If you haven't seen the television show "Gilmore Girls" you are missing on out on some fast talking, diner food eating, book reading goodness. This blog is about celebrating the book reading aspect, but you might also find additional references to "Gilmore Girls" or reading in general throughout. Some awesome soul compiled a list of 349 books read or featured on "Gilmore Girls", and this blog is my attempt to read all of them in two years. Join me for the good, the bad, the oh-my-gosh-i-don't-wanna-read-that, and more. For every book I complete, I will be donating books to children.

Friday, May 29, 2015

REVIEW: Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City by Anne Sawyer-Aitch

I adore this book. Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City by Anne Sawyer-Aitch is a terrific little romp of imagination and fun. But, more than that, this book is simply gorgeous. It works beautifully as a story to read with children, but it also makes a wonderful picture book.

Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City is the second in a series by Sawyer-Aitch, following young Nalah through adventures galore. In this book, Nalah is upset because most of her imaginary friends have gone on vacation leaving her seemingly alone. Of course, her family is still around, but they are all too busy preparing for a big family picnic to pay attention to Nalah.

However, not all of the imaginary friends turn out to be gone! Mad Tooth, a mouse who loves to chew on Nalah's socks (but only one sock from each pair), is still around. Mad Tooth finds out that Nalah is sad and missing her friends and decides to take Nalah on a wild adventure through the sock drawer and into a mouse metropolis. The fun that ensues is filled with lively play, dancing, new friends, taffy, and a sock monster.

The story itself is sweet, especially for this mama reviewer who had (has) an active imagination. As a child, I had an imaginary friend named Danny, and until my sister was old enough to talk and play with me, Danny was my constant companion. This book helped rekindle memories of Danny and my wild childhood imagination. I loved it!

The adventures of Nalah and her imaginary friends are sweet enough, but what I truly loved about this book is the illustration.

Stunning. Gorgeous. Bright. Bold. 
I can't think of better words to describe the pictures that fill every page.  Sawyer-Aitch describes her process as illuminated illustration which brings to mind illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Although the overall style of Sawyer-Aitch's illustrations are quite different from those of the monks and others that perfected illumination techniques all those centuries ago, there are many similarities. The illustrations cover the page in full, glorious color and involve multiple steps to create the final product.

Sawyer-Aitch's process, as described at the end of Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, involves two pencil drawings or each illustration, coloring them in, cutting away key pieces, and layering the two over a lit surface. The result is full of bright, colorful movement and emotion. It is a technique I plan to try in my own art soon.
While you could use this book simply for reading enjoyment, I do have some ideas on how it could be used for educational activities beyond literature:
  • At the start of the book, Nalah's imaginary friends are going on vacation to various places around the world. They specifically mention Australia and France. Find each place on a map or globe. Consider calculating the distance from your own home. How would you get there? What would you do there? What do you think each of Nalah's friends are doing there?
  • Use the story to discuss emotions -- Why is Nalah sad at the start of the book? What other emotions does she feel throughout? How do the other people and characters in the book feel? What do you do when you have those emotions?
  • Ask, "What would you do in each situation presented in the story?" 
  • Try the illustration technique described at the end of the book -- this would be a great art activity for older kids, even teens.
Find out more about Anne Sawyer-Aitch and her books:
***This post and others on this site may include affiliate links. 
I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review. 
However, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.***

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