Saturday, March 12, 2016

Foxes and Hares

25785754Appelt, Kathi. Maybe a Fox.
March 8th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Jules is dealing with the sudden death of her mother when her sister, Sylvie, runs through the woods near their house and plummets to her death at a waterfall. Since her body is not recovered, both Jules and her father struggle, especially since Jules thinks she should have been able to stop her sister. Her friend, Sam, tries to help her, but he's also trying to help his brother Elk deal with the war death of his friend Zeke. Add to this mix Sam's attempts to see a catamount, and a parallel tale of a young fox who is born with supernatural abilities, and the fact that Jules is sure her sister left a hidden place in the woods where she is no longer allowed to go, and you have a magical and lyrically written book about longing and loss. 

Strengths: Teachers will love this, because it is beautifully written, and it will make them cry. If Keeper, The Underneath, or The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp are popular in your library, or you have students who really, really like to be depressed, this is the book for you. 

Weaknesses: The combination of super sad and mystical animals never works for me. I fell bad, but I hardly ever like books by this author. Also never a fan of scenes of animals giving birth. Surprised that this author wrote one of my favorite nonfiction books, 

What I really think: Not buying. The accident seems so avoidable, and the grief is so deep. Just no. 

25489045Dale, Hannah. Mr. Hare's Big Secret
January 26th 2016 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Mr. Hare is hungry, and he is sitting under a cherry tree full of ripe fruit, but he has a plan to get some of it down from the tree. As his friends all join him and ask what he is doing, he tells them that he will share his secret with them if they will join him in a dance. The animals all have different styles that are recounted as each new animal joins ("Miss Mouse jiggled, Mr. Fox trotted, and Mrs. Duck wiggled."). When enough animals are under the tree, cherries start to fall and the friends have a feast. 

This simple text is supported by gorgeously realistic pictures of animals frolicking outside. They are reminiscent of Garth Williams' animals, and the soft focus greenery adds cheerful color and interest to the scenes. There is a feeling of motion when the animals dance, and the different descriptions of the way they move would make this book perfect for a story time read aloud, complete with actions, due to the repetition of the words. 

Any fans of animal stories, from Wise Brown's Home for a Bunny to McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You will enjoy the beautiful illustrations. Those looking for books to use to encourage patterns and repetition or to use in active play related to the story will find it useful as well. 

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