Monday, March 28, 2011

Stack-Buster #1

When I became a children's librarian again, I thought I would be reading and reviewing picture books more than ever. Well, I was half-right. Between storytimes, helping people in the children’s area, and awesome new stuff that comes in, I always have a stack of picture books sitting on my desk waiting for my perusal. I do manage to read them, and I always set aside my favorites to review. Here’s my stack of “favorites to review":


Hence, my newest bloggy brainchild: stack-buster posts. Not full reviews, but short snippets of what I like best about the book. I've already found that snippets are enough for some, and with other books, I just keep writing and those have turned into full reviews that I can post at some other time. The secret seems to be BIC - Butt in Chair. As many times as I've realized that over the years, you'd think it would have sunk in by now.

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

At once a story of social pressure, identity, and number concepts, Otoshi’s story of how the most valueless number learns to see value in herself is more interesting than you could ever imagine. I also love the gloriously simple art, just numbers on black paper. Number recognition, anybody?

The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
The classic Victorian cautionary tale by Mary Howitt gets an update in this marvelous black-and-white picture book. DiTerlizzi’s illustrations call to mind silent movies, and they’re full of deliciously gruesome details. Watch as the Fly, for all her second-hand wisdom, gets suckered into the wily Spider’s web and meets a sticky end.

Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner
Ernest is a moose who doesn’t fit. You may have guessed this already. It’s not that he doesn’t fit into his shoes, say, or his classroom. Those have been done. No, poor Ernest doesn’t fit into the whole dadblamed book! He is simply too big for his entire moosey body to fit in at one time. Oh, dear!

Rayner’s watercolors of the befuddled, yet determined moose and his helpful chipmunk friend pair just right with her text, which uses alliterations (shimmy, shift, shuffle; squidge, squodge, and squeeze) to make it a wonderfully fun read-aloud. The final solution isn’t a total surprise, but it is delightful. I think I need to do a moose storytime soon. Very soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: February 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 30

Library: all

Writing: Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
I'd so watch this brother-and-sister cooking show, with pirate hats! The sibling-ness rings true without descending into annoying schlurp, and the fact that it's a boy who wants to play pretend cooking makes my neo-feminist soul sing.
Illustration: Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn't Fit by Catherine Rayner
Rayner's delicate watercolors are fun, certainly, but the real reason this gets my illustration pick is the metafictive concept of a moose who literally can't fit in the book, and the way he manages in the end. So maybe Mo Willems did it already, but I'm still keeping this on hand for storytime.
Overall: Art and Max by David Wiesner
Oh, please. Like I need to explain. Okay, I'll do it anyway. Think you know how art works? Think again. Wiesner's brain-bending glory of color and concept shows us that art is everywhere.

Because I Want To Awards
Awwww: Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
Keep Your Eye on the Elephant!: Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika Denise, Christopher Denise
Return of the Wombats!: Diary of a Baby Wombat by Jackie French