Showing posts from May, 2019

A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse by Frank Viva, RL 1.5

A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse by Frank Viva Review Copy from TOON Books A trip to the Antarctic Peninsula inspired award winning illustrator and designer Viva to createA Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, which was published in 2012. Happily, a trip to Italy and a climb up Mt. Etna (with a vulcanologist!) has resulted in this companion book, A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse. As with Mouse's first trip, Viva blends non-fiction and fiction in this beginning-reader, graphic novel book. Endpapers show Mouse and companion flying past Mt. Etna, Mouse declaring, "I'm hungry!" with pizza on Mouse's mind for the rest of the trip. That said, Mouse (and readers) learn quite a bit about volcanoes, from the supplies an explorer needs to the varying temperatures around it as well as the many different plants that grow on it. Viva's marvelous illustrations engage readers and provide details and diagrams that will spark curiosity - and probably …

Yellow Yellow, story by Frank Asch, illustrations by Mark Alan Stamaty

Yellow Yellow Story by Frank Asch Illustrations by Mark Alan Stamaty Review Copy from Drawn + Quarterly I did not know the work of Mark Alan Stamaty until I met my husband in college and he shared his tattered childhood copy of Who Needs Donuts? with me. It was such a weird, trippy, odd and oddly satisfying story that I fell in love with it immediately. Yet, I never sought out any of Stamaty's other works for children or adults. That one book was a lot. But not quite enough, as I am thrilled to have Yellow Yellow to pore over again and again. Stamaty and Frank Asch (a kid's book staple, best known for his Moon Bear books) met while at the prestigious Cooper Union in New York City and originally published this book in 1971.  With sparse text, Yellow Yellow tells the story of a boy who finds a yellow construction worker's hat amidst a pile of junk. He tries it on. It fits just right. And his world expands! People begin to look at him more and talk to him more. And there are so ma…

The Worst Book Ever by Elise Gravel, 48 pp, RL 2

The Worst Book Ever by Elise Gravel Review Copy from Drawn + Quarterly A spider, a blob and a fuzzy thing provide a running commentary on The Worst Book ever, calling out the spelling errors, bad illustrations,  potty humor, inappropriate content like kissing and advertising for soda, gender stereotypes, and sexist representations of female characters. Increasingly serious stuff for such a silly, highly readable, laugh-out-loud book. Yes, this book is meant to be fun, but it is also meant to make readers think.
The Worst Book Ever begins in a far away land where a "beautiful prinsess and a brave prinse" live in a magnificent castle. Barbarotte and Putrick (seriously BEST NAMES EVER) are part of an uneventful story that drags on and on, the commentators noting the repetitive and boring descriptions and limited vocabulary. Eventually, a monster arrives on the seen, threatening to eat Barbarotte while screaming, "RHAAA! Poopie peepee FART BOOGER!" Putrick comes to save t…

When Pencil Met Eraser, Story by Karen Kilpartrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr., illustrated by Germán Blanco

When Pencil Met Eraser
Story by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr.,  illustrations by Germán Blanco Review Copy from Imprint
When Pencil Met Eraser takes a common theme for picture books - opposites learning to appreciate each other and work together - and adds a creative layer, brought to the page by Blanco's marvelous illustrations. Persnickety Pencil learns to broaden his perspective when enthusiastic Eraser alters his drawings through the use of negative space.
Rigid Pencil believes his art is great and not in need of improvements by Eraser, challenging Eraser to improve on his creations, which Eraser does again and again. Eraser finally convinces Pencil of his value when, after Pencil challenges him to improve a drawing of intricate lines, Eraser turns it into a maze. And, "Everyone knows that  pencil can never resist a maze . . ." In fact, Eraser even helps out when Pencil makes a wrong turn in the maze. Together, they go on to great works and, in a clever ending, …

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser, 297 pp, RL 4

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street  by Karina Yan Glaser Cover art by Karl James Mountford Map by Jennifer Thermes Interior illustrations by Karina Yan Glaser Purchased at Barnes & Noble I have always been fascinated by New York City. As a kid, the books that left the deepest impressions on me were set there (Eloise, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Harriet the Spy) and, as I got older, it seemed like all the things I loved (Saturday Night Live, the best bookstores, the world of publishing) were there, too. It wasn't until my daughter moved to New York City for graduate school in 2017 - when this book debuted - that I really got to visit the city. So, with my daughter living a mere ten blocks from the Vanderbeekers, it seemed like the perfect time to read Karina Yan Glaser's superb book as I flew to see her receive her master's degree.
Realistic fiction is not my favorite genre of kid's books and when I do read it, these days it tends to be because the…

The Night Library by David Zeltser, illustrated by Raúl Colón

The Night Library by David Zeltser, illustrated by Raúl Colón Review Copy from  Random House Children's Books  Everyone knows that libraries are magical places. Especially one (NYPL, to be exact) guarded by stone lions named Patience and Fortitude. However, the unnamed narrator of The Night Library is disappointed to receive a book as a birthday gift from his parents the night before the big day. 
Fortunately, Fortitude shows up outside the narrator's window in the middle of the night, ready to change his mind about books. Entering the library at night, Fortitude and the narrator head through the grand reading room to the shelves where the books seem to be coming to life. Some books, "jittered, others swayed, a few twirled gracefully," all skittering out of the narrator's reach. Fortitude tells him, "Adult books can be hard to grasp." In the children's section, the narrator finds books he remembers his grandfather reading to him before he died. As the boo…

The Big Book of Adventure by Emily Ford & Tim Warnes

The Big Book of Adventure by Emily Ford & Tim Warnes Review Copy from Silver Dolphin Books
At the start of The Big Book of Adventure, two book loving friends meet and share the adventures they have been on - in the pages of books. Ford's gently rhyming text takes readers through stories they are sure to know and love, starting with a mad tea party. Under the sea with a mermaid, through the woods with a girl in a red hood, on to a treasure island and a meet up with a fairy who can make you fly. There is a space race, a dragon and three bears as well as a magic carpet ride. What makes The Big Book of Adventure truly delightful is the rich variety of illustration styles that accompany every new adventure the friends describe. From classic to collage, comic book to painterly, the styles transport you with every page turn. The Big Book of Adventure ends perfectly with one friend saying to the other, "I'd love to see the things you've seen . . ." To that, the friend re…