Our book picks for March.

FOR AGES 3 TO 8

"BALLAD" by Blexbolex

Ballad's bold (sometimes neon) colors and compact size will attract the youngest of readers. It's perfect for little hands. Yet, as this blocky picture book progresses it introduces multiple characters, settings and plot ideas, building up the narrative into a rich broth of mystery, romance and adventure. The design elements are simultaneously simple and textured. Vocabulary is rich, making the reading experience even better. The book harkens back to classic folk literature, but its multi-layered storytelling makes it an excellent teaching tool for children of all ages who are learning how a good story comes together…one step at a time.

FOR AGES 3 TO 8

"HERE I AM" by Patti Kim and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Wordless picture books can be quite magical…and this is a very good example. A recent immigrant boy begins to tentatively explore his new home in the big city. Noisy, busy, foreign sights and sounds find him longing for what he has left behind. As a source of comfort, he carries a seed, a keepsake from his past. When concentrating on the seed, he becomes centered, keeping him from feeling overwhelmed by changes. When the seed accidentally falls out of his apartment, the boy must venture out into his strange new territory on a rescue mission. What he finds outside and how these experiences change him become the stuff of understated wonder and make a terrific lap-read, especially for families in transition to a new home.


FOR AGES 8 TO 12

"MEETING CEZANNE" by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Francois Place

This charming tale falls somewhere between a small picture book and a short chapter book (making it a very good read-aloud). The tale follows a city boy on an extended holiday with his relatives in Provence. He becomes starry-eyed for the locale, and keeps busy by exploring the hillsides and fully experiencing his new rural environment. One day, he meets a very important artist at his Uncle's restaurant who honors the family with a lovely drawing. Alas, the precious gift is destroyed, and the boy must redeem his mistake by finding the artist. The illustrations are charming, rendered in retro, pastoral hues.

FOR TEENS

"BATTLING BOY" by Paul Pope

Usually, Paul Pope's graphic novels are intended for adults, but Battling Boy speaks the language of 'tweens and teens. In this novel, our young hero steps into a typically unwanted responsibility. Meanwhile, his endearing cast of supporting characters bring their own unique qualities along on his quest. Vile villains and horrific, gory monsters throw every possible obstacle in the way. But, for all this delicious mayhem, what makes this tale especially fun are the graphics. The illustrations are fluid, even florid, and they carry the reader along on a thrill ride.

FAMILY APP

MY FIRST TANGRAMS HD

Practically every primary educator has purchased templates for wooden tangrams (flat, brightly-colored, geometric shapes). These puzzles are a very good tool to introduce young children to simple math concepts. Kids practice their spatial thinking and logic by matching the corresponding shapes within each template.

Sometime those puzzle shapes get lost or damaged. Luckily, here is an app (free for the Lite version, $1.99 for the full version) designed to mimic this proven teaching tool (it even features a wood-grain background).

Kids drag and drop the shapes to complete each puzzle. There are two different modes, with 32 patterns each. Then, once they've finished all the puzzles, they can imagine their own templates, challenging others to solve each new creation. Most suitable for ages 3 to 8.

-Ken Schloemer, Homework Help Specialist, Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library