Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Mac Barnett Picture Books

Chloe and the Lion. Mac Barnett. Pictures by Adam Rex. 2012. Hyperion. 48 pages.

This is me, Mac. I'm the author of this book. This is my friend, Adam. He's the illustrator of this book. And this is Chloe. She's the main character of this book. Wherever Chloe went, she looked for loose change. 

Poor Chloe, she's really not the star of this book. What is this book really about? Well, it's about the tug-of-war between the creative spirit of the author and the creative spirit of the illustrator. This adventure starts off okay, they agree that Chloe is a fun-loving girl who saves up all her coins, her money, so she can ride the merry-go-round in the park every Saturday. The fight starts with what happens one Saturday on Chloe's way back home....

The author feels that Chloe should meet a LION. The illustrator thinks it would be cooler if Chloe met a DRAGON. The two cannot settle their differences, so the author writes the illustrator out of the book....but is that the end of this story?

Chloe and the Lion is a very quirky book. It celebrates writing, drawing, storytelling, and teamwork. While I didn't personally love it, I do think it's a very unique book.

Extra Yarn. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2012. HarperCollins. 40 pages. 

On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled yarn of every color. So she went home and knit herself a sweater. And when Annabelle was done, she had some extra yarn. So she knit a sweater for Mars, too. But there was still extra yarn. And when Annabelle and Mars went for a walk, Nate pointed and laughed and said, "You two look ridiculous." "You're just jealous," said Annabelle. "No, I'm not," said Nate. But it turned out he was. And even after she'd made a sweater for Nate and his dog, and for herself and for Mars, she still had extra yarn. 

Annabelle LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to knit. And since her supply of yarn seems to be never ending,  there's a good chance that her whole town will soon be covered in sweaters, scarves, and hats. But while many people welcome Annabelle and appreciate her special gift, there is one person who is very, very jealous...and he's willing to go to great lengths to get what he wants....

Extra Yarn is very quirky; it's definitely unique! For example, readers meet Mr. Crabtree.
She made sweaters for everyone, except Mr. Crabtree, who never wore sweaters or even long pants, and who would stand in his shorts with the snow up to his knees. "No sweater for me, thanks," said Mr. Crabtree. So she made Mr. Crabtee a hat. And even then Annabelle still had extra yarn. 
The characters, the story itself, the illustrations--there's just something very unique, very distinctive, very quirky about this one. Jon Klassen is the illustrator, and readers may notice that the animals from Klassen's I Want My Hat Back make an appearance in this one.

Oh no! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed The World). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2010. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oh no...
Oh man...
I knew it. 
I never should have built a robot for the science fair. 
Everything was going so well...
Until the rampage started, that is. 

Our narrator is a young girl who was a little TOO excited, a little TOO ambitious with her science fair project. Can she find a solution to the problem? Can she use her smarts to save the day?

This one was funny, in my opinion. The story was a little over-the-top, but in a good way. The text is simple, which gives the illustrations plenty of room. The illustrations do steal the show, perhaps. But the text is brilliant in its simplicity. "I probably shouldn't have given it a superclaw, or a laser eye, or the power to control dogs' minds" and "I should have given it ears. I should have taught it how to read."

Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) (Or At Least My History Grade). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2012. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oh no. Not again. What a disaster. This is even worse than that time I built a gigantic rampaging robot. I didn't get a perfect score on my history test. I can't believe I missed the first question. Luckily, there's a simple solution. I just need to build a time machine and change history so I am right. Let's get this show on the road.

She's back. And this time the subject is history. When she misses the first question on her history test: "In what modern country do we find the oldest prehistoric cave paintings?" inspiration strikes again. She'll just build a time machine to make sure that Belgium has cave paintings that predates those in France. The problem? Well, you might guess that changing the past isn't that simple and definitely has dozens of consequences. I won't spoil this one for you, I really think you should read this one for yourself, but let's just say it's good...and she'd have been better off being happy with her A.

Read Mac Barnett
  • If you're looking for quirky, fun, funny, humorous, unique, distinctive picture books on a wide range of subjects.
  • If you're looking for books that celebrate creativity, art, and problem-solving.
  • If you're looking for books that celebrate storytelling.
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
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Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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