Friday, September 01, 2006

Dipping Into Picture Books

I picked up a stack of picture books at the library this past week. The first two I read were definitely hits--with me, anyway.

I've never read a great deal of nonfiction for kids, and I don't know how to judge it. I may just really like Aliens Are Coming! by Meghan McCarthy because I've always been interested in the panic around Orson Welles'1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which I think I heard about when I was a teenager. I really can't tell if kids will get this the way I did.

I'm mystified about the expected audience for some picture books, and this is one of them. Some reviewers describe it as being for grades 1-3 or 3-6, which seems like quite a spread. And Amazon says ages 4-8, which would mean preschoolers. I just don't have enough experience with those age groups to be able to guess if younger kids will get it or if older kids, who might be more likely to get it) will be willing to read a picture book.

I loved Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. (I can't find much on-line about this guy, though he appears to have been an illustrator for one of the Sandman books.) It's about three siblings who meet a panda bear who's into Zen. I just happened to have recently read another version of the last story the bear tells.

Is someone trying to tell me something?

Zen Shorts is a really great book. But, again, will kids get it? Will they need an adult to read it with them? I just don't know. If I had young kids, though, I would definitely take a chance on this book.

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