Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: June 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 21
Early Readers: 2

Sources
Library: 23

Standouts
Writing: Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Penny finds a marble in a neighbor's yard and steals it, but the guilt proves too much. I love a book that respects a child's capacity for sheer inner turmoil, and Kevin Henkes always delivers, particularly with his "Penny" series.
Illustration: Don't Spill the Milk!, illustrated by Christopher Corr, written by Stephen Davies
More than just the bright and colorful pictures, this compelled me because it's a glimpse into a very different world than mine. Penda's journey through the landscape of Burkina Faso (a small country along the Niger River) will take kids away.
Overall: Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh
This book pulls no punches when it comes to the experience of migration to El Norte. From riding on top of trains to having to bribe border guards, this little bunny has to do it all in order to find his Papa and bring him home.

Because I Want To Awards
Man, I Always Knew They Were Up to Something: Weasels by Elys Dolan
It would be the most adorable world domination ever, if they can figure out what's wrong with the machine. The readout that stated, "Machine Status: Broken" made me howl with laughter.
Perfect for Little Hands: Tap to Play by Salina Yoon
Like "Press Here" and "Don't Push the Button," you should use this one with kids who want to put their hands all over the book anyway. Which, to be fair, is all of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Open Very Carefully by Nicola O'Byrne, illustrated by Nick Bromley

Book: Open Very Carefully
Author: Nicola Byrne
Illustrator: Nick Bromley
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Are you all ready to hear the story of the Ugly Duckling? You'll have to avoid that crocodile first, though! He likes to chomp things, like letters, and whole sentences. How will you ever get this crocodile out of the book?

There's been a spate of books lately that encourage interaction and engagement with the book as an object, playing with characters that tear pages, eat words, etc. Open This Book Very Carefully shows why that can be such fun.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang

Book: Mustache Baby
Author: Bridget Heos
Illustrator: Joy Ang
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

When little baby Billy is born with a mustache, his parents anxiously wait to see whether it will be a good-guy mustache . . . or a bad-guy mustache. At first, he seems like a law-abiding child, even a law-enforcing one. But one day his mustache begins to curl up at the ends . . .

This book made me laugh so hard. Ang's plump baby and toddler with the thick, bushy mustache just tickles the funny bone, and Heos adds to the fun with melodramatic, tongue-in-cheek narration, often playfully contrasting with the illustrations. (Keep an eye on the always-unimpressed cat, who has to have been inspired by Grumpy Cat's expressions.)

Under the absurdity and the wordplay lies a story about human behavior (particularly small humans) and how you don't need to be defined as one thing or another. You can have a bad-mustache day and still be a good kid.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book Review: Bunnies!!! by Kevan Atteberry

Book: Bunnies!!!
Author: Kevan Atteberry
Illustrator: Kevan Atteberry
Published: 2015
Source: Local Library

A little monster greets everything he sees in the forest. When he catches a glimpse of bunnies (!!!), his excitement knows no bounds. But they keep running away from him! Woe. With every rebuffed attempt, his mood droops lower and lower. Poor little monster. Will the bunnies ever play with him?

We all know that kid who gambols after everybody in hopes of making friends.We also know the kids who get scared off by all that energy. Both will find something to sympathize with, along with a new idea. The text is made up wholly of the little monster's speech, so I really want to read this aloud, with the accompanying changes in his mood. With candy-colored bunnies and a friendly butterfly, this is nothing but sweet and fun.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: May 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 23
Early Readers: 1

Sources
Library: 24

Standouts
Writing: The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi
Having lost all patience with his obnoxious little brothers, the main character gets in his box and goes the one place he can be alone: Nowhere. Except that Nowhere is starting to get awful lonesome . . . A familiar situation for anyone with siblings.
Illustration: The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman
Fish is an adventurer, and Snail is a homebody who likes to hear his friend's tales. Will he be able to brave the wilds of the next book over? With delicate, expressive illustrations, the adorability is off the charts.
Overall: Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead
A friendly little bird collects friends wherever she goes, but even so, she can get her feelings hurt when somebody turns her down. But when she finds her flock, she brings all her friends along. This is a trademark P.Stead book, with its gentleness and its sweetness and its theme of community.

Because I Want To Awards
If You Don't Laugh at This, You Have No Soul: Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang

A baby born with a mustache presents his parents with a conundrum: will it be a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache? With giggles and wordplay (two words: "cat burglar") and of course, lots of visual puns about mustaches, the adults might laugh louder than the kids.
I Feel Ya, Betty: Betty Goes Bananas by Steve Antony
Betty is a very large gorilla with a very small stock of patience for the difficulties of banana-extraction. Gosh, I want to read this aloud.
Might Be Dangerous in Storytime: Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
With Destructo-Saurus stomping everywhere and the narrator addressing him like a parent scolding a naughty child, kids might get so into this that they begin their own adorable rampage.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: Supertruck by Stephen Savage

Book: Supertruck
Author: Stephen Savage
Illustrator: Stephen Savage
Published: 2015
Source: Local Library

Every truck in the city has its own job, some more glamorous than others. The firetruck, the tow truck, these are heroic trucks! The meek, quiet garbage truck is . . . not. But when a massive snowstorm hits the city, none of the other trucks can help. Only the mysterious Supertruck can save the day! Although, interestingly enough, that meek, quiet garbage truck is nowhere to be seen . . .

Stephen Savage's books never fail to make me smile.This one, with its mashup of trucks (yay!) and superheroes (yaaaaaaaaaaay!) has enormous appeal, and its simple text make it a great read-aloud. I read this to a group of children from age two up to about eight at least, and they all loved it. Genre-savvy young readers will probably figure out the garbage truck's secret early on (especially with the giant clue of the big Clark Kent glasses) but that will just up the enjoyment.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: April 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 21
Early Readers: 1

Sources
Library: 21

Standouts
Writing: The New Arrival by Vanya Nastanlieva
There are a lot of books about a person being wary of their new surroundings. What about those surroundings being wary of the new person? This folded both in, with bonus hedgehogs and bunnies.
Illustration: Roger is Reading a Book by Koen Van Biesen, trans. Laura Watkinson
I love the collage effect of these illustrations, which take on most of the storytelling load about poor Roger driven to distraction by his neighbor's noisy ways. Also, keep your eye on the dog.
Overall: Supertruck by Stephen Savage
Trucks as superheroes? It's a combination guaranteed to make your average three year old's head explode with glee.

Because I Want To Awards
Begs to be Performed: Monkey and Duck Quack Up! by Jennifer Hamburg, ill. Ed Fotheringham
Note I said "performed," not just "read aloud." With its specific call-and-response rhythms, this needs to be performed by a pair that really gets how to do it, and that would be awesome.
Poor Monster!: Bunnies!!! by Kevan Atteberry
An overenthusiastic monster keeps frightening the bunnies away. But all he wants to do is play! Awwww.
Do We Ever Get to See the Monkeys?: Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, ill. Kevin Cornell
Page after page, we are denied simian antics because some other critter interfered. When will we see monkeys? When?!