Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of The World Is Not a Rectangle, by Jeanette Winter

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

The World Is Not a Rectangle

A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

by Jeanette Winter

Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017. 56 pages.
Starred Review

This is a simple but brilliant picture book biography about Zaha Hadid, an architect I’d never heard of, who was an Arab and a woman and who designed buildings located all over the world.

Zaha was born in Iraq in 1950. The book simply shows how she got inspiration from nature.

When she grew up, she ventured away from her country and studied in London. She submitted designs in many competitions. When she was finally selected, the city commission refused to build it.

But Zaha continued, and the pictures show buildings she designed located all over the world – the pictures place them alongside the landscapes and natural objects that inspired them.

Zaha died in 2016, but her designs are still being built. End notes tell where each featured building is located.

Jeanette Winter doesn’t waste words, but she tells the story of a woman who added beauty to the world. And she tells it in a way I won’t soon forget.

simonandschuster.com/kids

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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 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

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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 Now, by Antoinette Portis

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Now

by Antoinette Portis

A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve said before that some of the best sermons are found in children’s books. This book speaks loads about contentment and joy and living in the present.

Here’s how it begins:

This is my favorite breeze.

This is my favorite leaf.

This is my favorite hole
(this one)
because it is the one
I am digging.

And that’s how it continues. The simple yet beautiful pictures (I love the way she draws the breeze!) show a girl with light brown skin enjoying each favorite thing on a double-page spread.

The one variation is when her boat goes into the storm drain, and we read, “That was my favorite boat.” No sadness or crying, just enjoying this moment.

The book winds up like this:

And this is my favorite
now
because it is the one I am having

with you.

The final picture is of the girl in her mother’s lap reading a book, so there’s a nice self-referential element.

This book just makes me smile!

And the next time I go for a walk around my lake, I’m going to be saying things to myself like:
This is my favorite breeze.
That is my favorite flower.
That is my favorite bird….

What a lovely concept to share with children!

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.

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Review of All the Way to Havana, by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

All the Way to Havana

by Margarita Engle
illustrated by Mike Curato

Godwin Books (Henry Holt and Company), 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

I fell for this book because of the wonderful, lilting use of language and onomatopoiea. The story is of a boy and his family going for a drive to Havana.

We have a gift, and we have a cake,
and today we’re going to drive all the way
to the big city to see my new baby cousin
on his zero-year birthday!

But before they set out on their drive, they need to figure out why their old blue car isn’t making its usual noises: “cara cara cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck,” but instead sounds like “pio pio, pio pio, pfffft.”

Papá opens the trunk and lets me hand him
the heavy toolbox. Then he raises the hood
to show me all the rattling parts
that have been fixed with wire, tape,
and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.

The boy is involved in choosing tools and tinkering, twisting, and tightening – until “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen.”

The drive into town involves giving rides to neighbors – and a new set of noises. There’s a gorgeous and colorful spread as they come into town, driving on the curved road by the seawall, with many other old cars in all colors on the road along with them.

At the party, there fun and food with cousins, and then it’s time to come home again.

So we zoom and bump all the way back
to our little village, where we will soon
have a chance to
cara cara
taka taka
pio pio
clunk
sleep.

I love the Author’s Note at the back of the book. It adds depth to what is already such a lovely (for the eyes) and melodious (for the ears) story.

Due to a complex historical situation, many of the American cars on the island of Cuba are pre-1959 and so old that parts under the hood have been replaced many times, often with makeshift inventions. Despite more than half a century of poverty and hardship, the Cuban people remain so creative that they manage to keep machines of all sorts running long past the age when wealthier people would discard them. This simple poem about the island’s noisy old cars is intended as an expression of admiration for the everyday ingenuity of poor people everywhere who have to struggle, persevere, create, and invent on a daily basis, never losing hope. Undoubtedly, a boy like the one in this story would dream of modern cars and space-age inventions along with plans to keep his family’s antique car running smoothly.

margaritaengle.com
mikecurato.com
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.

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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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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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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 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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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.

What did you think of this book?