Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Earth to Clunk by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Joe Berger

Book: Earth to Clunk
Author: Pam Smallcomb
Illustrator: Joe Berger
Published: 2011
Source: Local Library

What would you send to an alien pen pal? Since the narrator of this book never wanted one in the first place, he sends the most disgusting things he can think of, in hopes of scaring off Clunk for good. Dirty socks! Old lasagna! His big sister! But the packages from Clunk are twice as weird, and when the letters finally stop, he’s sort of dismayed. How can he get his unlikely friend back?

I didn’t adore this book straight off, you guys. It took me a little while, a few reads in front of a group, before I began to appreciate it. This is a great readaloud for older kids, opening up avenues of discussion every which way. What would you send to your alien pen pal? Do you think that the kid really always liked getting stuff from Clunk? With colorful and sly illustrations, this one will be a favorite with your school groups.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stack-Buster #4

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin
On the longest, coldest night of the year, various animals attempt to wake the sun. But it’s the humble chickadee who can bring the spring back again. This book with its chilly colors and simply storyline will take your breath away.

My Little Polar Bear by Claudia Rueda
Both a tender mother-and-child story and a description of polar bears for animal lovers, this book hits a trifecta with its glorious art, which is rendered only in white and shades of blue. Okay, the cover’s pretty sparkly. Hang onto this for storytimes, but get another copy because people will want to take it home.

Cool Cat by Nonny Hogrogian
In a brown and barren world, a cat with a paintbrush sets about transforming it into a lush wonderland. This wordless picture book is a treat for the eyes and a kickstarter for a discussion about the power of art and of one’s person’s ability to have an effect.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: Banana! by Ed Vere

Book: Banana!
Author: Ed Vere
Illustrator: Ed Vere
Published: 2011
Source: Local Library

One monkey has a banana. One does not. As you can imagine, this creates some friction. The second monkey attempts to obtain said banana by all the usual methods: demands, temper tantrums, even pathetic sobbing. But none of these will work; the first monkey is waiting for one particular word.

I got this book and immediately took it into storytime. It’s not an exaggeration to say the the kids adored it. Probably some of that was my willingness to imitate a monkey throwing a temper tantrum. With its simple yet immediately recognizable storyline, its bright and bold colors, and of course, the aforesaid monkey throwing a temper tantrum, this has a permanent place in my storytime collection.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stack Buster #3

 First Snow by Bernette Ford, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
On the night of the first snow, a bunny awakens and ventures out into the snow. He encounters chipmunks, owls, and even kids building a snowman. With delicate paintings that evoke the breathless chill of a winter night, Braun brings the wonder of the first snowfall to life. This tender, soothing book will work best as a bedtime story, but storytime goers liked it too. Look, you guys. I grew up in snowy climes and fled to the desert. If I liked this book, anyone will love it.

Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
You can only read this book if you’re a cat, because it’s for cats only, and the narrator doesn’t believe you’re really a cat. You’ll have to prove it. Can you meow? Can you purr? Can you nap? This interactive book is a natural for active storytimes, and kids will get a kick out of the cat secrets held over their head.

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker
Poor Eula is a square cat living in a round world, and a round world isn’t particularly kind to square cats. She does her best to become round, but it’s not until her round freinds help her realize that being square can be good that she realizes being square isn’t so bad.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reading Roundup 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 360
Early Readers: 14

Review Copies: 1
Swapped: 2
Library: everything else

Writing: Selected in February 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: Selected in May: Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
"Just the book for your budding architect. Paschkis takes the lines and shapes that influenced Gaudi's most famous buildings and works them into her illustrations. The minute I closed the book, I had to hit the Internet see if Gaudi's work really was that wild . . . and what do you know, it was! (Side note: Okay, I've totally decided I have an illustrator-crush on Julie Paschkis. I loooooove her work.)"
Overall: Selected in May and April! I Know the River Loves Me/Yo Se Que El Rio Me Ama by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Somehow, I picked this one as an overall standout two months in a row. "Side-by-side English and Spanish versions of the same poem sing the praises of a river that a little girl loves, and the swirling, flowing illustrations bring both river and girl to life."

All the roundups for 2011