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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Best Days are Dog Days by Aaron Meshon

The Best Days are Dog Days is the newest picture book from Aaron Meshon, author and illustrator of the fantastic TOOLS Rule!. Meshon's brightly detailed illustrations (which would be perfect hanging on the walls of any kid's room, or living room for that matter) are worth the price of the book alone, but he is a great writer as well and his stories always bring a new, creative perspective to the subject. With The Best Days Are Dog Days, Meshon parallels the busy day of a toddler and the family's French Bulldog. I think it's fair to call them siblings. . .


One thing that I noticed with my own children and interacting with babies while working as a bookseller is that babies love to see pictures of babies. And toddlers love to see images of their daily lives. While this can be a little dull to the person reading the book, Meshon finds the perfect way to make these mundane (but, fun) tasks humorously engaging for little and big readers alike. Pup and Sis do everything toget…

Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars

Marion Deuchars is the force behind the Let's Make Some series of books that inspire creativity in kids and adults. Visit the site to give Deuchars's projects a try or read my reviews of her books  Let's Make Some Great Fingerprint Art and http://www.books4yourkids.com/2013/12/lets-make-more-great-placemat-art-by.html"target="_blank">Let's Make More Great Placemat Art. Now, with Bob the Artist, Deuchars has written and illustrated her first picture book and of course it's about creativity!




I find Deuchars's illustrations crisply engaging and always charming. Her hand lettering adds to that charm, almost inviting readers to write their own story, which works wonderfully in Bob the Artist. Bob is a red-beaked-blackbird with skinny legs. Legs so skinny that the other birds laugh and laugh when they see Bob. 



This brings Bob down so he tries to do something about his legs. Exercise, clothes as camouflage and some serious sausage eating to nothing fo…

52 - Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton, 329 pp, RL 4

A few years ago I gleefully discovered The 13 Story Treehouse written by Andy Griffithsand illustrated by Terry Denton. These two Australians are the geniuses who created the hands-down-best-ever (sorry Dr. Seuss) silly-rhyming primers, The Cat on the Mat is Flat and The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow. These two books are rarely on the shelves of my school library and I have three copies of each. They are perfect for new readers who want a chapter book but aren't quite ready for one and they are also perfect for older kids reading below grade level because they are eye-catching and don't look like baby books... With the creation of The Treehouse Seriesthese two really deserve some kind of medal for creating completely engaging books for that appeal to all readers, but especially reluctant readers, boys, and struggling readers.  These books are an easy sell, but when called upon, I will tell kids they are like a cross between the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and the cartoon show Phi…

Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash

Fairy tales are a passion of mine and I am fortunate enough to have 30 students, a different grade every day, for ninety minutes each morning. Across all the grades, in one form or another, I spend a lot of time reading fairy tales out loud and I never fail to be surprised by the rapt attention that I get from every child. I think, in part, they love hearing the fairy tales because they are familiar with them. With this in mind, why not make children familiar with literary classics? Jack and Holman Wang are doing this with their charmingly clever Cozy Classics board books and now Scott Nash, author and illustrator of the superb  The High Flying Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, which has a very classic feel of its own, brings us Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet and Silly. While it took me a while to find the value in introducing children to classic works of adult literature, seeing the endless interest my students have in fairy tales made me think these creative ad…

Cozy Classics: Pride & Prejudice, Moby Dick and War & Peace by Jack & Holman Wang

Last year I reviewed Epic Yarns, a trilogy of board books by brothers Jack and Holman Wang. Each book tells the story of the Star Wars saga using only twelve words and twelve adorably, masterfully felted scenes. Normally, this is the kind of board book I would pass on, but the Wang brothers are so creative with their vision and their felting and the miniature scenes are so intriguing that I couldn't resist. Now, Cozy Classics, the Wang's first series of board books is being reissued - three a year, along with two new board books a year - and they are just as good, if not better than the Epic Yarns.


The Wang brother, both dads, actually started this series as a way to teach words to their very young children. I bristled a little when I first heard about the Cozy Classics, but once I read them I fell in love. And, having spent the last two years working as an elementary school librarian and watching as fairy tales and Greek mythology grab the interest of my students over and over…

The Whale by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow

The Whale is the debut picture book from Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow, published by Big Picture Books, an imprint of two of my favorite picture book publishers, Templar Company Limited and Candlewick Press. As the name suggests, Big Picture Press is dedicated to publishing highly illustrated books with the belief that, "books should be visually intelligent, surprising and accessible to readers of all age, abilities and nationalities." I think they are doing a stellar job carrying out this mission, but you can judge for yourself by clicking here.

The first thing you notice about The Whale, besides the generous trim size and thick, luxurious pages, are the illustrations. They are immediately engrossing and completely compelling. The opening pages show two industrious kids, separately preparing to prove that the giant whale, spotted by two children fifty years ago, is not a hoax. A two page illustration of town's newspaper, the Cape Chronicle, tells some of the story.

Back on…

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

A new book from Nikki McClure is always something to get very excited about, especially Waiting for High Tide. McClure's unique paper cut illustrations are always filled with astonishing detail and loving attention to the natural world. Waiting for High Tide feels like the ideal combination of the two, pair with generous text that tells the story of the rewards of patience and the rewards of the sea.

The narrator of Waiting for High Tide is frustrated. It's low tide, and a stretch of mud makes swimming impossible, especially because it could mean getting stuck and being rescued by Grandma. But, the day is not all bad. The narrator, Mama, Papa and Grandma are going to build a raft using a big log that drifted to shore after a storm. And, while the prospect of the raft is definitely exciting, the wait, both for the high tide to arrive and the raft to be completed, is filled with amazing, miraculous explorations of nature and what the sea has presented, like gifts on the shore.


In …