Archive for the ‘Animal Characters’ Category

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 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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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 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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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 Nanette’s Baguette, by Mo Willems

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Nanette’s Baguette

by Mo Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Picture Books

Hooray! A new Mo Willems book! With new characters!

Mo Willems recently spent significant time in Paris, so some of his recent books have a French theme. Nanette’s Baguette is a story with all the fun of any Mo Willems book about a frog who gets to go buy a baguette all by herself for the very first time.

My one quibble? Frogs with teeth able to Krack into baguettes? Okay, it’s odd, but he makes it work.

The book is full of –ette rhymes, and they are done well and add to the humor.

Here’s the beginning:

NANETTE!

Today is a day Nanette won’t soon forget.

Today,
in the kitchenette,
Mom tells Nanette
that Nanette gets
to get the baguette!

Baguettes are warm.
Baguettes smell wonderful.

Getting to get the baguette is
Nanette’s biggest responsibility yet.

Is Nanette set to get the baguette?

YOU BET!

When Nanette gets the baguette, it indeed is warm. It indeed smells wonderful. And there sure is a lot of it….

Or at least there’s a lot of it for awhile.

After much drama, here’s the scene when she gets home:

“Where is the baguette, Nanette?” asks Mom. Did you forget?”

Nanette did not forget.
Nanette is upset.
Nanette is beset with regret.
She sweats.
I ATE THE BAGUETTE!

Mom is understanding and kind. (I love that Mom’s hug is as warm and wonderful as a million baguettes.) They go back to get another baguette. But that baguette, too, is warm and smells wonderful. This time Mom is the one who’s tempted….

The illustrations in this book are amazing. A note at the back explains, “The images in this story are comprised of photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions digitally integrated with photographed illustrations and additions.” On the back flap, there are some small pictures of Mo Willems creating it, so you can see the small village with the creator standing behind it.

I was going to say that the pigeon isn’t hidden in this book – and then I found him in a clever place. So that will please Mo Willems’ many fans.

Again, I’m not so sure about frogs. I wouldn’t be sure they actually are frogs except for the pictures on the wall in their house. (Teeth? Really?) But his simple cartoon characters always do work. As always, I like the way he can put so much emotion into such seemingly simple faces.

And it begs to be read aloud. So much fun as it rolls off your tongue! I’m definitely using this book for my very next storytime.

Nanette’s Baguette may be Mo’s best yet!

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.

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Review of We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

we_found_a_hat_largeWe Found a Hat

by Jon Klassen

Candlewick Press, 2016. 52 pages.
Starred Review

A new hat book by Jon Klassen! And first I’ll answer the burning question: No one gets eaten in this book! (Yes, this was something of a disappointment to me.)

However, we do have a creature (a turtle in this case) battling with covetousness over a hat. This time, actually, generosity wins out.

The story is simple. Conveyed with simple words and flat pictures — where so much emotion is conveyed, once again, in those simple eyes.

Two turtles find a hat. It looks good on both of them. (Or so they say. The reader notices that it doesn’t actually fit either turtle very well.)

But there is only one hat and two turtles. They leave the hat behind, but one turtle can’t get it out of his mind.

When the first turtle starts to go to sleep, the second turtle sees his chance.

But the first turtle tells about his dream, a dream where they both have hats and both the hats look good. The second turtle decides to go with the generous dream option.

Now there are some impracticalities with this solution. Will it really satisfy? But one thing I like is that, once again, there’s lots of room for discussion with kids about what actually happened. And how the characters are feeling.

And this time nobody gets eaten.

As before, this contains surprisingly deep simplicity.

A hat book! Like all the rest, it leaves me smiling.

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 A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, by Jonathan Fenske

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

pig_fox_box_largeA Pig, a Fox, and a Box

by Jonathan Fenske

Penguin Young Readers, Level 2, 2015. 32 pages.
2016 Geisel Honor Book

This beginning reader has the pay-off kids learning to read will love.

Pig and Fox are friends, but Fox likes to play tricks. In the first two parts, Fox tries to be sneaky and play tricks on Pig and both times, it backfires badly. In the third part, we see that Fox has learned his (painful) lesson.

First, this book manages to use rhyme well, a thing that isn’t easy. The story is never sacrificed for the rhyme.

I also like the way the author has the reader make inferences from the pictures. After the first part, Fox has a Band-Aid and a mark on his tail. After the second part, he’s got a cast, a black eye, and two large bandages. Also, when we see a box in the second part, it’s been taped back together after its collapse in the first part.

It’s also fun the way the reader will see that it’s not Pig’s fault at all that Fox gets hurt. The whole book is an exercise in seeing things from another perspective.

There’s also repetition, which is nice for beginning readers. In this case, it adds to the humor when each part starts the same way — but Fox, who is in bad shape, decides in the third part that he’s had enough hiding and playing today.

penguinyoungreaders.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 Grumpy Pants, by Claire Messer

Friday, August 26th, 2016

grumpy_pants_largeGrumpy Pants

by Claire Messer

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

I admit, I would dearly love to try this book on a grumpy toddler. Though I’m not sure I ever again want to be responsible for a grumpy toddler. Perhaps if you read this to a toddler when they are not grumpy, they would gain vocabulary for talking about the sensation.

The text is simple (and toddler-level):

Penguin was in a bad mood.
A very bad mood.

He didn’t know why
and he didn’t care.

He stomped his feet
all the way home.

He pulled off his grumpy coat
and kicked off his grumpy boots.

But he was still grumpy.

He tried to shake it off.

But he was still grumpy.

Penguin continues to shed his grumpy clothes, piece by piece.

Finally, he took off his grumpy underpants.

“I’m still grumpy, you know.”

But then he counts to three and splashes into the tub (over quite a few pages).

The water was nice and cold.
Penguin played with his duck.

He hid under the water and made himself a bubble beard.

Little by little, he was starting to feel much better.

I think this gives you the idea. The illustrations are simple stamped-ink linoleum printing on a white background.

After his bath, Penguin has a cozy bedtime routine including reading his favorite book, Learn to Fly, and finding his favorite Teddy.

As Penguin fell asleep, he knew that tomorrow would be a good day

because all the grumpiness had been washed away.

[Here there’s a picture of his clothes in the washing machine. I just noticed that the machine has these levels marked next to the dial:
GRUMPY WASH
HEAVY LOAD
COWBOY
GENTLE CYCLE
EXTRA CUDDLY]

There you have it. Quiet. Simple. Delightful.

Now, I noted after the fact that since this is a British author, they probably should have changed the title to Grumpy Underpants. They obviously did change the inside text, but perhaps didn’t want the book to have a different title than in Great Britain. Anyway, when Penguin takes off his grumpy underpants, that’s sure to get a giggle. Of course, the brilliant part is that there’s nothing problematic about displaying a naked penguin on the pages.

So, if you’re a parent whose child ever has a bad day – think about introducing the idea of washing grumpiness away! Come to think of it, I may try that myself the next time I have a bad day. There’s something extremely satisfying in the thought.

And it might help coax them into the tub as well. Definitely worth a try!

albertwhitman.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 Monkey and the Bee, by C. P. Bloom and Peter Raymundo

Friday, August 26th, 2016

monkey_and_the_bee_largeThe Monkey and the Bee

by C. P. Bloom
illustrated by Peter Raymundo

Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a book that’s brilliant for beginning readers, but also for small children who don’t read yet at all. This is a mostly wordless book – the story is told through pictures, and the words merely label things.

On the first page we see:

The Monkey
The Bee
The Banana

The pictures show the bee fly onto the banana and get flicked off – but the bee comes back just as the monkey is taking a bite and buzzes in the monkey’s mouth.

The monkey spits out the bee, but gets mad and picks up a branch to swat the bee. Unfortunately, he ends up swatting The Lion. Hijinks ensue and eventually it’s the bee who helps rescue the monkey from the lion. The monkey decides to share the banana.

The story as I just told it here is nothing particularly special. It’s the large close-up illustrations with so many action shots that make this book a winner. There is so much to talk about with little ones – and even toddler listeners will understand what’s going on and quickly learn what the print words are saying.

I used this book in a toddler storytime, and it was a huge hit. Lots of audience reaction! The expressions are large and even toddlers understand the emotion. And the happy ending leaves everyone feeling good.

abramsyoungreaders.com

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Source: This review is based on a book sent to me by the publisher for Cybils judging.

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 Baby Wren and the Great Gift, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jen Corace

Friday, August 12th, 2016

baby_wren_largeBaby Wren and the Great Gift

by Sally Lloyd-Jones
illustrated by Jen Corace

Zonderkidz, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book charmed me when I didn’t expect to be charmed. The message is one I’ve heard many times: Be thankful for who you are, and you have your own unique gift to give the world.

The lilting language and unusual setting made the message ring clear.

Here’s how the book begins:

In the narrow crevice
of a giant rock face
in a great wide canyon
a baby inside her tiny nest
peeped out.

The baby was little
and brown
and a wren.

And she watched in the air
from her nest in the sky.

And the world was filled with such wonderfulness.
Monarchs in the milkweed.
Breezes in the switch grass.
And a glittering river that ran on.

The baby wren sees other animals doing wonderful things. A kingfisher dives to catch a fish. Ring-tailed cats cartwheel up the rocky face of the cliff. Sunfish swim and splash. Eagles fly above a storm.

Between each animal, the wren wishes she could do what they do, but we also are reminded of the monarchs in the milkweed, the breezes in the switch grass, and the glittering river running on.

Finally, after a storm, the sun paints the whole canyon pink.

And what she saw couldn’t fit inside her
it bumped into her heart
it dazzled in her eyes
it pushed on her throat
until
the tiny trembling bird
with all her tiny might
sang
by herself
a song.

We hear the song, being thankful for all of the wonderful things that have come through – and even the eagles think it is wonderful.

The book ends with a lovely summing-up refrain:

And the kingfisher dived
and the ring-tailed cats climbed
and the sunfish splashed
and the eagles soared

and a little wren filled the air with singing.

And the glittering river ran on.

I also notice this book because my church is planning to open a preschool in about a year, and this book would be a wonderful choice.

The closest it gets to mentioning God is that the wren’s song ends with the words, “Thank you!” The book is published by ZonderKidz, a Christian publishing company, but there’s no reason people of other faiths wouldn’t enjoy it, and I think it would make a nice selection for storytime at the public library as well.

Because giving thanks and appreciating beauty and learning about unusual animals and realizing that even small ones may have great gifts to offer – are all things that are good for anyone to think about.

sallylloyd-jones.com
zonderkidz.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 Bear and Bunny, by Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand

Friday, August 12th, 2016

bear_and_bunny_largeBear and Bunny

by Daniel Pinkwater
illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Candlewick Press, 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a book that makes me smile. It’s simple, matter-of-fact, and utterly charming.

Bear and Bunny live in a forest and they are friends. “They like to wander in the woods, look for things to eat, and talk things over. They like to sing.”

I like the simple songs they sing, such as:

I wonder
I wonder
I wonder where
I wonder where my little bear is.

And:

I wonder
I wonder
I wonder where
I wonder where my big bunny is.

You see, the bear is sure the bunny is a very small bear.
The bunny is sure the bear is a very large bunny.
This is not so, but it would be too hard to explain it to them. Besides, it doesn’t matter.

In this story, the bear and bunny do those simple things: wander, look for things to eat, talk things over, and sing. And they take lots of naps. (Talking things over makes you sleepy, after all.)

The two friends decide they’d like a pet. After the bunny explains what a pet is – “an animal you take care of and feed, and it loves you” – they look for one and find a nice “kitty.” When they ask if the kitty would like to go home with them, it answers with a friendly “CROAK!”

Kids will enjoy understanding things better than Bear and Bunny do. Adult readers will enjoy singing the simple songs. This is a friendly, cozy book about the wonder of living in an interesting place – even if you don’t fully understand everything you find.

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.

What did you think of this book?