Friday, May 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: April 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 21
Early Readers: 1

Library: 21

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?!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reading Roundup: March 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 34
Early Readers: 1

Library: 34

Writing: Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall
Not gonna lie, this made my lip wobble just a little bit. A crayon in a red wrapper does his best to be red (even though everything comes out blue). It's only when someone recognizes the beauty of his blue-ness that he can really access his full potential. Works on so many levels.
Illustration: The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney
Of course, the setting gave this book a leg up in my desert southwest heart. But the arid, brown-and-gold beauty of this book won it over completely.
Overall: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
Poor buttoned-up Mr. Tiger really needs to cut loose. When he does, though, he finds himself just the teensiest bit . . . lonely. I loved seeing Mr. Tiger's unruly fur even when he's in his high collars, and the shock on the faces of his proper neighbors.

Because I Want To Awards
Argh argh argh I want to read this in storytime: Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley, ill. Nicola Byrne
And why should you open it carefully? Because the crocodile might get out, of course. Another one to add to my collection of books with teeth.
So Nearly Got the Overall Prize: I'm Going to Catch My Tail! by Jimbo Matison
A kitty wakes up determined to catch his tail, which (somehow being a separate intelligence) is just as determined that this will not happen. A romp all over the pages ensues, until the reason why comes out. And what is that? Because kitty wanted a hug. Awwww.
Alien-Earth Relations Should All Go This Well: Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner
The master of the weird wordless is back with a story of tiny aliens banding together with tiny Earthen ants and mice to escape the predations of the household cat. Loved how the languages were rendered, and how the aliens' visit was remembered in ant-lore ever after.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Review: Cute and Cuter by Michael Townsend

Book: Cute and Cuter
Author: Michael Townsend
Illustrator: Michael Townsend
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

A little girl gets a puppy for her birthday (promptly named Sir Yips-a-lot). Cuteness abounds. All is adorability and rainbows, until the next birthday, when she gets The World’s Cutest Kitty, and Sir Yips-a-lot feels replaced. He comes up with a cunning plan to get Lady Meow-Meow out of the picture and himself back on top. But it doesn’t work out quite the way he’d pictured.

For a book that purports to overflow with cuteness, this book has some surprising teeth. (Literally; in one spread, Sir Yips-a-Lot imagines Lady Meow-Meow eaten by a large, befanged dog and meowing from within its stomach.) Anybody who’s ever been supplanted by a new baby or a new friend will recognize Sir Yips-a-Lot’s dilemma, and knows the pitfalls of his plan.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: February 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 33
Early Readers: 4

Library: 36

Writing: Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
For kids struggling to get along with all sorts of different people for the first time in their lives, this story is instantly recognizable. I especially loved (is that the word?) Rabbit's dramatic meltdown.
Illustration: Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
This wordless book explores the title concept with flaps that take you from inside to outside and back again.
Overall: H.O.R.S.E. a game of basketball and imagination by Christopher Myers
Anybody who's ever watched a couple of kids one-upping each other will laugh with recognition.

Because I Want To Awards
Worst Kid Ever: The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene
I laughed so hard at this unrepentantly awful child, setting traps for Santa Claus and completely failing to learn any flavor of lesson. Nice.
Struck a Chord: Love Monster by Rachel Bright (link leads to my review)
Oh, Love Monster. I know your pain.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Book: The Storm Whale
Author: Benji Davies
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Published: 2014
Source: Local Library

Noi is lonely. His dad, a fisherman, leaves him on his lonesome all day long. When he finds a baby whale washed up on shore after a storm, Noi knows he has to work fast. he takes the whale back to his empty house and puts it in the bathtub (it is a very small whale). Now he has a friend, but how long can this last?

I admit, I had to read this book a few times to really get it. At first, I was indignant that the whale was simply released back to the sea and Noi’s loneliness wasn’t addressed. Then on the second read-through, I realized that the illustrations had taken up that part of the story. While the text simply tells us that Noi looks forward to seeing his whale-friend again, you see a companionable, midday father-son picnic - and far out to sea, two whale flukes, one large and one small.

A quiet and sweet meditation on fathers and sons.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

Book: Have You Seen My Dragon?
Author: Steve Light
Illustrator: Steve Light
Published: 2014
Source: Local Library

A small boy roams all over New York City, seeking his dragon, and juuuuuust missing him every time. What he does find is a city teeming with life and energy, with lots of counting fun for the reader.

While he works mostly in black pen lines, Light picks one thing on each page to illustrate in color, and those are part of the counting element of this book. 1 green dragon, for instance, or 11 purple manhole covers. I wanted to pore over this book for hours, finding all the little details that make up life in the city.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Review: Love Monster by Rachel Bright

Book: Love Monster
Author: Rachel Bright
Illustrator: Rachel Bright
Published: 2014
Source: Local Library

A monster in a world of cute and cuddly things despairs of ever finding someone who will love his unconventional self. Next to the cuteness that surrounds him, the monster is a little scary, a little hairy, and a little funny-looking. He sets off on a quest to find love, and finds only disappointment. Will he give up or will it find him at the last minute?

When picking books for a Valentine's Day storytime, I tend to avoid books that talk about romantic love. While preschoolers can certainly get crushes and such, they're more experienced with platonic and familial love. This book is an exception to that rule. The titular (and nameless) monster is just so sweet and cuddly-looking, how could anyone not love him? With text that's gently quirky ("He looked high. He looked low. He looked middle-ish.") and colorful, emotive illustrations (dare you not to "awwww" at the page with the monster and all his possessions being rained on as his search continues fruitless), his quest to be loved just as he is will resonate with adults and children alike.

And yes, love does find the monster, in the very last place he looks. Spoiler.