Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.


Tell Me A Dragon by Jackie Morris

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Morris, J. (2009). Tell me a dragon. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. ISBN: 9781845075347

Annotation: In this beautiful book, people from all over the world describe their dragons.

Reaction: The art in this is breathtaking. The pictures are beautiful and remind me of Renaissance paintings, full of detail and light. Each dragon has distinct features, unique to the people and places where they belong. Each double page illustration is accompanied by a few lovely lines that tell the reader what kind of dragon they’re looking at and it’s special characteristics. The dragons are caring and playful and warm, and not a one pillages or eats people. These dragons are protectors and friends, and the final pages, with all the dragons grouped together, invites the reader to imagine his or her own dragon.

This book is a total must for fantasy lovers, and I think the final page of “Tell me about your dragon” could foster some really lively imaginative play for children.

Media Used: Watercolors

Author’s Website


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Pssst! by Adam Rex

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Rex, A. (2007). Pssst!. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN: 9780152058173

Annotation: When a little girl visits the zoo, all the animals ask her to pick up supplies for them.

Reaction: I originally picked up this book to use it during a storytime, but upon a second reading, I realized that this would just go right over my kids’ heads. The pages with the animals making their requests feature illustrations that are too small for storytime purposes, and I think the humor is probably a little too tongue in cheek for the preschool set. That said, this is a DELIGHTFUL book. I think kids starting around 7 or 8 would really enjoy this. The animals and their requests are ridiculous and hilarious.

Rex does a great job with the illustrations. I love the simple line drawing backgrounds and the super detailed characters. He really captures all the girl’s feelings through her body language and subtle facial expressions. He also adds tons of great funny details in the backgrounds and zoo signage, which makes a slow perusal of this book fun.

This could be a great read aloud book, especially for someone who is good at doing character voices (I am not; I always feel too silly).

Media Used: Oil and acrylic on watercolor paper

Author’s Website

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Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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Sepetys, R. (2013). Out of the easy. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN: 9780399256929

Annotation: In New Orleans at the start of 1950, Josie is just trying to find a way to get out of the French Quarter and start a life where she can get an education and nobody knows that her mother is a prostitute.

Reaction: I really enjoyed this book. The main character is a strong, super relatable, hardworking teen girl, who is doing the best she can in the crappy circumstances she was given. There’s a little bit of a mystery surrounding the death of a wealthy stranger, but the story is mainly about how Josie handles the tangled web of lies about his death and her plans for getting out of the Quarter.

She’s surrounded by colorful secondary characters, who really help to make this book a good read. Her patchwork family includes the madame where her mother is employed, the madame’s driver and housekeeper, all the other prostitutes, and the father/son bookshop owners who have let her live in the apartment above the shop for eight years. She also encounters plenty of sleazy characters, not the least of whom is her own mother. Reading about Josie’s complicated feelings towards her mother is a little heartbreaking. As an outsider, I just wanted to give her some Real Talk about wasting her love on someone who clearly doesn’t care about her and is incapable of being loving or supportive, but it’s often hard for people to accept that their parents are horrible people, and it was nice to see Josie struggle with that.

I would recommend this for teenagers who love historical fiction or strong female characters. Sepetys really brings to life Josie’s world, showing us all the ugliness that surrounds her, but also the love and support she finds.

Author’s Website