Posts from the ‘Picture Book’ Category

Leave Me Alone!

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Leave Me Alone!.jpgTitle: Leave Me Alone!
Author/Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
ISBN: 9781626724419
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishings Holdings Limited Partnership, c2016.

Once there was an old woman.
She lived in a small village in a small house . . .
… with a very big family.

The nameless old woman is simply looking for some peace and quiet in order to finish her knitting for her family before winter arrives. Asserting herself with a shouted “Leave me alone!”  she retreats to the forest, to the mountain, and to some literally out of this world locations in search of solitude. Vocabulary is slightly advanced for this audience (I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending, but pre-reading is a must) but the illustrations convey the meanings. Each locale has its own color scheme, which separates them from each other, but the double page spreads provide reference to how far the woman has gone in her search. Something totally unique and sure to spark conversation. How far and where do you go to be alone? Perfect pairing with Let Me Finish by Minh Lê.

Cat Knit

Cat Knit.jpgTitle: Cat Knit
Author/Illustrator: Jacob Grant
ISBN: 9781250051509
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Feiwel and Friends Book, an imprint of Macmillan, c2016.

Cat and Girl had always been good friends.
One day, Girl brought home a colorful new guest.
His name was Yarn.

Purple-furred Cat at first enjoys Yarn’s company, but then Girl “wanted to play with Yarn” and Yarn changes from a round red ball to a sweater for Cat. Cat does not appreciate this change, but when cold weather arrives he learns to accept his friend Yarn’s new form. Cat’s antics mimic the behavior of real cats, and his eyes show all his emotion as he glances with first mild interest, then joy, then anger, and finally reluctant acceptance at Yarn’s appearance and reappearance, although children unfamiliar with the concept of knitting and yarn crafts might need some explanation of exactly what happened. The last laugh is that Cat might have more to get used to than he originally thought. Girl was smart to buy a cat and sofa that matched in color, and digitally colored charcoal and crayon illustrations have a retro feel, with the focus placed solely on Cat.

Preaching to the Chickens

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Preaching to the Chickens.jpgTitle: Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
Author: Jabari Asim
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
ISBN: 9780399168567
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, c2016.

Like the ministers he heard in church, John wanted to preach, so he gathered his chickens in the yard.
John stretched his arms above his flock and let the words pour forth. The chickens nodded and dipped their beaks as if they agreed.

Before John Lewis became a civil rights activist, a protester, and a congressman, he was a boy on a farm in Pike County, Alabama. Caring for about sixty chickens, he got up early every day to feed them, water them, line their nests with straw, and preach to them. He cared for those chickens, even going so far as to naming them, and that concern for poultry would eventually translate to people he helped and professions he held. A gentle story that extols the attributes of practice, persistence, hard work and faith, the watercolors provide a hazy backdrop for the words to lay on, which would perfectly suit the reading on a porch swing looking across a foggy farmstead similar to John’s home at a steamy summer sunset. Slow down and invoke the attributes of a time where feeding the chickens was a right, a responsibility, and a privilege.

Red Hat

Red Hat.jpgTitle: Red Hat
Author/Illustrator: Lita Judge
ISBN: 9781442442320
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2013.

Pictures and unconscious inflections tell the story of a group of animals who see an opportunity to claim a hat, and seize it (both the opportunity and the hat). Little does the baby bear, the leader of the group, realize that his plan and the hat are slowly unraveling. With contributions from rabbits,  a raccoon and what looks like a porcupine, the baby bear is soon left with only long piece of yarn. Returning it proves problematic, but the original child seems unfazed, and final page shows that everyone gets their own knitted article of clothing. While reading aloud in a group setting might prove challenging, sharing in a more intimate setting the expressive illustrations, especially with a child who has their own prized piece of needlework, will certainly elicit giggles, but it should really have been turned into an animated short.

Flora and the Peacocks

Flora and the Peacocks.jpgTitle: Flora and the Peacocks
Author/Illustrator: Molly Idle
ISBN: 9781452138169
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Chronicles Books LLC, c2016.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous review, but Molly Idle’s background as a Dreamworks artist is evident in this wordless illustrated picture book following the further adventures of Flora, originally seen in the Caldecott Honor book Flora and the Flamingo and its sequel Flora and the Penguin. Continuing the use of a restricted color palette, Flora in this one is dressed in a blue outfit, with a wide band of green and a fan and flowers all a complementary yellow. Encountering a pair of peacocks, Flora makes friends with first one and then the other, but neither wants to share the friendship. Flora’s fan mimics the movements of the peacocks’ plumage, and their body language and facial features are so expressive (with the peacocks relying only on their eyes and several tufts of feathers on their heads) that no words are needed to decipher their intentions. It seems there are fewer fold outs than I remember in past titles in the series, but all except the massive one at the end mimic the fan shape. As this story shows, feathered friends can add to their flock, as long as everyone can share.

Nobody Likes a Goblin

nobody-likes-a-goblinTitle: Nobody Likes a Goblin
Author/Illustrator: Ben Hatke
ISBN: 9781626720817
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: First Second, c2016.

The adventurers took everything.
They took the gold. They took the maps, the books, the gems, and the scrolls.
And they took Skeleton.
So Goblin put on his crown and walked out into the wide world to find his friend. (unpaged)

Ben Hatke’s bright and colorful illustrations are beautiful, but unfortunately the story isn’t as fully realized as the drawings that accompany it. Readers are left with little rationale behind the adventurers’ actions, why nobody likes a goblin, or the goblin’s automatic approval of an unknown becoming their king. I sense influences from other stories (a long-bearded wizard leads a multi-race raiding party and a stolen goose is recovered) but none of the characters are given details that could confirm or deny these allusions. I appreciate the inclusion of a female adventurer and that the damsel in distress wields a sword during her rescue. I loved meeting Hatke at an event this past summer, and bought some of his artwork. This book feels like a collection of loosely related pictures that could have received more support through the narration. Several of my coworkers completely disagree and thoroughly enjoyed the book, so you may find more enjoyment in it than I did.

Monday is Wash Day

Monday is Wash Day.jpgTitle: Monday is Wash Day
Author: MaryAnn Sundby
Illustrator: Tessa Blackham
ISBN: 9780991386666
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Ripple Grove Press, c2016.

Rain or shine, Monday is wash day.

A quiet story of a family’s efforts to keep up with the wash, fans of Little House on the Prairie would greatly enjoy this slice of life story taking place during simpler times. It would also work well as an inter-generational read-aloud, where great-grandparents can discuss with their grandchildren what life was like for them when they were young. The unnamed narrator and her sister Annie (possibly twins) aid their mother and baby brother in washing, rinsing, and hanging to dry the clothes, all without the use of appliances.

The illustrations are stunning show stoppers! With hand-painted, cut paper collages, debut illustrator Blackham brings debut author Sundby’s story to life. Look closely enough and you’ll swear you see shadows being cast by the dog and cat as they scamper across the pages after the girls. The clothes flutter on the line, the rug is rumpled, and it certainly appears that the slats on the house are individual pieces! This was most certainly a labor of love. Tiny little clothes pins are photographed on a suspended line, adding dimension to the endpapers. Your own wash can wait, slow down and savor this story.

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