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Showing posts from 2016

GIVE & TAKE by Lucie Félix

GIVE & TAKE is a title from a new imprint of one of my favorite picture book publishers, Candlewick Press. Candlewick Studio was created to offer readers of all ages titles "characterized by elegant, engaging design; captivating, well-presented concepts and content; the highest-quality illustration; and superior production values." Judging by the first two titles from this imprint, GIVE & TAKE by Lucie Félix and An Artists's Alphabet by Norman Messenger, they have instantly and marvelously delivered on their promise.
GIVE & TAKE is a concept book of opposites that is wonderfully realized and a joy to read over and over. It is also a book that, like all interactive, pop-up type books, is best enjoyed by children over the age of three and, as the back of the book advises, "best when shared with a grown-up." GIVE & TAKE is a simple, clever book with bright, bold illustrations. The first page of the book tells readers to remove the shape on the recto…

An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger

An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger is a title from a new imprint of one of my favorite picture book publishers, Candlewick Press. Candlewick Studio was created to offer readers of all ages titles "characterized by elegant, engaging design; captivating, well-presented concepts and content; the highest-quality illustration; and superior production values." Judging by the first two titles from this imprint, GIVE & TAKE by Lucie Félix and An Artists's Alphabet, they have instantly and marvelously delivered on their promise. In 2012 I reviewed two of Norman Messenger's books, Land of Never Believe: Explored and Documented by Norman Messenger AND Imagine. Like another favorite picture book author and illustrator, Anthony Browne, Messenger is a superbly gifted artist who brings a rarely seen surreal style to the world of kid's books and I am so happy to be reviewing his newest book, An Artist's Alphabet.

At first glance, An Artist's Alphabet seems l…

Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jarvis

Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis with illustrations by Jarvis is a superb picture book that I especially value because, after reading, I will never mix up the poles that penguins and polar bears live at again! Armed with a map of the world and plans for a picnic, the Pilchard-Browns, Mr. and Mrs. and the young Peeky, Poots and Pog, find themselves some 12,430 miles off course at the North Pole. Fortunately, the adventurous Mr. White and his positive mindset is there to help. After all, Mr. White has "often dreamed of being the first polar bear to reach the South Pole."
Donning his red bowler cap and hopping on an iceberg, the polar bear and the penguins set off.

From the bustling streets of the United States to the rainy grey of England to the sunny glow of Italy, the crew travel on, lead by Mr. White, partaking of the culture of every country they cross. In India, with Mr. White pulling the penguin family in a rickshaw, Mr. Pilchard-Brown exclaims, "Namaste!," while Mrs…

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant could have been titled almost anything - Little Foxes, Little Rabbits, Little Children, and, with illustrations by Christian Robinson, been every bit as enjoyable, entertaining and charming. However, it's hard to argue with the perfect pairing of penguins and snow. Rylant's text is meditative and repetitive, and cozy, ideal for lulling little listeners to sleep. Little Penguins begins with one little penguin peering out the window and the question, "Snowflakes?"

















Many snowflakes, winter is coming! Five little penguins need many mittens, many socks and many boots before heading out the door of their igloo. But one little penguin stays behind. The four sled, play and sink in the deep snow. But where's mama? Never fear, Mama and the littlest penguin arrive to lead the four home. Once in the door, with the scarves, mittens, socks and boots off, it's time for "Warm cookies, please? And sippies." 

Little Penguins ends with a…

Don't Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup

Don't Wake Up the Tiger is the sixth book by Britta Teckentrup that I have reviewed and she has become a favorite author/illustrator I seek out. Born in Germany and attending art school in London, I appreciate the European sensibility that Teckentrup brings to her picture books, from story to palette to varied illustration styles. With Don't Wake Up the Tiger, Teckentrup plays with an interactive story that has a happy surprise at the end.


Tiger is fast asleep and shouldn't be woken up, but she's in the way! Her friends, Stork, Fox, Frog, Turtle and Mouse are in a hurry and they have a big bunch of balloons to carry. How can they get past her without waking up?

The clever animals try floating over Tiger first, with the narrator asking listeners to help make sure she stays asleep by petting her nose or patting her tummy. Sometimes readers even have to blow and blow to get the balloons to float over Tiger and rock the book back and forth to get her back to sleep. A white b…

Oskar Loves . . . by Britta Teckentrup

Oskar loves . . . is the newest picture book written and illustrated by a favorite of mine,Britta Teckentrup and is published by Prestel, one of the world's leading publishers in the fields of art, architecture, photography and design. This focus lends itself to the beautifully produced books, from trim size to quality of paper, colors and design, that Prestel produces. Oskar loves . . . , with a sturdy paper-over-board cover, thick pages and matte colors is no exception.


Oskar loves . . . is a sweetly simple book with black text on the white verso page and Oskar doing what he loves on the recto. Oskar loves a lot of great things and it's fun to watch him enjoy himself as he enjoys the smell of spring and the yellow autumn leaves.

It's a treat to watch Oskar "watch the world from above," and "take his little fluffy cloud for a walk." Oskar also loves to "lose himself in books . . . and pictures." He loves the rain, the sun, "walking in the …

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton

Goodnight Everyone is the fourth picture book by Chris Haughton I have reviewed since 2010 when he became a fast favorite. Haughton's unique palette of colors, not often seen in picture books, combined with his lovable, if sometimes hapless characters and clever stories make him an author and illustrator worth following. With Goodnight Everyone, Haughton has created a picture book that is sure to make readers and listeners yawn alike and also make you look at the night sky a bit more closely.
The endpapers of Goodnight Everyone show the southern and northern night skies on one side of the page and the planets in our galaxy, along with which part of the earth is experiencing day and night, on the other. You will definitely find yourself returning to these pages.



The sun is going down and the eyes of the forest animals are drooping. The first few pages of Goodnight Everyone are cut and layered to reveal the animals falling asleep, from mice to bears, with each page turn, the size of t…

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune by P. J. Lynch

I have long admired the artwork of P.J. Lynch, ever since I read Melisande, E. Nesbit's fairy tale about a princess who, cursed at birth, grows up bald, but happy until an overlooked wish is uncovered and things go awry. In what I am pretty sure is his first picture book as both author and illustrator, The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune, P.J. Lynch proves that he is as gifted a story teller with words as he is with pictures. Together, his talents increase exponentially.

Lynch begins his story in London, a fine city that smells horrible. John Howland, indentured servant to John Carver and narrator of The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune, works mostly as a messenger for Carver. Preparing for the journey across the Atlantic, Howland plays a key role "copying out lists of supplies and letters to the business men" who were lending money to fund the journey. It interested me to learn that Howland was literate. …