Monday, November 2, 2015

Reading Roundup: October 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Early Readers: 1

Library: 29

Writing: Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea and Lane Smith
When the outlaws come riding into town, you really need a sheriff. On a tortoise. Who knows his paleontology. I roared with laughter all the way through this sideways, quirky romp of a book.
Illustration: A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
In media ranging from peanut butter to crayon, McDonnell tells the story of this perfectly imperfect book and makes us love it for its imperfections.
Overall: Pirate, Viking, and Scientist by Jared Chapman
Life in general, and your birthday party in particular, is tough when your two best friends (the pirate and the viking) don't get along. But luckily, you have the scientific method to figure out how to bring them together.

Because I Want To Awards
Oh Please Please Let This Be a Series: Shark Detective! by Jessica Olien
Because I really just need more Shark Detective and his feline pal. I just do.
Almost the Writing Standout: My Teacher is a Monster! (No I am not) by Peter Brown
Is there anything more disconcerting than meeting a despised teacher in public? Maybe becoming friends with them. Yikes.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Reading Roundup: September 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 37

Library: all

Writing: The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Oh, the pain of never being picked! An imaginary friend gets tired of waiting to be dreamed into existence and goes to find his child. I really enjoyed that she wasn't precisely what he imagined in the beginning but wound up being perfect.
Illustration: Following Papa's Song by Gianna Marino
Luminous underwater scenes, with glowing fish and graceful whales, make this a book that I'd love to see as a mural.
Overall: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
The unseen narrator spins a long and ever-more-unlikely story of a sandwich stealing bear. This would stand out just for the incredibly expressive bear, but lucky us, the story is delightful as well.

Because I Want To Awards
Best Parents Ever: Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case
Even better because they're not entirely sure about this business of their son wearing a dress to school, but they come through with support and love for their non-conforming son.
The Glamorous Creative Life: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A kid struggles to bring her notions to life, but finds it's not so easy. Plus, maybe what she ends up with isn't precisely what she imagined but it's wonderful anyway.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: August 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Early Readers: 2

Library: 30

Writing: The New Small Person by Lauren Child
Has it been done before? Yes, of course. Is it still relevant? Totally. Lauren Child brings her sympathetic realism to the timeless story of a big brother who really would rather NOT be a big brother, thank you very much, until he starts to see some of the advantages of having another small person around.
Illustration: Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet
Another wildly imaginative story with interactive illustrations from my favorite French picture-book author.
Overall: One Family by George Shannon
With a multiplicity of races, ages, and genders shown in the pictures and a repeating refrain that we are all one family, this is a book I'm going to keep on display.

Because I Want To Awards
Brought Me to Tears: I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Three kids from different parts of the world all arrive in the same classroom, feeling silenced and lonely with the language barrier. Sharp eyes will catch Fatima's sorrowful backstory in the illustrations, but you needn't share it with kids who aren't quite ready.
It's Not All Satin: I Want to Be a Ballerina by Anna Membrino, illustrated by Smiljana Coh
Longing to be just like big sis, a little girl learns that you have to master certain skills in order to do the tutu justice. I loved that she is shown struggling to master these skills in order to be ready for class, a familiar feeling for many young kids trying to master their bodies.
Just Made Me Laugh Out Loud: Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan
This may become my go-to guy for sly, kooky, tongue-in-cheek picture books.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: July 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 16
Early Readers: 1

Library: 17

Writing: Building Our House by Jonathan Bean
A family builds their house together, in the process making it a home. Based on the author's own childhood experience of the same.
Illustration: Henri's Scissors by Jeannette Winter
This story of Henri Matisse creating art right up until the end of his life made me tear up.
Overall: Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes
A summer thunderstorm, illuminated by Krommes' woodcuts, makes this a delicious and evocative story for one or a group.

Because I Want To Awards

Here, Have a Little Taxonomy with Your Zoo Animals: Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Matt Phelan
It's a tough choice, deciding who to invite to your birthday. Should you invite all the mammals? All the invertebrates?  Decisions, decisions.
Some Things Can't Be Tamed: Wild by Emily Hughes
A wild little girl gets brought to civilization, but civilization isn't going to succeed in coming to her. The end is tremendously satisfying.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: June 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 21
Early Readers: 2

Library: 23

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.