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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Reading Roundup: January 2015

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 33 (!!!)
Early Readers: 1

Library: 34

Writing: Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Valeria Docampo
We all know the kid who likes a little edge to their world. A couple of teeth, a few thorns. Slater takes that kid and puts her in a situation that forces her to realize that danger is only fun when it's basically safe.
Illustration: Mix it Up by Herve Tullet
The same interactive style as my beloved Press Here encourages children to get crazy with color. I love how it all looks like finger paint, down to the hand prints that must have been contributed by a little friend.
Overall: It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall
An ant overreacts (or does he?!) to glimpses of the world outside his ant hill, which are actual holes in the page. Kids will love guessing what the colors revealed might portend.

Because I Want To Awards
Best Glimpse into a Toddler's Head Ever: Must. Push. Buttons! by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
A little one careens through his day, treating us to stream-of-very-young-consciousness. It's like Krosoczka read a toddler mind and transcribed it for us.
Most Adventurous Penguin Ever: Salina Yoon's Penguin books
Due to a penguin-themed storytime, I read three of these books this month, and that penguin goes everywhere.