Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of Little Wolf’s First Howling, by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Little Wolf’s First Howling

by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
and Kate Harvey McGee

Candlewick Press, 2017. 28 pages.

I just read this book in a storytime, along with three other picture books I personally like better – and this book was far and away the kids’ favorite. I decided to review it after all!

Little Wolf is going with his father Big Wolf up to the top of the hill to howl the full moon up to the top of the sky.

Big Wolf demonstrates how it should be done.

Little Wolf responds with things like:

aaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
dibbity dobbity skibbity skobbity
skooo-wooooo-wooooooooooo

Big Wolf explains that Little Wolf was off to a good start, but his finish was not proper howling form. He demonstrates again.

After Little Wolf’s third attempt, Big Wolf can’t resist – and jumps in with his own jazzy howling.

The children at storytime simply loved demonstrating the proper way to howl with Big Wolf. I think it would be a whole lot of fun to take this book home. It wouldn’t be long before a child would learn all of Little Wolf’s jazzy variations.

The lovely pictures make it look like a serious book about wolves. Kids are delighted with the surprise twist.

This book reminds me of Froodle, but with wolves instead of birds, and some nice father-child interaction. I like that Big Wolf eventually is willing to be jazzy, too.

candlewick.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.

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Review of The Good for Nothing Button, by Cherise Mericle Harper

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

The Good for Nothing Button

by Charise Mericle Harper

Hyperion Books for Children, 2017. 60 pages.

The Good for Nothing Button is part of the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series. It features a bit of metafiction, with the start and end of the book showing Mo Willems’ Gerald and Piggie reading the story by Charise Mericle Harper and reacting to it.

That would annoy me if the story itself weren’t an excellent beginning reader tale.

Yellow Bird has something to show his friends Red Bird and Blue Bird. It’s a button!

But this button does nothing – or so Yellow Bird says.

But when Blue Bird presses it, he’s surprised the button is so easy to press.

Being surprised is not nothing.

When Red Bird presses it, he’s not surprised, which makes him sad.

Blue Bird points out that being sad is not nothing.

Red Bird and Blue Bird come to believe that the button can do many things. Yellow bird is not convinced. His efforts to explain that convince Red Bird and Blue Bird that the button has made Yellow Bird angry!

And the whole conversation and argument is good, silly fun. I suspect you may find kids playing with the concepts of “Nothing” and “Something” after reading this book.

It’s all easy to read, and our friends Elephant & Piggie introduce the story and play off of it. Fantastic for beginning readers.

chariseharper.com
pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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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 The Fox Wish, by Kimiko Aman

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The Fox Wish

by Kimiko Aman
illustrated by Komako Sakai

Chronicle Books, 2017. Originally published in Japan in 2003. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book charmed, surprised, and enchanted me.

The book starts in the middle of the action, well, in the middle of a snack. We see a little blonde girl and her younger brother, and she’s got big surprised eyes. She left her jump rope at the park!

She goes to get it, and Lukie comes along. But when they get to the park, the jump rope isn’t there. But they hear laughter in the trees. They go to investigate.

The laughs were louder now, and I could hear it:
the swish, whip of the jump rope.

But it wasn’t Thomas and Samantha jump-roping.
It was foxes.

“Doxy, foxy,
touch the ground.

Doxy, foxy,
turn around.

Turn to the east,
and turn to the west,

and choose the one that
you like best.”

The spread shows the children looking out from behind some trees at a line of foxes jumping rope. Two are turning the rope, one is watching, and seven foxes are joyfully jumping, in various poses in the air.

The foxes were not very good at jump rope.
They were good jumpers, but their tails kept getting caught in the rope.

Lukie can’t help but laugh. So then they come out and join the foxes. The foxes politely ask them how to jump rope without tripping, and Roxie is glad to explain that they simply need to hold their tails up.

They all have a lovely time jumping rope together until it starts to get dark. When it’s Roxie’s time to turn the rope, she sees that the rope indeed has her name on the handle.

But when it’s time to go home, there’s a surprise. This is the part where I was utterly charmed. I don’t want to give it away, so let me just say that it’s delightful to watch wishes come true.

I love this book. The illustrations (Those fox faces! The joyful jumping!) are a big part of that. But also the story of a little girl who learns to give joy to others.

chroniclekids.com

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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 We Forgot Brock, by Carter Goodrich

Friday, May 5th, 2017

We Forgot Brock!

by Carter Goodrich

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2015. 44 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, I’ll say it. I’m a little tired of the recent spate of books about imaginary friends. Usually, they simply don’t win me over. There’s pretty much always a logical inconsistency somewhere in the idea of the reality of these imaginary friends. Something that wouldn’t quite work if carried to its logical conclusion.

Maybe this one caught me on a good day, but I was charmed by We Forgot Brock!.

This is Phillip and Brock. They’re best friends. They spend all their time goofing around together.

The weird thing is, nobody else can see Brock. Everyone calls him “Phillip’s Imaginary Friend.” Whatever that means.

Carter Goodrich uses the same technique used in Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Most pictures show the world from the kid’s perspective, but sometimes we see what the adults see – no Brock.

Then the whole family goes to the Big Fair. They have a great time. Phillip falls asleep, but Brock wants to ride the Brain Shaker.

When Phillip wakes up in the car, to his dismay, his parents have left Brock behind!

Meanwhile, at the Big Fair, someone sees that Brock is upset. It’s a little girl named Anne with her friend, Princess Sparkle Dust. They take Brock home with them, and fortunately, it’s in the same neighborhood where Phillip lives.

Brock has a great time with Anne and Princess Sparkle Dust. But when he sees the Lost poster Phillip put up for him, he remembers how much he misses Phillip. Fortunately, they find each other.

Somehow, the adults are happier when Phillip and Brock play with Anne and Princess Sparkle Dust than they were when Phillip and Brock just played together. Fortunately, Phillip and Brock are happier, too.

There are lots of lovely touches in the illustrations of this story. Brock and Princess Sparkle Dust both appear to be drawn by one crayon. Both children are clearly imaginative. Phillip always wears a cape and Anne wears wings.

Maybe I was won over this time because the author didn’t try to explain where imaginary friends come from (That’s usually where the world-building breaks down for me). Maybe I was prepped for this book by loving Calvin and Hobbes. But whatever the reason, We Forgot Brock! stands out for me in the Imaginary Friends Genre. It takes imagination seriously and takes friendship seriously.

Don’t forget to read this book!

cartergoodrich.com
KIDS.SimonandSchuster.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.

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Review of The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, by Carmen Agra Deedy

Friday, March 24th, 2017

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Scholastic Press, 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Yes, I heard this book read by the author on Inauguration Day, 2017. Yes, this is a book with a message. Yes, I am a fan.

(And Carmen Agra Deedy had first regaled us with stories of her family. She is a magnificent storyteller!)

La Paz was a village “where streets rang with song from morning till night.”

You can hear the rhythm to Carmen Agra Deedy’s words with this early page:

Dogs bayed,
mothers crooned,
engines hummed,
fountains warbled,
and everybody sang in the shower.

But the village was a very noisy place, so the people elect a new mayor, who promises peace and quiet.

The new mayor’s rules start quite reasonable: “NO LOUD SINGING IN PUBLIC,” but they progress through NO LOUD SINGING AT HOME to NO SINGING to ¡BASTA! QUIET, ALREADY!

The village is now a very quiet place. Even the teakettles were afraid to whistle. But then a rooster wandered into the village with his family.

When the little rooster awoke the next morning, he did what roosters were born to do.

He sang:

Kee-kee-ree-KEE!

As his rotten luck would have it, the mango tree grew beneath the cranky mayor’s window.

Uh-oh.

A showdown proceeds between the rooster and the mayor. Here’s the first encounter:

“You, there!” groused Don Pepe. “No singing! It’s the law!”

“Well, that’s a silly law,” said the merry gallito. “Smell this sweet mango tree! How can I keep from singing?”

“Humph! Then I’ll chop down that stinky tree!” huffed Don Pepe. “Will you sing then?”

The plucky gallito shrugged. I may sing a less cheerful song. But I will sing.”

And he did.

As the encounters continue, the rooster sings a lonelier song, a hungrier song, and a darker song.

A crowd gathers for the final showdown, where the rooster says, “I sing for those who dare not sing – or have forgotten how. If I must sing for them as well, señor, how can I keep from singing?”

And when the mayor then threatens the rooster’s life, he proclaims:

“But a song is louder than one noisy little rooster and stronger than one bully of a mayor,” said the gallito. “And it will never die – so long as there is someone to sing it.”

And then the crowd joins in the little rooster’s song and causes the mayor to flee.

The Author’s Note at the back brings the point home. And though technically, that probably isn’t necessary, I so much love her way of putting it, and I feel the message is so timely, I’m going to copy it out here:

Roosters sing at sunrise; they also sing
at noon, sundown, and in the middle of the night.
Roosters sing when they please, and that’s all there is to that.

Much like roosters, human children are born with voices
strong and true – and irrepressible.

Then, bit by bit, most of us learn to temper our opinions,
censor our beliefs, and quiet our voices.

But not all of us.

There are always those who resist being silenced,
who will crow out their truth,
without regard to consequence.

Foolhardy or wise, they are the ones
who give us the courage to sing.

Thank you, Carmen Agra Deedy!

carmenagradeedy.com
eugeneyelchinbooks.com
scholastic.com

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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 Duck, Duck, Porcupine, by Salina Yoon

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Duck, Duck, Porcupine

by Salina Yoon

Bloomsbury, May 2016. 70 pages.

This has the feel of another classic beginning reader. We’ve got friends in everyday situations — with a payoff ending. The story is told using speech bubbles (as well as pictures of lists). There are three stories, so it’s preliminary to chapters.

Classic beginning readers have two best friends. In this book, we’ve got a trio. There’s Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. Big Duck seems to think she’s the leader, but in all three cases, Little Duck figures out a solution.

The bright colors and thick line drawings are visually pleasing. The pages of this book reach out to the reader. Yes, the text is in speech bubbles, but there are only a few words on a page, and even the youngest reader will not have any trouble following which speech comes next.

The promise is that this is the first of a new beginning reader series. I love seeing books that not only help a child who’s beginning to be able to read on their own, but also give them something they will be happy to read. This story is good enough that kids not able to read yet will enjoy it just as much as those who gain the pride of reading it all by themselves.

salinayoon.com
bloomsbury.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.

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Review of Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do! by Daisy Hirst

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do!

by Daisy Hirst

Candlewick Press, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #12 Picture Books

This book about being a big sister of an annoying little brother charmed me with its specific details.

The drawings are simple, such as a child would do. Natalie and her little brother Alphonse are some sort of monster. Natalie is red and Alphonse is blue.

The story is also simple.

They both liked naming the pigeons, [Banana! Lorraine!]

bouncing things off the bunk beds,
and stories in the chair.

And they both loved making things.

Except that Alphonse did sometimes draw on the things that Natalie made,
or eat them, and Natalie hated that.

I like that the author doesn’t need to tell us that Alphonse is being aggravating.

One day when lunch was peas
and TV was awful
and Mom did not understand, [What a lovely dog! It is a HORSE.]
Natalie found Alphonse under the bunk beds . . .

eating her favorite book.

“ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!” said Natalie.

What follows is Alphonse trying to reconcile with Natalie, and Natalie needing some time first. She draws a picture of awful things happening to Alphonse. I especially like the touch of the “swarm of peas.” Then she shuts herself in the bathroom and takes a bath.

But while she’s in the bath, she thinks she hears things happening to Alphonse like what she drew.

When she comes out and learns that Alphonse just created disasters while trying to get the tape to fix Natalie’s book, she’s just glad that Alphonse is okay.

It’s a simple story, but it warms my heart. Sometimes little siblings are incredibly annoying – but sometimes they’re creative partners.

candlewick.com

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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 The Cow Said Meow, by John Himmelman

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The Cow Said Meow

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book makes me laugh. I think even toddlers who have learned their animal sounds will get the joke. Older kids will have fun explaining all they see happening.

The story is told through pictures – with the only words being the sounds the animals make shown in speech bubbles.

It’s raining. A cow is grazing in front of a house. We can see a warm living room inside the window. A cat stands at the door and says, “Meow.” On the next page, a little old lady with thick glasses lets the cat in as it purrs.

Then we’ve got a close-up of the cow’s face. It’s wet and its face droops, but it raises one eyebrow, clearly thinking.

On the next page, the cow goes to the door and says, “Meow.” The little old lady with thick glasses and squinty eyes lets it in, too. The cow is sure to purr as she goes in – and we see a pig in the foreground.

A close-up of the pig’s face shows the pig thinking. It mimics the cow. Followed by a chicken, a donkey, a goat, and a duck. There’s also an element of the Telephone Game, because each animal from the donkey on says Heeow instead of Meow.

Finally all the animals are in the house, saying variants of Meow and Purr, with the cat behind a curtain saying Hiss. But then it all falls apart, and the animals start making their own noises. The little old lady’s eyes get opened, and they’re sent back out into the rain.

Then we see a dog say “Woof.” The lady opens the door….

You might be surprised how good wordless books are for getting little ones to use their own words. This one has the added attraction of silly animal sounds and situations.

Wonderful silly fun.

mackids.com

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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 Horrible Bear, by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Horrible Bear!

by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #10 Picture Books

I confess: I’m a big fan of Zachariah OHora’s exuberant illustrations. They’re just right for this book.

A little girl with a wild mop of curly red hair is flying a kite. (I like the way the front end papers are filled with her hair and the back end papers are filled with the furry top of the bear’s head.) The kite flying is shown silently on the title page. If you look closely, you notice the string has just snapped. The kite is next to a mountain with an open doorway near the top and a welcome mat.

On the next page, the text just reads, “A girl peeked into bear’s cave.” The pictures show us that the kite has entered the cave and is sitting on top of a sleeping bear lying in the middle of the floor with a pillow.

The next page says, “She reached – but he rolled.” And we see the kite go “Crunch!” beneath the bear.

That’s when the drama begins.

HORRIBLE BEAR! the girl shouted.

She goes stomping off, continuing to shout about the horrible bear.

Then the bear gets angry in his turn. After all, SHE barged in! SHE made a ruckus! SHE woke him up!

Then he gets a horrible bear idea to show her what it feels like.

Meanwhile, in her house, the girl, still angry, accidentally tears the ear off of her stuffy. She didn’t mean to! And that’s when she realizes maybe the bear didn’t mean to be horrible.

But the bear is practicing to show the girl how it feels. He comes stomping down the mountain.

When the girl meets him with an apology and tears, the situation takes a whole new flavor.

This book is a child-sized look at anger and apology and accidental wrongs. That it involves a bear wearing a “Froggy Hollow Summer Camp” t-shirt and sneakers makes it all the more accessible. I love the way the two come up with Sweet Bear ideas at the end, with an acknowledgement that the Sweetness may not last forever. There are lots of points of discussion with small readers in this book.

And those exuberant Zachariah OHora illustrations! The Horrible Bear has as much giant-sized gentleness combined with ferocity as Nilson in No Fits, Nilson!

I also love some clever details in the illustrations – a copy of Wolfie the Bunny in the girl’s room, and then a book called Goldilocks that she kicks. In the bear’s cave, we see a stack of books with titles, Blueberries, The Goldilocks Myth, and 1000 Ways to Cook Porridge.

And I just noticed for the first time that the back cover of the book shows the bear riding happily on the little girl’s purple bike with his friend the bat (animal, not baseball) in the basket.

@AmeDyckman
zohora.com
lb-kids.com

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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 The Water Princess, by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

The Water Princess

Based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel

by Susan Verde

illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016. 40 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 Picture Books

Here is a picture book with a message – but the creators wisely made telling a good story a higher priority than just getting the message across.

As the book opens, we are introduced to Princess Gie Gie. I’ve long been a fan of Peter H. Reynolds, and here his work is more detailed – and more beautiful – than ever before. We see Princess Gie Gie first looking up into a sky full of stars.

As we turn the page, we learn her location:

My kingdom . . .
the African sky, so wide and so close.
I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.

First, Gie Gie talks about the things she can do – taming the wild dogs, making the tall grass sway, and making the wind play hide-and-seek. But Gie Gie cannot make the water come closer or run clearer.

Each morning, when it is still dark, Gie Gie and her mother set off to collect the water. Most of the book is about that journey. I love the way Gie Gie is still dramatic and joyful, even though she doesn’t want to get up early and go for the long walk. Even though she wishes she could bring the water by magic.

I also love the way Gie Gie’s parents consistently address her as “princess.” I like the way, when she brings the water back, she celebrates the achievement.

At the water hole, Gie Gie plays with her friends while her mother holds their place in line. The water there is dusty and earth colored, but it is flowing, and they make the journey back with full pots on their heads.

I also love the page at the end of the day, after they have used the water:

Clothes and body clean,
I sing to the dogs.
I dance with the tall grass.
I hide from the wind.

At bedtime, Gie Gie asks her mother “Why is the water so far? Why is the water not clear? Where is our water?”

The final spread answers:

“Sleep,” she says.
“Dream,” she says.
“Someday you will find a way, my princess.
Someday.”

I am Princess Gie Gie.
My kingdom?
The African sky. The dusty earth.

And, someday,
the flowing cool, crystal-clear water.
Someday …

After that final page of the story, there is a spread with a note from the creators and photographs of children in Africa getting water. They explain that nearly one billion people around the world don’t have access to clean water.

This crisis is what motivated African model Georgie Badiel to work to make a difference and get clean water to those in need. As a young girl in Burkina Faso, Georgie spent her summers living with her grandmother. Every morning, Georgie and the other girls and women of the village walked for miles to fill pots with water and return it home to be used for the basics – drinking, bathing, cooking – only to wake up the next morning and make the journey again.

Georgie Badiel is now working with Ryan’s Well to bring clean water to people of Burkina Faso and beyond.

This book has a wonderful message – but they communicate that message by means of a lovely story. They manage to show a joyful, playful child who happens to face a difficult task every morning.

ryanswell.ca
georgiebadielfoundation.org
susanverde.com
peterhreynolds.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?