Saturday, October 06, 2007

Picture Book Parade

Hill, Tad. 2007. Duck, Duck, Goose.

What happens when your best friend makes a new friend? What if that 'new' friend is super-annoying? What if that new friend doesn't know how to stop boasting? What if that new friend never stops talking at all? What is a poor goose to do? Find out in Duck, Duck, Goose. Duck and Goose have always been best friends. Always. They like to do everything together. But one day all that changes. Duck brings someone new to meet Goose, Thistle. Thistle is a bit of a braggart. She never knows when to stop. She's a bit on the bossy side too. Can Duck and Goose's friendship withhold the strain of Thistle's domineering presence? It is a cute book. I think it's a book that almost everyone can relate to. [I bet we've all encountered a Thistle somewhere--whether at school, in the neighborhood, or at the workplace.] And maybe just maybe it will show kids how to interact with each other in a better way. How to NOT be a Thistle. Is Thistle a hopeless case? I hope not. She just needs someone to tell her that she's not the center of the universe.

Jenkins, Emily. 2007. What Happens On Wednesdays. Illustrated by Lauren Castillo.

While I loved the illustrations on What Happens on Wednesdays, I wasn't blown away by the text. The book is about a girl's sense of patterns or rituals. She doesn't keep track of time by looking at a clock. She makes sense of her world by sorting out how things fit into her daily routine--"what happens after lunch, after nap, after swimming, after the library" etc. While I can understand the concept, it was a bit confusing for me as well. The part that confused me was that the child kept referring over and over to the fact that "today was not a kissing day" and I just didn't know why. Does the child not like to be affectionate with her parents at all? If every day is "no kissing day" why make a big deal about it. And if the "no kissing day" is only one day a week, why have it? It's not like the parents stop hugging or kissing their daughter on 'no kissing day.' It just seemed silly. The overall concept is that a child is creating a "sensory" map of their neighborhood, of their life. What do they see, hear, smell, taste, touch in the process of a normal day. The book was fine in my opinion. It wasn't outstandingly great, but it wasn't bad. Just average. What I enjoyed most of all were the illustrations. I thought those were great.

Yaccarino, Dan. 2007. Every Friday.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. It is about family rituals. In particular it is about a father-son weekly ritual of having breakfast together at a local diner. Rituals are important in life. I think they are always important, but routine can be a great thing for a kid. This ritual starts with getting up extra-early, walking through the neighborhood to the diner, and eating pancakes. The text is simple. It doesn't need to be complex or wordy. Friday is my favorite day. Every friday, Dad and I leave the house early. Even if it is cold, snowing, sunny, or raining. There is beauty in simplicity. I loved the text. Loved it. But I loved the illustrations as well.

Donnio, Sylviane. 2007. I'd Really Like To Eat A Child. Illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid.

Achilles is a moody yet charming baby crocodile who is tired of eating bananas for breakfast every day. His mama was always telling him how big and handsome he was. And noticing what beautiful teeth he had. So one day, he decides that he is READY to eat a child. No more of this banana nonsense for him.

But one morning, Achilles refused to eat. This worried Mama Crocodile.
"Don't you want a tasty banana for breakfast?" she asked.
"No thanks, Mom," Achilles answered. "Today I'd really like to ead a child."
"What an idea, my little Achilles!" his mother cried. "Well, children don't grow on banana trees, only bananas do, and that's what I have for breakfast!"
"I know, but I'd really like to eat a child!"
The accompanying picture of Achilles making a sulking pouty (disgruntled) face is priceless! (I love the artwork by the way). And I had no idea there was a way to draw crocodiles where they would look genuinely worried or concerned.

This new idea takes hold and holds fast. No matter what his parents say, Achilles is insistent that a human child is the only thing he'll eat. There's no bribing him to eat chocolate cake or anything else...his parents are distraught. What will they do with their poor baby who won't eat anything?

The answer comes in a strange way. A girl. A child. On her own near the river. Who is more in danger? The child or the crocodile? Is Achilles as big and fierce as he thinks he is? Is he really ready to match wits with a child?

I'd Really Like to Eat A Child is a fun picture book. The illustrations and text are both fabulous.

Elliott, David. 2007. One Little Chicken: A Counting Book. Illustrated by Ethan Long.

I have mixed opinions on One Little Chicken. On one hand, it is a fun, rhyming counting book. It is a concept book with a fun premise: a counting book with dancing poultry. The book features chickens doing all sorts of dances and having lots of crazy fun as the numbers get higher and higher. On the other hand, one thing that is slightly disappointing is the fact that while it rhymes it isn't really very rhythmical. Some books are so rythmical, so right, that the text seems to sing. This one doesn't. That's not a crime necessarily. It's not an unpardonable sin. But I think it would have more appeal if the words flowed a bit more smoothly. What this book really needs is insight from a kid. I am curious what kind of reaction this book gets from children. Do they laugh? Do they giggle? Do they count along? Do they do the dances? Do they wiggle and move and shake about while someone is reading it aloud? Do they interact with the text? If they do, then this book would be a success. Sometimes adults are more harsh with a book than they need to be. They notice things that wouldn't bother any kid. I'm wondering if that is the case in this situation. The second half of the book invites audience participation.
But one little chicken
will not bugaloo.
Who is that little chicken?
Oh my gosh! It's you!
The text then implores you to get up and boogie and shake.
Make your own music
with wax paper and a comb
and dance! dance! dance!
till the cows come home.
The last rhyme, the last little bit, seems forced to me. It doesn't seem natural for some reason. I don't know if it's the excessive use of exclamation points after each dance when commas would suffice. Or if it's the fact that instructing kids on wax paper and comb music skills seems out of place with the rest of the text...or what. I think if it had ended any other way, I would have enjoyed it better. What do I like about the text? I like the fact that it's chickens dancing. Yes, chickens are big this year. But I think there is a bit of a hidden, "clever" meaning. Those on the sidelines too scared to dance and have a little fun are being chickens. The text is saying stop being a chicken and get out there and have fun.

1 comment:

Debi said...

Oh, I really hope our library has Duck, Duck, Goose. Not only does the story sound great, but it looks like it has absolutely charming artwork!