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Author: Tony Johnston
Publication Date: 2011-09-13
Johnston’s “fairly fabricated” story of the invention of blue jeans is humorous, educational, and very cleverly illustrated by Stacy Innerst. The book is intended to be read by children ages 4 and up, but it is truly an entertaining book for adults as well. It begins by sharing a particular concern of individuals who came to California during the Gold Rush: disintegrating pants. Their pants are torn apart by the hard work. Many have to mine in rags, and some even have to mine naked (or “in the vanilla,” as Johnston hilariously puts it). This is when Levi Strauss appears with his nearly indestructible tent fabric that eventually becomes the fabric for blue jeans. The illustrations for the book are particularly unique; Innerst uses old Levi’s for her canvas, driving home the blue jeans theme on every page. The end of the book even provides a brief, more accurate telling of the invention of blue jeans for any curious readers. This book is inventive, hilarious, educational, and highly recommended.
Carc Schuster ~
Author: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp
Publication Date: 2011-11-01
Though this book may appeal more to those who have seen the YouTube videos in which Marcel made his debut, Marcel himself is so wonderfully quirky that even those unfamiliar with the videos are bound to love this adorable little shell. The book is simple—nothing more than a walking, talking shell taking his readers through a day in his strange life. But being such a small shell in such a big world provides Marcel with challenges that most readers might not consider. For example, where does such a small individual sleep? Why, between two pieces of bread—his “breadroom,” as he hilariously refers to it. What does he do for fun? Sometimes, he climbs a sandal wearing a pistachio for a helmet. The book is filled with funny little quips like these that delight readers and make Marcel undeniably lovable. Nothing is lost in translation from videos to book; the paintings on each page have all of the liveliness of their YouTube counterparts. The book is recommended for ages 5-8, but it can certainly be appreciated by older and perhaps even younger readers, particularly if they have seen the YouTube videos, which are also highly recommended.