My Armchair Cybils Day of Reckoning Continues…
In which it is revealed that I read a lot more picture books than I normally review.
I had two more books in different categories that I didn’t get to reviewing: Belly Flop, a grpahic novel, and the easy reader Penny and her Marble.
Dream Friends by You Byun. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013.
Melody has a wonderful dream friend, a giant white cat who takes her on marvelous adventures while she’s sleeping. But she’s moved so often that she doesn’t have any real friends at the playground. When she closes her eyes and pretends she’s dancing with her dream friend, real children notice and ask to learn the dance, too. Soon she’s having a sleepover with a new friend, so they can both play with the dream cat. It’s beautifully illustrated with pen-and-ink in sherbet-like colors and a slight manga feel. My girl read it, left it for a couple weeks, and then went back to it.
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. Peter Piper Press, 2013.
Another wordless story, this time illustrated with awe-inspiring photographs of the hand-sewn Hank wandering through a wooly forest. He finds an egg, and spends the book trying to keep it warm and protected while he figures out a way to get the egg back to its high-up nest. The amount of labor to make all the scenes must have been incredible. The results are stunning and the story is heart-warming.
Happy Birthday, Bunny! by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Simon and Schuster, 2013.
Even, balanced rhymes in a question and answer format follow the story of a small bunny celebrating her birthday. It’s illustrated in soft pastel colors, though the picture-snapping adults in one scene still include a good proportion using cell phones. It’s very, very sweet. It feels aimed at about 2 and up; simpler than my four-year-old usually reads, but perfect for her to memorize and read back to herself, which she did, often.
Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Phillip Stead. Roaring Brook Press, 2013.
This was my daughter’s birthday present from some dear friends, and also the picture book I nominated. Stead uses few words to tell the story of a little bird named Ruby, and her attempts to make friends with other birds. It’s sweetly realistic, showing both successful and failed attempts, as well as friendships with birds like and unlike her. The paintings are charming. I loved it; I am not sure yet if my daughter is (very sadly) only so-so-about it, or if she’s just been distracted by the flood of other picture books I’ve been bringing in and her current Rapunzel obsession.
how to by Julie Morstad. Simply Read Books, 2013.
This book has amazing graphic design combined with beautiful, retro-feeling illustrations with lots of white space and deceptively simple text. “How to be fast” reads one page, showing kids running, biking, jumping across the page. “How to be slow” reads the next, showing a girl tummy-down in the grass, watching for insects. There’s a nice child-like sense of humor as kids wash their socks by jumping in a puddle, make a sandwich of floor cushions and themselves. I was entirely charmed by it, and surprised and delighted that my kids loved it, too.
Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013.
It’s the World War II Homefront. A boy learns how to knit, so he and his sister can compete boys against girls to see who can do the most knitting for soldiers. It’s illustrated with fun, retro-cartoon feeling pictures. I think it’s better for early elementary school, where kids are old enough to have heard of WWII. I really liked the list of places for charity knitting at the end.
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013
Miss Maple saves the seeds all winter long, keeping them safe and telling them stories. Then, in the spring, it’s time to let them go. This is another one that I loved that neither of my children really took to.
Moonday by Adam Rex. Disney Hyperion, 2013.
A dream-like story with realistic illustrations tells the story of the moon following a family home from a night-time drive. What happens when the moon is right there, filling up your whole backyard? Messed up sleep cycles, tides, and lots of barking dogs! This is quiet and whimsical, and appealed to both my children.
Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos. Illustrated by Joy Ang. Clarion Books, 2013.
Baby Billy is born with a mustache, and the nurse tells his confused family that it could turn out to be either a good-guy or a bad-guy mustache. It starts out good (much to the distress of his older siblings), but a stint with it as a bad-guy mustache ends up with poor Billy in baby jail. This one felt a little hollow to me, but my girl loved the bright pictures and the silly story.
Ollie and Claire by Tiffany Strelitz Heber. Philomel Books, 2012.
Ollie and Claire are two cute dog best friends who do the same things together every day. One day, Claire sees an ad posted: someone is looking for a companion to travel the world. She can’t resist, even though she knows she’ll miss her best friend. This is told in rhyming couplets that I thought might be annoying, but turned out to work well, along with the humorously drawn ink and watercolor illustrations, in this silly story with a deeper message about friendship.
Owly and Wormy: Bright Lights and Starry Nights! by Andy Runton Simon and Schuster, 2012.
Owly and his friend Wormy decide to go on a camping trip so they can see the stars better, but problems abound, including rain, lost telescopes, and bats. This is very like the Owly graphic novels, sweet and nearly wordless, but with a shorter storyline and glossy, full-color pictures. Both my kids and I loved it.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Greenwillow Books, 2013.
This is a fun, interactive book about the seasons and an apple tree for preschoolers. The reader is instructed to tap, rub, wiggle, or blow on the tree, which starts out a bare trunk, and the next page shows the effect – new leaves, buds, the petals fallen off, the fruit growing – all the way from spring until winter and the beginning of the next spring. It looks like a realistic painting of the tree trunk, with tissue paper cut-outs added to it for all the variations on the illustrations. It doesn’t have the silliness that makes There Are Cats in This Book work so well for a variety of ages, but it’s still a lovely and fun way for preschoolers to look at tree life cycles.
That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems. Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2013
We love Mo Willems! A group of ducklings watches a theater, where on stage a fox and a duck make plans to have dinner together. “That is not a good idea!” they keep shouting – and only at the very end is it clear for whom the warning is intended. Maybe the humor was too sophisticated for my then-three-year-old? In any case, it worked much better for the eight-year-old, who really liked the snarky humor.
Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Clarion Books, 2013.
Xander wants a party for his birthday – but he’s the only panda at the zoo. He sends out invitations to all the other bears – only to discover that koala isn’t a bear, but would still like to come. He doesn’t want anyone to feel left out, so his party gets bigger and bigger. This is brilliantly told, with rhyming invitations and main text full of play with the word sounds. I really loved it, and was shocked that it didn’t work for my daughter, who only let me read it to her once, even though we had it out of the library right around her birthday.
And since I’m out of time to give them their own post, here are the Graphics I’ve reviewed:
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
How to Fake a Moon Landing
March. Book One.
Soulless: the Manga. Vol 2.