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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 21 min 37 sec ago

Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes, illus. by Yuyi Morales

Mon, 2015-01-12 00:01

This Halloween tale starts off a little scary, but ends with humor that dispels the creepy mood. Skeletons, ghosts, zombies, a werewolf, and other monsters gather for a ball on Halloween night, but flee when the trick-or-treaters arrive: “The thing that monsters most abhor/Are human niños at the door!/Of all the horrors they have seen, /The worst are kids on Halloween!” The text includes a generous sprinkling of Spanish words, but most of the English equivalents appear nearby, so the meanings are clear. There is also a glossary provided at the back. This book is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and shouldn’t be limited to bilingual storytime use only. The painterly illustrations, each a full-bleed double-page spread, evoke a haunted night with muted colors and slightly blurred outlines. Use for a Kindergarten storytime at Halloween. The author was born in Puerto Rico, but moved around a lot as a child because her father was in the military. In addition to English and Spanish, she also spoke French. The illustrator, Yuyi Morales, had many different dreams before she became an artist. She describes herself this way on her website, http://www.yuyimorales.com/me.htm: “I tried to be a psychic; I wanted to move things with my mind. I practiced to be an acrobat too—and broke many things at home. Then I grew and became an artist and a writer. Oh, well.”

Check the WRL catalog for Los Gatos Black on Halloween.

 


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Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie de Paola

Fri, 2015-01-09 00:01

Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile, by Tomie de Paola, is the adventure of Bill, a crocodile, and his friend Pete, a bird, as they go on a field trip with their class down the Nile.  In their adventure, they run into Mr. Bad Guy and have to try to thwart his plans to steal the The Sacred Eye of Isis.

This book is a fun additional adventure to de Paola’s Bill and Pete series.  This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.

If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Cornelius: A Fable by Leo Lionni or the original Bill and Pete by Tomie de Paola

Check the WRL catalog for Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile.


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The Elephant from Baghdad by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris, illus. by Jon Cannell

Wed, 2015-01-07 00:01

The Elephant from Baghdad, by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris, tells the tale of Charlemagne and his white albino elephant Abu, who was a gift from the caliph of Baghdad.  This book, “written” by Notker the Stammerer, Charlemagne’s real life biographer, tells of Charlemagne’s travels to and from Baghdad and his relationship with Abu.  In addition to the illustrations, this book includes photographs of artifacts from Charlemagne’s era.

This would be a great book to read to a child who is interested in medieval history.  It shows the similarities and differences between Germany and Baghdad during the medieval period.  This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.

If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Twenty-one Elephants by Phil Bildner or Children and Games in the Middle Ages by Lynne Elliott.

Check the WRL catalog for The Elephant from Baghdad.


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Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings by Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Terry Widener

Mon, 2015-01-05 00:01

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings, by Deborah Hopkinson, is based on the true story of Alta Weiss, one of the first female baseball players.  Alta must overcome society’s obstacles in order to play the game she loves.  She finally convinces a coach to let her play for his team and she is an instant hit.  Because of Alta’s superior pitching skills she wins the game for her team.

This book is great to read to children because it transmits the message that you should follow your passions even when there are multiple obstacles standing in your way.  This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.

If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Dirt on their Skirts: The Story of the Young WomenWho Won the World Championship by Doreen Rappaport or Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman.

Check the WRL catalog for Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings.


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The Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney

Fri, 2015-01-02 00:03

Award-winning author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney has crafted his own version of The Little Red Hen, the story of a hard-working hen whose mission is to make some homemade bread. Unfortunately, not one of her friends will help her, so the hen makes it herself. When she is finished, all of her friends suddenly want to help her eat it, but she keeps the fruits of her harvest all for herself!

Besides teaching an age-old lesson of cooperation and helpfulness, The Little Red Hen includes a colorful cast of characters presented to readers in beautiful illustrations that make this version of the classic story memorable and unique. The author has even color-coded the characters’ names so young readers can easily read along with this favorite tale. To share it with your own young readers, be sure to check out The Little Red Hen!

Check the WRL catalog for The Little Red Hen.


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A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

Wed, 2014-12-31 00:01

Award-winning author and illustrator Kevin Henkes has created a sweet story with A Good Day, a book that tells about the events that make a little yellow bird, little white dog, little red fox, and little brown squirrel have a bad day.  However, with diligence and hope, the animals’ bad day turns into a good day after all!

As always, Henkes has crafted colorful, eye-catching pictures that are framed within each page.  The story is readable for beginning readers and will make a fun shared reading for emergent readers just starting out!  With its timeless message and beautiful, one-of-a-kind illustrations, A Good Day is a great book!

Check the WRL catalog for A Good Day.


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Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco

Mon, 2014-12-29 00:01

Patricia Polacco is an author known for writing about events from her own childhood. The book Emma Kate is an homage to the imaginary elephant friend she had while growing up. It is a perfect read for young readers with large, pencil sketch illustrations and one-two sentences on each page.

Throughout Emma Kate, Polacco details what the young girl and elephant do together. They are best friends who eat pink ice-cream together, sit at lunch with each other, and ride bikes home from school. Sometimes, on school nights, Emma Kate even gets to sleep over! The only color in this book is the coloring of the little girl’s clothes, which is the same pattern Polacco uses on the end pages of her book. This color scheme was done intentionally, which readers will figure out when they see the sweet surprise “twist” at the end of the book.

Polacco reveals that friendship comes in all forms with her winning picture book, Emma and Kate!

Check the WRL catalog for Emma Kate.


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If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer, illus. by JoEllen McAllister Stammen

Fri, 2014-12-26 00:01

If You Were Born a Kitten is a realistic book about the way baby animals look, feel, and behave once they are born. Many animals react in different ways once they are born. For example, baby seahorses “pop out of their father’s pouch and swim away with hundreds of sisters and brothers.” Also, bear cubs are actually born with no hair at all and they must cuddle up to their mother to keep warm. In the end, the reader discovers that the narrator of the book is actually the mother of the baby to whom she is referring. “Naked as a bear cub. Soft as a porcupette. Wrinkled as a deer mouse. Free as a kitten. You.”
The realistic illustrations engage the reader and show affectionate love between the different animals. The soft, pencil drawings are beautiful.

Check the WRL catalog for If You Were Born a Kitten.


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Manny’s Cows: the Niagara Falls Tale by Suzy Becker

Wed, 2014-12-24 00:01

Manny’s Cows: The Niagara Falls Tale features a boy named Manny who gets out of school for summer break. But since he lives on a farm with 500 cows he never gets to go on vacation, because the cows must be attended to multiple times a day. On the last day of school, Manny’s teacher suggests that he just takes his 500 cows with him on vacation. He ponders what vacation would be like with the cows and decides to leave the next morning for Niagara Falls. He packs the 500 cows into a bus, and they are off to The Falls.
Despite all of the commotion on the way, they make it there safe and sound. Unfortunately, once they are all finished with the boat tour, the cows go to the gift shop. Manny gets upset because he cannot pay for any of the souvenirs the cows pick out. One cow decides that she is going to make butter and then, “In no time at all, Manny’s cows were up to their udders in orders for butter!” With the cows’ help, Manny was able to pay off the cows’ gift shop mess and even have enough money to “ride home in style.” The illustrations in this book are phenomenal and hilarious. Readers of any age will love this book!

Check the WRL catalog for Manny’s Cows: the Niagara Falls Tale.


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Everything Goes: On Land by Brian Biggs

Mon, 2014-12-22 00:01

Everything Goes: On Land is a thrilling and informative book about every type of machinery that moves. For example, cars, trucks, RVs, bikes, and motorcycles come alive on the pages. The book begins with more familiar vehicles that go and proceeds into more complex vehicles like trains. It features a father and a son who are learning all about things that go on land! Everything is labeled, and this book really puts the reader in the middle of a busy city! The book has large illustrations that inform the reader of the different types of parts and functions of the different objects. In addition, each page if filled top to bottom with exciting and colorful illustrations!

Check the WRL catalog for Everything Goes: On Land.


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Baby Radar by Naomi Shihab Nye, illus. by Nancy Carpenter

Fri, 2014-12-19 00:01

The unrhymed poem that comprises the text of this book makes it unusual and refreshing. It is a toddler’s stream of consciousness narration of an outing in the stroller. It cleverly evokes toddlers’ energy, curiosity, and distractibility: “Mama unstraps my belt/I climb out/run behind/Mine/Mine!/My wheels pushing/Mama calls me/but I won’t bump/a baby/Hey baby!/Hi baby!” The watercolor and ink illustrations are appropriately imprecise. Many pictures are done from the toddler’s perspective. In one, grownup faces loom down toward the stroller. In the foreground, a pudgy hand reaches up: “I want to pinch their noses.” The toddler’s antics recall Little Mister and the Max and Ruby books. This is a must for toddler and preschool story times. The author is known primarily for her poetry for adults. The illustrator has said that she tries to sneak her cat into every book she illustrates. Can you find it in Baby Radar?

Check the WRL catalog for Baby Radar.


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May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Wed, 2014-12-17 00:02

Although the limited number of colors used in the illustrations gives this title a dated look, it is a delightful story with distinctively stylized, amusing pictures done in heavy pen and ink. The equally amusing rhyming text describes the activities of a little boy who is good friends with the king and queen. The royal couple is constantly inviting him to join them for special occasions. His first response each time is to ask if he may bring a friend. The king and queen always graciously assure him that his friends are welcome, and so are called upon to entertain a giraffe, monkeys, lions, and other zoo animals. A similar story is Rod Campbell’s Dear Zoo. For a silly story time about animals in unusual situations for preschool children, pair this with Mercer Mayer’s There’s an Alligator Under My Bed and sing “Down by the Bay.” The illustrator, Beni Montresor, was a renowned Italian artist who received a knighthood for his work.

Check the WRL catalog for May I Bring a Friend?


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Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughan, illus. by Pamela Lofts

Mon, 2014-12-15 00:01

In this tale of trickery in the Outback, Dingo catches a wombat to put in a stew. Other animals (including a platypus, an emu, and a kookaburra) hear him exulting over his prize and set out to ruin the stew before the wombat can be put in. Dingo, gleeful and clueless, readily agrees to all the suggestions for ingredients: mud, flies, gumnuts, etc. The illustrations depict these animals (who are rarely seen in picture books) fairly realistically, except for their anthropomorphized facial expressions and body language, Platypus’ hat, and Emu’s long, curly eyelashes. For storytime teach the song that Dingo repeats throughout the story: “Wombat stew,/ Wombat stew,/Gooey, brewy,/Yummy, chewy,/Wombat stew!” The simple tune is included on the final page of the book. It’s a crowd pleaser for ages four to eight and could be used with a large group. Marcia Vaughan lives on an island in Puget Sound (Washington). Pamela Lofts, an Australian author and illustrator, lived in Alice Springs, in the midst of the Australian Outback.

Check the WRL catalog for Wombat Stew.


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This is the Van that Daddy Cleaned by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Fri, 2014-12-12 00:01

The family car; one day it’s clean and the next, the sparkle is gone. But isn’t that part of the fun? Ernst has created an entertaining tale about the family car and all that it experiences. The story starts with the father who has just finished cleaning the family van. And each following page introduces a new dynamic to the car and to the travels it takes. All too soon, the car is once again ready to be cleaned. Though, this time it is the kids turn to help.
The story is framed in a rhyme that builds on itself making each page a fun memory game. Children will be able to follow the story and repeat everything that has already happened. This allows for the reading dynamic to change into a fun sing-song activity. Those reading the story aloud are able to create a game out of the book to see what the listeners can remember, which means this book is perfect for large group reading. In a smaller setting, this book is wonderful as well. Families can read the book and enjoy parallels to their own lives and family car. Even better, children can learn how important it is to help clean up messes they make, the importance of working as a group, and most importantly how fun it can be to accomplish a goal and help their parents!
This is the Van that Dad Cleaned is great for lower elementary and preschool students who are ready for a humorous, charming, and very relatable rhyming tale.

Check the WRL catalog for This is the Van that Daddy Cleaned.


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The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio, illus. by Roger Duvoisin

Wed, 2014-12-10 00:01

This classic tale, brought to life by husband-wife duo, was inspired by a true story from the 1950s. The happy lion of the story has been a part of children’s literature for more than 50 years and it is clear why. This is an endearing tale of a lion that has many friends when he is in his home at the zoo, yet finds his friends react differently when he takes an adventure outside of the comfort of his zoo home. Children will enjoy the wonderful images of story that feature a simple color palette and wonderful style of sketch illustrations.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the story is the great lesson children can take away from the story; to not be afraid of those who are different. The town learns to not fear the lion when a little boy approaches him and shows that the furry creature was simply looking for company and friendship. Happiness can come from the most curiously different situations and Fatio has created a story that will show readers just that.
This book is wonderful for lower and middle elementary school students. The story is simple and easy to understand with great big illustrations that are good for large or small group reading. Children will have a roaring good time with The Happy Lion!

Check the WRL catalog for The Happy Lion.


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What Happens When… by Delphine Chedru

Mon, 2014-12-08 00:01

We all have those moments when we wonder “what would happen, if…” Delphine Chedru has done a wonderful job of illustrating the after effect of silly situations in which kids find themselves and those that families experience in everyday life. From balloons floating away from a hand and a lonely bucket left on a beach, to what a teacher does for summer vacation, this book provides entertaining answers.
One wonderful quality about this book is the opportunity it provides for interaction. The pages are cleverly designed to conceal Chedru’s answer to her “What If…” questions until the reader flips open the opposite page’s fold-out. Readers can create their own solutions and fantastic tales to answer the questions the author poses before or after seeing the solution the author provides herself. The scenarios are all so relatable and even provide comfort for children who have experienced things like losing a balloon or leaving a toy behind.
This book is ideal for a group setting because it can spark wonderful, creative discussions among children listening and can easily be used for lower elementary and preschool groups who are learning to stretch their imaginations. Similarly, this book is great for one-on-one or personal reading where the same kind of imagination and creativity can be used.

Check the WRL catalog for What Happens When…


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Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer, illus. by Brian Harrison-Lever

Fri, 2014-12-05 00:01

Dianne Wolfer walked the Kokoda Track in 2002 and was inspired to write this picture book exploration of the complications of war after interviewing veterans. This book is recommended for older children and adults as it deals with violent and difficult themes. Photographs in the Mud follows the lives of both an Australian and Japanese solider during World War II during battles in Papua New Guinea. Wolfer and Brian Harrison-Lever balance both sides by giving the reader information about Jack, the Australian solider, and Hoshi, the Japanese soldier, and their families back home. Eventually, both men are injured in battle and lay beside each other. They share their photographs, but will they both be able to make it through the night?
The delicate, realistic pencil drawings contrast the horrors of the tale while giving life to the characters. Red paint splatters the page when both men are injured. This book is a chilling dedication to the men who fought in World War II along the Kokoda Track. Wolfer and Harrison-Lever finish the book with an inscription that can now be found along the track, “They are not dead; not even broken; Only their dust has gone back home to earth/For they; the essential they, shall have rebirth/Whenever a word of them is spoken.”

Check the WRL catalog for Photographs in the Mud.


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Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

Wed, 2014-12-03 00:01

The bestselling author of the Llama Llama books has another hit on her hands with Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too. In this adorable father-daughter story, Nelly and Daddy Gnu work together to create a beautiful playhouse for Nelly from a large box. After the frame is done, they have to go on an adventure to the hardware store for paint and a small flashlight, which Daddy Gnu surprises Nelly with right before bedtime. Dewdney writes, “Every night and every day, Daddy makes it all OK. He always knows just what to do…Nelly’s Daddy, Daddy Gnu.” The colorful illustrations help to drive the story, but the love between the father and daughter as they work towards a common goal make this a book worth reading.

Check the WRL catalog for Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too.


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Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A summer crop of counting by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, illus. by Susan Swan

Mon, 2014-12-01 00:01

Susan Swan’s amazing illustrations steal the show in this simple counting book that encourages kids and adults to buy fruits and vegetables from their local farm stands. The vibrant colors will keep young children interested in the basics of counting and eating healthy. All of the fruits and veggies at Watermelon Acres farm stand look so delicious that you might want to have some of your own to munch on as you read! After getting everything on Mom’s list, the kids decide to add one more item. Felicia Sanzari Chernesky writes, “Add a summer sunflower from the jar. Now let’s take this garden to our car! But first, put some money in the can. Farmers work hard to feed this land.”

Check the WRL catalog for Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A summer crop of counting.


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Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Fri, 2014-11-28 00:01

This imaginative little book highlights the contrast between what adults and children see by alternating between the perspectives of an adult looking on and a little pig with a stick and a powerful imagination. Every other right-hand page pictures the pig holding a stick opposite an adult injunction: “Hey, be careful with that stick.” The rest show him as he sees himself, holding a fishing pole, baton, paintbrush, etc., opposite his increasingly insistent “It’s not a stick.” Although the line drawing illustrations are extremely spare, the layout, with solid-color left-hand pages, gives the book a stylish look. It recalls the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon. This title will pair well with Lily Brown’s Paintings, another book about an imaginative child. Not a Stick is perfect for a preschool storytime for a small audience. It will be most enjoyed by children ages three to five. The author and illustrator, Antoinette Portis also produced Not a Box.

Check the WRL catalog for Not a Stick.


Categories: Pied Piper Pics