Rummanah Aasi
  I'm continuing to work on completing the list of Monarch books. The Monarch books are a great way to highlight some terrific books for K-3 readers. Today I'll be reviewing Biblioburro, Balloons Over Broadway, and Same, Same but Different.

Description: Luis loves to read, but soon his house in Colombia is so full of books there's barely room for the family. What to do? Then he comes up with the perfect solution--a traveling library! He buys two donkeys--Alfa and Beto--and travels with them throughout the land, bringing books and reading to the children in faraway villages.

Review: Biblioburro is a simple and heart warming story that truly shows how one's generosity can really change one's world. The book is inspired by a true story of a man named Luis Soriana who lives in Colombia. Like many of us, he is passionate about reading and has acquired lots of books that his home can handle. His book obsession has become a problem and eventually sparks an idea to spread his love of reading to those who are not fortunate enough to have books. He buys two burros, donkeys, hitches up some shelves with books on them and calls them the "Biblioburros" (translated as library donkeys). This book would be a great way to introduce students to the concept of helping others who are less fortunate or who may have been through circumstances that requires aide. Tropical colors ignite Winter's art, which has a pleasant folk art feel and an almost felt-like texture (the pages are rich with songbirds and smiley-faced butterflies). The book ends with a brief profile of the actual Luis.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades K-2.

If you like this book try: Waiting for the Biblioburro by Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by

Description: Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.

Review: Balloons Over Broadway is a tribute to the amazing Tony Sarg, the incredible puppeteer and marionette master who created the first Macy’s larger than life parade balloons in 1928. As a little boy, Tony was fascinated with how things moved and from a very young age created smart innovations to make things like chore happen only in a few minutes instead of a whole day!  As Tony grew up, he learned how to make puppets, enamored with interactive storytelling. After he mastered his skill, people were amazed to see his marionettes. After moving to New York City, he was discovered by Macy’s, and they hired him to create stage puppet parades for their holiday windows. Later, in the 1920’s, Macy’s asked him to help with a Thanksgiving parade for their immigrant workers (and everyone else), as they missed the carnivals of their home countries. Since wild animals often scared the children who enjoyed these parades, something else needed to be done. Therefore, the first parade balloons were born. Balloons Over Broadway demonstrates how one's creativity can solve problems. 
  The artwork of this picture book is truly unique. Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. I really felt as if I was present at the first parade! 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for K-Grades 3.

If you like this book try: Milly and the Macy's Parade by Shana Corey

Description: Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different!

Review: We seem to be so fixated on our differences that we don't seem to appreciate our similarities. Same, Same But Different is a great book to help introduce young readers to the concepts of diversity and friendship. The story centers on two pen pals, Elliot from the U.S. and Kailash from India. By exchanging letters and pictures they learn that their worlds may look different, but they are actually very similar.
The straight forward yet clever text is in a large font, in several colors, making this a good choice as a story-time read-aloud. The boys learn through questions, comments and pictures that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school where they enjoy their favorite class. Though the activities may seem outdated in our technology driven world, I think the point that the author is trying to make comes through. The colorful illustrations were made using acrylics, crayon, pencil, collage and tissue paper are eye appealing and actually come across as if the characters themselves drew the pictures. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1-2.

If you like this book try: I'm Like You, You're like Me by Cindy Gainer, The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Balloons Over Broadway sounds awesome! I had no idea how the balloons came to be in the parade, but it makes sense that live animals would be a problem for the little ones. Definitely going to make a note of that one, thanks Rummanah!

  2. What a fun batch of book. I am liking the one with the balloons the best right now, it would be a great pick for Thanksgiving for my kids. Thanks for some more kid book recommendations. I hit the library last week and got a couple.

  3. Candace Says:

    All three of these actually sound like must-reads to me. I'll have to check them out at the library!

  4. Oh I love the sound of Same, Same but Different. Maybe if we start kids early enough, maybe they won't see difference as a bad thing.

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