pie with Wolf Pie for more enjoyment.  This beginning chapter book is for accomplished second grade readers and those that love to hear a humorous story read aloud.  The story begins with three pig brothers building a new house.  While clad in a proper business suit with bow tie, James Pygg, is working hard on the brick walls.  His brothers, Marvin and Lester, are reading a book, “The Three Little Pigs.”  They build their house, strong and sturdy to keep out the wolf.  But Mr. Wolf comes anyway and threatens to blow their house down.  However, all his huffing and puffing doesn’t work so Mr. Wolf decides to not let the pigs out if they won’t let him in.  Throughout the winter he watches through the window while the pigs play games and read stories together.  He even joins in, asking questions about the stories and giving clues to answer the riddles.  When spring comes he begs to live with the pigs.

“I learned to sing.  I like your games and riddles and stories.  I don’t want to eat pigs anymore.  Your food is better. Please let me live with you.  I’ll be a good wolf, I promise.  I’m reformed.”

The pigs and the wolf become friends and live together.  They even fend off an attack from a pack of wolves.  Seabrooke has created a rollicking yarn.  Solomon’s comic illustrations comic illustrations add to the fun.  Children may want to create their own new versions of folktales.  Can the Three Billy Goats Gruff discover a peaceful co-existence with the Troll?

Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

Contact Marilyn

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