Showing posts from August, 2018

Willy and the Cloud by Anthony Browne

Willy and the Cloudby Anthony Browne Review Copyfrom Candlewick Press Story: Browne begins his eighth book about his thoughtful chimp, "It began on a warm, sunny day when Willy decided to go to the park." The one tiny cloud in the sky follows him to the park and sending him into a funk. Why was the cloud following him? What could he do? Willy tries again and again to get rid of the cloud. Finally, shouting up to the skies, something changes and the rain comes falling down, soft, cool and delicious. Willy decides to try the park again and has a fantastic time. Pictures: With his painterly style and his affection for referencing classical works of art in his picture books, Browne has long been one of my favorite author/illustrators. In this book, the paper-cut collages of Henri Mattise and Mondrian's windowpane style show up on the sunbathing apes in the park. Browne also has repeating themes of his own in his books. Willy's patterned sweater vest and the pale floral couc…

The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

In December of last year, National Ambassador for Children's Literature,Jaqueline Woodson spoke to theNew York Times about two children's books she was working on, The Day You Begin and the middle-grade novel, Harbor Me, saying, "I am talking about what it means to be in this country at this moment in time in certain bodies." 
Working at a school very close to the border with Mexico and with a student population that is 80% Latinx, The Day You Begin was exactly what I needed to start this school year off with, especially since it is magnificently illustrated by Mexican artist with a loft in San Diego, Rafel López. The Day You Begin begins, 
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. Maybe it will be your skin, your clothes, or the curl of your hair. From there, we follow Angelina, a student who questions the point of sharing her summer experience of taking care of her little sister and reading lots of books, when she hears her clas…

Frog and Beaver by Simon James

Frog andBeaver by Simon James Review Copy from Candlewick Press Story: James begins his marvelous book, "Every morning Frog woke up from under his leave and looked out over a beautiful river." Frog and the other animals living at the water's edge - the ducks and baby ducks, water voles and baby water voles, all live happily in harmony. Exuberant Beaver arrives, excited to build the biggest, most fantastic dam ever. As the watery homes of the river folk are altered by the dam, they adjust. And Beaver keeps building. When the water dries up all together, Frog tries again to reason with Beaver and get him to understand the impact his project is having on others. Unable to get through to him, the river folk move to the other, watery side of the dam. Until the dam gives way. Now homeless, Frog steps up again and finds a way to work with Beaver, and for Beaver to do his work. And, he even gets a new home out of the deal! Pictures: James illustrations remind me of a longtime favor…

Mightier than the Sword by Drew Callander and Alana Harrison, illustrated by Ryan Andrews, 320 pp, RL 4

Mightier than the Sword by Drew Callander & Alana Harrison Art by by Ryan Andrews (and YOU!) Review Copy from Penguin Young Readers Plot: "Your book. Your pencil. Your world," is the tagline for this extraordinary interactive book that, "encourages doodles, creative thinking and insane fun." The authors, who also work as filmmakers, writers and improv comedians, bring the humor from the start. In chapter one, You find yourself on the beach reading a message pulled from a bottle while slices of pizza fly overhead, dropping toppings on You a they fly past. Your tour guide in this strange new world is a stoat (NOT a weasel) named Manteau who is a Courrier from the land of Astorya, where REAL humans can write anything into existence (which You do, writing up your favorite dinner and dessert for a start.) He travels the Galick Sea (a footnote, of which there are many, both informative and funny, tells you is pronounced "galaxy") collecting stories from the rea…

Mr. Wolf's Class by Aron Nels Steinke, 160 pp, RL 3

Mr. Wolf's Class by Aron Nels Steinke Purchased at Barnes & Noble Story: Mr. Wolf arrives at Hazelwood Elementary to prepare for his new teaching job to find his fourth grade classroom is a mess, as well as some well-dressed rats scampering about. Panels show all seventeen students tucked in bed the night before the first day of school. Over the course of the first day of school, we learn a little bit about most of the students and Mr. Wolf (although the rats remain a mystery...) Margot is new to town, Oscar, who loves palindromes, draws a Taco Cat, Aziza's, who is a little prickly, name IS a palindrome, Penny is dead tired because her baby brother cried all night and Randy gets easily distracted. A student almost has a bathroom accident, a couple of students get in trouble and owe Mr. Wolf a minute at recess, a student goes missing and a lunch goes missing when it is carried off by the rats. And, in what is a very sweet ending, Margot and Sampson discover they both love to …

Nothing Can Frighten a Bear by Elizabeth Dale, illustrated by Paula Metcalf

Nothing Can Frighten a Bear by Elizabeth Dale, illustrated by Paula Metcalf Review Copy from Nosy Crow Story: With wonderful rhymes, Dale tells the story of the Bear family, who are all tucked in for the night. But Baby Bear just can't fall asleep. He's sure he hears a monster. Together, the family of five head out into the forest to show Baby Bear there is nothing scary out there, since nothing can scare a bear. Deers, frogs, crows and a swamp startle but ultimately don't scare the Bear family, although their family seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Realizing they've lost most of the family, Daddy Bear and Baby Bear are startled - maybe even scared - by a fierce sight that turns out to be the missing family members. They all head home and tuck into bed when . . . something wakes Baby Bear again! This time, it's the sound of his own snore. Pictures: Metcalf's illustrations are fantastic. From the cozy cave where the bears are tucked into bed to the nighttime…

Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed to Open this Box by David Goodner, pictures by Louis Thomas

Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed to Open This Box by David Goodner, pictures by Louis Thomas Review Copy from HMH Books Story: Ginny Goblin has been presented with a beautiful box that she cannot open until dinnertime. OF COURSE she can't wait! As the story unfolds, all the things Ginny Goblin is not allowed to do in an effort to get to that box before dinnertime are played out, presumably in her imagination... She is not allowed to drag a chair over and climb up to the shelf where the box is waiting. Nor is she allowed to put on a ninja suit and use a rope and grappling hook to reach that box. As Ginny Goblin's plans get more elaborate, the box moves to more inaccessible locations, like a the top of a tower perched at the top of a misty mountain. And she definitely is not allowed to train mountain goats, use a catapult or poke serpents in a moat with a stick in her efforts to get to that box before dinnertime! The story escalates with hilarity and suspense until it's time to wash…

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings by Rob Hodgson & Aidan Onn

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings by Rob Hodgson & Aidan Onn Review Copy from Laurence King Story: An ABC concept book, rather than a narrative, each monster and magical creature gets a paragraph that describes, details and invites questions and curiosity. What I especially love about this book are the monsters and creatures from other cultures that populate this marvelous book. From the Eloko who protect the animals and plants of the African rainforests to the practical-joke-loving Far Darrigs of Ireland and the Xing Tian, a Chinese headless giant, readers will delight in new discoveries. And, old favorites like the kraken, minotaur, troll and werewolf appear along with pixies, zombies, imps, banshees and dragons. Pictures: Designer and illustrator Hodgson delivers superb illustrations, as can be found in every book designed and published by Laurence King. Hodgson walks a fine line between engagingly scary to too much with his colorful, childlike illustrations. Sometimes human…