This week Marshmallow shares her thoughts on Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, a beautiful book with “Texts, Original Diagrams, and Models” by Akira Yoshizawa, a preface by Kiyo Yoshizawa, and an introduction by Robert J. Lang. Accompanying her in this review is her little friend for the day: Turtle.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that teach you how to do stuff, or if you ever wanted to see really cool origami models of all sorts of animals and things, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): This book does not tell a story. It teaches the reader how to make the origami pieces in the book, though the origami in this book is not easy. This is not a book for people who don’t know what origami is.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of origami:
“Origami (折り紙, Japanese pronunciation: [oɾiɡami] or [oɾiꜜɡami], from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” (kami changes to gami due to rendaku)) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin.”
In this book, there is a detailed introduction written by an American origami expert, Robert Lang, where readers can learn about Akira Yoshizawa and his origami work. In the next few pages of the book, there are many pictures of Mr. Yoshizawa and his incredible origami works. Then most of the rest of the book is made up of Yoshizawa’s models of different types of animals and things. For example, there are models for making origami rabbits, sea turtles, small birds, wild geese, angel fish, butterflies, flying carpets, children from Snowland, lighthouses, seesaws, planes, and all sort of other neat things. There are step-by-step instructions and folding directions for each of these.
Marshmallow’s Review: Reading Akiro Yoshizawa’s book, you can learn how to make some pretty complex pieces of origami. If you can’t or don’t want to try to make the origami, then you can just look at the pictures, which are in color and are very impressive. Mr. Yoshizawa’s origami animals and other origami are all very realistic.
Some of the pieces of origami in this book require cutting or glue or multiple pieces of paper to finish. And almost all the models are pretty hard to do. I was able to make only a few of them, mostly the simpler ones, but still I enjoyed looking through the more complex ones, too.
I think that this is a very good book for the whole bunny family; it can be read by many types of people. Younger bunnies will enjoy looking at the pictures, and older bunnies might want to try to make some of the origami pieces.
This book might also inspire the reader to go and try to learn more about origami, either about its history, or more about how to make more. (I know Caramel enjoys making samurai hats for example!) I really enjoyed trying to make the origami in this book, even when I couldn’t make it exactly the same as it was in the book.
Sprinkles: So Caramel, you found another book about real things, I see.
Caramel: Yes. This is a book about ocean “monsters”.
S: So who are these monsters? Can you tell me a few of them?
C: There is the angler fish, the giant squid, the goblin shark, the cookie cutter shark, the hairy angler fish, the vampire squid, the dragon fish, oar fish, …
S: Okay, I get the point.
C: … giant tube worms. There is also this dunkleosteus–
S: Hmm, I have never heard of most of these. But this last one does not sound familiar at all. What is a dunkleosteus?
C: It is a giant armored fish, I think it is about forty feet long. Its teeth are actually bone.
S: And it is extinct, right?
C: Yes. And there are other extinct species too. There is the liopleurodon, and the megalodon–
S: So I understand. The book talks about large sea creatures, then. Right?
C: Yes. And my favorite is the liopleurodon.
C: Because it is not armored but it has a giant head. I think it looks really interesting!
S: I’m not sure I’d like to face one under water any time soon!
C: You don’t have to worry about that. They are already extinct!
S: That’s good.
C: Not for them.
S: That is right Caramel. This does seem like an interesting book, with many different types of facts in it. So tell me how it is organized.
C: Chapter titles! Here you go: The first chapter is called Sea Monsters. Then the second is Exploring the Oceans. The third is Squids, Octopuses and Other Creatures. Then there is a chapter called Creatures of the Deep.
S: That’s where we learn about the angler fish!
C: Yes. then there is Prehistoric Seas. And there we learn about the liopleurodon, the megalodon and similar creatures. And then the last chapter is called Sea Monster Tales.
S: Which chapter was most interesting for you?
C: I think I liked the Prehistoric Seas chapter most.
S: We watched a lot of episodes of Steve Irwin’s show together, right? It is sad he died of a sting ray sting. And Cousteau was a famous explorer who was one of the first to go deep into the oceans and to explore. That is great that you read a bit about both. So tell me the most interesting fact you learned from this book.
C: It’s about the largest jellyfish. So let me find it… Okay, here I will read it to you: “The longest animal in the world is not a whale. It is a special jellyfish called a siphonophore. Its tentacles can reach 131 feet long!”
S: Wow, that is long! Wikipedia tells us that “a siphonophore may appear to be an individual organism, each specimen is in fact a colonial organism composed of medusoid and polypoid zooids that are morphologically and functionally specialized.” That is really interesting! I had never heard of them before.
C: Me neither!
S: Okay Caramel, it is probably a good time to wrap up this review. Would you like to tell our readers your three words on this book?
C: Factful, curious because these are really curious animals, and black-and-white because all the illustrations are black and white.
S: Maybe instead of factful we can say “informative”?
C: Yes, that works too!
S: Great! I think then it is finally time for you to say your closing words!
As the United States is approaching another presidential election, Sprinkles thought that it could be a good idea to review children’s books about a recent president: President Barack Obama. Here Sprinkles shares her candid opinions on five books about him, with the goal of informing parents of young bunnies. Perhaps other young bunnies (and their parents too) will find one or more of these books worth the read to learn from and get inspired by.
School-age bunnies often need to find people to write about for school reports. Most of the books I review in this post found their way to the book bunnies household as the younger bunnies were writing reports about their personal heroes, about well-known world leaders, and about past presidents. And occasionally young readers get their paws on books about inspiring people and just read them on their own. The five books I review in this post are all suitable for both kinds of reading goals. If your little one is curious about president Barack Obama, just keep reading to see which of these five books might be the right one for them!
In what follows I organize and present my thoughts in the order of reader level. By that I mean that the youngest bunnies will likely find it easier to read the books I mention first, and the older ones, those that are more independent readers and those that can handle more challenging sentences, might get more details and all around just more out of the books that come up later.
The first book I will describe for this review is President Barack Obama, written by A. D. Largie and illustrated by Sabrina Pichardo. A slim and mid-size paperback, this book is aimed at younger readers. It can be read out loud, as there is some basic rhyme built into the text on each page. I wished that some of this rhyming was made more visible by formatting of the text or by punctuation. For example the text “Barack Obama proved that you can can (sic) do anything that you believe as long as you hope for the best and focus you can achieve.” would be easier to read if it were written more visibly in two lines and / or with more punctuation:
Barack Obama proved that you can do anything that you believe,
As long as you hope for the best and focus, you can achieve.
Still, a parent used to reading books out loud for their little ones will probably figure out the rhythm soon enough.
There was also a small factual error in the book. Obama was elected to the Illinois state senate in 1996, and to the United States Senate in 2004. But again it is not a big enough deal; a parent can easily correct it while reading.
Despite these two minor issues, I would say that this can be a good book to teach young ones about President Obama. A part of a “Boys Grow Up To Be Heroes” book series, the book emphasizes that Obama was teased for his name when he was young but he persevered; he worked hard on his classes and on building community; and he wanted to bring people of many differences together. And after all that, he was the first black president! This can certainly be an inspiring read.
Next, I will describe Caroline Crosson Gilpin’s Barack Obama, published by National Geographic Kids. Rated Level 2 by the publisher, the book is meant for transitional readers who are getting comfortable reading on their own. The font size is large and the pictures are colorful. After a brief introduction starting on January 20, 2009, the day of the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, most of the rest of the book is organized chronologically, and ends the story with a quote from Obama himself:
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
President Barack Obama
The book ends with a seven-question quiz, and a one-page glossary describing terms like “civil rights lawyer”, “community organizer”, and “multiracial”. All in all, this is a good book, telling the story with just enough details, and besides the facts, you also get a little dose of the inspiration that Obama’s presidency offered for many.
Barack Obama: Out of Many, One, written by Shana Corey and illustrated by James Bernardin, is also aimed toward the same level of readers, I believe. The book’s publisher Random House ranks it “Step 3: Reading on Your Own” and this is still written for the young reader, who is not yet quite ready for the chapter book. President Obama’s story is told in simple and clear language, from the beginning up to the time of writing of the book, during Obama’s second term. We start with:
We all have stories–each and every one of us. This is one of those stories. It is the story of a skinny little boy with a funny name and how he became part of America’s history.
and end along similar lines:
But the story is not complete. In fact it’s just started. Where does your story fit in the American story? You could help your neighbor or your school. You could even grow up to be president! Anything is possible–what happens next is up to you!
The illustrations are appealingly hand-drawn, and are peppered with actual photographic images. My favorite was the last one, right under the words I quoted above, where President Obama is looking at some school kids through a ginormous magnifying glass. And luckily due to copyright laws that say “a work of the U.S. federal government” will be on public domain, I can insert it right here:
Next I will share my thoughts on Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien. This book is clearly directed towards readers who are comfortable with chapter books, as it is one, and at over one hundred pages, it is actually quite an informative read. Its twelve chapters tell a chronological story, with a great many details, including a description of the Democratic nomination process and the competition between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton at the time before the 2008 presidential elections. The author seems to trust that her reader can handle both details and large-picture connections; I always appreciate authors who respect their readers! The book ends with two timelines, one for Obama’s life and the other noting some world events relevant to the narrative of the book.
I believe that this would make an excellent choice for the young reader who is curious to learn about President Obama. Illustrated in simple black and white sketches by John O’Brien, the book tells the story of one of the most inspiring political figures of our times, and situates his story within the wider American context.
The last book I will describe in this review is Stephen Krensky’s Barack Obama. This book also targets a similar audience but perhaps expects a little bit more from the reader. The font size is much smaller, the sentences are a little bit more complex, and the book overall has more the flavor of a historical biography than that of a children’s book. This is not particularly a disadvantage, however, and should definitely not deter any young reader wishing to learn more about the first black president of the United States. The details and the historical conextualization that were strengths for the previous book are also a strength for this one, and the photographic images add a lot to the book’s appeal.
The longest of the books reviewed in this blog post, at 125 pages, Krensky’s Barack Obama is a good text for those young bunnies writing reports or essays about the president, and it can be a good resource for learning more about his life and accomplishments. (Among other things, it contains a neat timeline and several references for further reading and study.) However, it does end on the inauguration day of 2009, and we do not learn much about his accomplishments as the forty-fourth president of the United States. Still, I would recommend it for those bunnies looking to learn more.
But perhaps those same young bunnies are up to learn even more about this man? Then I’d urge them and their parents to consider diving into one of Obama’s own books. Many parents will likely think Obama’s 2006 book The Audacity of Hope might be too political (or politically motivated) for their young ones, but his first book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, written in 1995, tells this man’s tale up to that time in lyrical but not overly dramatic language. This is a beautiful coming-of-age story, and it is perhaps uniquely American. Obama tries in it to open up, understand (for himself–and to our benefit), and come to terms with his own multicultural multiracial heritage. It can be a challenging read for preteens, but for tweens and teenagers, it is bound to be inspiring. And I’d say, it can be especially so, knowing that this young man narrating his own story would become the forty-fourth president of the United States in a little less than fifteen years from the end of the book.
Caramel loves reading books about real things, and he especially loves learning about how things work. Today’s book, from National Geographic Kids, is just up his alley: How Things Work by T. J. Resler. As usual Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.
Sprinkles: So Caramel you got your nose into another big book about real things!
Caramel: Yes, exactly.
S: Tell me what this book is about.
C: It’s about how things work, as you can tell by the cover.
S: Yes. What kinds of things though?
C: Things like hoverbikes and hoverboards. Tablets, bionic arms, thermoses, and invisibility cloaks! Tractor beams…
S: Wait, invisibility cloaks? Tractor beams? Are those things real?
C: No, they are just theoretical. And they are not really invisibility cloaks but cloaking devices.
S: Hmm, so the book is about inventions, both real and fantastical, right?
C: Yes. They are really cool.
S: And I thought the chapter titles were quite fun. Can you tell us some of them?
C: There is one called “Beaming Up”. And another called “Home Where The Fridge Is”. There is “School of Cool”, and “Extreme Fun”, and some others.
S: Which is your favorite thing that you read about in this book?
C: My favorite is in the chapter called “Caught in the Tractor!” There is a picture of an alien ship in a section called “Think Big”.
S: Is that a real alien ship? I did not know we had alien visitors!
C: No it’s just a picture. An artist’s imagination.
S: Hmm, so what do you like about this particular page?
C: The picture of the alien ship is cool. But the section is about tractor beams, something we see a lot in Star Trek. Apparently a gigawatt in laser energy would totally vaporize a baseball. That’s basically a phaser, like in Star Trek.
S: Okay, how is that related to tractor beams?
C: It would be able to move the thing, but then it would also totally vaporize it too.
S: So there is a lot in this book about Star Trek science?
C: Not exactly, but I like Star Trek so I am telling you things about Star Trek in the book. There are also a lot of real things.
S: Like what?
C: Like fridges, space ships, microwave ovens, thermoses, and photocopy machines. And we learn about Elon Musk. He is an engineer and apparently he read a whole encyclopedia when he was a child.
S: Hmm, do you ever read an encyclopedia Caramel?
C: No, not really.
S: Well, we do often check out Wikipedia, and that is kind of like an encyclopedia, right?
C: I guess so. But I like reading real books with pictures, and learning about how things work.
S: And this book has a lot of pictures. Every one of its two hundred pages has at least one picture and there are pages which have only pictures. So it is a great book to read if you like to see what you are reading about.
C: Yes, there is a full-page picture of a dog drinking from the toilet bowl. The dog says “hmm, that’s the stuff!”
S: So the book is also quite funny, it sounds like.
C: Well kind of, but I like it more for the facts.
S: Okay, so tell me three words or phrases to describe this book.
C: Full of facts, colorful pictures, useful.
S: Great! This is a good place to wrap up this review. What do you want to tell our readers Caramel?