Sunday, February 02, 2014

Six Picture Books

There, There. Sam McBratney. Illustrated by Ivan Bates. 2013. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Little Hansie Bear, who loved to pretend, thought it would be fun to walk like a duck. Unfortunately he fell over sideways into a deep-down ditch. He hurt his knee and couldn't get out again. His dad came to help. 

I am not usually one who gushes over Sam McBratney. Guess How Much I Love You is not my favorite or best book ever. But. I really did find myself liking his newest book, There, There. It is the story of a father and son. It is the story of two not-so-good days. It is a tender story about comfort: showing love, giving support, cheering up.

Little Hansie is not having a good day. It starts when he's pretending to walk like a duck, but, that's just the first injury of the day. His father comforts him with hugs and a calm there, there. But Hansie isn't the only one who needs some love. His father, who was NOT pretending to be a duck, needs some love too. And Hansie knows just what to say and do to make his dad feel all better.

I really loved, loved, loved the illustrations. If I didn't love the illustrations so very much, I might not love the book so much. The text is good: very sweet. But the illustrations, for me, make it extra-special.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Bear In Love. Daniel Pinkwater. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. 2012. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A bear lived in the woods. He had a little cave, just big enough for him. Every morning, the bear would crawl out of his cave, rub his eyes, stretch, and feel the morning sun. Then he would look around for something to eat.

I really, really adored Bear in Love. Bear is a lovable character. I love, love, love the fact that he likes to make up his own songs and hums. I love his personality. I just do. Someone else must have been watching Bear too. Someone else must think he's special too. For Bear has a secret admirer. Someone who leaves him presents. It starts with one little carrot. But that's just the beginning. Bear likes having a friend, even if he doesn't know who his new secret friend is. Soon Bear starts leaving gifts in return. Will Bear ever stay awake long enough to discover who his new friend is?!

I loved this one. I thought it was a great story. The illustrations, well, I loved them too. There was just something charming about them!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

I Haiku You. Betsy E. Snyder. 2012. Random House. 28 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Your everyday song,
my favorite alarm clock--
good morning to you!

I found this collection of poems charming. I did. The poems are short, of course, because they're haiku. I like the emotional nature of the poems. These are poems of joy, of love, of friendship, of family.

For example, I just love this one:
you hug away tears,
making boo-boos all better--
best teddy ever 

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

Pigs in Pajamas. Maggie Smith. 2012. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Penelope Pig has been planning a party, a sleepover party for Saturday night. All around town, pigs are putting on pj's. They're packing and snapping and zipping up tight. We're pigs in pajamas, to Penny's we go--in prints, plaids, and pinstripes, a sleepywear show!

Pigs in Pajamas is playful, very playful. It is a celebration of the letter P. If the alliteration in the text doesn't convince you that P is a wonderful letter, perhaps, the illustrations will. Yes, this picture book has illustrations worth paying attention to every little detail.

Overall, I liked it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

Rain! Linda Ashman. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Rain!
Rain!
"Nasty galoshes."
"Blasted overcoat."
"There goes my hair..."
"Is it raining cats and dogs?"
"It's raining frogs and pollywogs!"
"Hippity-hop!"

Rain has dual narrators. One narrator is a very grumpy old man who does NOT like the rain, not at all. The rain is ruining his day. He's a complainer through and through. The other narrator is a child who LOVES the rain, who is so very excited to go out in the rain and play. When these two cross paths that morning, something happens. Will the old man lose a bit of his crankiness?

I liked this one. It is simple. There isn't a lot of text. The illustrations are very expressive.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

The Day The Crayons Quit. Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. 2013. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them. 
Hey Duncan,
It's me, Red Crayon. We need to talk. You make me work harder than any of your other crayons. All year long I wear myself out coloring FIRE ENGINES, apples, strawberries, and EVERYTHING ELSE that's RED. I even work on holidays! I have to color all the Santas at Christmas and ALL the hearts on Valentine's day! I NEED A REST! Your overworked friend, Red Crayon

Quite simply, I loved, loved, loved this one. I read it months ago, but, I put off reviewing it because I knew that I could never do it justice in a review. I knew that I could never express just how clever and fun it was. I also knew that I would be tempted to quote from every crayon's letter. I knew that would be too much.

Have you read this one? What did you think? I loved the premise of this one. I liked the creativity of it. I liked the personality of it. And I adored all the "kid art." The ending was very fun!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Katherine P 2:02 PM  

I don't think I've read any of those. I'm definitely going to have to hunt The Day the Crayons Quit I think my 4 year old would love that one!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

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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