Review of Fred Gets Dressed, by Peter Brown

Fred Gets Dressed

by Peter Brown

Little, Brown and Company, 2021. 44 pages.
Review written September 29, 2021, from a library book
Starred Review

Fred Gets Dressed is a book that’s playful about an everyday activity: getting dressed.

As the book opens, Fred is running around his house naked while his parents read books and let him romp. We do see his bottom, but he’s happily positioned not to reveal anything else. His expression and demeanor are sheer joy as he celebrates being “naked and wild and free.”

But then he runs into Mom and Dad’s bedroom and looks in the mirror on the inside of their open closet door. We see his big smile. Then he starts looking at the clothes in their closet.

Fred looks at Dad’s side of the closet.

He thinks about the way Dad dresses.

It might be fun to dress like Dad.
So Fred carefully picks out a shirt and a tie and a pair of shoes.

But he has trouble putting them on.

Then Fred thinks about the way Mom dresses. He finds an outfit from Mom’s side of the closet that he can put on. Then he decides to go to her dresser and try the jewelry and makeup.

Just as he’s smeared some lipstick on his face, Mom and Dad walk in. There’s a spread where they see him, and then a spread when everyone smiles at each other.

After that, the whole family joins in! Mom shows Fred how to put on some makeup, but Dad and even the dog get involved, too.

I love the way the parents aren’t shocked by Fred’s play – either when he’s romping naked or when he’s dressed up like Mom. And better yet, they join the fun.

I’m not going to say this is a book for gender nonconforming kids, though they will enjoy it. Don’t all kids love to play dress-up? I love the way this book doesn’t teach that this has to be limited by gender, and that even grown-ups can play, too.

And after reading the author’s blog post about the book, I like it even better. When he was a child who loved to play with paint, he was interested in what his mother used to paint her face. One day his mother found him with lipstick on his face, and his mother responded as Fred’s mom does, teaching him how to put it on. The author says he felt unconditional love when his mother responded by encouraging his curiosity rather than scolding.

Good silly fun with a playful message. And a wonderful example of affirming parenting.

peterbrownstudio.com
lbyr.com

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Review of Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf, by Sam Wedelich

Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf

by Sam Wedelich

Scholastic Press, Spring 2021. 40 pages.
Review written March 8, 2021, from an advance reader copy sent by the publisher
Starred Review

In this book, Chicken Little, who is well known for leaping to conclusions, is knocked down by a wolf jogging by. It must be the Big, Bad Wolf! He’s certainly big anyway.

And when Chicken Little tells another chicken about it, the whole flock is all aflutter. What should their reaction be, fight or flight? And will either one work for a bunch of chickens?

While the flock is laying plans, Chicken Little decides to bravely investigate. She asks the wolf, “Are you bad?”

And the wolf answers:

Me? I don’t think so. I suppose we all have light and dark in us. . . but I try to make good choices if that’s what you mean.

It turns out that the wolf is a vegetarian, which made it hard for him to fit in with other wolves. After Chicken Little convinces the flock, they think of a way to make him feel at home.

It all adds up to a delightfully silly story about not jumping to conclusions and being willing to make others feel welcome.

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Review of Crash, Splash, or Moo! by Bob Shea

Crash, Splash, or Moo!

by Bob Shea

Little, Brown and Company, 2018. 44 pages.
Starred Review
Review written September 25, 2018, from a library book
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out #7 in Picture Books – Silly Fun

Okay, this one’s just incredibly silly. But I can’t wait to booktalk it in the elementary schools next summer.

On the endpapers in front, Mr. McMonkey asks the reader:

Do you like action?
Are you a good guesser?
Then get ready to play…

CRASH, SPLASH, or MOO!

And the book begins:

Fearless daredevils perform amazing stunts, and YOU guess what happens.

Will they CRASH?
Will they SPLASH?
Or will they MOO?

Guess right, and win a delicious banana!

The team members are Action Clam, “America’s favorite splashin’, crashin’ stunt clam,” and a cow “who does cow stuff.”

There are five stunts. Let’s just say that it’s pretty easy to guess what will happen. In the first one, for example, Action Clam races in a car toward a big tower of blocks.

Raise your hand if you guess CRASH!
Raise your hand if you guess SPLASH!
Raise your hand if you guess MOO!

When a dramatic CRASH happens, if you guessed right, “You just won your first banana!”

And I simply can’t express with a description how very silly this book is. For example, after the second stunt, Mr. McMonkey throws in the line, “Okay, Frankie Two-Bananas, let’s see if you can guess the next one.”

Did I mention the results are easy to guess?

But oh, how much fun!

Check this book out the next time you’re feeling silly.

Addendum: This book was indeed hugely fun to read aloud to younger elementary-age kids. So much joy comes out of these pages!

bobshea.com
lbyr.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Review of Niblet and Ralph, by Zachariah OHora

Niblet & Ralph

by Zachariah OHora

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018. 36 pages.
Starred Review
Review written June 7, 2018, from a library book
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out #6 in Picture Books – Silly Fun

Niblet and Ralph are cats that look almost exactly alike. They’ve got a pattern of calico colors that are almost mirror images of each other.

As the book opens, we meet Ralph and his owner Gemma and Niblet and his owner Dilla. We see them side by side, so we can see that the cats look a lot – but not exactly – alike.

They all live in the same building.
Two of them know this, but two do not.

Can you guess who does know?

That’s right! Niblet and Ralph are good friends, who talk on the phone every day. But their owners (as sometimes happens with neighbors in apartments) have no idea the other exists.

But one day, Niblet figures out how to go visit Ralph. Unfortunately, at the exact same time, Ralph figures out how to go visit Niblet.

When they get home from school, the kids know that something is up, but their parents don’t believe it.

Eventually, the owners discover that each is looking for the cat who looks like their cat. The mystery is solved and the neighbors become friends – as their cats already were.

This is a simple story with the fun of the reader knowing what’s going on when the characters don’t.

zohora.com
penguin.com/kids

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Review of Poe Won’t Go, by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Poe Won’t Go

by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Disney Hyperion, 2018. 36 pages.
Starred Review
Review written October 20, 2018, from a library book
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out #5 in Picture Books – Silly Fun

Sometimes children’s picture books preach more effective sermons than anything else.

In this case, we’ve got a whole town wanting an elephant to move. It takes a little girl to finally think of asking the elephant what he wants.

Here’s how the book begins:

One morning, the good people of Prickly Valley awoke to find an elephant sitting smack-dab in the middle of the only road in town.

How he got there was a mystery. His name was Poe.

It didn’t take long for a traffic jam to form around the uninvited elephant. Horns honked. People yelled from their cars. A policeman wrote him a ticket.

But Poe wouldn’t go.

The townspeople’s efforts to get Poe to leave get more and more entertaining. I especially like it when the mayor gets involved.

“We do not tolerate parked pachyderms in Prickly Valley!” she proclaimed.

The mayor formed committees and councils.
They hatched plans. Drew diagrams.
And drank coffee from Styrofoam cups.

The little girl who finally suggests asking Poe what he wants is delightful. I love that she’s wearing a headscarf and has dark skin. The mayor laughs and says they don’t speak elephant.

“Well, anyone can speak elephant if they just listen hard enough,” said Marigold, who was fluent in both kitten and hedgehog.

And when she finds out what Poe wants, his problem is solved, and he goes on about his business.

My co-worker pointed out that this book demonstrates an important principle of negotiation. Find out what the other party wants.

As with all picture books, you really do need to check this book out and see the charming illustrations for yourself. My summary doesn’t begin to do this wonderful book justice.

kellydipucchio.com
zohora.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Review of Once Upon a Goat, by Dan Richards, illustrated by Eric Barclay

Once Upon a Goat

by Dan Richards
pictures by Eric Barclay

Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. 32 pages.
Starred Review
Review written September 10, 2019, from a library book

Here’s a silly twist on a fairy tale pulled off with just the right humorous touch.

The book opens with a king and queen who wish for a child.

“Yes, but where would we put it?” asked the king.
“Next to the vase on the hearth, naturally,” replied the queen.
“Or beside the roses in the garden,” the king added.
“Oh, yes. Perfect,” agreed the queen.

When their fairy godmother shows up, they tell her about their wishes.

“We’re not particular,” said the queen. “Glowing skin, bright eyes, and hair like ocean waves should do.”

“Hmm . . . ,” said their fairy godmother.
“A boy would be great,” added the king. “But any kid will do.”
“Of course,” answered their fairy godmother. “Look on your doorstep when the moon is full.”

At the next full moon, they eagerly look outside – and a little goat is sitting there! The king realizes he shouldn’t have said that any kid would do. They try to send the goat away, but it’s a blustery night, and they bring him in for just one night… and the night turns into many more.

The illustrations are a huge part of the fun as the little kid enjoys the run of the palace and the palace guards keep their faces stoic. And we’ve got more to the story when the fairy godmother comes back.

I can’t read this book without smiling.

danrichardsbooks.com
ericbarclay.com
rhcbooks.com

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Review of A Piglet Named Mercy, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

A Piglet Named Mercy

by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Candlewick Press, 2019. 32 pages.
Starred Review
Review written April 20, 2019, from a library book.

Here it is! A picture book that tells how a Mercy the Porcine Wonder came to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Watson just when they needed something a little less predictable in their lives.

When a baby piglet falls off a pig transport truck in the night, Mr. Watson discovers her next to his newspaper in the morning. They fall in love. Of course the next-door neighbor Eugenia Lincoln is horrified and her sister Baby Lincoln helpfully brings the piglet a bottle of warm milk.

It doesn’t take long before they learn that the little piglet loves buttered toast very much. She is a wish come true and a mercy, and that’s how she gets her name. (With Eugenia exclaiming in frustration.)

It helps, of course, to have met Mercy before, but it’s actually a wonderful and self-contained story of a couple adopting a piglet. I’m going to use it soon in storytime – which will perhaps entice those children into the longer beginning chapter books when they are ready to read on their own.

Delightful all by itself.

candlewick.com

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Review of We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

by Ryan T. Higgins

Disney Hyperion, 2018. 40 pages.
Starred Review
Review written June 20, 2018 from library book
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#1 Picture Books – Silly Fun

Before I looked at the copy of this book that had come to the library for me, I heard my co-worker laughing over it in the next cubicle. We ended up getting everyone else in that section of the office to read it. The tone and pictures are brilliant.

I’ll give a little taste, though you really need to check this book out to see the pictures that go with it. By the way, there’s a picture of Penelope on the title page saying, “Hey kids! You will never be eaten by a T. rex. They are extinct. I promise!”

The book begins:

Penelope Rex was nervous. It’s not every day a little T. rex starts school.

She’s worried whether her classmates will be nice and how many teeth they will have. But when she gets to school:

Penelope Rex was very surprised to find out that all of her classmates were CHILDREN!

So she ate them.

Because children are delicious.

“Penelope Rex!” said Mrs. Noodleman,
“WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES! Please spit them out at once.”

So she did.

The picture of the angry children covered in drool and digestive juices is delightfully disgusting.

More pictures as Penelope tries to make friends show things like waiting at the bottom of the slide – with her mouth open. Penelope starts to notice that the other kids don’t want to get near her.

No problems-at-school book would be complete without a conversation with the parents.

When she got home, her dad asked about her first day of school.

“I didn’t make any friends!” Penelope cried. “None of the children wanted to play with me!”

“Penelope Rex,” her father asked, “did you eat your classmates?”

“Well . . . maybe sort of just a little bit.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to make friends,” said her dad. “Especially if you eat them.”

“You see, Penelope, children are the same as us on the inside. Just tastier.”

The next day, a lesson comes for Penelope in an unexpected way.

This book is too much fun! In fact, I’m sad that it came in one week after we finished booktalking this year. It’s already going on my list for next year. Very silly. Very fun. There’s nothing quite like a picture book that makes you laugh out loud.

ryanthiggins.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Review of Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! by Dan Santat

Harold & Hog
Pretend for Real!

by Dan Santat

Hyperion Books for Children, May 7, 2019. 64 pages.
Starred Review
Review written January 27, 2019, from an advance reader copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

This is another book in the series Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!. Mo Willems’ Gerald and Piggie characters appear at the beginning and end to introduce a book written by someone else. This one is delightfully meta, because the book they’re introducing features an elephant and a pig – Harold & Hog – who want to pretend to be Gerald and Piggie.

Harold and Hog are drawn by Dan Santat, much more realistically than the cartoonish Gerald and Piggie. They have glasses to pretend to be Gerald and a cartoon nose to pretend to be Piggie.

But there’s a problem when they try to carry it out. Because Gerald is always very careful – but Harold has trouble with that. And Piggie is always very carefree – but Hog has trouble with that. Their efforts in that direction are tremendously fun.

I’m writing this in my Seattle hotel room while at ALA Midwinter Meeting. We chose our Newbery winners last night but don’t announce them to the world until tomorrow morning. I’m feeling a little giddy ever since I realized that I can write a review of this book – a 2019 publication – and post it this very day!

Of course, the book won’t be published until May, but this is one to watch for! Watch book characters pretend to be each other! Too much fun!

dantat.com
pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I picked up at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

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.

Review of Buddy and Earl Go Exploring, by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff

Buddy and Earl Go Exploring

by Maureen Fergus
pictures by Carey Sookocheff

Groundwood Books, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Buddy and Earl Go Exploring is a picture book in the grand tradition of animals-don’t-understand-human-things-with-hilarious-results such as Minerva Louise, The Adventures of Cow, and Paul Meets Bernadette. The child hearing this story will delight in being smarter than the animals.

In this case, we have a dog named Buddy, who is a little more savvy about human things, and an adventurous hedgehog named Earl. Earl is new to the family.

One night, Earl announces he’s going on a trip and travels for some time on his hamster wheel.

After a long time, he stopped and looked around.

“This place looks eerily similar to the place I just left,” whispered Earl.

“Maybe that is because it is the place you just left,” whispered Buddy.

When he heard Buddy’s voice, Earl was so startled that he jumped and made a funny popping sound.

“I ran faster than the wind!” he cried. “How did you manage to keep up with me, Buddy?”

“I am not sure,” said Buddy uncertainly.
“Well, I’m glad you’re here,” declared Earl. “Exploring is always more fun if you do it with a friend.”

As they explore this place (the kitchen), first Earl sees a silvery lake in the shadow of a great mountain. Buddy knows it’s his water dish in the shadow of the garbage pail, but he gets carried away in Earl’s enthusiasm. When he knocks over the garbage can, at first he feels terrible.

Then he noticed some of yesterday’s meatloaf and forgot all about feeling terrible.

Next, Earl sees a lovely lady hedgehog trapped in the jaws of a monster. Buddy knows it’s Mom’s hairbrush in her purse, but soon is convinced to help Earl save his friend.

Then they have an encounter with the vacuum cleaner before settling down for the night. The last picture shows the two happily asleep – with the results of their exploring strewn all around the kitchen, and Dad’s foot coming into the kitchen the next morning.

The story is simple enough, but the characters make it wonderful – with Earl’s wild imagination, and Buddy’s simple friendly doggy enthusiasm. Kids will enjoy being in the know and delight in the good-hearted adventures of these two friends.

groundwoodbooks.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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