Review of Chicken Dance, by Tammi Sauer and Dan Santat

chicken_danceChicken Dance

written by Tammi Sauer

illustrated by Dan Santat

Sterling, New York, 2009. 40 pages.

Here’s a hilarious, completely fun tale of two chickens pursuing their dream.

Marge and Lola see a poster about the barnyard talent show, with top prize tickets to the Elvis Poultry Concert. But what can they do for talent? The ducks taunt them every step of the way, since chickens can’t swim, and can’t fly.

I love the way the ducks get their comeuppance and the chickens have their dreams come true — even without actually winning the talent show.

This story is short enough and full of action enough for preschool storytime, but also has plenty of humor for the parents to enjoy. I only wish I did a better Elvis voice.

Delightful! It will have you flapping and shaking.

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Review of Robot Zot! by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon

robot_zotRobot Zot!

by Jon Scieszka
illustrated by David Shannon

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2009. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s another book I got to hear the authors themselves read at the National Book Festival. Okay, Jon Scieszka did the reading, but David Shannon did some awesome sound effects.

nbf10

Jon Scieszka enjoyed reading the book so much, I can’t help but like it. When I brought it home, I still enjoyed it, and I think it will be an outstanding pick for Storytime — plenty of great sound effects, nice drama, and inside jokes to point out in the illustrations.

The book opens with Robot Zot in his spaceship looking out at earth, ready to conquer.

“No one stop Robot Zot.
Robot Zot crush lot!”

But then as Robot Zot enters an earth building, ready to conquer, we see in the pictures that he turns out to be only a few inches tall.

He enters an earth kitchen and believes the appliances are enemy robots which he must conquer. Indeed, he conquers them.

But then a large sinister monster (the television set) offers a challenge in the next room. And in the children’s room he sees the bot of his dreams — a little girl’s toy cellphone. He must save her from the evil guardians (dolls).

Throughout the book, we hear of Zot’s bold conquests from his perspective, while the big, bold pictures tell another story of a suburban household with plenty of appliances and a curious dog, who ends up getting blamed.

Tremendous fun, and will definitely be featured at my next Storytime.

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Review of Toot Toot Zoom! by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

toot_toot_zoomToot Toot Zoom!

by Phyllis Root

illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Candlewick Press, 2009. 36 pages.

Last week I did a Drop-in Story Hour, where I read books to preschoolers for an hour. I used it as an opportunity to introduce the families to several of the picture books from our New Books shelf, without worrying about theme. By far the hit of the day was Toot Toot Zoom! by Phyllis Root.

Pierre is a fox with a little red car who lives at the foot of a sky-high mountain. You have to turn the book on its side to see just how tall the mountain is. But poor Pierre lives all alone, so he decides to go to the other side of the mountain to look for a friend.

The road up the mountain is a series of hairpin turns, so of course Pierre has to honk his horn at every curve. This is where the preschoolers quickly learn to chant along with you as you read: Toot! Toot! Zoom!

But around three corners, he finds an animal in the road. That sound effect is even more fun: Toot! Toot! Screech! Goat, Sheep and Bear decide to come along with Pierre. They cooperate together when the car breaks down just before reaching the top of the mountain. (Toot! Toot! Zut!)

But as they head down the other side, it turns out (no surprise) that the car has no brakes. The pictures of the disaster are most exciting, but all four animals reassure us that they are not hurt. At first, it seems a terrible outcome, but the four animals come up with an ingenious solution as they realize that all four have indeed found friends.

Perhaps our enjoyment of the story was increased because that day only little boys came to storytime. (They did not respond with nearly as much interest to a book about a princess. Go figure.) But this book was definitely tremendous fun for all of us to enjoy together.

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Review of Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar

bubble_troubleBubble Trouble

by Margaret Mahy

illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Clarion Books, New York, 2009. 37 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #5 Picture Books

Here’s a silly story that’s simply good fun to read. It’s a mild tongue twister with a nice rhythm that makes a lovely read-aloud. In fact, the day after I first read it, I used the book as an opener for a baby program. I half-expected the babies to lose interest, since the words were mostly over their heads. However, the whole room — parents and babies — seemed to enjoy the book. The sounds of the words were enough for the babies, and the parents seemed to enjoy it, too. I’m going to use it again this week in a storytime for preschoolers.

The story is simple. Mabel blows a bubble, and her baby brother gets trapped inside and floats away. Various people with melodious names and activities see the bubble and follow, to the dramatic conclusion.

This book should not be read silently!

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