Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]


Mr. Zinger’s Hat, By Cary Fagan, 30 pages.
@ SPL: JP Fagan
Where does a story come from and who can create a story? When Mr. Zinger, an author, loses his hat to the wind, Leo stops playing with his baseball and runs to catch it. The boy and the man sit down together on a bench. Mr. Zinger suggests that his hat blew away because a story was trying to escape. He peers into it and affirms that indeed, a tale is trying to get out.
Would Leo like to tell the story as it emerges? Leo doesn’t think that he can do that, so the two create a story together – with the author cleverly prompting Leo to supply most of the plot. Their story is about a rich, bored and unhappy young boy who offers half of his wealth to the person who is able to cheer him up. Although many children try – bringing an electric guitar, a flat-screen TV, a canoe, a monkey and other things to amuse the boy – nothing works until one boy brings an ordinary baseball.
The two play catch all afternoon and become good friends. The young boy is no longer bored. When Mr. Zinger leaves, Leo continues to play with his ball until a girl, Sophie, appears. They play ball, become friends and then together, they create another new story from Leo’s baseball cap. Canadian award-winning children’s author Cary Fagan’s imaginative picture book demonstrates the universal appeal of stories – and the truth that anyone, of any age, can create a story.
** Recommended for ages four to seven.
Bear Has a Story to Tell, By Phillip Stead, 30 pages.
@ SPL: JP Stead
Winter was coming quickly and Bear was getting sleepy. But before he went to sleep, there was something that he wanted to do. Bear had a story to share. He looked about in the forest for his friends. Mouse was busy, scampering about, collecting food for the long winter months ahead. Bear helped, but when they were finished, Mouse immediately disappeared into his underground tunnel until spring.
Next, Bear found Duck, who was just about to fly south. Bear tested the wind for him and then, Duck was gone. He found Frog hunting for a winter bed. Bear made one for him among the dry leaves on the ground. Frog hopped right in and was asleep in seconds. And Mole was already asleep deep under the ground. Snowflakes were beginning to fall just as Bear sleepily made his way to his winter cave.
Months passed. When Bear awoke, it was spring. He rolled out onto the green grass and remembered that he had a story to tell his friends. One by one, Bear’s friends woke up from their winter naps, and Duck returned from the south. Bear prepared to tell his tale. But suddenly he realized that he had forgotten his story!
“Winter is a very long time for a bear to remember”, he said sadly, hanging his head. The ending to this charmingly-illustrated story, in which Bear’s friends came to his rescue, is just right for this gentle tale about stories, friendship and patience.
** Recommended for ages two to five.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 18, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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