Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2 more books about the Wemmicks

Titles:  If Only I Had A Green Nose and Best of All
Author:  Max Lucado
Illustrator:  Sergio Martinez
Target Audience:  young children
Reading level:  Can be read independently at approximately a 4th grade level, although it can also be read to younger child
Main characters: 
Eli, the woodcarver
Punchinello and Lucia
Punchinello's friends

Summary:  In If Only I Had A Green Nose, the Wemmicks are obsessed with the "in" thing.  At first, everyone is standing in line to have their noses painted green.  As the story progresses, the popular nose color changes to yellow, orange, and many other colors.  As the story opens, Punchinello and Lucia are in Eli's workshop, wondering why anyone would want to paint their nose.  Eli's answer is, "Because everyone is."  Punchinello is convinced to get his nose painted by some friends, but especially by Twiggy, a fellow Wemmick whom Punchinello likes.  But Punchinello and his friends soon learn the foolishness of doing something only because everyone else is.  They decide they want to be themselves again and return to Eli to ask for help.  Although the sanding is painful, Punchinello and his friends are glad to be returned to the way their Maker made them.
In Best of All, the Wemmicks are happy to welcome Bess Stovall to Wemmicksville, looking for Wemmicks to join her "Wonderful Wemmicks Club."  Bess Stovall is "the best of all" Wemmicks, and she's famous because everyone knows her (and everyone knows her because she's famous).  Bess Stovall is obsessed with "ancest-tree"--what type of tree each Wemmick was made from, and from what forest.  Some of the townspeople are made of walnut, pine, or elm while others are made of maple, which is the best (any guesses what Bess Stovall is made of? Anyone? That's right! Maple!)  Lucia is even made from the same tree as Bess (which of course makes Lucia better than the other maple Wemmicks).  One Wemmick is made of willow, which is the weakest wood, and therefore the worst--Punchinello.  Before long, the Wemmicks are caught up in looking down on each other because of their "ancest-tree."  Punchinello begins to feel sorry for himself until Eli reminds him that the Wemmick-maker knows better than the Wemmicks.  Lucia has also talked to Eli and apologizes to Punchinello for listening to the other Wemmicks instead of Eli.  The two Wemmicks walk back to town for Bess Stovall's send-off party.  As Bess is leaving, she leans too far out her carriage window and falls over the bridge.  Punchinello is the only Wemmick limber enough to rescue Bess (funny how she isn't worried about what type of wood she's touching when her life depends on it).  Punchinello has a new respect from the other Wemmicks, who decide to stop worrying about "ancest-trees." 

Review:  Again, love Max Lucado's ability to put important truths on a child's level.  Popularity is one of the most common problems today.  How many people, even Christians, haven't done something stupid to try to be popular?  But If . . . Nose shows that popularity isn't always easy--walking around with your nose in the air (how else will everyone see your popular painted nose?) makes it easy to bump into things.  And when the definition of popular changes, it's difficult to keep up.  Who decides what's popular anyway?  Who put "Willy With-it" in charge?  And, although it may hurt, it's always best to go back to your Maker and be what He wants you to be.  Best of All also deals with a common problem--judging others.  Often, people judge others about something over which they have no control (often skin color, gender, or disability, although not always).  Best of All teaches that everyone is purposefully made by the Maker--in the Wemmicks case, with that specific wood.  One wood is not better than another.  If reading the Wemmicks series, Best of All also shows that everyone messes up from time to time.  Although Lucia has followed Eli in the other books, she chooses to listen to Bess Stovall in this one and even begins ignoring Punchinello.
5 stars--Gourmet meal.
Great book. Nothing wrong whatsoever. It's pretty close to, "I don't think I could ever read anything better. " I think everyone should read this book. It is likely that very few books will get this rating.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2 books about the Wemmicks

Titles:  You Are Special and You Are Mine
Author:  Max Lucado
Illustrator:  Sergio Martinez
Target Audience:  Young children (although we all need a reminder sometimes)
Reading Level:  Can be read independently at approximately a 5th grade reading level, but is more of a read-aloud book, for example with kindergartners.  (Reading level is slightly elevated based on the formula I use due to names of characters)

Summary:  The Wemmicks are wooden people.  They are each different, but each was carved by Eli, the woodcarver who lives up the hill from the Wemmick village.  Punchinello is the main character in the Wemmick books, and he learns a valuable lesson in each book. 
In You Are Special, the Wemmicks give each other stickers--gray dots for "bad" Wemmicks and gold stars for "good" Wemmicks.  The other Wemmicks give Punchinello gray dots for falling while trying to do tricks, for scratched paint, and eventually just for having so many gray dots.  Punchinello begins to believe that he is not a good Wemmick.  Then Punchinello meets Lucia, who has no stickers.  When other Wemmicks try to give her a star or a dot, it falls to the ground.  At Lucia's suggestion, Punchinello visits Eli, where he learns that Lucia's stickers don't stick because she has decided that Eli's opinion is more important than the opinion of the other Wemmicks.  As Punchinello leaves Eli with an agreement to come back each day, he begins to believe Eli's promise that he is special because Eli made him and one of his gray dot stickers falls off.
In You Are Mine, Punchinello gets caught up in the latest Wemmick craze--buying boxes and balls.  He even works extra hours and sells all of his belongings trying to have the most.  When someone decides that stacking the boxes and balls the highest will determine which Wemmick is best, all the Wemmicks start heading up the hill near the village.  But along the way, Punchinello wanders off the path since he can't see because of all his boxes and balls.  He doesn't realize he's off the path until he trips in the doorway to Eli's house.  In the conversation that follows, Punchinello learns that his boxes and balls have cost him quite a bit--even more than his bed, home, and books, they have also cost him happiness, friends, and his trust in Eli to make him happy.

Review:  I love the books about the Wemmicks.  The stories are told in a simple, straightforward manner and the illustrations are also beautiful.  You can see the Wemmicks' wooden joints, but also the happiness and sadness in their faces.  The books teach important Biblical truths--you are special because of Who made you, not because of what you look like, what you have, or what you can do.  God's opinion of you should be more important than the opinions of other people.  And, other people's opinion will affect your happiness only if you let them.
5 stars--Gourmet meal.
Great book. Nothing wrong whatsoever. It's pretty close to, "I don't think I could ever read anything better. " I think everyone should read this book. It is likely that very few books will get this rating.

Friday, October 7, 2011

With You All the Way

Sorry about the delay folks.  I missed this week's post earlier because Miss Bella the Bookworm got a job, and I was gone all this past Tuesday.  I've decided to go with some younger books this next few weeks.  They are written to be read to young children, although they are on about a fourth grade independent reading level.  But, I still enjoy reading them because they teach valuable truths that even adults sometimes need to be reminded of.

Title:  With You All the Way
Author:  Max Lucado
Illustrator:  Chuck Gillies
Target Audience:  Young Children
Reading Level:  Approximate independent reading level of 4th grade, but designed to be read as a picture book to younger children, perhaps kindergarten.

Summary:  The three best knights in the kingdom compete for the princess' hand in marriage.  The first to travel with a companion through Hemlock Forest and arrive at the castle will marry the princess.  But Hemlock Forest is dark and dangerous.  And the Hopenots live there--small creatures known more for their cleverness than any strength.  Some people even think the Hopenots are people who were lost while travelling through the forest and were changed by it.  Since Hemlock Forest is so dark and dense, the travellers will be led to the castle by the sound of a song played by the king three times daily.  Only the king and the prince know the song, and they have two identical flutes on which the song is played.  Who will escape Hemlock Forest first?  Carlisle, the strongest?  Alon, the swiftest?  Or Cassidon, the wisest?

Review:  As with many of Max Lucado's stories for children, With You All the Way is told in parable format.  Not everything has an extra meaning, but the story can be used to teach Biblical truth.  There is only One Person Who will be with you all the way, and Only One Who can lead you to the King through the forest filled with hopenots.  The story is easy for a young child to follow while listening to a reader.  The illustrations are beautifully done with strong colors that are not bright.  Most of the pictures are close-up, although one picture is from a long-distance viewpoint to show that no one can tell who the winning knight is as he comes out of the forest.
5 stars--Gourmet meal.
Great book. Nothing wrong whatsoever. It's pretty close to, "I don't think I could ever read anything better. " I think everyone should read this book. It is likely that very few books will get this rating.
Although the book is geared to younger readers, I think many could benefit from reading it occasionally and reminding themselves of the One Who is always by their side.  I know I have.
Speed and strength are no defense against imitation of the truth.

Love in Christ,