Posts tagged ‘National Picture Book Month’

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.

Quit Calling Me a Monster!

Quit Calling Me a Monster.jpgTitle: Quit Calling Me A Monster
Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Bob Shea
ISBN: 9780385389907
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, c2016.

Quit calling me a monster!

In this tongue-and-cheek criticism, purple furred Floyd Peterson (who looks like a cousin It with limbs, facial features, and a bad dye job) insists that people refrain from calling him a monster. He’s frustrated that just because he hides under beds, makes noises when sleeping in your closet, and admits “technically” IS a monster, doesn’t mean you can’t call him by his name. Several lessons could be covertly gleaned from the book, including name calling is not nice, words can have different meanings, and confronting/naming your fear can make things less scary. Floyd’s bright purple fur means he pops regardless of what solid colored background illustrator Bob Shea places him on. The choice to give Floyd a snazzy bowler and matching bow-tie certainly makes him less scary than other monsters we could meet, and the roaring and snoring necessary for an enjoyable monster story is included.

Warning Do Not Open This Book

Warning Do Not Open This Book.jpgTitle: Warning: Do Not Open This Book
Author: Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrator: Matthew Forsythe
ISBN: 9781442435827
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2013.

Maybe you should put this book back.
You don’t want to let the monkeys out.

Meta-fiction featuring monkeys!? As readers progress through the story, not only do they let out the monkeys (who paint their own scenery to swing from) but also troublesome toucans and a very rampaging alligator. There’s only one thing left to do: set a trap and hope they end up back inside the book. With a satisfying direction on the back endpapers, children will love slamming the book shut, only to release the creatures again with the inevitable reread. The color scheme reminds me of Jon Klassen’s hat series, with rustic reds, muddy greens and mustard yellows, and very little background except for what the monkeys create. In fact, there is one monkey in possession of a hat that is reminiscent of Klassen’s, and gets stolen by a toucan. The beginning endpapers set the mood as Lemony Snicket meets Mo Willems fashion, cautioning danger ahead which children will enthusiastically ignore. Add this one to your next monkey themed event.

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion.jpgTitle: Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
Author/Illustrator: Alex T. Smith
ISBN: 9780545914383
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., c2016.

This is Little Red. Today she is going to be gobbled up by a lion.
This is the Lion! (Well, that’s what he thinks is going to happen anyway.)

Little Red’s aunt wakes up covered in spots, so Little Red heads off past a handful of African animals to deliver spot medicine, her frizzy black pigtails bobbing on top of her African-American head. Upon meeting with the lion, Lion races ahead, locks Auntie Rosie in the cupboard, and attempts to fool Little Red. Little Red though is MUCH smarter than her original counterpart, and is “going to teach the naughty Lion a lesson” … by doing his hair, teeth, and changing his clothes? This debut author’s saccharine ending becomes a didactic lesson in manners, which completely undermines any attempt at ferociousness on the lion’s part. The very last page makes a last ditch effort at adding humor to the story, with mixed results. The primarily red and yellow hued illustrations add more humor than the text, with Lion’s mane being braided into multiple strands that pinwheel out of his head and are capped with little bows. In a clever use of page orientation, readers must flip the book sideways to read the text as Little Red peers into the lion’s open jaw. An uneven adaptation of the classic Red Riding Hood tale. If you’re looking for a very hungry creature, stick with Carle’s Caterpillar or Wood’s Big Hungry Bear.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

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.

Tell Me a Tatoo Story.jpgTitle: Tell Me a Tattoo Story
Author: Alison McGhee
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
ISBN: 9781452119373
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books LLC, c2016.

You wanna see my tattoos?
Why, little man, you always want to see my tattoos. Here we go then.

Pastel pens and watercolors depict the meanings behind a father’s many tattoos. He tells very short stories (more like explanations) of reading with his mother, meeting and marrying his wife, traveling overseas in the military, and finally one commemorating the birth of his son. Several of the tattoos seen aren’t explained, providing the possibility of readers developing their own story behind the ink. Portraying a rarely depicted portion of the population, it’s refreshing to see an inked father doing dishes instead of the stereotyped selling drugs or getting arrested. A necessary addition to collections, especially those serving less conservative populations.

Quest

November Picture Book MonthNovember is Picture Book Month! I participated in it’s inaugural year in 2012, skipped it in 2013, but now I’m back and hopefully staying ahead and on top of all the themes, discussions, and promotions regarding picture books. You can find a calendar of suggested themes and author/illustrators for the entire month. First up today is a look at Aaron Becker’s newest picture book. Some of you might remember my look at his Caldecott Honor debut. Quest continues the story and the wordless format that got him previously recognized. Stay tuned for more picture books as we celebrate.

Quest BeckerTitle: Quest
Series: Journey Trilogy #2
Author/Illustrator: Aaron Becker
ISBN: 9780763665951
Pages: unnumbered
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2014.

The boy and girl from the Caldecott Honor winning book Journey are back in the second wordless book in the trilogy. This time, they are approached by a mysterious man, who has only enough time to thrust an orange crayon and a map at them before whisked back into the world he came from. Following his capture, the duo discover themselves on a quest to claim the rainbow and save the king. From the depths of the sea to the forests and mountains, they have to be careful to avoid the king’s captors who are pursuing their every move.

The panoramic views of the lands are stunning, with the castles and temples reminding me of David Macaulay’s work. However, the pictures of the kids working together and drawing escape plans are jarring when not placed in context with the beautiful background landscapes that capture the readers imagination through the rest of the story. The first time it happens it at least can be justified because it’s focusing on them. The subsequent times however you can’t see what they are drawing on and it pulled me out of the story as if the artist ran out of time instead of what I can only assume was an intentional decision. It looks like the characters stumbled into some free fall and are drawing things out of thin air (pardon the pun).

Readers also don’t witness any rationale behind the other locations where the other items are searching for are being kept. The plot seems a little sketchy. There’s the captured king and his subjects, the evil guy from the first book and his minions, and the two kids. These items they’re recovering seem to have some significance for the various cultures they are found in, but we don’t see the people the items should be attached to. The ending also goes unexplained, and while older kids might be interested in narrating and forming their own conclusions, some others might feel just as confused as I am when asked “What happened?” Obviously this book is too abstract for my personal tastes. Does anyone else prefer Journey over Quest?

Bears

The Picture Book Month calendar included Bears as a theme on Nov. 7th. I do at least one bear themed storytime around this time every year. Sometimes, I do more than one, first pairing them with hibernation/sleeping themes, while other times it’s just bears. There are so many great books about bears out there, but the ones I’m featuring today are the ones I used just recently for an outreach visit to several classrooms of preschool and kindergarten kids.

Title: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Author: Michael Rosen
Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury

If you work with young children and you don’t know this book and/or song, SHAME ON YOU! Go out and pick up a copy and learn it right now. And then, check out Michael Rosen’s rendition of the song on Youtube. And then, if you still can, pick up a copy of the pop-up book. Yes, there is a pop-up book floating around out there. It’s absolutely beautiful, simply done but with very sturdy construction for multiple story times. The kids are fascinated by it and I always get questions and comments like “The dog’s going the wrong way” and “The baby’s on the dad’s shoulders” and “Where’s the mom?” and “What does that tab do?” Yes there is no skipping any of the pull-tabs on this one, because your eagle-eyed audience will notice and make you go back and demonstrate what each one does again and again. You need this book, but if you can still track it down, splurge and get the pop-up version, with the swirling snow and the tripping children. You’ll thank me later.

Title: A Visitor for Bear
Author: Bonny Becker
Illustrator: Kady MacDonald Denton

No wonder it got an E.B. White Read Aloud Award. This book begs to be enthusiastically read aloud, although I will warn you that it’s my longest book on this list and it takes a full fifteen minutes sometimes to get through. But the kids will be intrigued by how the mouse keeps getting into the house of this reclusive bear who just wants to eat his breakfast. There are a few repetitive lines that the older kids will pick up immediately and will help you fill in the blanks if you let them. This is another book where kids pipe up with their opinions chastising the bear for turning the mouse away in the beginning and remarking on the “hanging thing” from the bears mouth when he shouts to the mouse to “BEGONE!” And a great vocabulary lesson awaits for readers wondering what “impossible! Intolerable! Insufferable” mean.

Title: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
Author: Don and Audrey Wood
Illustrator: Don Wood

I quite often joke that the title is longer than the actual book, but the Woods pair up for what has become a classic, since my copy boasts a 1984 copyright date. It’s held up remarkably well over the years, and I’m sure scores of librarians and teachers have used this in their storytimes. It tells the story of a little mouse trying to keep his strawberry (that he JUST picked) away from the big hungry bear. We never see the big hungry bear, although in a stroke of design genius we do see the bear’s shadow on the back cover. Proving that you can still look at things in a different perspective, I had one little boy remark that it was the bear who was telling the story. I’m not sure if I agree with him, but he brought up an interesting idea to talk about point of view using this book, and see how many other readers shared his opinion. Great graphics lend themselves to laughter as the mouse tries again and again to hide, disguise, and guard his strawberry, and if you look closely you’ll see relics of each attempt scattered throughout the following pages.

Title: A Splendid Friend Indeed
Author/Illustrator: Suzanne Bloom

Suzanne Blooms series about a goose and a polar bear is different from the rest in several ways. First, it features a polar bear, while most bear stories feature the traditional brown or dark-colored bear. Second, he’s paired with a goose, and the two incompatible creatures end up becoming wonderful companions. Thirdly, the story is told entirely in dialogue, which I’m always impressed by when I stumble across it. Usually the books talk to the readers with third person or first person narration, but in this one Goose and Bear talk directly to each other, without a single “he said” or “she said”. It takes a mature group of children to decipher Bear’s frustrations and Goose’s attention seeking behavior solely by the pictures, but when they do catch on it’s like magic. Due to the simple sentence structure, I usually save it for younger audiences, because although as I said some of it might go over their head, the simplistic drawings are eye-catching to all.

Title: Bear Snores On
Author: Karma Wilson
Illustrator: Jane Chapman

Wilson’s rhymes are longer than most picture books, but it rarely falters as Bear snores on through the slowly building gathering taking place in his cave. It’s when a stray pepper flake gets up his nose and results in a humongous sneeze that the animals freeze and are scared of what Bear’s reaction will be. No worries, since it all ends happily, but Wilson knows how to build suspense with the Bear gnashing and growling at being woken up early. Surrounded by forest creatures, Bears friendship will continue, as this debut book for Karma Wilson turned into a gold mine as she continues the series with “Bear Says Thanks,” Bear Wants More” and several others.

So what about you? What bear books can you never “bare” to be far from?

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