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.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: October 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 14
Early Readers: 1

Library: all

Writing: When Lions Roar by Robie Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka
All about fear and courage and being able to live through them.
Illustration: A Butterfly is Patient, illustrated by Sylvia Long, written by Diana Hutts Aston
Ooo. I just wanted to pore over the color-soaked illustrations of many different kinds of butterflies and their environment. Science!
Overall: Dot by Patricia Intriago
With one basic shape, this book explores all sorts of concepts and opposites. Like Press Here, this book takes a simple concept and just has lots of fun.

Because I Want To Awards
One More For the Books Where Characters Get Eaten List: Beware the Frog by William Bee
Just like it says. A lot of picture books lean toward the sweet, so I have a deep affection for books like this, with their sideways smirks to the reader and the flash of teeth.
Yay! Mayhem!: Musk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingen, illustrated by Matthew Myers
A sequel to the last adventure, where Musk Ox made a hash of the alphabet, this one has poor beleaguered Zebra just trying to count up to ten. Of course, he doesn't succeed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Review: I See Kitty by Yasmine Surovec

Book: I See Kitty
Author: Yasmine Surovec
Illustrator: Yasmine Surovec
Published: 2013

When little Chloe gets her first glimpse of a cat, she’s in love. Fluffy bellies, pink paws, soft fur, she wants it all. And while her mom won’t let her adopt a real one, she sees kitties everywhere. Will she ever get a kitty of her very own?

If you’ve ever known a toddler obsessed with something (trains, cats, horses, particle physics), you know that it dominates their world. This book brings that truth to life. Chloe sees cats everywhere, from the clouds to the shrubbery. (Personally, I can’t wait for a cat storytime where I can ask kids to find the kitty hiding somewhere in the picture.) There’s one rather trippy spread of Chloe’s dreams, where she rides on cats floating down a river of milk, with mushroom-cats growing along the banks. And when she wakes up? Well, awwww is the only way to describe it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: September 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 10

Library: all

Writing: Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael Kaplan, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
I agree with this bunny's emotions regarding that particular dessert, but the real treat here is Betty's delightful kid-logic and the realistic portrayal of the absolute lack of patience in waiting for a treat.
Illustration: I See Kitty! by Yasmine Surovec
A feline-obssessed little girl sees kitties everywhere she goes, in the clouds and in the shrubberies. This one was fun for how sometimes it took you a moment to see the kitty, but once you did it was oh so obvious.
Overall: My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien
I got this one right before a feelings storytime and immediately snatched it up. From the young green of a sprouting garden to the old, old green of a forest, this takes our notions of colors and turns them upside down.

Because I Want To Awards
A Quiet Book: Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Most picture books pop and fizz and glitter with energy. This one takes a quieter approach to a child's acclimation to a scary new place. Read it while snuggled up together.
Aw, That Poor Cat!: Bobo the Sailor Man! by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
This third entry in the Bobo series sees the cat rescuing Bobo from certain doom, but getting none of the credit. Awwww.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: August 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8

Library: all

Writing: Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat
Ahahahaha! Those poor carnivores; what are they to do? They like eating meat. Unfortunately, the meat has a distinct aversion to being eaten, and they're shunned. How can they change their ways? I love how this ends.
Illustration: The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home, illustrated by Red Nose Studio, written by Jennifer Huget
This one is getting props for its intricate and time-consuming art. Each spread was created out of clay and cardboard and paper and sealing wax and string and cabbages and kings, and then photographed. Holy wow. Check out this interview over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast if you want more.
Overall: Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid
Oliver is worried about his first day of school, so he takes an alligator friend with him. As you do. I have an inordinate (and some might say, worrisome) fondness for picture books where characters get eaten by large toothy animals, and this one was gentle and funny enough to read to the more sensitive storytime-goers.

Because I Want To Awards
Most Unexpected Sequel: Nighty-night, Little Green Monster by Ed Emberley
I didn't realize this one was coming out. It uses the same format as its big brother book, breaking a monster down into component parts, but instead of telling it to go away, you're soothing it to sleep. Hmmm. Interesting change.
Smartest Little Owl Ever: Little Owl's Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney
Oh, the angst of horrible clothing! Little Owl manages to lose his despised orange scarf and negotiates a much better item of clothing with his mom. I've never seen a picture book that featured a yarn shop as a plot point, until now.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Book: The Dark
Author: Lemony Snicket
Source: Jon Klassen
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

A little boy is afraid of the dark and takes every possible measure to guard against it. But one night, his nightlight blinks out and the dark starts to talk to him . . . but not for the reason you’d think.

Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, why have they not teamed up before? Snicket tones down some of his literary elaborateness and Klassen’s sharp-edged drawings, with plenty of negative space for the dark, make this a story about fear and friendship that you’re sure to remember.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reading Roundup: July 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 9

Library: all

Writing: Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chad Cameron
This starts out like every fall book ever, until you notice that some things are not where they're supposed to be. I can't wait to try this on our storytime kids.
Illustration: Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise by Tomie dePaola
While it's not for everyone in its unabashed religiosity, the art in this one is top-notch. Flowers, animals, and people in the signature dePaola style (additionally influenced by native Mexican art) spill over the pages in washes of color.
Overall: Boy and Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
A boy and a robot make friends. When trouble appears to occur, they each respond lovingly and in their own particular way to take care of their friend. Yaccarino's solid shapes and strong colors bring both characters to life.

Because I Want To Awards
Dark and Twisted, Just the Way I Like It: That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
With a menacing wolf, a dewy-eyed duck, and a gosling Greek chorus of doom, this book was already making me grin by the time I got to the twist. Then I laughed out loud, because I'm sort of sick like that.
Would Like to See How a Teacher Uses This: A Call for a New Alphabet by Jef Czekaj
Filled with contemplation of how letters go together to form sounds (particularly combinations like ph or qu), this one seems made for teachers to use in class.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reading Roundup: June 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 12

Library: all

Writing: Rain Brings Frogs: a little book of hope by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
A testament to the power of optimism. No matter what life throws at him, a little boy finds the best in it, often in unexpected ways. Warmed my shriveled and blackened heart.
Illustration: White is for Blueberry illustrated by Laura Dronzek, written by George Shannon
How exactly is white for blueberry? Find out in this exploration of colors in nature that asks you to look at things just a little differently. It'll be fun for readers big and little to guess how everything goes together.
Overall: Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo
Hee! This may win the Jon Klassen Subversive Text award. A lizard looking for toilet paper (and finding none) "borrows" a pair of underpants that were just lying around, but finds his conscience bothering him. The sly illustrations bring you in on the joke. I can't wait to hear the squeals of delighted disgust when I read this one aloud.

Because I Want To Awards
Pay Attention!: Monday is One Day, written by Arthur Levine, illustrated by Julian Hector
A sweet and simple recital of what families do to get through the week until they can spend the weekends together. What caught my eye and what will keep this in the storytime rotation for awhile is the depiction of all the different families in the illustrations. Grandparents, two dads, a single mom, urban, rural, etc, this is a step away from the usual 2.5 kids in the suburbs.
You Don't Have to be a Brat to Stand Up for Yourself: Mary Wrightly, So Politely written by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Maria Monescillo
A soft-spoken little girl finds herself constantly overruled or overlooked, but she manages to keep her manners intact even when she puts her foot down.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Roundup postponed

Sorry folks, no roundup tonight. Too worn out from ALA festivities. Watch this space tomorrow.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Book: Perfect Square
Author: Michael Hall
Illustrator: Michael Hall
Published: 2011
Source: Local Library

A little square is happy in its square-ness. But every day brings new catastrophe. The square makes the best of it, transforming itself into a fountain when it’s cut into strips and poked full of holes, or making itself a river when it is snipped into ribbons. Finally, the day comes when nothing happens to the square at all. And even

After reading this book, I just wanted to do art with the kids the rest of the day. How simple a project is that? Give the kids squares and scissors, and see what happens.

There’s also a discussion hiding in this book about change, and how you can grow out of your own skin, how the things that used to make you perfectly happy can end up being not enough anymore. Even if your kids are too young for that, they’ll enjoy Perfect Square.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: May 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 16
Early Readers: 1

Library: 16

Writing: When Moon Fell Down by Linda Smith, illustrated by Kathryn Brown
One night, the moon fell out of the sky and met a cow. This dreamy story made me smile.
Illustration: A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley
The edge-to-edge photographs from all over the world make this a book I would happily cut up and put on my wall in frames. Except not. I would never do such a thing. *shifty eyes*
Overall: Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
Chu, a little panda, spends his day at various locations around town, with his parents anxiously asking whether he's going to sneeze or not. When he finally does, you understand their concern. My favorite part was the little details in the illustrations, like a card catalog in the library that was converted to a mouse computer lab. Awww.

Because I Want To Awards
Biggest Giggles: Vacation's Over!: the return of the dinosaurs by Joe Kulka
There's a tie for my favorite page of this book. Contestant one: dinosaurs shopping for back-to-school stuff. Contestant two: the T-rex that came home to discover that his pet Fluffy had fossilized. How to choose?
Even If Her Name Weren't on the Cover: Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird, illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Having read Fuse #8's blog for the past mumble mumble years, I could hear her voice loud and clear in this charming tale of a stage-frightened dancer turned teacher (of giants), who then must deal with stage fright in her own students. Too much fun.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stack-Buster #9

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee
Open the book. Then open another. And another. What do you find? This story will fascinate kids as they climb deeper and deeper into the stories, and then back out again. Suzy Lee also incorporates a vintage style to her illustration that will reinforce the notion of journeying through multiple nested books.

Oink a Doodle Moo by Jef Czekaj

A group of farm animals plays telephone, each adding their signature sound to the mix. How long can it go on before someone trips up? This one had kids yelling out animal noises and giggling as their poor storytime reader did her best with the crazy combinations. A really fun read-aloud.

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young

A ninja creeps through the night, silent as a ghost. Can he complete his mission, or will somebody come along and catch him? While the story is cute, the art is the star. Young uses traditional Japanese motifs and art techniques to make this a truly beautiful book.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Book: A Home for Bird
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Philip C. Stead
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Vernon the toad finds a little bird while out one day, and immediately takes it under his arm. Even though Bird won’t talk to him, he takes him all around and shows off his world. But Bird is resolutely mute, and Vernon starts to wonder if his new friend is depressed. He sets off on a quixotic journey to find Bird’s home.

When I read this to kids, they immediately cottoned on to the fact that Bird was a little wooden carving. Some believed that Vernon would find Bird a home anyway, but some loudly decried such a notion. Both groups were delighted by the ending.

Whether together or apart, the Steads (A Sick Day for Amos McGee) have a quiet, gentle charm about their stories and illustrations. Philip’s solo outing is a lovely story about friendship.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack

Book: Good News, Bad News
Author: Jeff Mack
Illustrator: Jeff Mack
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

A rabbit and a mouse go on a picnic. From the worm in the apple to the bear in the cave, a succession of disasters keep coming up. But the optimistic rabbit keeps finding something to be happy about, until the mouse can’t take it anymore.

Talk about a fun readaloud. Such simple text (each page, except the last, says either “Good news!” or “Bad news!”) means that even the most struggling of readers can manage, and it’s fun to figure out how things are going to ruined or saved next.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: April 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 19

Library: all

Writing: It's Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones by Warren Hanson, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
After reading this book, I turned to my colleague and said, "Any way we can do a Days of the Week storytime theme?" This tale of everyday chores done in a crazy, silly way just made me yearn for a storytime to do it in.
Illustration: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
As promised, this conceptual book explores all different shades of the title color, right down to "no green." Great for spring, colors, and many other themes.
Overall: The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
A beautiful story about a universal childhood fear. This was absolutely amazing.

Because I Want To Awards
Oh, the Angst!: Ball by Mary Sullivan
A dog can't find anyone to play ball with him, until his young master gets home from school. The sweetly potbellied pup will prompt "Awww"s from the stoniest heart.
Be Prepared to Read This Backward and Forward - Literally: A Long Way Away by Frank Viva
Like his first book, Along a Long Road, the art for this was created in one piece. However, this was designed to be read backward and forward. I predict that kids will trace the path with fingers and eyes over and over again.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: March 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 13

Library: All

Writing: One by Kathryn Otoshi
For a very simple book, there's so much packed in here. There's stuff about bullying, personal identity, standing up for yourself and others. Plus numbers and colors!
Illustration: Vampirina Ballerina, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, written by Anne Marie Pace
Pham's cuddly vampires and sly visual jokes are the star of this show. I especially loved how Vampirina would turn into a bat at times of stress, to her classmates' consternation.
Overall: Rain! by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson
On the same rainy day, two people approach it with opposite attitudes - one is cheerful and positive, the other grumpy and mean. When they meet, which one wins?

Because I Want To Awards
Why Sharp Eyes are Good: Happy Birthday, Bunny by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Maybe I'm easily amused (maybe?) but the carrot symbol on the bunny's iPhone in this sweet birthday story cracks me up every time.
Oh, Bob Shea, I Love You: Cheetah Can't Lose by Bob Shea
I didn't even know this was coming out until it landed on my desk. The story of two kittens who conspire to knock their friend cheetah down a peg or two will inspire giggles.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Book: Dragons Love Tacos
Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Dragons love tacos. Why is this? Nobody knows. It could be any number of reasons, but the end result is the same: dragons love tacos. But--and this is important!--they can’t stand spicy salsa. So if you’re giving a taco party for dragons, make absolutely sure there isn’t one single speck of jalapeno in your salsa. Or who knows what might happen?

When I first read this book, I laughed out loud. Is it the illustrations, with all their different varieties of dragon? Is it the narration, which builds on itself without being obnoxiously repetitious? Is it the scene that shows exactly what happens when dragons ingest spicy salsa? (Tip: it ain’t pretty.) Who knows. It made me smile. But I had my doubts about the length, which was on the long side for some of my storytime groups. I decided to try it, and lo and behold, they loved it too.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review: Apple Cake by Julie Paschkis

Book: Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love
Author: Julie Paschkis
Illustrator: Julie Paschkis
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Alfonso is in love with Ida, but alas! Ida never looks up from her books to see him. So he sets about wooing her with apple cake. Will a sweet treat catch her attention long enough to show her his heart?

I adore Julie Paschkis’s art style. Can we just get that out of the way? I would pore over her grocery-list doodles. I’d have to be much more educated in art than I am to explain why I love them, but I think part of it is the simple lines, soft colors, and the willingness to be more than a little fanciful.

With this book, she showcases that fancifulness. The simple, almost prosaic text (“he beat two tablespoons of butter with a cup of sugar”) contrasts with the glorious illustrations. On the page quoted, for instance, he gets the butter by squeezing it from the sun, and the sugar from a friendly honeybee atop a few puffy clouds. This book, which landed on my desk just when I was looking for a Valentine's Day without an overabundance of treacle or pink, has ensured itself a place on my storytime shelf.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stack-Buster #8

All by Myself! by Emile Jadoul
A little penguin gets his mommy and daddy out of bed every night to help him go potty. As you can imagine, this leads to some pretty severe sleep deprivation on Mommy and Daddy’s part. Can they possibly convince him that big boys go all by themselves? With a familiar situation and sympathetic parents (check out the illustration of the severely sleep-deprived grown-up penguins for a huge laugh), this one will have a long life.

Creepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots, but all of a sudden, he’s seeing them everywhere. They follow him to school, they’re under his bed, they’re all over the place. But nobody believes him! What to do? An entertainingly creepy book with a twist ending you’ll enjoy.

 Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
A bear visiting a city is somewhat overwhelmed, and hides away in an apartment, eating porridge, sitting on chairs, and sleeping in beds - until the apartment’s inhabitants come home. One of them is very familiar . . . This retelling/inversion of the familiar fairy tale is endlessly entertaining.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: January and February 2013

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 16

Library: all

Writing: Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
What a perfect little book, and I'm not just saying that because it came in the week before our cowboy theme in storytime. It was so much fun interrupting the lullaby with the cowboy's ear-splitting, "EEK!" upon seeing a snake (a stick) or a spider (a flower), that I think I'll have to come up with some other theme/excuse to read it again.
Illustration: Apple Cake: a recipe for love by Julie Paschkis
My love for this illustrator is well-documented. Imagine my glee upon discovering her newest. A cake is baked with love, and beautifully fanciful ingredients. The lush and intricate illustrations would charm anybody.
Overall: Perfect Square by Michael Hall
A square is happy with his four corners and his four sides, but finds himself constantly disarranged, so he makes the best of it, and even starts to enjoy himself. After this, I just want to make construction-paper art with four-year-olds for the rest of the day.

Because I Want To Awards
Ducks! Socks! Ducks in Socks!: Duck Sock Hop by Jane Kohuth, illustrated by Jan Porter
I mean, how can you go wrong? Really.
For Those Tired of Puppies and Rainbows: Little Tug by Stephen Savage
There's a sweetness to this book that I usually associate with more traditionally adorable things. Dare you not to say "awwww" at the end.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: I'm Bored! by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Book: I’m Bored
Author: Michael Ian Black
Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

A kid is bored. And she bemoans this fact aloud. At length. Then, she finds a talking potato. (Still boring.) The potato is bored too, and annoyed that he only has a kid to hang out with, because kids are boring. The kid takes umbrage, and promptly shows off all the awesome things she can do. (Skip! Ninja kicks! Imagining stuff!) But the potato is resolutely bored.

This is the book that prompted my co-worker to suggest a surrealism storytime. Because, talking potato. Also, bonus flamingo. Ohi’s illustrations jump and fizz and prompt laughs everywhere. This is a book for every parent who has heard this familiar refrain, and every kid who has ever uttered it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stack-Buster #7

Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere

Oh dear! A monster is on its way to YOU. Do you think he’s contemplating how best to eat you up? Yikes! Ed Vere (who wrote one of my all-time favorite storytime picks, Banana!) is in top form again.

The Chandeliers by Vincent X Kirsch

The famous Chandeliers, stars of the stage, put on the greatest show in town. Unfortunately, little Rufus is too young to tread the boards. But he finds ways to help out, and in the process shows that the backstage is as valuable as the stars in the spotlight.

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, written by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

And he won’t get out! The whole court tries in various ways, only to be pulled into the tub themselves. With its delightfully silly plot and lush, detailed illustrations that beg for close examination, this is a storytime classic for a reason.

Friday, February 1, 2013

No Roundup This Month

Mea culpa, guys. I only read two new picture books this month. You can't round up two picture books. I'm going to combine January and February into one post next month.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reaction Post: 2013 Caldecott, Geisel, etc

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that yesterday the ALA announced their 2013 youth media awards. What did I think? Read on.

The Caldecott announcement made me very smug, I admit it. Some years, I hardly know any of the books. This year, I not only read and loved the winner (This is Not My Hat), but I also read and loved four out of the five honor books, the only exception being Sleep Like a Tiger. And I just can't shake the thought that I've read that one and maybe just didn't record it. Entirely possible with such short books. I was a little sad that in a year of many Stead books, both Phillip and Erin, neither got a nod. Erin Stead's illustrations for And Then It's Spring charmed me thoroughly, and Phillip's A Home for Bird is one I'm inflicting on all my groups this year. But they're just starting out and they've got lots of years and lots of books ahead of them.

My track record on the Geisel award keeps me humble. I haven't read the winner, and of the three honor books, I've only read Let's Go for a Drive! But I'm not well versed in early readers overall, so the other books are going directly on my list.

The other picture books honored were all scattered amongst different awards, and there are none that prompt a strong reaction. I've seen Christopher Myers' H.O.R.S.E., which won the Coretta Scott King illustrator award, around my library, and I've enjoyed his other stuff.

I do wonder if the Batchelder award, for translated books, covers translated picture books. We've been getting some marvelous ones this side of the pond lately, and it would be nice to see some of those recognized.

What did I think of the books for older kids? Stop by Confessions of a Bibliovore to find out.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O Zelinsky

Book: Z is for Moose
Author: Kelly Bingham
Illustrator: Paul O Zelinsky
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

It’s an alphabet book like any other. A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat . . . until a terribly impatient moose butts in line, asking when it will be his turn. He loses his temper entirely when they decide to go with “Mouse” instead (“Wait! No! That was supposed to be me! Moose! With an M!”) and rampages throughout the alphabet until his friend Zebra finds a way to include him after all.

Oh, did the kids get a kick out of this. As Mo Willem’s pigeon has proved, there’s enormous appeal in a protagonist losing all control, throwing first a temper tantrum and then sobbing heart-brokenly. (Yep. I’m an awful person.) The kids sympathized with his impatience, delighted in his terrible behavior, and smiled when he finally what he wanted: to be in the alphabet book. Paul Zelinsky’s is not only lovely, it’s brain-bending, playing with the traditional page boundaries to show Moose’s rampage.

Like the best picture books, this is a simple concept executed very, very well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading Roundup: 2012

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 213
Early Readers: 11

Review Copies: 2
Library: 222

Writing: Selected in August: Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky "Moose isn't patient enough to wait for his turn in the alphabet show, and horns into earlier letters. Kids will love impetuous Moose, and also pointing out that "I" doesn't have anything to do with the word Moose."
Illustration: Selected in June: The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman
"This wordless picture book follows a couple of bears who discover a tree house and are joined by friends. Read it through a few times. Linger for awhile. You'll find yourself wanting a treehouse of your own."
Overall: Selected in March: And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
"You know that early-spring feeling? When it feels like you'll never see anything but mud again? That brown, brown, brown, wait-what's-that feeling? The pairing of Fogliano and Stead capture it beautifully."

This was a bitter battle, as always. The Overall Standout, in particular, almost ended up a four-way tie. I finally went with the Fogliano/Stead pairing because the others (Press Here, I Want My Hat Back, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs) have already gotten so much love out there that I wanted to spread it around some.

All the 2012 roundups