Here I am belatedly reviewing some picture books that came my way last year, because just because 2020 was rough doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hear about these fun books, both stressing the power of staying true to yourself to make change in the world.
Odd Dog Out
by Rob Biddulph.
ISBN 978-0062367266. Review copy kindly received from the publisher.
In a world of Dachsunds who all dress alike, appropriate to the situation, one dog stands out for her flamboyant dress. Though her outfits are cheerful and expressive, it’s hard being the only one different. Rhyming text describes her traveling across the country to a place where she fits right in – but is that really what she wants? The art is bright and detailed enough to warrant closer looks. This light-hearted story is one that my daughter, despite being mostly a middle grade reader at this point, returned to multiple times and refused to let me donate to the school library (the ultimate fate of most of my finished review copies.)
Ronan the Librarian written by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie. Illustrated by Victoria Maderna.
Roaring Brook Press, 2020.
ISBN 978-1250189219. Review copy kindly received from the author.
In a Norse-inspired but multi-ethnic barbarian world, Ronan is known for his raiding, looting, and fighting. When he discovers a trunk full of books and figures out how to read them, he falls in love with reading. But barbarians aren’t supposed to read! While still continuing to raid, now looking for books, Ronan battles expectations for barbarian behavior. And when he’s amassed enough book treasure, naturally the next step would be to start a library. But can he interest a horde of barbarians in a library?
In strict historical accuracy, the Norse society this book is very loosely based on was more literate than the English and European societies they raided – and the Norse did not have horns on their helmets. But this reservation is just for the record, as historical accuracy is not at all the point here. The story, with loose and lively painted art (at least by look) hits just the right level of silliness to make for a very fun read-aloud. And, as our culture is definitely prejudiced against men reading, especially those who are active or athletic, I am really happier to teach modern children that reading is for everyone through humor and save the actual history for later. All in all, charming, especially for fantasy- and history-loving families. I think my own children would have wanted multiple readings had it been out when they were small!