Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Even Aliens Need Snacks by Matthew McElligott

Book: Even Aliens Need Snacks
Author: Matthew McElligott
Illustrator: Matthew McElligott
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

A budding young chef finds that nobody wants his creations. Really? Nobody wants to frequent a mushroom iced tea stand? Dispirited, he closes up shop and goes to bed . . . only to discover that he’s just focusing on the wrong clientele. Aliens love his unique cuisine! He revels in his extraterrestrial popularity, creating more and more unusual dishes. But is it true that there are some things that absolutely nobody will eat?

There’s a lot to giggle over in this clever tale. I got the most giggles out of the nutty, punny customer preferences (for instance, bean puffs went over well with the guys from the gas giants). With a wild variety of aliens and a twist at the end, I think this will go over well with preschool and early elementary kids, especially those that love crazy kitchen combinations themselves.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: Think Big! by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Book: Think Big!
Author: Liz Garton Scanlon
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley Newton
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

A preschool class explores different creative expressions, from painting to dance to cooking and in the end, come together to create a show that incorporates all their different experiences.

Like a lot of books lately, this isn’t written in full sentences but rather short rhyming phrases that encapsulate the action on the page. I’m a little over that myself, but it does make for a short text that invites a lot of dialogic reading. The pictures are a mixed-media collage that splash and scatter across the page in a tumble of delight.

I was happy to note that the book isn’t about “this child is good at this, this child is good at that.” It’s about trying different things, enjoying yourself no matter your skill level, and sharing that joy with friends. I also really liked that boys were shown in the same measure as girls, taking unabashed pleasure in stereotypically female pursuits like cooking and knitting.

This sweet book celebrates the joy of creativity, no matter what form it comes in.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: Small Bunny's Blue Blanket by Tatya Feeney

Book: Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket
Author: Tatya Feeney
Illustrator: Tatya Feeney
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Small Bunny and his constant companion, Blue Blanket, do everything together. Then one day, Mama Bunny decrees a separation. A bath, to be precise. For both of them. But Blue Blanket can’t get clean in the tub, and Small Bunny can't go in the washing machine. How will he ever survive?!

Linus and Charles Schulz may have introduced the idea of a security blanket into American thought, but I’m quite sure that there were cave babies hanging onto their ratty saber-toothed tiger pelts for dear life. There have always been books about kids and their blankies. This one is particularly charming in its simplicity.

The art is sweet and childlike, with occasional dabs of watercolor for effect on a mostly white page. It’s still expressive, though. My favorite spread shows Small Bunny standing vigil in front of the washing machine for 107 minutes, ears getting droopier and droopier as the anxious separation stretches out.

My favorite part has to be the end, where Blue Blanket is returned, “good as new.” But Blue Bunny doesn’t want new. It requires much activity to get Blue Blanket up to perfect, but he’s up for the challenge.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reading Roundup: July 2012

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8

Library: all

Writing: What to Do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Peter Reynolds
Are you totally over the structure of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Then this is the book for you. The narrator spends the whole time warning the main character what not to do, only to (sigh) see him doing exactly that thing. A clever subversion, and enough mayhem to entertain the kids too.
Illustration: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, illustrated by Mehrdohkt Amini, written by Hena Khan
While the story was a very basic affair, introducing concepts associated with Islam via different colors, I wanted to slide into the illustrations and just lay there for awhile. The patterns and colors of Islamic cultures make it a feast for the eye.
Overall: Rat and Roach: friends to the end by David Covell
A vermin odd couple clash over everything from cookery to cleanliness to hugs, but in the end remember that they really are friends 'til the end. Guys, I hate roaches with every fiber of my being and even I liked this.

Because I Want To Awards
Timely Book is Timely: Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson
Just gave me a big ol' giggle. Review soon.