The Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 128 pgs.
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The Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman offers a variety of tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, who is a master of the arts. Isabel is a thinker, and she often finds a more peaceful solution to any challenge she faces. Although the Bunjitsu Code is at the end of the book, it is clear throughout the book that the code is Isabel’s guiding force. This early chapter book for young readers offers simple fables with a mix of Eastern philosophy and simple black and white drawings with red. These tales are a new twist on older stories like ‘Tortoise and the Hare.”

Isabel is the best in her class, but she rarely uses brute force to solve problems. My daughter has been looking for books to keep up with her reading this summer, but she initially balked at this story. She told me that she was not into ninjas, but she quickly changed her mind when she started reading. I think Isabel’s calm personality, intelligence, and ability to address problems without fighting interested her.

The Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman is a delightful early chapter book for young readers. It has enough illustrations to illicit laughs and interest from young readers. She’s eager to get the next book in this series.

RATING: Cinquain

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 40 pgs.
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Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, uses rhyme and vivid color to demonstrate the confidence of Mike, a young biracial boy with loving parents.  While his father has darker skin and his mother has fairer skin, he’s a perfect mix of the two, and those who stare better beware that this kid knows who he is and has no reason to feel like he needs to explain himself.

His parents have given him that confidence, allowing him to be who he wants to be, wear what he wants to wear, and zoom past those who stop to stare.  Young readers will feel the jive in these rhymes as their parents read the book aloud, and even if they read it on their own.  With Evans’ colorful pencil and textured drawings, this is a perfect pairing to illustrate the many ways in which the world can be viewed.

There is nothing resentful or hurtful in these pages, just the beauty of being you.  A story of growing up, noticing people who notice you, and choosing to be yourself no matter what.  Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, sends a great message to all kids — and their parents — no matter what their racial background may be.  My daughter loved this book so much, we’ve taken it out of the library multiple times.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Taye Diggs was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was raised in Rochester, New York. He is the son of Marcia (Berry), a teacher and actress, and Andre Young, a visual artist. When he was a child, his mother married Jeffries Diggs, whose surname Taye took. He received a BFA degree in musical theater from Syracuse University. Taye made his show business debut in the ensemble cast of the five-time Tony Award winning play “Carousel.” Taye Diggs is the oldest of five. His two brothers are musicians, one sister is a dancer and the other is going to college to be a veterinarian.

About the Illustrator:

Shane W. Evans is the illustrator of several children’s books, including HOMEMADE LOVE by bell hooks and OSCEOLA: MEMORIES OF A SHARECROPPER’S DAUGHTER by Alan Govenar. He lives in Missouri.


Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 192 pgs
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Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is a journey in olfactory memory and the memories generated by tastes.  Memory is tricky, but recalling even our oldest memories can be difficult without a trigger, and many of those triggers are often related to food.  Whether its a first experience with food, a food we associated with a specific relative or friend, or just food that we loved, our taste, sight, and olfactory senses can bring those memories flooding back with just a hint of smell or taste, even color.  Knisley says in the opening pages, “Sometimes it’s frustrating, this selective memory.  I can remember exactly the look and taste of a precious honey stick, balanced between my berry-stained fingers, but my times tables are long gone, forgotten, in favor of better, tastier memories.”

What’s fresh about this book is that it includes recipes along with the memories and some of them should be just as delicious as the author remembers if prepared using her precise instructions, which do include the use of patience!  In graphic novel style, the images are fun and the memories are dispersed in a way that makes reading a memoir about food even more fun.  It even seems as though it is geared in a way that will entice younger readers to get interested in food and cooking.

Knisley not only explores the creativity of cooking, but also its precise science and measurement, which leads to the perfect recipe.  For an example, you’ll have to check out her memories of baking, particularly chocolate chip cookies and how she still strives and falls short of making the perfect cookie.  Her mother maintains a cool head with her baking, while Knisley bakes through emotion.  It’s an interesting contrast and demonstrates not only the power of baking as a way to soothe emotions, but also as a way to connect with family.  Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is colorful and flavorful all at once — a travelogue of food memories — that readers will not soon forget.  And as the author would say, “Devour it with relish.”

About the Author:

Beginning with an love for Archie comics and Calvin and Hobbes, Lucy Knisley (pronounced “nigh-zlee”) has always thought of cartooning as the only profession she is suited for. A New York City kid raised by a family of foodies, Lucy is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago currently pursuing an MFA at the Center for Cartoon Studies. While completing her BFA at the School of the Art Institute, she was comics editor for the award-winning student publication F News Magazine.

Lucy currently resides in New York City where she makes comics. She likes books, sewing, bicycles, food you can eat with a spoon, manatees, nice pens, costumes, baking and Oscar Wilde. She occasionally has been known to wear amazing hats.

78th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.