Posts tagged ‘Dogs’

There Might Be Lobsters

There Might Be Lobsters.jpgTitle: There Might Be Lobsters
Author: Carolyn Crimi
Illustrator: Laurel Molk
ISBN: 9780763675424
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2017.

Lots of things at the beach scared Sukie. Lots.

Eleanor brings her dog Sukie to the beach, along with Sukie’s loyal toy chimp Chunka Munka. Sukie is not as enthusiastic to be at the beach, and is essentially an Eeyore-esque worrier, about everything from getting hurt to lobsters. Ever patient Eleanor eventually abandons all efforts to get Sukie in the water with her, but everything changes when Chunka Munka gets swept up by a wave and Sukie must save her friend. A triumphant smile graces her muzzle for the rest of the story. Laurel Molk’s watercolors and Carolyn Crimi’s text refrains from making the beach trip scary, keeping the illustrations light and airy and Sukie’s fears are never discounted or criticized, with only minor frustration conveyed by Eleanor at her dog’s uncertainty. Although Sukie seems afraid of the beach ball and water, she doesn’t seem especially distressed at being there, which I interpret as a lesson that you can still have a good time and appreciate the company and event even if you don’t partake in the same activities as everyone else.

A Greyhound A Groundhog

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.

Greyhound A Groundhog.jpgTitle: A Greyhound A Groundhog
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Chris Appelhans
ISBN: 9780553498066
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

A hound.
A round hound.
A greyhound.
A hog.
A round hog.
A groundhog. (unpaged)

Wordplay is the name of the game in this simply told tongue twister of a story featuring the titular characters romping through a field together and ultimately startling butterflies into the air. Appelhans’ watercolor and pencil illustrations feature minimalist backgrounds that contribute to the charm, with the round beady eyes staring at you from the pages and capturing your attention as the brindled hog and Merle dog enjoy the simple things in life. Made for sharing on a clear spring day, it’s begging to be followed by finding your own dog (or hog) for romping recreation, and a satisfied collapse in a heap, just like the characters.

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have

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.

Dog that Nino Didn't Have.jpgTitle: The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have
Author: Edward van de Vendel
Translator: Laura Watkinson
Illustrator: Anton Van Hertbruggen
ISBN: 9780802854513
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Originally published in Belgium in 2013 under the title Het hondje dat nino niet had by Uitgeverij De Eenhoorn BVBA, c2013.
First published in the United States in 2015 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

An unusual book that tells the story of Nino’s dog, who happens to be imaginary. You know this initially by Van Hertbruggen’s retro drawings that portray a light-colored dog with dark spots that readers literally see through. Then the text reveals that everyone else has trouble seeing this creature. When Nino finally gets a real dog, it’s different than the one he imagined, but that’s okay because this lonely boy can still find joy in both the real and imaginary creatures he calls friends. The final double-paged spread showcases all these animals watching over Nino as he sleeps. The beautiful pictures help readers decipher the sparse but carefully worded text, and I’m curious to learn what children’s reactions have been. This is not a book to be read quickly, but slowly and reflectively, possibly before bed time.

Friday Feature — Having a Ball!

Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

I noticed a trend recently in picture books where balls played an important role in the story. So I gathered up some for my monthly visit to the local preschool and we had a ball!

Watch Me Throw the BallTitle: Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Author: Mo Willems
Series: Elephant and Piggie

Anyone who hasn’t heard of Elephant and Piggie by now who works with young children should run right out and grab one (or multiple titles). Elephant insists that it takes hard work to throw a ball, but Piggie has other ideas and extravagantly celebrates his success. Or, what he thinks is his success, since really the ball has been unintentionally thrown backwards and Piggie can’t see the result of his wind-up. Gerald does, and out of frustration finally gets Piggie to understand that the ball did not go around the world. Piggie though is unfazed, and he reassures Gerald that although he didn’t throw it far, he still had fun, with the subtle moral coming across loud and clear. Stick around for the surprise ending as Gerald then celebrates his “successful” ball throwing skills. Even the littlest kids understood what was going on and the room was filled with giggles at the realization that they were in on the joke.

BallTitle: Ball
Author/Illustrator: Mary Sullivan

This newly published book is less well-suited for story time in that it only features the single word title throughout all of its pages. However, the expressive illustration carry the story beautifully as a dog wakes a girl and plays with a ball repeatedly until the girl leaves for school, with a purple bag slung over her shoulder as the dog dejectedly looks on, ball hanging from its mouth. After soliciting the mother in a yoga pose and outfit, a baby in a bassinet who bursts into tears, and the cat who wants nothing to do with the dog, the dog finally drifts off to sleep and dreams of different scenarios featuring the well-loved toy. I’ll be honest, I skipped over those because I thought I would lose my younger audience with those scenes. Eventually, the dog pricks up its ears because, yes, thank you, the girl has finally returned and is more than happy to play with her pouch, ending the story with a satisfying “BALL!”

Duck and GooseTitle: Duck and Goose
Author/Illustrator: Tad Hills
Series: Duck and Goose

This is a not so new book that also allows readers to be in on the joke long before the title characters. Duck and Goose discover what they think is an egg, and after each tries to claim it as their own, the find themselves in a face off sitting on the spherical, spotted object. They finally find common ground as they talk about teaching whatever hatches how to fly and swim. A little blue bird disrupts their contemplative stance, but also points out that maybe things aren’t as they seem, especially to these oblivious animals. Friends are made in the end, and it’s quite obvious from the cover that this very obvious case of mistaken identity is improbable but enjoyable all the same.

Stick!Title: Stick!
Author: Andy Pritchett

Throwing kids a “curve ball” (the preschool staff laughed), I ended the story about a dog and his stick. Similar in scope to Ball, this book features only a half-dozen words that are repeated throughout the book. Pritchett’s brightly colored backgrounds and minimal details contrast nicely against Sullivan’s more muted pastel colored palette. The excitable dog (who reminds me of Snoopy with his white body and black floppy ears) offers a stick to a cow, a chicken, and a pig who all refuse his overtures for grass, worms, and mud respectively. Flopping down with a storm cloud over his head and a gray background, he throws the stick in frustration… and it comes back with a “Clunk!”. It’s another dog, this one brown, who joins the original character, and the other three animals soon join them after peering around the pages to see what the excitement is about. A satisfying “Friend?” ends the story with the animals playing a catch type game. The animals initial responses are shown in the book before the word is produced via a page turn, which gives I think offers kids a unique connection opportunity to see that they were right about the animal’s predicted response.

Books I didn’t use:
Peanut and Fifi Have a BallTitle: Peanut and Fifi Have a Ball
Author: Randall de Seve
Illustrator: Paul Schmid

While I love the idea of incorporating imagination into a story time, the color palette was very similar to Mary Sullivan’s Ball with the peach and soft blues making up most of the story. I loved the girls’ responses to each other, mimicking the fleeting nature of ideas as Fifi springs from one thought to the next, and Peanut is ever the realist until the very end. When trying to convince Peanut to share her ball, Fifi imagines it’s identity as a basketball, needing a hat, serving as a crystal ball, becoming dough, and finally balancing on the nose of a seal. Peanut’s responses, on the other hand, include “My ball doesn’t need a hat”, “Check the closet” and “Just a ball.” It would serve it’s purpose well on a rainy afternoon that requires imagination.

Ball for DaisyTitle: A Ball for Daisy
Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka
This Caldecott winning wordless book was very similar to Ball and Stick in both its plot line (dog finds a friend to play with) and it’s language (it is wordless). Even the pictures of the dog are similar, with both Stick and A Ball for Daisy featuring a white dog with black ears making a new friend in the form of a brown dog. While the pictures are beautiful, I’d had enough of the limited vocabulary dog books, and decided to pass on this one and go for the newer titles that they hopefully hadn’t seen yet. That’s not to discount it, it was just too much of the same for this story time.

What books do you roll over about?

Elvis and the Underdogs

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new 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.

Elvis and the UnderdogsTitle: Elvis and the Underdogs
Author: Jenny Lee
ISBN: 9780062235541
Pages: 300 pages
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, c2013.
Publication Date: May 14, 2013

“Hi, doggy. My name is Benji. What’s your name, huh?”
The dog opened his mouth again. I thought he was going to lick the other half of my face, but instead he said, “Very nice to meet you, Benji. My name is Parker Elvis Pembroke IV. You may call me Parker Elvis Pembroke. Or Mr. Pembroke, if you prefer. So . . . this place is much smaller than I imagined.”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, did I just read that correctly? Did he say the dog talked? Well, I’m here to tell you that you did read correctly, and yes, the dog did talk, and that’s exactly what he said, word for word. But if you’re surprised, you should be, because when it happened, I was just as surprised as you are. So much so that I didn’t even know what to say. My first thought was that the twins were playing a joke on me, and my second thought was that perhaps I was having some weird allergic reaction to the dog, and my third thought was that I’d imagined the whole thing, because I’m a pretty smart kid and I know that dogs do not talk! […]
And then I fainted. (72-74)

Ten-year-old Benji was born premature and as a result is small for his age, has lots of allergies, faints frequently, and finds himself at the hospital more often than school. The doctor offers Benji an ultimatum; wear an ugly padded helmet everywhere or get a therapy dog. When the dog arrives, it’s not a cute, furry creature but a 200 pound, two feet tall, TALKING Newfoundland named Parker Elvis Pembroke IV, who Benji promptly nicknames Elvis. Only Benji can understand him, which might not be as great as it sounds since bossy Elvis was destined for the White House and is unimpressed with his current situation. Both Benji and Elvis struggle to make sense of this mix-up and determine who’s really top dog. But will Elvis come through for Benji when it matters the most?

A Ball for Daisy

The first artist featured on the Picture Book Month calendar is two-time Caldecott Medal Winner Chris Raschka. I’m trying to keep pace with the calendar and blog about either the person or the theme featured each day of this month on the calendar. Some days I might even be able to do both.

Title: A Ball for Daisy
Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka
ISBN: 9780375858611
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. c2011.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read Raschka’s Caldecott winning book about a dog and her ball until today. I realize many will think I’m a horrible librarian because of it, but I’m going to admit that I’m much more drawn to details in pictures than I am the rough, bare-bones pictures. So when I saw the cover when the awards were announced, I kind of went “it’s cute” and moved on. Maybe that’s how Chris Raschka intended it, since he writes in his guest post today over at the Picture Book Month website:

“I always try to treat the book itself as the artwork,” Chris Raschka says. “I don’t want you to stop while you’re reading one of my books and say, ‘Oh! What a gorgeous illustration!’ I want you to stop at the end of the book and say, ‘This is a good book.’ ”

Once you get past the cover, I was right, it is cute. I think the page that finally got me to stop and really look at the drawings was the two page spread [spoiler alert] after the ball pops and Daisy goes through all these emotions. And Raschka portrays them without a single word, and does it beautifully, in spite of or maybe regardless of the wordless nature of the story. Because we now see Daisy (which we only know is her name because of the title) looking at the ball quizzically, trying to determine what happened, and then slowly coming to that realization and looking so forlorn as a result.

It’s traumatic to her, and we see that on the following pages as she trudges slowly home, big floppy ears that used to be so animated now drooping. Her posture has sunken, and she can’t get comfortable on the couch because she misses her ball. A new blue ball quickly resolves the problem, and Daisy forgets about the red ball from the moment she spots it. Raschka obviously and accurately portrays the dog’s fickle nature of one ball is as good as another, especially when the alternative is no ball at all.

So in its own way the pictures are detailed in that we know exactly what’s going on in the story. Maybe these pictures are even more detailed than other illustrators’ works of art because they need the assistance of words to tell the story. But while I like the story and the pictures, I don’t think I would have instantly thought “Award winner” if I had seen the book outside of that context. But he is right, in that I do find myself saying by the end of it “That was a good book.”

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