Posts tagged ‘Picture Books’

The Wolf the Duck and the Mouse

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.

Wolf the Duck and the Mouse.jpgTitle: The Wolf The Duck and the Mouse
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
ISBN: 9780763677541
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2017.

Jon Klassen’s signature style of mixed-media illustrations carry the story of a mouse and a duck who have been swallowed whole by a wolf. Life on the inside isn’t as bad as it may seem because as the duck reveals to the mouse: “When I was outside, I was afraid every day wolves would swallow me up. In here, that’s no worry.” Their unconventional life (after-life?) in the wolf’s stomach is threatened by a hunter, who is intent on killing the wolf. The ending (I haven’t seen it spoiled yet, so I won’t be the first to ruin the surprise) provides a fable like rationale behind the wolf’s howling habits. The humor comes from the details and the deadpan, inexpressive portrayals of all the characters, with faces that almost never change. More mind-bending humor that we’ve come to expect from this prolific pair.

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The Antlered Ship

Antlered Ship.jpgTitle: The Antlered Ship
Author: Dashka Slater
Illustrators: The Fan Brothers (Terry Fan and Eric Fan)
ISBN: 9781481451604
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2017.

“The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.”

That vague, open-ended, almost benign statement begins the tale of a fox named Marco, who is keen on having an adventure and finding the answers to all of life’s questions. A flock of pigeons and Marco join the crew of three deer, sailing towards a “wonderful island, with tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees. When we get there, we’ll eat a delectable dinner.” Along the way they encounter crashing waves, hunger, pirates and more questions without answers for Marco. How the animals built the vessel much less operate it is one of my questions that goes unanswered. The ship, while beautifully drawn in graphite and pen and “colored digitally”, looks more akin to human design than animal, including the elaborately designed animal figureheads on the bow. It’s beautiful, but it’s probably geared for a much more contemplative audience than what I typically select for myself or for other patrons. You’ll need to consider readership when recommending this title, as the plot is restrained and if the book is meant to have a moral, like Marco’s answers it is too understated for me to find.

In the Middle of Fall

In the Middle of Fall.jpgTitle: In the Middle of Fall
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Laura Dronzek
ISBN: 9780062573117
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, c2017.

This book is perfect for a seasonal story time, and I wish I had discovered it sooner in the year when it would have been appropriate to share and read aloud. The whole story is told in two sentences drawn out over multiple pages that evocatively detail the signs of the season: “air is chilly / and the squirrels are frisky / […] and the pumpkins are ready / and the apples are like ornaments.” Dronzek’s paints pop from the page, reflecting the vibrant oranges, reds and yellows that Henkes describes. The squirrels look fat and friendly like Tafuri’s, the opening scene of the tree reminds me of Fall is Not Easy and the middle scene of the shaggy-haired white child with a brown dog leaning against a wall evokes a classic scene of contemplation, that might have readers drawing comparisons to Charlie Brown. Even in the monochromatic scene accompanying the “gardens are brown” description, Dronzek draws in readers with over-sized sunflowers being harvested by a mouse and a brilliant yellow bird. The message of fleeting memories and short-lived seasons is a gentle reminder that changes will happen and good things can be found even as we remember the things that have passed. Keep this one in mind for next fall, or squeeze it in now before the snow arrives in earnest. I don’t think readers would mind stretching the seasons.

The Monsters’ Monster

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.

Monsters' Monster.jpgTitle: The Monsters’ Monster
Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
ISBN: 9780316045476
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., c2012.

Together they would make a MONSTER monster. The biggest, baddest monster EVER!

Grouch, Grump, Gloom ‘n’ Doom are monsters that live in “a dark monster castle, high atop a dark monster mountain, overlooking a monster-fearing village.” To settle an argument over who was the biggest, baddest monster, instead of choosing among themselves they decide to pool their ideas and resources and build one. Monster is the result of this teamwork, obviously drawing inspiration from the 1931 classic movie Frankenstein. But Monster is neither big nor bad, and the original trio/quartet (Gloom ‘n’ Doom are two heads on one body) are sorely disappointed. Obviously standing out with his green head and oversized body and his less violent attitude as compared to the other primarily white and orange-brown creatures, Monster has by the end won them over to his way of thinking. With frenetic and funny word use, it’s a great read-aloud to share this Halloween for kids of all ages.

Cockatoo, Too and Toucans, Too

Cockatoo Too.jpgTitle: Cockatoo, Too
Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
ISBN: 9781499801026
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Little Bee Books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Group, c2016.

 

 

 

Toucans Too.jpg

 

 

 

 

Title: Toucans, Too
Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
ISBN: 9781499804218
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Little Bee Books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing, c2017.

A pair or two of two cockatoos, two toucans, and in the end of the second book two gnus dance to their own tune of homophone words and phrases. Tutus, cans of stew, and canoes play a role in this wonderful wordplay, and cuckoos and owls (“WHO?”) make an appearance. The author’s bio mentions a fascination with Seuss at a young age, and that inspiration is evident in the fun. While the story isn’t action packed and younger children might be slightly confused, elementary aged children learning rhymes and word sounds might enjoy hearing it read aloud, if only for the silliness. I’m no art expert, but I’m pretty sure the illustrations are water color and ink. They portray a vibrant forest background, and overlaying the words on a generous white footer allows for easy visibility and readability. Tata you two toucans and cockatoos, until hopefully a third showing.

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective

Whobert Whover.jpgTitle: Whobert Wover, Owl Detective
Author: Jason Gallaher
Illustrator: Jess Pauwels
ISBN: 9781481462716
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2017.

Whobert Whover, owl detective, is patrolling the forest when he sees Perry the possum dead on the ground. Or is he? Astute readers will see Perry’s eyes open during Whobert’s examination of Perry and interrogation of nearby animals. The culprit of his feigned demise is someone Whobert would never expect as he jumps from one false conclusion to another with little or no evidence. Brightly colored illustrations dedicate a single color to each animal. I wish the jaunty clothing seen on the cover was included in the story. Perry’s final reaction and Whobert’s continued cluelessness seems overly dramatic, perfect for the story time crowd.

Imagine That

Imagine That.jpgTitle: Imagine That
Author/Illustrator: Yasmeen Ismail
ISBN: 9781681193625
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2017 (US edition), originally published in Great Britain in 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing Pic

Lila’s mother repeatedly asks her what she is doing, and consistently receives the response “Nothing”. Her actions though are far from ordinary, as in her imagination she is off wrestling with an octopus, performing in a circus, scaling a tower Godzilla style. Sometimes little snippets of reality in the form of her mitten minders leach into her imaginings, but not always. Her imaginings are relayed in rhyme, either couplets or alternating rhymes, and that inconsistency might call for practice before reading aloud. Although Grandpa and Mom ask Lila the same type of questions, Lila only invites Grandpa into her imaginative play, which makes me feel bad for Lila’s mother whose frustrations seem to grow with every interaction with her daughter. A strangely abrupt and didactic conclusion does not do the story any favors. I seem to be in a minority as it receives rave reviews elsewhere online, but I felt that there are other, more imaginative books about imagination available.

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