Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of Welcome, by Mo Willems

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Welcome

A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

by Mo Willems

Disney Book Group, 2017. 28 pages.
Starred Review

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

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

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

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

Here’s a nice page at the start:

PLEASE ENJOY YOUR STAY

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

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

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

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

while we read this book together.

And here’s a nice page at the end:

CONDITIONS MAY VARY

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

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

Fortunately, we are happy to provide you LOVE

At no extra cost.

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

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

pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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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 I purchased via Amazon.com to give away.

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

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Review of The Snowbear, by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander

Friday, January 26th, 2018

The Snowbear

by Sean Taylor
illustrated by Claire Alexander

words & pictures (Quarto Publishing), Lake Forest, CA, 2017. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Charming, sweet, and simple – this would be a great pick for a winter storytime. It’s from the point of view of two small children, and the words and pictures are realistically childlike.

When Iggy and Martina wake up to snow, they go out to play. Their mother warns them to be careful of the hill, because it’s too steep and slippery. So they make a snowman – but it ends up looking more like a snowbear.

“He looks happy to be made,” said Martina.

And it was true.

Then Iggy wants to slide down the hill on their sled. Oops! It really is too steep and slippery. They slide on and on, into the deep dark woods.

There’s lots of atmosphere:

Nothing moved except for one grey pigeon.

“I want to go home,” said Martina.

“So do I,” said Iggy.

He got off the sledge and tried to pull it back the way they’d come.

But Mom was right.
It was too steep and slippery.

Next, there’s a wolf staring at them through the trees. It’s a scary moment. But they hear something, and an entire spread is their open-mouthed faces staring in amazement.

The snowbear has come lolloping down the hill toward them! The wolf leaves, and without a word, the snowbear picks them up and carries them home. Then it goes back to where they’d made it, keeping its friendly smile all along.

The ending is nice and open ended. Mom says it’s a lovely snowbear, but only the kids understand what really happened.

The pictures and text work together beautifully in this tale with child-sized drama and danger – and wonderful coziness.

QuartoKnows.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 Pink Umbrella, by Amélie Callot, pictures by Geneviève Godbout

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

The Pink Umbrella

by Amélie Callot
pictures by Geneviève Godbout

Tundra Books, Penguin Random House, 2018. Originally published in French in 2016 in Canada. 76 pages.
Starred Review

Ah! A wonderful 2018 children’s book for which I can post a review! Why? Because it’s translated from French and was originally published in Canada in 2016 – so it’s not eligible for the 2019 Newbery. I probably wouldn’t have read it, but it’s a picture book. I’m glad I did because I was enchanted.

The Pink Umbrella is the story of Adele, who runs a café called The Polka-Dot Apron in a small village next to the sea.

For the villagers, the café is a refuge,
a small lantern always lit.

It’s where everyone meets. Where they cry, laugh, yell, argue and love. The café is the heart of the village.

And Adele is the heart of the café. She is the village’s sun – lively, sweet and sparkling.

Adele is known for gathering people together. And her friend Lucas helps by supplying the café. But there’s something else Adele is known for:

The thing everyone knows about Adele is that she doesn’t like the rain.

When the weather is nice, she smiles, she whistles, she sings at the top of her lungs, she throws open the windows and props open the door….

But when it rains, Adele stays inside.
She can’t help it; she loses her spirit.
The rain is gray, cold and dreary.

However, one beautiful market day on Wednesday (the café has many uses besides being a café and Wednesday is market day), someone leaves behind two bright pink rubber boots with suns carved into the soles. They are just Adele’s size! She asks all week, but no one claims them.

The next week, someone leaves behind a bright pink raincoat. It, too, fits Adele perfectly.

But the next market day the weather is bad. Lucas and Adele are taking care of the market stall, but few customers come, so Lucas leaves early.

When the truck disappeared from view, Adele turned around to close the café, roll herself up in her quilt and wait for the sun to take the place of the clouds . . .

But she stopped short, stunned! In the entrance, under the coatrack, was an adorable umbrella.
It was pink . . . with polka dots!

And only one person could have left it there.

Adele smiled.

Because the day was done, because she wanted to, and because opening an umbrella inside is bad luck . . . Adele put on the boots and the raincoat and, on the doorstep, opened the pink polka-dotted umbrella.

There was only one step to take, and she took it with joy. She turned the key in the lock and went for a walk in the rain.

It really wasn’t so bad. The air smelled wonderfully of damp grass, and the rain played a pretty melody as it fell on the umbrella.

And yes, she sees her friend Lucas as she goes on her walk.

I probably shouldn’t have quoted as much from this book as I did, lest you think that’s all there is to it. I wanted to convey the charming language used. But the marvelous old-fashioned pictures are what completely win your heart. They are large and beautiful, cartoon-like but filled with atmosphere. Adele is beautiful and like a ray of sunshine indeed – but all the more so when she’s all dressed in pink, brightening up a gray day.

At first, I liked the book so much, I thought it was really written more for adults than for children. But then I thought about how very much fun it would be to read the book to my four- and five-year-old nieces. It’s a book about joy, and a book about love, and a book about getting out in the rain, and a book about the joys of wearing pink!

If I were doing a preschool storytime in February, I would enjoy using this book for a book with a theme of love where it’s not overtly stated. Yes, it’s on the long side – but even though there are many pages, most don’t have a lot of words, and the big beautiful pictures will keep their interest. But of course, more fun would be sitting down with a child who loves pink, or a child who loves wearing rubber boots in the rain – and reading it together.

penguinrandomhouse.ca

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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 Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

The Antlered Ship

by Dashka Slater
illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Beach Lane Books, 2017. 44 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book adventure story featuring animals. I expected trite, corny, or hokey. What I found was charming and marvelous.

The book begins by introducing us to a fox who asks philosophical questions:

The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.

He had so many questions.
Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad?
Why don’t trees ever talk?
How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?

But when he posed these questions to the other foxes, they grew silent.
“What does that have to do with chicken stew?” they asked.

Marco goes to the harbor to see the ship and learns that the crew of deer onboard are lost. They hope to hire better sailors. Marco signs on, in hopes of finding other foxes who know the answers to his questions. A flock of pigeons, led by Victor, signs on, hoping to have adventures. The original deer crew, led by the captain Sylvia, are looking for an island with tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees.

But first, they find adventures. The crew gets discouraged by the difficulties they face. This is my favorite page:

“We should have stayed in the woods,” Sylvia said. “Deer aren’t supposed to go to sea.”
“We should have stayed in the park,” added Victor. “Pigeons aren’t supposed to do hard labor.”
Marco eyed the deer and the pigeons. “Foxes aren’t supposed to be vegetarian,” he said. “Still, we must do the best we can.”

No, Marco doesn’t eat the crew. He makes a warm and reviving stew of vegetables and revives his friends to continue their quest.

Marco continues to pour forth philosophical questions throughout the book. Things like: “Do islands like being alone? Do waves look more like horses or swans?” But the question for which he finds the best answers is “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?”

And though the others’ initial quests are satisfied, the friends decide that they want to travel on….

The beautiful illustrations by Terry Fan and Eric Fan add just the right touch to give the animals’ efforts seriousness. At the same time, their naïve ideas are child-sized. Children will delight to share the adventure.

dashkaslater.com
thefanbrothers.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 Charlie and Mouse, by Laurel Snyder

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Charlie & Mouse

by Laurel Snyder
illustrated by Emily Hughes

Chronicle Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Early readers about two friends are classic. In this one, we follow the adventures of two brothers. We’ve got four simple stories about everyday events. The stories feel familiar, are abundantly illustrated. They’re easy to read and leave you with a smile.

I like the way the first story, “Lumps,” begins with Charlie poking lumps after he wakes up. The first lump is Mouse. The next lumps are Mom and Dad.

All the lumps claim to be sleeping at first, but how can you be sleeping if you are talking? And today is the day of the neighborhood party!

The next story, “The Party,” sees the whole family setting off to the neighborhood party. They pull Blanket in the wagon. Dad brings cookies.

I like the way the kids are dressed. Charlie’s got a cape and a pink pointed hat and a magic wand. Mouse has two antennae, a fringed leather vest, cowboy boots, and a tutu over his pants.

As they walk to the party, they pass many neighborhood kids, who join them. When they get to the playground, no one is there. But the whole neighborhood has come, and the party is wonderful.

In the next story, “Rocks,” Charlie and Mouse want to make some money and try selling rocks. People don’t want to buy rocks, but they will pay to have Charlie and Mouse take away rocks. But they’re so tired, they end up spending their money on ice cream.

Finally, in “Bedtime Banana,” the kids think of a new treat that should happen at bedtime. The book ends with Charlie thinking what a nice lump is in bed next to him.

This book is in the tradition of easy reader twosomes. It deals with simple friendship and everyday events. The language is simple without being remotely boring. The pictures illustrate what’s going on and add humor and life. This will be a treat for kids who can read it themselves.

I like the statement in the Author’s Bio on the back flap: Laurel Snyder has two sons, and she “would like to state for the record that while none of these stories are exactly true, none of them are exactly untrue either.”

laurelsnyder.com
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 The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Dawalt

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

by Drew Daywalt
pictures by Adam Rex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROCK versus CLOTHESPIN!

Rock is victorious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one can resist our crunchy awesomeness!

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

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

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

adamrex.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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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 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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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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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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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.

What did you think of this book?