Saturday, December 22, 2007

Picture Book Parade


Wing, Natasha. 2007. Go To Bed, Monster!

I loved, loved, loved this one. I did. Consider it the playfulness of Wing's text alongside the fabulous illustrations. The book opens with Lucy, our girl heroine, not wanting to go to bed. (Familiar premise isn't it?) One night, Lucy tossed and turned. She could not, would not, did not want to go to bed. Lucy wants to draw. And she is a mighty imaginative artist as we soon find out. What Lucy draws come to life. (Think Harold & The Purple Crayon). What she draws are "an oval body. A square head. Rectangle legs. And circle eyes." But she's not done yet. What her drawing needs to be complete are triangles--small triangles--that turn these shapes into one yellow-green (or green-yellow) monster! The first thing the monster says is "Roar!" But Lucy is SO not afraid of her own creation. "You don't scare me," said Lucy. "Let's play!" So the two play together. They do many fun things--fun activities--together. I won't list them all. That might spoil the fun. But eventually, Lucy begins to get tired. She then has the monumental task of putting a monster to bed. The monster wants many things--has many excuses--that will be familiar to young children. The book is fun, playful, and just a joy to read. The day I got it, I must have read it five or six times.


Wheeler, Lisa. 2007. Jazz Baby. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

I read this one months ago--probably back in the summer--and fell in love with it completely. I didn't only read it five or six times in a row. I read it aloud that many times. Sure, it's fun to read aloud to someone. But I was by myself. But I just couldn't get over how wonderful the words sounded. That doesn't always happen with picture books--even good picture books. Rhythm and sound can be tricky. And in my opinion, Jazz Baby is perfection. Jazz Baby is all about a family spending time together making sweet, sweet music. Brother's hands tap. Sister's hands snap. Itty-bitty Baby's hands clap-clap-clap! But this isn't just immediate family--no, there's plenty of room for everyone. Grandpa. Granny. Mama. Daddy. Auntie. Uncle. Cousins. They're all there. They're all having fun. They're just having the time of their lives. This is one of my favorite parts, I'm sharing it because I think it's a good example of how the text just works:

Mama swings high.
Daddy swings low.
Swingin'-singin' Baby says,
"Go, Man, Go!"

So they Boom-Boom-Boom
And they Hip-Hip-Hop
And the bouncin' baby boogies
with a Bop-Bop-Bop!
Really who could resist the line "bouncin' baby boogies with a bop-bop-bop"??? The whole book just is so perfect, so right. If you love Al Perkins' Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb you're going to love this one too!!!


Isadora, Rachel. 2007. The Princess and the Pea.

I don't know about you, but I always love a good fairy tale. I love new picture book editions of favorite stories. Each illustrator, each author, tackles the subject differently. Each has a different vision, a different imagining of the story, the characters, the setting. The Princess And The Pea uses the familiar story but places the setting in Africa. There is still a prince looking for a princess to marry. There is still the princess-who-doesn't-look-like-a-real-princess who shows up in the midst of a storm. There is still the testing by pea to see if the princess is a really real princess. There is still a happily ever after ending. But the art, the illustrations, definitely give you a different feel than what you may be used to. Most of the story, as I said earlier, is traditional. But there are three foreign words...three ways to say hello in Africa. Selam (Ethiopia; Amharic), Iska Waran (Somalia; Somali), Jambo, Habari (Kenya; Swahili). Overall, I liked this one a good deal.


Isadora, Rachel. 2007. The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

I love fairy tales. I do. I know not everyone does. Not everyone can review a book with the same amount of enthusiasm. But what's not to love about this new retelling of a classic tale? Similar to The Princess and The Pea, also by Rachel Isadora, The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a familiar tale in an unfamiliar setting. Once again, Isadora has chosen to set her story in Africa. You'll recognize all the classic elements of the original story--the king, the daughters, the bet. "The king made it known that whoever discovered where the princesses went at night could choose a princess for his wife. If after three tries they failed, they would lose their life. Many tried and failed." This is the story of the one man who was successful and got to pick a princess for his bride. What makes this book, this series, unique is the artwork. It's rich. It's vibrant. It's detailed. It's just amazing.


Thompson, Lauren. 2007. The Apple Pie That Papa Baked. Illustrated by Jonathan Bean.

Apple Pie. While reading a book about apple pie isn't nearly as delicious as actually eating a slice of apple pie, it is a treat all the same. A treat meant to be enjoyed, shared, and repeated often. The text by Lauren Thompson is simple and repetitive. The text builds upon itself, repeating line after line, and soon children will be able to join in 'reading' this book.

This is the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked.
These are the apples, juicy and red, that went in the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked.
This is the tree, crooked and strong, that grew the apples, juicy and red . . .

While the text is great. It's the illustrations that really stand out and make this one a winner. Jonathan Bean's artwork is inspired by two legends in the field of illustrators: Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gag. These are not your typical illustrations; these are not your typical colors. The art is thoroughly charming. I just loved the feeling these pictures evoke.


Weeks, Sarah. 2007. Ella, Of Course! Illustrated by Doug Cushman.

Ella is a pig. Pigs made it big in 2007. There are piggies, piggies everywhere. Ella is a problem-solving piggy. But when Ella starts causing more problems than she solves, well, something has to be done. It all started with Ella's birthday. Her fourth birthday. Her present from her grammy? An umbrella. A blue umbrella--a sky blue umbrella with puffy white clouds. She loves everything about her umbrella. But most of all, she loves the whooshing sound it makes as it opens. She loves her umbrella so much she wants to take it everywhere with her. The problem? Umbrellas really don't belong everywhere. Especially when "everywhere" is mostly inside instead of outside. She whoosh-clicks into lamps. She whoosh-clicks into other people. She whoosh-clicks jars of honey at the grocery store. You get the idea. Ella has become a trouble-maker. Will Ella find a way to love her umbrella, to treasure her umbrella AND still be a problem-solver?

My favorite thing about Ella, Of Course! is the illustrations. Some of them are just perfect. They capture the playfulness of the text, the story. And the truth is that whether she's the cause or solution of the problems...she's one adorable little piggy.

1 comments:

Anamaria (bookstogether) 4:24 PM  

Wow, so many wonderful books (and reviews) in this post! I just wrote about fairy tale retellings, including The Princess and the Pea, for the December Carnival -- but I hadn't seen the Rachel Isadora version, and it looks great. Thanks so much!

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