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This Orq (he cave boy.) written by David Elliott

This Orq (he cave boy.) written by David Elliott and illustrated by Lori Nichols, (Boyd’s Mills Press, $15.95, Ages 4-6), is reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Orq, a chubby-cheeked cave boy wearing a fuzzy, one-shouldered green tunic, has a pet woolly mammoth named Woma. Orq loves Woma, and Woma loves Orq. But a woolly mammoth is not a perfect pet, even if you live in a cave. Woma grows bigger and bigger, sheds, smells, and isn’t housebroken – er – cave-trained. None of this troubles Orq, but it does bother his mother who declares Woma has got to go!

Of course Orq can’t bear to part with his pet. He decides to show his mother that Woma is “smart” and “cute” by teaching Woma some tricks. Orq teaches Woma to “speak” but the mammoth’s blast knocks mom off her feet. Learning to “roll over” is also disastrous, crushing the flower garden. How will Orq convince his mother that Woma is special and loveable?

Elliott’s splendid story is told in brusque, blunted cave speak that will delight young listeners. Using the simplest of phrases, he carves a connection between boy and pet with humor and flair. This prehistoric pair is sure to have preschool fans grunting along in cave grammar style.
Nichols’ illustrations are appealing and slyly funny. Look closely in this picture book to find a stone tricycle, crayon cave art, and a comic family of brightly colored birds. The expressions and body language of boy and mammoth perfectly convey their deep emotions and enrich the spare dialogue with meaning. My favorite detail – Nichols draws thickly lined red hearts floating above the characters when expressing their love for one another.

Me love Orq… you will too!

Click here for a link to This Orq activity kit with directions to make your own woolly (aka paper bag) mammoth!

-Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where Obtained:  I borrowed This Orq (he cave boy.) from my library and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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Enamored With Eyewear

Glamorous Glasses by Barbara Johansen Newman ($16.95, Boyds Mill Press, ages 4 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

I started wearing glasses when I was seven years old. Back then in England, there weren’t many stylish options, especially as I wore National Health Service glasses. I remember both my mother and the optometrist talking to me about any potential teasing I might face and how to deal with being one of the first students in my grade to wear glasses. Many years later, more children are wearing glasses at an earlier age and have many shapes and colors to choose from. In fact, glasses have gone from a fashion fail to fashion fun, so much so that my oldest daughter wants to wear glasses even though she doesn’t need them!

Enter Bobbie from Glamorous Glasses by Barbara Johansen Newman. She is enamored with glasses and badly wants to wear a pair, especially as her favorite cousin, Joanie, has to start wearing them. However, Bobbie’s vision is just fine and Joanie isn’t thrilled about her prescription. It’s up to Bobbie to help Joanie come to terms with sporting specs.

“You are so lucky,” said Joanie. “Wearing glasses makes me feel different. I don’t like the way I look. I wish I didn’t have to wear them.”

                  I couldn’t believe my ears. I’d give anything to wear glasses like Joanie’s. That’s when I got another idea…

                  “Listen, Joanie,” I whispered. “While our moms are trying on dresses today, we can go get some candy. I’ll wear your new glasses, and you can carry my new pocketbook. We’ll both look very glamorous.”

                  We read along as the pair follows the plan. How will Joanie manage without glasses? Will Bobbie ever get a pair, especially as the eye doctor has already tested her for perfect vision?! In a fun and fashionable manner, the book provides plenty of discussion points to help youngsters deal with the process of accepting who they are and figuring out the importance of what they need.

The illustrations of the characters are exaggerated, almost between a caricature and a bobblehead, and cartoonish enough for children to enjoy. The colors are vivid, and Barbara Johansen Newman delights in patterns. Find polka dots, checkers, flowers, stripes, stars and hearts on the glasses, hair ribbons and clothes. She fills the pictures with outfits galore–boots, purses, dresses—that reflect the personalities of the characters.  Bobbie and Joanie’s world is filled with fun tchotchkes and spotting them in the pictures is part of the enjoyment. And, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that the author’s French bulldog, Bitty, makes a cameo in one of the scenes.

Glamorous Glasses includes a spectacle of spectacles, and is a spectacular read!

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