Showing posts from September, 2017

Hilda and the Runaway Baby by Daisy Hirst

Daisy Hirstwowed me with her first two picture books, The Girl with the Parrot on Her Headand Alphonse, That is Not OK to DO!. Her work is an unforgettable blend of the absurd, everyday childhood emotions and superlative story telling. With Hilda and the Runaway Baby, Hirst delivers a bit more of the absurd and every day than emotions, but it's every bit as memorable and marvelous as her first two books.
Hilda is a pig who lives in a small tin house at the bottom of a hill who thinks to herself, "I think I ought to be happy. Life is peaceful. Nobody bothers me. I am always where I expect myself to be." In the village at the top of the hill is a baby who is never where people expected him to be. Hirst writes, "He usually turned up somewhere, but it worried his mom and dad." When the buggy the baby is in rolls down the hill toward Hilda, she springs to action.
Not only does Hilda slow the buggy and save the baby, they strike up a conversation and solve some problem…

Double Take! A New Look at Opposites by Susan Hood and Jay Fleck

There are so many great things about DOUBLE TAKE! A New Look at Opposites by Susan Hood, illustrated by Jay Fleck. From the well crafted rhyming text to the charmingly retro illustrations to the concept itself, this picture book about perspective is a joy to read. Be sure to watch the book trailer at the end of this review!
DOUBLETAKE! A New Look at Opposites begins like all other opposite books, left and right, yes or no, stop and go. But, "While most pairs are plain as DAY . . . and NIGHT, not every duo is so BLACK and WHITE.

DOUBLETAKE! A New Look at Opposites goes on to show, with words (and their placement on the page) and illustrations, that it's all about perspective and how you look at the world around you. Hood wraps things up with these wonderful words:
Turn things around! Give them a twist. Find a new VIEW that you might have MISSED! A brand new direction, a closer inspection, might lead to reflection and maybe . . . perfection."
Source: Review Copy
Don't miss …

The Bruce Quartet: Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce, BE QUIET! & Bruce's Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins

Two years ago I fell in love with Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. The combination of the character of Bruce, an irresistible curmudgeonly bear with a passion for gourmet cooking, and Higgins's stunning illustration style - black lines define the many textures and details on every page, not to mention the expressions of the characters, make for a book that is a joy to read, alone or to a crowd, and one that I have revisited often since first reading. Somehow, I missed reading the other books about Bruce and his saga as an adoptive, single parent to a brood of goslings, but am making up for it here with a review of all three! Mother Bruce ended with Bruce grudgingly taking the bus south with his gaggle after failing to teach the geese how to migrate. In Hotel Bruce, tired and grumpy, the bear returns to his woodland home in the spring with this adopted children only to find that three enterprising mice have turned his home into the North Woods Hotel. While the theme of this book is …

The Wonderling, written and illustrated by Mira Bartók, 464 pp, RL 4

The Wonderling by Mira Bartók is the kind of book that doesn't come along too often - you can tell just by the cover. With a gift for richly detailed, lyrical writing, Bartók brings together familiar elements and themes from children's literature, using them to build a world that is completely inviting and engrossing, filled with characters you want to get to know and spend time with. 
The Wonderling of the title is a groundling, a creature of this world that is part animal, part human, appearing in all combinations imaginable. Loathed and discriminated against, groundlings have been pushed out of Lumentown by the High Hats (the tall hat-wearing, 100% human aristocrats), labeled, marginalized and forced into glum servitude or worse, the underground world known as Gloomintown. Or, if they are orphaned groundlings, they end up at a cross-shaped, Dickensian workhouse posing as an orphanage, Miss Carbunkle's Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures.This is where we first meet…

The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, 160 pp, RL 4

The Dam Keeper began life as an animated short film by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, the duo behind Tonko House, who met while working for Pixar. In 2014, the film was nominated for an Oscar and now The Dam Keeper is continuing on, five years after the film ended, as a graphic novel duo. I didn't know this before I read this gorgeous, haunting, humorous graphic novel, but that didn't ruin or detract from my enjoyment at all. In fact, it was a tremendous treat to read the graphic novel, then purchase and watch the movie with my family, then screen the movie for my students, grades 1 - 5, 300 kids in all, over the course of the week. It was a joy to watch my students watch the movie, a theme of which is bullying, noticing the differences in perceptions and understanding, as well as emotional reactions, in the different age groups. In fact, Tonko House partnered with the San Francisco Film Society to develop a pilot program that inspires the social, emotional and creative expre…

Baabwa & Wooliam: A Tale of Literacy, Dental Hygiene, and Friendship by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Baabwaa & Wooliam by David Elliott with illustrations by the marvelous Melissa Sweet is a fantastic picture book that reads a bit like a fractured fairy tale and is a joy to read out loud. Wooliam enjoys reading and Baabwaa likes knitting, a "very practical hobby for sheep." While reading about pirates, Wooliam decides that he and Baabwaa should have an adventure. They head out into a new field and are enjoying the grass when a a sheep with a, "long rangy tail," a "filthy wool coat," and horrible teeth approaches.

Sensing that this is in fact that, "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" he has read about, Wooliam and Baabwaa flee - until the wolf stops. He wants to know about that thing Wooliam said, that thing about being in a book. When Wooliam tries to show the wolf, the sheep learn that, not only does the wolf have bad teeth cleaning habits, he doesn't know how to read! The sheep take the wolf in, teaching him to read and brush his teeth. Baa…

Hooray for Books! by Brian Won

As someone who loves books, picture books especially, I also know that it's not easy to write a book about books and being a bibliophile. I even created a label, books about books for these rare gems. To this delightful list I add Hooray for Books by Brian Won. With his colorful, crisp illustrations and cheerful cast of animal characters, this marvelous third title in what might be called the HOORAY series is perfect for book lovers of all ages, whether they read or are read to.
After the superb endpapers, Hooray for Books begins with Turtle trying to track down his favorite book. Maybe he loaned it to Zebra? With cheer that will be heard throughout the book, turtle runs off to Zebra's, shouting, "HOORAY FOR BOOKS!" Zebra has read Turtle's book and passed it on, but he suggests Turtle read his two favorite books. This pattern continues with Owl, Giraffe, Elephant and Lion, all the characters from the previous HOORAY books that readers are sure to delight in seeing…

Give Me Back MY Book! by Travis Foster and Ethan Long

Give Me Back MY Book! by Ethan Long and Travis Foster is very funny and very fun to read, for book lovers, readers and pre-readers alike!  Redd (drawn by Travis Foster) is reading a book when Bloo (drawn by Ethan Long) insists that it is HIS BOOK. Redd loves this book with the green cover and refuses to part with it. After all, it has a "hard cover, a nice spine, the pages turn from right to left . . . and, if you are adventurous, from left to right." What's more, there are, "letter on each page and they are gathered together to form words that have meaning when you read them!" The humor of the obvious continues and will not be lost on little listeners who always enjoy a good argument between literary friends.
While Redd and Bloo are arguing, they catch the attention of Bookworm, who leaves her home to snatch the book right out from under them! Returning to her underground home, she dives in, utterly entranced by HER book. . .
Frustrated at first, a light bulb goe…

ONE IS NOT A PAIR: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup

I think it's possible that I love a beautifully illustrated, well designed picture book (we're talking perfect trim size, thick, creamy pages, superb endpapers) more than a well written book. Happily, author and illustrator Britta Teckentrup delivers on both. ONE IS NOT A PAIR: A Spotting Book is the fourth in a series of "spotting books" for Big Picture Press a relatively new imprint of Candlewick Press, the premier publisher of picture books that meet my high standards, as well as the publisher of 90% of the picture books I choose to review. With her well crafted rhymes and charming illustrations, Teckentrup has created a look-and-find book that has readers searching for the odd-man-out - the one among the many that does NOT have a matching pair! Read my reviews of Teckentrup's other marvelous books here.

The SPOTTING SERIES with books by Teckentrup & others!

 Source: Review Copy

Find Me: A Hide-and-Seek Book by Anders Arhoj

Find Me: A Hide-and-Seek Book by Anders Arhoj, the founder of Arhoj Studio, a Danish interior and design studio interested in, "exploring the relationship between Scandinavian simplicity and traditional Japanese culture," and, "keeping alive traditions and knowledge about old crafts such as wheel throwing and glaze construction." While that may be a long and seemingly tangential introduction to this insanely fun, fantastically illustrated and designed book, it also gives context to what you find behind the eyes . . . A pair of foxes are your tour guides through this colorfully creative, ever changing landscape. There's just one catch, as Red Fox closes his eyes and the other runs off to hide, Blue Fox reveals that she can change colors! To add to this, if you read Find Me: A Hide-and-Seek Book from back to front, you will discover that it reads THE SAME! From the title page to the introduction with one difference - Blue Fox is doing the counting this time and Re…