Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reading Roundup: December 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 14
Early Readers

Library: all

Writing: Neville by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
It's tough being the new kid in town. Convinced that he'll never find any friends, this little boy discovers them in an unexpected way. It made me smile, and I think you could have an argument over whether his unorthodox method was on purpose or a random accident.
Illustration: My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
It's a neat premise to begin with--what do animals do on their first day of life?--and Jenkins' detailed and beautiful cut-paper illustrations bring this book richly to life.
Overall: Moonday by Adam Rex
When the moon lands in a family's backyard, the whole world is thrown into confusion. Nobody can quite wake up. This is a dreamy, magical book that swims around in your head. And the endpapers look like my desert hometown. They do, they do!

Because I Want To Awards
Yay for Jeff Mack and Different Intonations: Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
With only two letters (A and H), this book follows a wily frog in and out of trouble, with the attendent exclamations of dismay, triumph, and discovery. Can't wait to read it aloud.
Probably Already Being Used in English Classes Across the Land: Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
This is quite a fun examination of the multi-level mechanics of creative writing. Everything from grammar to plot to run-on sentences is encountered by a little writing implement.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid

Book: Oliver and His Alligator
Author: Paul Schmid
Illustrator: Paul Schmid
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Oliver is a little worried about his first day of school. So he brings along an alligator. As you do. Handily, the alligator eats everyone who scares Oliver (including the lady who asks his name and the overly friendly classmate). Unfortunately, with all the scary people eaten, Oliver finds himself quite alone and not a little bored. What’s a boy with an alligator to do now?

This hits two of my favorite picture-book themes: shy or introverted children and people getting eaten. (WHAT. I never said I was normal.) Oliver’s worries are immediately recognizable. New people! New surroundings! Being asked to make conversation with strangers! For the kid on the quiet side, it’s a nightmare, to which an alligator to make you feel brave is a reasonable solution. You can read the alligator as entirely imaginary (his outline is in a pale green, in contrast to everyone else’s black outline) with Oliver really just hiding from the other kids. But I prefer to read it literally, because it makes me giggle.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: November 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 12
Early Readers: 1

Library: 13

Writing: A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan
Picture books, breaking little brains since 1899. (Date possibly incorrect.) This one follows a dog that's actually a cat that's actually . . . well, I won't spoil the surreal delight.
Illustration: Cheese Belongs to You! illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, written by Alexis Deacon
This almost won for Overall, because the story is just as fun as the pictures. But I wanted to recognize the pencil-and-digital-media art that went into making all these fighting rats, because they're funny and individual and delightful.
Overall: Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann
One scary Halloween, a little boy's dead dog comes to his rescue. It's a rare skillmaster who can make something creepy, sad, and sweet all in 32 short pages, but Eric Rohmann is that man.

Because I Want To Awards
Don't Overthink It, Folks: Dinosaur Christmas by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Santa remembers a time before he had reindeer, when dinosaurs pulled his sleigh. Sly and funny and, yeah, don't examine the premise too closely.
Violently Adorable: Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
How does a baby dinosaur figure out kisses? With much destruction, apparently. I'm saving this for Valentine's Day.