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Tag Archives: maira kalman

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman

Why We Broke UpI read this book in one night instead of sleeping.

Things you should know: Daniel Handler also writes children’s books as Lemony Snicket, best known for A Series Of Unfortunate Events.  Maira Kalman is an artist who has published books of her own work along with illustrating books written by other people.  (We previously reviewed one of her picture books here.)  Together they create a physically beautiful book, with glossy pages, full color illustrations, and gorgeous endpapers.  There was basically no chance I wouldn’t buy myself a copy.

The story itself is a letter from a teenage girl, Min, to her boyfriend-for-six-weeks, Ed.  It starts with a box of things that symbolize the relationship to her, which she is unceremoniously dumping on his doorstep.  Each chapter starts with a full-page illustration of an item from the box, followed by a somewhat stream-of-consciousness retelling of how it became important.

If a six-week relationship seems insignificant to you, and definitely not worth being heartbroken over, you may be an adult with a very bad memory of what it’s like to be a teenager.  Min and Ed’s story is full of firsts and lasts, at times painfully awkward while otherwise being perfectly sweet.  Mistakes are made, lessons learned the hard way – and yet, from an outside perspective, the experience gained in six weeks of Min’s Junior year is invaluable.

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SMARTYPANTS (Pete in School) by Maira Kalman

As the school year begins and we rush around, picture books are often overlooked. For a young child they can open the world, and for an older child they can quiet or explain a world that might be best explained visually. In this fast paced E-Reader world, remember the value of a picture book collection of your own and support authors who share their brilliant work with us.

This book is by Maira Kalman, one of my all time favorite artists. She is absolutely brilliant. I laughed out loud just reading the back of this book. I hope you and your children will treasure Smartypants.

Pete the dog eats everything! No kidding. After a long summer, Poppy Wise and her brother Mookie go back to school. Poor Pete is lonely at home without them, so naturally Pete heads to school. He interrupts every classroom eating everything along the way, including the 26-volume encyclopedia in the principal’s office.   That night, Pete is able to speak. He is brilliant and filled with knowledge from eating everything at school. He tells the children fabulous facts and helps them with homework. The next day, Poppy Wise and Mookie disguise Pete and sneak him back into school.  He gets to enjoy a typical school day, answering questions, being engaged and enthusiastic to learn. Unfortunately, by the evening Pete has digested all the information and is no longer able to speak; his knowledge is all gone and he is Sweet Pete the dog again.

Thanks to a vivid imagination, a fabulous story and quirky wonderful illustrations, Smartypants is my winner for the start of the school year.

Recommended for ages 5yrs to 100yrs.

 
 

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