Archive for the ‘Delightfully Silly’ Category

Review of How to Knit a Monster, by Annemarie van Haeringen

Monday, November 5th, 2018

How to Knit a Monster

by Annemarie van Haeringen

Clarion Books, 2018. First published in the Netherlands in 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book was first published in the Netherlands in 2014. It is not eligible for the Newbery. I should not have taken time to read it. On top of that, I have a pet peeve against books that show someone knitting a complete sweater in less than a month – and this book does much, much worse than that.

And yet, all that said — I did read this book today and was enchanted. The speedy knitting is all part of this amazing goat’s magic.

Here’s how the book begins:

Greta is a goat, a white goat. When she goes outdoors in wintertime, she’s almost invisible.

She is a very, very good knitter. She knits socks for everyone she knows and for many she doesn’t know.

Today Greta decides to knit something different. How about a whole goat?

She tries a little one first.

Click, click, clickety click go her knitting needles, and before long a little goat slides off her needle.

What fun! Greta knits more little goats so they can play together.

The illustration here shows several goats, with splashes of color in various places and trailing yarn. They are cavorting about happily, with two butting heads.

But then “mean Mrs. Sheep” comes by and badmouths Greta’s knitting.

Greta is upset. She isn’t watching her knitting.

We’ll see who knits the fastest, Greta thinks angrily. Clickclickclicketyclick go her needles.

Mrs. Sheep keeps talking. Greta still isn’t watching her knitting.

She decides it’s finished and ends it off . . .

. . . and a wolf jumps off the needle!

The little goats run away.

Well, the wolf deals with Mrs. Sheep. Greta hides just in time – in a closet with more yarn, thankfully. Because next she knits a tiger to catch the wolf. But the tiger is hungry….

And what is especially lovely about this book is how it all comes together – or, um, apart – at the end. (No one is permanently damaged, but Mrs. Sheep does learn a lesson.) Though Greta does need to learn to pay more attention to what she knits!

So this knitter, for one, truly appreciates the genius of Greta, whose knitting is just plain magical. Besides this being a really fun story to tell, all the better to convince children that knitters have magical powers, right?

hmhco.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/how_to_knit_a_monster.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz and Eda Kaban

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Old MacDonald Had a Truck

by Steve Goetz
illustrated by Eda Kaban

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2016. 40 pages.

Okay, it’s an idea that had to happen. Old MacDonald’s making a stunt track on his farm! We’ve got the familiar song, but this time, on his farm he has:

an excavator,
a front loader,
a bulldozer,
a motor grader,
a dump truck,
a steamroller,
a cement mixer,
and a truck (racing on the finished track).

The various machines work with various noises like a Dig Dig, a Scooop Scoop, a Puuush Push, a Scrape Rake, a Dump Thump, a Squish Smash.

There’s no accumulation, though, so I’m thinking if I used it for storytime, I might repeat each machine page to give kids the chance to join in. Though after the sound effects page for each machine, the line at the end of the verse shows up on the next page (Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O.), leading right into the next verse. So it’s going to be a little disrupting to go back and repeat.

I think, though, for reading to your own child on a lap, they’re going to ask for this over and over again, and on only the second or third time through, they’ll be confidently joining in. Parents and grandparents in that situation won’t need to repeat any pages, since they’ll be repeating the whole book!

One other thing I wonder: Farm animals are helping Old MacDonald and his wife build the stunt track. Why, though, is a fox joining in? I would have rather they stuck with more traditional animals for Old MacDonald’s farm. But that’s a minor quibble and doesn’t diminish the fun.

I like what the flap says about the author: “Steve Goetz was inspired to write his debut picture book when his son, Connor, began to sing ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’ with alternative lyrics (‘Old MacDonald had a Monster Truck, E – I – E – I – Ooooooo’). This moment blossomed into an ongoing conversation about the heavy machinery Old MacDonald must have owned to run his farm.” Indeed!

This is the sort of book that makes me wonder why anyone didn’t think of this before. In fact, surely someone has? But this one is carried out with exuberance.

www.chroniclekids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/old_macdonald_had_a_truck.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Life on Mars, by Jon Agee

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Life on Mars

by Jon Agee

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages.

I love the silliness that comes from the mind of Jon Agee. In his latest picture book, a boy has come to Mars to find life. He’s bearing a gift of chocolate cupcakes. He’s sure there’s life on Mars, even though other people don’t think so.

But alas! All he finds when he looks around are rocks and dirt. There’s no life on Mars after all!

Meanwhile, children will see the large monster-shaped Martian following the kid around. The boy even climbs on “this mountain” (the creature’s belly) to find where he left his spaceship.

When the kid gets back in the spaceship headed home, he decides he deserves a treat. But who ate the chocolate cupcakes?

This is a child’s first taste of an unreliable narrator, and they’ll love knowing what he doesn’t. It’s an exercise in perspective, too, as you can talk about why the boy doesn’t see the Martian, but we do.

jonagee.com
penguin.com/children

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/life_on_mars.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat, by Julia Donaldson

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat

by Julia Donaldson
illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Candlewick Press, 2017. First published in the United Kingdom in 2013. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I’m a little perplexed how much I like this book. I don’t really consider myself a fan of The Owl and the Pussycat. And yet, just opening this book got the original poem singing in my brain.

And this one does the same thing – It sings inside your head. The story may be a little more slender. Rather than getting married, the owl and the pussycat are looking for their lost ring. But hey, it’s all nonsense. And it does end happily.

Juliet Donaldson works in some other Edward Lear characters, like the Pobble Who Has No Toes.

The story is not weighty at all – but it sings, with the very same lilt as The Owl and the Pussycat. I find I simply must read this book to a group of children – expect to hear it soon at a Storytime in Old Town Square.

And if you have a child who will listen to nonsense, try this out! The lilt of the language is a delight!

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/owl_and_the_pussycat.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Toad on the Road, by Stephen Shaskan

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Toad on the Road

A Cautionary Tale

by Stephen Shaskan

Harper, 2017. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017.

Here’s a book that cries out to be read aloud in a storytime. There’s a toad in the road! Four different critters in alliterative vehicles come down the road toward the toad, and we’re encouraged:

Everyone shout:
Look out! Look out!

Then we’ve got a spread-filling “SKID! SCREECH! BAM!”

No, the toad isn’t hurt, but the other creature has run off the road and crashed. And they now scold the oblivious toad:

Hey, little toad, get out of the way!
You could get hurt. That’s no place to play.
Vamoose! Skedaddle! Without delay!
What do you think your mama would say?

The final animal is the toad’s mama! And she’s driving a tow truck to take away the other crashed vehicles. They smile when they see each other, and she gets him off the road with a hug.

There are little blips where the rhyme isn’t perfect – but my main impression of the book is that I have to try it at my next Toddler Storytime. I can’t wait to have everybody shout, “Look out! Look out!” And the bonus is that it’s a fun way to talk about how the road is not a safe place to play.

stephenshaskan.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/toad_on_the_road.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Teacher’s Pet, by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

The Teacher’s Pet

by Anica Mrose Rissi
illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Disney Hyperion, 2017. 36 pages.

Okay this book is extremely silly. So silly, I’m not even tempted to complain it’s not even slightly realistic.

It’s told as a straight story. Here’s the beginning:

On the day the science project hatched,
our whole class was amazed.
We’d never seen Mr. Stricter so excited.
“I always wanted a pet,” he said.

Our tadpoles grew and grew.
Soon it was time to release them into the wild.
But Mr. Stricter said we could keep just one.
We chose Bruno.

However, it quickly becomes apparent in the illustrations that Bruno is not a frog. The book doesn’t say so, but we can see that Bruno is a hippopotamus. Mr. Stricter happily comments on how fast he’s growing.

In this book, it’s the kids who see the down side of the pet. As he gets bigger and bigger and bigger:

Everyone could see that
Bruno was trouble.
Everyone except Mr. Stricter.

As Bruno destroys things because of his sheer size, Mr. Stricter happily comments that he loves to play and is so adorable.

The kids hold a meeting to figure out how to convince Mr. Stricter to let Bruno go. But despite all their objections, Mr. Stricter won’t listen – until Bruno swallows him whole!

At this point, I was telling myself, Okay, somehow they’ll get him out of there. And they do. After some stubbornness, the kids cleverly figure out how to make Bruno sneeze.

Mr. Stricter flew out like a snot rocket.

He shook Bruno’s slime from his ears.
“Good news,” he said.
“I found the missing homework.”

No, this story isn’t even slightly realistic. How did a tiny tadpole-like hippo hatch from a frog’s egg, anyway? But yes, it is very silly and very, very fun. As always Zachariah Ohora’s illustrations are perfect.

anicarissi.com
zohora.com
DisneyBooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/teachers_pet.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Read the Book, Lemmings!

by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book simply makes me laugh. Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora know exactly how to hit my funny bone.

The end papers at the front of this book set us up. We’re in the Arctic, with several icebergs in view. A small one in front has a big sign, which says:

lemmings: small, fuzzy, illiterate rodents who share the icy North with arctic foxes and polar bears. People used to think lemmings jumped off cliffs. Now we know they don’t.

High on top of a nearby icy cliff, we see three little furry creatures. One is jumping off and saying, “Wonder what that says.”

The next is saying, “Me too!”

And the third is saying, “Ditto!”

The first page gets us right into the action. We see a ship made out of a big black whale. On its deck are a polar bear and an arctic fox, dressed as captain and crew of the ship. The three lemmings are now on deck, too, close to the edge.

Foxy found a quiet spot to read his book about lemmings. “Huh!” Foxy said. “Says here, lemmings don’t jump off cliffs.

“Jump? I’ll jump!” said a lemming.

“Me too!” said a second.

“Ditto!” said a third.

The next page shows them jumping: GERONIMO-O-O-O-O!

And that’s what the book is about. Foxy saves them after they jump into the water. He tries to get them to read the book about lemmings. But any time someone says, “Jump” – they do.

Finally, Foxy and Captain PB figure out that the lemmings don’t know how to read, although Ditto can burp the alphabet. So Foxy teaches the lemmings to read, and they learn that lemmings don’t jump off cliffs!

Of course, they do find a new way to get into trouble.

The fun of this book is the slapstick humor of the lemmings flinging themselves off cliffs and Foxy continuing to save them. The illustrations give us lots of humor and lots of variety – turning sideways at times to show us how far they’re falling. Of course, the endpapers at the back feature that same sign – modified.

I do love the Author’s Note at the back:

When I was little, I saw a movie that showed lemmings jumping off cliffs. Years later, I learned that, except in very rare cases, lemmings DON’T jump off cliffs. My first thought was, “OH NO! DID ANYONE TELL THE LEMMINGS?!” So, we made this book. You’re welcome, lemmings.

Good, silly fun.

zohora.com
lb-kids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/read_the_book_lemmings.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Welcome, by Mo Willems

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Welcome

A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

by Mo Willems

Disney Book Group, 2017. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Yay! I have been invited to a baby shower, so I have a reason to purchase this book! I actually read it last year when visiting my newborn niece, but I didn’t have a chance to write a review. Now I’ve been enjoying the book before I wrap it up….

What I need to do is simply urge you to read this book. It’s brilliant. You will enjoy it.

I’ll say a little bit about it. It’s written as a sort of travel guide for a new baby, telling them what to expect. The illustrations are essentially icons, as found in manuals. It’s funny and charming.

A wonderful touch is that most pages end with the words “while we read this book together.”

Here’s a nice page at the start:

PLEASE ENJOY YOUR STAY

Many activities are available for you to enjoy,
including, but not limited to:

SLEEPING and WAKING,
EATING and BURPING,
POOPING and MORE POOPING.
[All the capitalized words have icons on the facing page.]

Other options are available upon request
and will be updated on a regular basis.

Of our current offerings, I can personally recommend
your being right here with me . . .

while we read this book together.

And here’s a nice page at the end:

CONDITIONS MAY VARY

We will strive to make your stay
as comfortable as possible. However . . .

There will be TURBULENCE.
There will be UNEXPECTED EVENTS.
There will be HUMAN ERROR.

Fortunately, we are happy to provide you LOVE

At no extra cost.

A warm and delightful book that tells newcomer what they can expect out of life, and that they have people standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide Love.

May this book get many chances to be read child and parent together.

pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/welcome.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a book I purchased via Amazon.com to give away.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Dawalt

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

by Drew Daywalt
pictures by Adam Rex

Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, this book is tremendously silly. And way too much fun!

The idea is not surprising, and doesn’t, actually, sound like a great story: A tale of three fierce warriors who couldn’t find anyone to defeat them until they found each other – and so the tribute game of Rock Paper Scissors began. I mean, we all know that anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is problematic at best. (I’m not even much of a fan of the author’s previous bestselling picture book, The Day the Crayons Quit.)

But the execution of this idea is absolutely brilliant! It won over even me.

I think it’s the over-the-top breathless announcer-voice language which begs to be read aloud that wins me over:

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK. Rock was the strongest in all the land, but he was sad because no one could give him a worthy challenge.

Rock traveled to the mysterious Forest of Over by the Tire Swing, where he met a warrior who hung on a rope, holding a giant’s underwear.

“Drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!”

“I will pinch you and make you cry, Rock Warrior!”

ROCK versus CLOTHESPIN!

Rock is victorious!

Next Rock battles Apricot, which cries out, “I will beat you, Rock, with my tart and tangy sweetness!”

After he wins, Rock poignantly proclaims, “And yet, smooshing you has brought me no joy.” He leaves the Kingdom of Backyard still in search of a worthy foe.

Next, we enter the Empire of Mom’s Home Office where a second great warrior named Paper seeks the glory of battle. In delightfully silly, yet written oh-so-seriously, Paper defeats Computer Printer and Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix. Where can Paper find an opponent who can give him a good battle?

Then, of course, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. My favorite battle in the entire book is Scissors versus dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

I have come from the far reaches of Kitchen to battle you, O bizarre and yummy breaded dinosaurs!

Bow before our child-pleasing shapes and flavors, sword master!

No one can resist our crunchy awesomeness!

When these fierce warriors encounter each other, you know how the battles turn out!

And the three great warriors hugged each other and danced for joy, and they became fast friends. Finally, they had each met their matches. They were so happy, in fact, that they began to battle again….

The illustrations in this book are partly what makes it so perfect. They’ve got drama and seriousness making these epic battles ever so silly. This book was a huge hit when I booktalked it to younger elementary grades. I had all kinds of fun reading it to the classrooms, and it was then checked out all summer. Older preschoolers may enjoy it, too – especially if they have ever played Rock Paper Scissors.

adamrex.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/legend_of_rock_paper_scissors.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mike Austin

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike

by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Mike Austin

Beach Lane Books (Simon and Schuster), 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book is SO FAB! Why, oh why, has no one ever before written a book about how beautiful life is if you are goldfish in a child’s aquarium? This is a needed niche – any child with a fish will love it – and on top of that, the story is tremendous fun to read aloud, with bright, colorful pictures. It’s got enthusiastic language and plenty of onomatopoeia.

Here’s how the book begins:

Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike are five fish who met at the fish store.
They are fab friends.

A little girl brought them home and plopped them into the tank:
PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP

FAB!

The fish tank is like HEAVEN.
Henny loves the orange gravel.
Penny loves the diver.
Lenny loves the rock.
Denny loves the pirate ship.
And Mike loves the bubbles.
Nobody loves the snail, but that’s okay.

There are a surprising number of adventures that happen in the lives of Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike. They hate Clean the Fish Tank Day – but are so excited and happy when the girl makes everything just sparkle.

And then new fish enter the tank! And a new fairy castle! There’s one little problem at the end, and we’re all surprised by who saves the day.

I just can’t express enough how much fun this book is to read. I bet you can’t read it and not smile. After all, fish tank life and this book are both SO FAB!

CynthiaRylant.com
JingandMike.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/henny_penny_lenny_denny_and_mike.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?