Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of A Different Pond, by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

A Different Pond

by Bao Phi
illustrated by Thi Bui

Capstone Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This picture book tells the story of a small boy and his father going fishing early in the morning on a Saturday.

It’s lovely father-son time and focuses on how the boy feels grown up because he’s helping his father. Along the way, we learn that the father used to fish with his brother at a pond in Vietnam. They both fought in the war, but one day his brother didn’t come home.

We also learn that the father has a second job and the mother works, but they still need to fish to be sure of having food for dinner. Because everything is expensive in America.

I like the way the book focuses on warmth and love and this shared activity instead of the hardships in the background. It reveals those hardships in a gentle way.

And the paintings are wonderful. On many spreads, there’s a creative use of inset panels. The story happens almost entirely before the sun comes up, but the artist gives texture to the night sky and the darkness.

A story about fishing with a father that has much more behind it, and presented in a beautiful format.

mycapstone.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 Baabwaa and Wooliam, by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Baabwaa & Wooliam

by David Elliott
illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Candlewick Press, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book had me at the introductory spread:

This is Wooliam.
He is a sheep.
You will note that Wooliam is reading.
There are not many sheep who read.
But Wooliam is one of them.

This is Baabwaa, also a sheep.
In this picture, Baabwaa is knitting.
Knitting is a very practical hobby for a sheep.
It’s surprising not more of them do it.
Oh well.

Reading and knitting! These are my kind of sheep!

One day, when Wooliam has been reading about adventures, he suggests that they set out to have an adventure of their own.

It’s not easy to find an adventure in a field with a stone wall around it. But then, they are approached by another sheep.

A sheep with a long, rangy tail.
A sheep with a sharp, whiskered snout.
A sheep with a filthy wool coat.

However, well-read Wooliam recognizes the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing from his reading.

After some chasing, the wolf wants to find out more. Wooliam has read about him?

Eventually, the sheep develop a friendship with the wolf. Wooliam teaches him to read, and Baabwaa knits him a better sweater. But there’s still a fair amount of chasing. The sheep needed some exercise anyway.

And they decide it was quite an adventure, after all.

This book is quirky, warm, and fun. It even gives a message about the value of reading. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are also quirky, warm, and fun. As it happens, I was planning on doing a preschool storytime this week about “Adventures,” and this book will fit in perfectly.

Friendship is one of the best adventures of them all.

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 Full of Fall, by April Pulley Sayre

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Full of Fall

by April Pulley Sayre

Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017. 40 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve got a new favorite Autumn storytime book.

Full of Fall tells about the changes in a forest in Autumn – with stunning photo illustrations and simple but not trite rhyming verse.

Here’s an example of the text for two spreads, with appropriately shaded brightly colored leaves under these words.

Hello, yellow.
Greetings, gold.
Oh – it’s orange!
Red, be bold.

The book begins with the start of fall as the leaves change –

One leaf,
Another leaf.
Colors surge.
Meet the trees!
Their shapes emerge.

(Had you ever noticed that when a forest of trees change to different colors, it’s now easier to see the shapes of individual trees?)

And ends with leaves fallen, on the forest floor, and geese flying overhead.

As with so many Autumn books, the last page foreshadows the coming of winter – with a photo of snow falling on colored leaves.

The text is simple enough for a baby storytime, but the photos and concepts are interesting enough for a preschool storytime.

The large photos make this book extraordinary – but the well-chosen words make it readable. There are two pages at the back that explain some of the science shown in the pictures, for use even with school age children.

AprilSayre.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.

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Review of Hello Goodbye Dog, by Maria Gianferrari, pictures by Patrice Barton

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Hello Goodbye Dog

by Maria Gianferrari
pictures by Patrice Barton

Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Hello Goodbye Dog is about Zara’s dog Moose, who loves Hellos and hates Goodbyes.

In fact, Moose hates Goodbye so much, he breaks out and follows Zara to school, where he gets a Hello!

Moose escapes more than once. Each time, Zara is able to get him calm and quiet by reading aloud to him. But then, he inevitably hears “Goodbye” and puts on the brakes. Each time, it takes progressively more people to get Moose to leave.

After an eventful day, where Moose finishes up by playing tag in the cafeteria when he hears the dreaded “Goodbye,” Zara has an idea. This is where the book won me over completely – Zara brings Moose to therapy dog school!

Moose becomes the Class Reading Dog and is now welcomed by all the people who tried to get him to leave before.

There’s an author’s note at the end about therapy dogs and read-to-the-dog programs.

But besides being good advertising for read-to-the-dog programs, this book tells a lovely story. The art shows Moose being so friendly and eager all along. There’s a progression and a lilt to the story, which will help beginning readers. I love that Zara’s in a wheelchair, and this isn’t commented on except to note that Moose is extra good with wheelchairs.

A nice story about a dog who loves Hellos, loves his girl, and loves to hear stories.

mariagianferrari.com
patricebarton.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 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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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 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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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?