Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Dreamers

by Yuyi Morales

Neal Porter Books (Holiday House), 2018. 40 pages.
Starred Review
Review written July 6, 2018, from an advance F & G.
2019 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#1 General Picture Books

Oh, this is such a gorgeous and timely book.

Mixing English and Spanish (without a glossary), Yuyi Morales tells her immigration story with glorious paintings and collages loaded with symbolism. A note at the back fills in the details.

She came to America with her baby, to get married. She felt bewildered and an outsider. She didn’t understand the language.

But almost the very center spread of the book is the place that changed both her and her child’s lives – the public library.

We see specific books on the shelves, but also wonders pouring out of the books she opens. All the rest of the spreads are about libraries and the wonders of books.

Thousands and thousands of steps
we took around this land,
until the day we found . . .

a place we had
never seen before.
Suspicious.
Improbable.

Unbelievable.
Surprising.

Unimaginable.

Where we didn’t need to speak,
we only needed to trust.
And we did!

Books became our language.
Books became our home.
Books became our lives.

We learned to read,
to speak,
to write,
and
to make
our voices heard.

The text alone doesn’t do this book justice. The joy of the mother and child as the world and imagination opens up is glorious to behold.

In the note, where she fills in details of her story, she explains that her child was not a Dreamer in the political way the word is used today, about undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Kelly and I were Dreamers in the sense that all immigrants, regardless of our status, are Dreamers: we enter a new country carried by hopes and dreams, and carrying our own special gifts, to build a better future. Dreamers and Dreamers of the world, migrantes soñadores.

Now I have told you my story. What’s yours?

She includes a list of books that inspired her at the back.

Oh, such a lovely book! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a song of thanks to libraries.

HolidayHouse.com

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

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Review of Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! by Dan Santat

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Harold & Hog
Pretend for Real!

by Dan Santat

Hyperion Books for Children, May 7, 2019. 64 pages.
Starred Review
Review written January 27, 2019, from an advance reader copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

This is another book in the series Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!. Mo Willems’ Gerald and Piggie characters appear at the beginning and end to introduce a book written by someone else. This one is delightfully meta, because the book they’re introducing features an elephant and a pig – Harold & Hog – who want to pretend to be Gerald and Piggie.

Harold and Hog are drawn by Dan Santat, much more realistically than the cartoonish Gerald and Piggie. They have glasses to pretend to be Gerald and a cartoon nose to pretend to be Piggie.

But there’s a problem when they try to carry it out. Because Gerald is always very careful – but Harold has trouble with that. And Piggie is always very carefree – but Hog has trouble with that. Their efforts in that direction are tremendously fun.

I’m writing this in my Seattle hotel room while at ALA Midwinter Meeting. We chose our Newbery winners last night but don’t announce them to the world until tomorrow morning. I’m feeling a little giddy ever since I realized that I can write a review of this book – a 2019 publication – and post it this very day!

Of course, the book won’t be published until May, but this is one to watch for! Watch book characters pretend to be each other! Too much fun!

dantat.com
pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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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 an Advance Reader Copy I picked up at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

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.

Review of Next to You, by Lori Haskins Houran and Sydney Hanson

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Next to You

A Book of Adorableness

by Lori Haskins Houran
pictures by Sydney Hanson

Albert Whitman & Company, Chicago, 2016. 32 pages.

I was recently asked what would make a good baby shower gift, if you didn’t want to buy a pink fluffy outfit. Naturally, being a librarian, I suggested a book.

Next time I’m on the spot like that, I will think of this book. Yes, it’s designed to be a gift book and has a place for an inscription at the front. It’s designed to be read by a parent or doting relative to a small child.

I’m resistant to such blatant design lures. But even I have to admit – this book is utterly adorable!

Here’s how it begins:

Next to you,
the softest puppy in the world
is only kind of cute.

Two kittens with a ball of yarn?

A line of fuzzy yellow ducklings?

A squirrel eating a doughnut
with his tiny hands?

Adorable, sure.
But next to you?
Meh. Just OK.

Naturally, there are big-eyed, sweet pictures to accompany this catalog of cute creatures. At the end, after saying all these critters are nothing next to you, the reader emphasizes that where they like to be is next to you, and we’ve got a cozy picture of all the adorable animals cuddled up next to each other.

Grandmas, do you have the cutest grandchild ever? This book will be a lovely welcoming gift to read to them over and over again.

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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 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 A Year of Borrowed Men, by Michelle Barker

Friday, January 18th, 2019

A Year of Borrowed Men

by Michelle Barker
illustrated by Renné Benoit

Pajamapress, 2016. First published in Canada in 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book for older readers that’s based on a true story from wartime Germany. The author used a story her mother told her.

Here’s how the book begins:

I was seven when the French prisoners of war arrived at our house.

It was 1944. Mummy told us the government had sent them because all our men were gone to war, and someone needed to keep the farms running. She said we were just borrowing the French men. When the war was over, we would give them back.

The French men do work on the farm. The family is supposed to treat them like prisoners. When they slip up one cold night and let the borrowed men eat with the family, the next day the mother is taken in for questioning and warned that if there is any repeat, she will go to prison.

So they have to keep their distance – but this story is how friendship builds between them, anyway.

And it’s lovely. I like the scenes where they speak to each other in their own languages. Gerda (the narrator) shows them her Christmas doll. They learn that eine Puppe in German is very close to une poupée in French.

Old photographs at the back of the book emphasize the truth of this story.

It’s always inspiring when those who are told to be enemies make friends.

pajamapress.ca

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

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Review of Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, by Lynne Rae Perkins

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled

by Lynne Rae Perkins

Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled is a story about a boy and his dog – and how everything a boy and his dog do together is educational.

That doesn’t sound as charming as it is. I’ll give some examples. Imagine detailed and bright pictures with word bubbles for Lucky’s thoughts.

Lucky could always help Frank with his homework, because Lucky did a lot of learning on his own.

For example, Lucky was very interested in Science. Who isn’t?

Science is when you wonder about something, so you observe it and ask questions about it and try to understand it.

Lucky wondered about ducks.

He wondered about squirrels and deer and bees and porcupines and little birds. He observed snow and rain, mud and grass, ponds and streams. He asked questions….

The time Lucky wondered about skunks, they learned about Chemistry, which is Science about what everything is made of, and how one kind of thing can change into another kind of thing.

It’s very fun the way the boy and dog look at different subjects. Math involves what fraction of the bed belongs to Frank and what fraction to Lucky. (It changes throughout the night.) History involves the question of what happened to the cake on the table when a chair was accidentally left pulled out.

They look at Art, Composition, Astronomy, Geography, even Foreign Languages when they find a friend.

This book is charming all the way along.

And the whole wide world with Lucky was the subject Frank liked best.

lynnerae.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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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 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.

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Review of The Not-So-Faraway Adventure, by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure

by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher

Kids Can Press, 2016. 32 pages.

This picture book charmed me. Here’s how it begins:

Theo’s Poppa was an explorer.
He had been everywhere.
He kept an old trunk packed with the pictures, postcards, maps and menus that he had collected on his adventures.
Whenever Theo looked inside the trunk, she found something interesting.

Theo, a little girl, shows us some of the things. The art is simple drawings combined with collage for some authentic-looking souvenirs. Theo wants to be an explorer like Poppa when she grows up.

But now it’s almost Poppa’s birthday, and Theo doesn’t know what to get him. When she asks him, he reminisces about how he used to go to a restaurant on the beach with Nana.

That gives Theo an idea. She went to a beach on a streetcar with her class last year, and there was a restaurant there.

It wasn’t long before Theo and Poppa were sketching a map.

“This is where we are,” said Poppa, marking an X on the page.

“And this is where the streetcar goes,” said Theo, drawing a long line from where they were to where they wanted to go. “Here’s the way from the streetcar to the beach.” She made a dotted line, like footprints. “And the restaurant is right here!” She marked another X on the map.

“And there’s you, and there’s me,” laughed Poppa, drawing two smiling faces. “We’re happy because we’ve just discovered something delicious to eat.”

The rest of the book is their adventure. They ride on the streetcar and play on the beach and take pictures of each other and eat at the restaurant.

When they come back, Theo’s Mom and Dad and little brother have a surprise party for Poppa. And Theo puts their map into Poppa’s trunk, remembering a wonderful adventure.

This book seems suitable for early elementary school kids, with the mapping and planning and riding the streetcar (with Poppa). However, I thought Theo looks younger than that. (But that just may be me.) There are a lot of words on each page, so I’d think twice about using this in preschool storytime.

But here’s a cozy inter-generational story of the perfect gift for grandpa — complete with mapping and planning and documenting their wonderful time together.

kidscanpress.com

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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 Flora and the Peacocks, by Molly Idle

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Flora and the Peacocks

by Molly Idle

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2016. 32 pages.

Flora’s back! She’s dancing with a new kind of bird – this time not one, but two peacocks!

Flora looks a little more sophisticated this time, with flowers in her hair and holding a fan. She’s still got her child-sized round body shape.

Again, Flora dances with the birds, using the fan to mirror the peacocks’ tails.

Besides the beauty of the illustrations, the fun and motion of the flaps, and the way the child and birds mirror each other’s movements, Molly Idle always puts in a surprising amount of story in her books, even without words.

In this case, the fact that there are two birds means that a rivalry springs up. Jealousy threatens to destroy the dance – but then they come together in the biggest fold-out section of all.

Will the book and the huge fold-out hold up to library usage? That remains to be seen. It also makes me think it would be difficult to use in a storytime. But one on one, or with a few children at a time, I can easily imagine children reading this book again and again, enjoying the beauty and telling you all they notice about the characters, the feelings involved, and the ultimate happy ending. Without printed words, children will take pride in reading this book long before they can decode print. And what a wonderful way to introduce them to story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

chroniclekids.com

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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 Airport Book, by Lisa Brown

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

The Airport Book

by Lisa Brown

A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press), 2016. 36 pages.

Having just taken a plane trip a couple days before I read this book, it struck me as especially useful for a family planning a flight with preschool children. Having done that many times in my life, I wish this book had been around then.

And this is a modern airport. The pictures match my experience of airports well.

There are lots of people
saying lots of goodbyes.
Sometimes they hug.
Sometimes they cry.

They have big bags on wheels and smaller bags on their shoulders and backs.

Sometimes you can tell exactly what is packed inside the bags.
Sometimes it is a mystery.

Inside the airport you stand in lines.
You stand in lines to get your ticket.
You stand in lines to check your bags.
There are lines for the restrooms.
There are lines to go through security.

The text tells you all that goes on, but the real treat is in the pictures. They’re not as crowded as a Where’s Waldo book, but there’s plenty of things to see on each page, with many side stories.

We watch the little sister’s monkey make its way (with the tail sticking out of the luggage). Various other passengers set out and journey as well.

The featured family has an interracial couple, and there are an abundance of families on the flight itself. You’ll see more details about the other passengers with each pass through the book.

Planning a flight with young ones? This book provides perfect preparation. Your child will know what to expect and what to watch for. Interested in talking with your little one about a trip they’ve taken or that you’ve taken? This book also provides a lovely jumping-off point for that. I hope this one gets displayed prominently in airport bookstores.

mackids.com

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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 Bear & Hare: Where’s Bear? by Emily Gravett

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Bear & Hare

Where’s Bear?

by Emily Gravett

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. Originally published in Great Britain in 2014. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a sweet toddler-friendly story that provides counting practice along the way.

The text is simple. The first line is the most complicated one of the whole book:

Bear and Hare are playing hide-and-seek.

From there, the words are the numbers 1 through 10 written large, stretching across the page, showing Hare with his eyes covered. On the other side of the spread, next to the number 10, are the words “Where’s Bear?”

We turn the page and see Bear trying very inadequately to hide behind a lamp. Hare is pointing and saying, “There!”

The idea repeats.

After three tries where Bear is very easy to find, we see:

Maybe Hare should try hiding instead?

We’ve got the big numbers across the page again, this time with “Where’s Hare?”

Hare’s a lot harder to find. Sharp readers will spot his ears poking out. But when Bear looks under the blanket, the bed calls to him. Now Hare comes out and can’t find him!

It all ends with Hare shouting “I WANT BEAR!”

On the final page, we’ve got a cozy hug, and the words “There.”

You couldn’t ask for a cozier story to make toddlers feel clever – and get counting practice in, too.

emilygravett.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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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 Among a Thousand Fireflies, by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Among a Thousand Fireflies

poem by Helen Frost
photographs by Rick Lieder

Candlewick Press, 2016. 28 pages.

This story is simple. What makes it amazing are the photographs.

We meet one firefly among thousands. She finds her match by the pattern her lights flash.

Across a distance
wide and dark,
she looks out from
her flower
and sees –

Light. Dark.
Light. Dark.

Inside the flower,
her light flashes back,
pulsing through the night.

Here I am. She sends a silent call.
Over here.
Look! I’m here.

As I said, it’s a simple dramatization of a firefly finding its mate through the pattern of its flashes. But who knew that pictures of fireflies could be so stunning? I especially like the way her light lights up the flower she’s sitting on.

It’s simple. It’s short. But it will make you look twice. And it will help you notice the wonder of fireflies on the next summer night.

Mind you, kids are already good at noticing such things. I think this book will validate their wonder. And it may start a conversation about the science of fireflies, with some simple notes (so parents will know what they’re talking about) at the back of the book.

candlewick.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/among_a_thousand_fireflies.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?