Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Great Picture Book - Will Make You Smile

I suppose it's not politically correct to say I wasn't too sure about this book when I saw the title. But trust me, this is a book you and your kids will love.

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins is about Bruce, a bear that likes to keep to himself. He doesn't like sunny days, rainy days and above all cute little animals. You wouldn't be wrong to think he could be nominated for grump of the forest. But there is one thing Bruce does like: eggs. However, one fateful day the unexpected happens after his search for eggs, salmon, and honey. The eggs hatch! And Bruce becomes the victim of mistaken identity.

Not until lately have I found such great author/illustrators. What adult and child wouldn't laugh when there is an illustration of Bruce taking the hatched geese back to Mrs. Goose in a shopping basket no less. He wants to check out her return policy!

I'm so glad I didn't let my misconceived notions regarding the title keep me from reading this book. I would easily rate it 5 stars. And I plan to read more books by Ryan T. Higgins.

  • Disney Hyperion 2016

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grumpy Frog

While this book's text and illustrations are simple, there are many things that can be discussed after reading this story.  Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere starts with a happy frog that loves winning, hopping, and the color green. All other colors can easily turn him from happy to grumpy. But pink is his all-time worst color. While his friends are just fine with all colors, his reluctance to accept anything but green leaves him unable to join his friends when they are swimming (blue water), bouncing (yellow trampoline) and enjoying other things together. Frog holds tight to his thinking that all colors except green just don’t work for him and cause him to be grumpy. So he sits alone. Without friends. Convincing himself that he is fine. But will something help him change his mind? Or will he remain strong regarding his thoughts and feelings? And is there even a legitimate reason to feel happy and grumpy?

Though it is a very simple story with few words, the depth of discussion can be branched out in several layers and directions. And for very young children it can even be used to help identify colors.
This book was received by me and reviewed on NetGalley.
Publisher: Puffin 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lion Lessons

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I'm really excited to be finding so many good picture books to share. Lion Lessons by Jon Agee is one of the books at the top of my recommended list.

This book is so cute. But when I say that, it takes both text and good illustrations to make a picture book work. And this has both. When a little boy takes Lion Lessons he falls short of the teacher's expectations (a lion). His frightening poses and roar, among other things, just don't cut it. Will the boy pass the class? It doesn't look too promising. But maybe something will happen to warrant acting the part of a lion?

The illustrations are wonderful for both kids and adults since adult humor is thrown in here and there: Harvard School of Claw, the menu the lion shows to the boy, etc.

I totally recommend this since it should appeal to both adults (who get the privilege of reading these books over and over) and children.
Dial Books for Young Readers, A division of Penguin Young Readers Group 2016

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Stranger Danger

While it's disappointing that we find it necessary to teach "stranger danger", it doesn't appear to be something we can wish away. Fairytales Gone Wrong: Who's Bad and Who's Good, Little Red Riding Hood? by Steve Smallman and illustrated by Neil Price is a wonderful teaching tool.

When Little Red Riding Hood is asked to deliver cupcakes and soup to her grandma she is instructed to stay on the path and avoid talking to strangers. Then she is told to yell, tell a policeman or a person in a shop if she needs help. Of course, who should she meet but a wolf. New to the story, however, is a rabbit. And there is where the real story begins. The illustrations, colorful and fun, totally add to the story.

One thing both parents and teachers should like is the fact that the last page has some great discussion questions.
QED Publishing 2016

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Creating a Picture Book

As many parents know, it's terrible when a child loves a certain picture book but you have to mentally groan at the prospect of reading it one more time. I remember my mom laughing about a certain picture book that my daughter always wanted her to read. In retrospect, that book should have disappeared, although it was quite a popular title at the time. (I'm so glad we didn't have it at our house!)

One of the hard things a picture book author has to deal with is creating a book that is appealing to both adults and children. Although it seems like kids are pretty forgiving; it's the adults who can be hard to figure out. When I read a picture book and check the reviews, more often than not I'm pretty shocked. A book that I would easily mark as one star or less might be rated four or five stars by many reviewers. And of course, that works both ways. 

I've always found it helpful to read what's being published, but I've never done it to the degree I have lately. Surprisingly, I'm finding that many of the current books are very good. Something I haven't been able to say in the past.

I'd like to share some information that I hope is helpful, if you're planning on writing a picture book. How to Create a Fantastic Picture Book by Emma Blackburn. And this excerpt from Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.

While many think writing a picture book is pretty easy, and admittedly some books look like they . . . well, that's another story. But I'm finding it's hard to pass the test of trying to please agents, publishers, parents, and kids.

But it can be fun trying . . . 

Dragons: Father and Son

I promised I would be posting lots of recommended picture books, so I didn't want to let you down!

While Dragons: Father and Son by Alexandre Lacroix felt a little wordy the first time I read it, the second read through it felt just right. I think all of the text was necessary to the story.  There was only one part of the book that I really questioned, and that was when the son slightly stretched the truth when he returned to his Father.

When Father Dragon asks his son to go out and burn some of the village, which is a tradition in growing up, his son sets out to do just that. But the first house has a little boy looking out the window. It just doesn't seem right to destroy the house for no good reason, especially when the little boy races out of the house, delighted to see a real live dragon! But the boy has an idea, they can go burn down the schoolhouse, especially since he hasn't finished his homework.  As the story progresses the son is forced to evaluate tradition and whether he wants to return and disappoint his Father.

The illustrations add to the story with their colorful depiction of all the characters. And of course, dragons should be of interest to boys, for sure. Even though the book will appeal to girls, too.

The story itself can be read just for fun, but there is an obvious message that can be discussed. This is a good classroom read or individual book to share.
QED Publishing 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Book to Share!

I was excited to read another picture book by one of my favorite publishers: Kids Can Press.  Not all picture books meet everyone's criteria,  but I find most of their books click with my need for humor and great illustrations.

While the story of The Tiny Tale of Little Pea by Davide Cali, illustrated by Sebastian Mourrain, is not necessarily a humorous one,  the wonderful illustrations make you smile.  As you might guess,  The Tiny Tale of Little Pea is about a teeny-tiny baby.  A baby boy who wears discarded doll shoes, learns to swim in the sink and enjoys tightrope walking over the waste basket.  There are many cute illustrations showing him loving life in spite of his size.  That is until he starts school.  By comparison,  not much goes right for him at school,  so he sits alone drawing. We then move to Little Pea as a grown up,  which mainly means age not stature. He has a house,  but can he find a job?

This is a fun book just to enjoy reading,  but most would be remiss not to talk about acceptance of "different" people,  and the thought that hopefully all of us can find a place to put our talents and gifts to work.

I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. If you follow my posts at all, you know that's the only type of review I seem capable of writing. Which sometimes might not be a good thing! :-)

Kids Can Press 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two New Books To Share

I had every intention of posting information about writing this time, but I'm reading so many great picture books that I think that's what I'll be sharing for a little while.

Grumpy Pants, illustrated and written by Clair Messer, is a very simple book about a penguin who is in a grumpy mood, something everyone deals with at one time or another. This book has very few words on each page, allowing children to focus on the cute illustrations depicting Penguin's grumpy attitude. This book feels geared to a young audience. But the lesson really applies to everyone: It's okay to be grumpy; the important thing is how we handle grumpiness.
And Penguin finds a way that works for him.

Albert Whitman & Company 2016

Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin is for sure a winner! This time Duck has found a pencil. When Farmer Brown asks his brother to watch the farm while he goes on vacation, Duck makes sure that Bob, Farmer Brown's brother, gets some interesting instructions regarding taking care of the animals. The animals enjoy pizza that Bob orders in for them, and Bob is instructed to wash the pigs with bubble bath and to dry them off with Farmer Brown's good towels. The animals are having a great time with the instructions Duck has created, but how long can it last?

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Since I'm finding such good books, watch for my next post. I'll have two or three more to share.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dog On A Frog?

The library must think I'm running a preschool. I've been reading stacks and stacks of picture books for two reasons. One, I want to see what is being published. Two, I love sharing books with other readers.

Dog On A Frog? by Kes & Claire Gray and illustrated by Jim Field is a book I think kids will love. The cute rhymes and humorous illustrations are perfect for reading aloud with PreK-2.

It all starts when Frog has a problem with dogs sitting on frogs. But when cat agrees that dogs sit on frogs, Frog decides to change the rules. "From now on, dogs sit on logs, and not frogs!" And so the rhyming begins. The book is filled with illustrations that all kids should love and a fun ending.

Published 2016 by Scholastic Press