Monday, May 18, 2009

Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley

The theme for this picture book could very well be, don't let anyone discourage you. When Mouse tells Bear that four leaf clovers are lucky, he is determined to find one. Along the ways his friends give him plenty of reasons to give up. Bear and Mouse do triumph in the end, with a special twist. The simple drawings accompany perfectly the text. Most kids will delight in the ending again and again.

Little Chick by Amy Hest; illustrations by Anita Jeram

Little Chick is lucky to have such a wise, patient and loving aunt. Little Chick, like all young children, wants something, and wants it right now. Told in three stories, Little Chick is frustrated by his carrot not growing, impatient with his kite not flying and disappointed that he cannot put a star in his pocket. His Old Auntie comes each time with words of advice and time to spend. Jeram shows the chickens feelings and expressions by posing them just so. The chickens remain chickens, an extremely nice touch.

Bertie: Just Like Daddy by Marcus Pfister

Bertie the young hippo wants to do all the things his daddy does: drink coffee, shave, shop and cook. Daddy always tells him he can when he gets older. Daddy also finds clever ways to give Bertie a way to take part in all their activities (i.e. he can't cook yet but he can taste). A great father and son story. Children will see themselves as Bertie as the try to fit into the grown up world. Not sure why each spread has the same flowered background but it is not distracting.

No More Blanket for Lambkin by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams

Lambkin loves her blanket. It is small, soft, and rather dirty. When Ducky comes to play and suggests playing laundry day, Lambkin doesn't really want to let go of blanket. All goes relatively well. Blanket is clean, but not quite the same after the washing. Ducky makes blanket into a doll and all is well. A nice concept book. Not the first on the subject but a good addition. The illustrations are soft colors well suited for young listeners.

Bee and Me by Elle McGuinness

"Gallop" and "Swing" by Seder were clever uses of the new Animotion techniques. This book is using the same technology to tell an environmental story, just not very well. The storyline is dull, the rhyme is blah, and the Animotion does nothing to add to the story. Kids will enjoy the new technology, but the story will be lost to the wow factor.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Celestine, Drama Queen by Penny Ives

Celestine was hard to ignore, from the moment she was born she was destined to be a star. She only ate pink food and thought tiaras a necessary accoutrement for school. When her teacher announces there will be a school play, Celestine cannot wait to shine in front of everyone. But even the greatest divas of all get stage fright. So even though she forgets her only line, she thrills the audience with a jazzy dance. I hope to see more of Celestine. She is just like so many of the children we already know. She's a princess, she's a diva, she is a superstar.

No! by David McPhail

No is the only word in this nearly wordless book. Said three times, it follows a young boy as he sets off in the city to mail a letter. Along the way he sees multiple acts of war: bombs, tanks, soldiers. He eventually meets a bully leaning on the mailbox and the young boy tells him, no and no! On the way home he sees acts of peace and people rebuilding together. It might be a book about war, it might be a book about bullies but I think it is really a book about children standing up for what they think is right and wrong in the world.

Tsunami! by Dimiko Kajikawa; illustrated by Ed Young

Ojiisan is the oldest and wealthiest man in his village. He lives on the mountainside with views of the village below and the vast ocean beyond. On the day of the yearly rice festival, Ojiisan thinks something doesn't feel right so he stays at home with his grandson. An small earthquake hits but it is not enough to stop the festivities. Ojiisan knows something is about to happen. Soon the ocean receded and Ojiisan knows a tsunami will be coming. The only way to warn the villagers is to light his entire rice crop on fire. The villagers coming running to help put out the fire and all are saved. Ojiisan lost his entire wealth to save all 400 villagers. The story is well told and creates suspense. Ed Young's cut paper illustrations are, as always, exquisite. A great addition to folk and fairytale collections.

Always in Trouble by Corinne Demas; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Toby is a very naughty dog. He digs in the garbage, he runs into the road, and he eats baked goods. Toby's family has had enough and Toby is sent to dog training school. Toby becomes the star of the class and responds to every command. But he is still naughty. He pees on the rug, he messes up the laundry and he digs in the garden. The family decides to send him back to school. A week later Toby is nearly perfect. He takes out the garbage, folds the laundry and bakes his own treats. I think the question I have and all the children reading the story will have is, what happened during the week Toby was away? The author doesn't tell us, and I think that's the real story here. Too bad it's missing.

Super Duck by Jez Alborough

It is hard to be Duck's friend. Nothing ever goes right and his friends always end up in the mud or in the mess. In this installment, Goat wants to fly his new kite with Sheep and Frog. And who comes along to save the day. Superduck. It all goes wrong as each time Duck tries to help the situation gets worse and worse. Frog ends up flying through the air and does end up saving his friend Frog. If you've followed Duck's other adventures, the exasperation from his friends will make sense.

Funny Farm by Mark Teague

Edward is a city dog who likes to visit his relatives on the farm. Edward is shown how to do the daily chores, and occasionally he likes to help. The story is scant, but as usual, Teague's illustrations are superb. A quick read that children will enjoy because of the detail given to the animals and antics on each page.

Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler; illustrated by Heather Maione

Princess Bess must change her clothes for every new activity throughout her day. She couldn't possibly wear the same gown for breakfast as she does for painting. And the pantaloons she wears while climbing a tree will just not do for the ball. But what Bess likes to wear best is her underwear and nothing else. So underneath all the laces and pearls, she is a regular kid after all.