Showing posts from May, 2021

Pawcasso by Remy Lai, 240 pp, RL 3

  Pawcasso by Remy Lai Review Copy from Henry Holt After two illustrated middle grade novels,  Pie in the Sky  and Fly on the Wall , Remy Lai has written a graphic novel! If you have read her first two books (and if you haven't you MUST) you will recognize themes of loneliness, an absent parent and communication challenges in Pawcasso . And, while these themes sound serious, if you have read Lai's other books, you will know that she has an epic sense of humor (and a love of fart jokes) and a talent for balancing the serious and hilarious, the perfect mix of salty and sweet (just like Jingwen's caramel sauce in Pie in the Sky ).  Jo sits, staring out her living room window, a long, lonely summer (and a not-so-great attitude) ahead of her, when a (seemingly) ownerless dog changes everything. Intrigued by this dog with a basket in its mouth, Jo runs out her front door and follows it into town, watching as it enters stores and shops, presumably for its owner. Heading into Dog

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai, 336 pp, RL 4

  Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai Purchased from Barnes & Noble **Illustrations in this book are black, grey and green, as seen above.  Illustrations below are missing the green.  Please watch the book trailer for a more accurate representation of the illustrations AND FOR FUN!** Fly on the Wall is the second book by Remy Lai and, just like  Pie in the Sky , her superb debut middle grade illustrated novel, this book is layered (like and onion, not a cake) with a (sometimes hard to like) narrator who reveals new aspects of himself and his struggles with each page turn. Once again, Lai uses an idiom as the title of her book, morphing it as her characters reflect, learn and grow. Layered like an onion, it can be challenging to write about Lai's work and do it justice without spinning in circles. With that in mind, I am going to start with the outer layer of Fly on the Wall and work my way in...  This Book Belongs to Henry Khoo: PRIVATE! KEEP OUT! -  Fly on the Wall  is written in

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, 384 pp, RL 4

  Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai Purchased at Barnes & Noble In one of many memorable metaphors from Pie in the Sky , almost twelve-year-old narrator Jingwen recalls his favorite times with his family - rare Sunday beach trips when he and his younger brother, Yanghao, would collect seashells, giving them to their mother to hold, weighing down her pockets. Now, almost two years after the death of his father, and living in a new country with a new language to learn, Jingwen thinks of those seashells as problems, recognizing that his mother is already carrying the heavy weight of Yanghao's seashells and her own. Struggling, but understanding, Jingwen thinks, "For now, I should try to carry my seashells in my own pockets." It's tempting to compare Lai's masterful tale to a cake with many layers (like the rainbow cake that carries so much meaning for Lingwen), but her story is most like an onion with layers that peel away, ultimately revealing the central core of the

100 Things I Know How to Do by Amy Schwartz

  100 Things I Know How to Do  by   Amy Schwartz Review Copy from Abrams Appleseed This marks Schwartz's third "100 Things" book masterfully chronicling the everyday lives of very young children, each one as delightfully engaging as the next. While I definitely enjoy taking a deep dive into the daily lives of little kids, what I love most about these books is the way that they are instantly inspirational. It's almost impossible to read this book to or with a child and not want to make your own "100" list as soon you turn the last page. Schwartz's deceptively simple couplets form a list of things that builds upon itself. Her rhymes that are never forced or awkward and you just might find yourself singing as you read out loud. Schwartz effortlessly moves from the specific to the quotidian, zooming from "Butter bowties / Order French fries" to "Wear shorts / Build forts," with an occasional staccato burst of "Sing / Swing / Giggle /

And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World, written by Beth Kephart, illustrated by Amy June Bates

And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World written by Beth Kephart , illustrated by Amy June Bates Review Copy from Abrams Kids / Cameron Kids More than a traditional biography, And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World is a day in the life of a a young artist and her painter father who is also her first teacher. Without any knowledge of N.C. Wyeth and his talented progeny, even without any interest in art,  And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World  is an enchanting story of a father and a daughter sharing an experience together. For readers interested in art, painting and the creative process,  And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World  is a gem of a picture book. Kephart and Bates have created a deeply immersive book that is allows readers to subtly experience of the act of creating. Or, to be more precise, the act of seeing.  In her sure voice, Henriette tells readers, "Wherever in our world we want to go, we go - Pa and me." Bates captures this confidence superb

If You Go Down to the Woods Today: more than 100 things to find by Rachel Piercey, illustrated by Freya Hartas

  If You Go Down to the Woods Today : more than 100 things to find   poetry by Rachel Piercey illustrated by Freya Hartas Review Copy from Magic Cat Publishing Having grown up with Beatrix Potter and Richard Scarry, If You Go Down to the Woods reads like a marvelous mash-up of two very different children's books classics - it's utterly enchanting and endlessly engaging. Freya Hartas, illustrator of the absolutely gorgeous Slow Down: 50 Mindful Moments in Nature , is at her best, filling the woods with busy, creative, curious, and sometimes hilarious creatures. Centered around the seasons, readers are introduced to Bear, who will be the guide through the woods. Piercey's poems (each one four gently rhyming stanzas) are engaging and rich with imagery and descriptive language. Each two page spread includes a "What to Spot" box with fun things to seek out amidst busy illustrations bursting with flora and fauna. Hartas's creatures flow easily between natural anima