Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Book: Big Mean Mike
Author: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrator: Scott Magoon
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Big Mean Mike is rough and tough and mean, mean, mean! And he only likes things that are rough and tough and extra-super-mean. That’s why he’s so dismayed when a little pack of fluffy bunnies attaches themselves to him. Fluffy bunnies do not suit his image (even if they are pretty darn cute). What will he do if all his big, mean friends find out?

From the first image of Big Mean Mike, with his spikes and his claws and his teeth, to the final page with the fuzzy bunnies accompanying Mike to a demolition derby, this charmed me. I loved that Big Mean Mike remained essentially himself at the end. He still likes rough and tough, he just knows that being true to friends is more important than any image.

Scott Magoon plays up the incongruity of the cute bunnies in Big Mean Mike’s hard-edged world by making them little balls of fluff, all soft roundness. They’re not even outlined--they’re pure white fuzz. They're more than capable of holding their own, however. It's got to take some serious bunny-guts to sit there being fuzzy and adorable in the face of Big Mike's determined meanness.

This book just made me laugh and laugh. I can’t wait to see what a first or second-grade class makes of it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: Lucy Can't Sleep by Amy Schwartz

Book: Lucy Can’t Sleep
Author: Amy Schwartz
Illustrator: Amy Schwartz
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

A little girl lies awake in her sleeping house. After various unsuccessful forays toward the Land of Nod, she decides that she really needs Dolly and Bear, and sets off through the still, quiet night to find them.

Even after you grow up, there’s something magical about the stillness of a quiet night. Your familiar surroundings become wrapped about in a benign hush. Amy Schwartz has captured that magic and set her small protagonist free to go walkabout through it.

What charmed me the most about this story was that no appalled parent came rushing out to shatter the illusion and herd Lucy back to bed. The magical quiet stillness of the night does the work all on its own. It may make some parents nervous, but I’ll lay you money that’s just what some kids will find the most intoxicating.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stack-buster #6

Caveman: A B.C. story by Janee Trasler

Here’s a different alphabet story. Working her way through the alphabet with one word on each page, Trasler follows a caveman through his day, including encounters with dinosaurs, lightning, and other prehistoric dangers. Sweet, silly, and unpredictable, you’ll enjoy this one.

It’s a Tiger! written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
There are tigers everywhere for the hapless narrator of this charming story within a story. Tankard’s distinctive illustrations are thick with color, and kids will be able to spot the tiger before you turn the page and get the chance to yell, “IT’S A TIGER! RUN!”

One Pup’s Up written by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Henry Cole
Ready your squee-o-meters, folks. This tale of ten adorable puppies doing all their puppy-things is really incapable of evoking any other emotion. The story counts up to ten and then back down again as the puppies gambol through their day. I’ve already made a spot for it on my storytime shelf.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reading Roundup: September 2012

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 24
Early Readers: 1

Review Copies: 1
Library: 23

Writing: Lucy Can't Sleep by Amy Schwartz
A breathless magic pervades this story of a little girl's midnight wanderings. Review coming soon.
Illustration: Up Above and Down Below, illustrated by Susan Ouriou, written by Paloma Valdivia
There's something brain-twistingly modern in these illustrations, which tell the story of the differences, and more, the similarities between you and the people on the other side of the world.
Overall: Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Like A Sick Day for Amos McGee, the main character is a self-effacing and generous soul, who helps his friends first. Glowing with autumn colors and gentle lines, it's definitely a quiet book. Not one you put in the hands of the most zooey kid in the room. But then again, the gentle story may have a calming effect. You never know.

Because I Want To Awards
Yay! Sequel!: Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hill
I've been using the first book, How Rocket Learned to Read, in school visits for a couple of years, so I was extra-excited to see this second book. Like the first one, kids struggling with the whole writing thing will recognize themselves in this determined pup, and everybody, canine or human, should have a teacher as warm and encouraging as the little bird.
There's a Reason It's a Classic: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood
We all have a tendency to focus on the cool and new, but there are books that should never leave our shelves. I was doing a bathtime storytime, and remembered this last-minute. The kids adored it.
Giggles Galore: Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Big Mean Mike is afraid of only one thing: having his rough, tough image compromised. When a herd of adorable bunny wabbits attach themselves to him, he may be in big trouble. Review coming soon.