Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Four 2012 Picture Books

Maudie and Bear. Jan Ormerod. Illustrated by Freya Blackwood. 2012. Penguin. 48 pages.

"I need some exercise," said Maudie.
"Fresh air would be nice," said Bear.
"How about a bike ride?" said Maudie. 
"Let's go," said Bear. 
"One moment," said Maudie. "I need my sunglasses."
Soon Maudie came back with her sunglasses.
"Ready?" asked Bear.
"One moment," said Maudie. "I'll fetch our hats."
"Ready?" asked Bear.
"One moment," said Maudie. "I need my scarf."

 Maudie and Bear is a picture book with five individual stories starring Maudie and Bear. The first story, "The Bike Ride" is about the two getting some "exercise" in on a nice day. Readers will probably notice that it's Bear doing the exercise and Maudie having all the fun. The second story, "Home Sweet Home," has a moody Maudie taking on the role of Goldilocks. It is an odd story, in my opinion, and I'm not quite sure what to make of Maudie's moodiness at the end of the story. (Has she learned anything or not?) "The Snack" stars a demanding Maudie and an ever-patient Bear. Her contribution to the big snack is gathering dandelions. Bear's is to prepare all the food. But not just prepare any food. Certain foods in certain ways. And the table has to be just so, etc. This story probably is my least favorite. It's one thing to ask for a snack or meal--it's another to be so perfectionist about it. What really bothers me is that after all this work, SHE DOESN'T EVEN EAT IT. "Making Up" stars a sensitive and moody Maudie. When Maudie is dancing, Bear got the giggles. Bear does apologize for laughing, but Maudie stomps off mad anyway. How long will she stay mad? And what will Bear have to do to make it up to her? The fifth and final story is "Telling Stories." In this one, Maudie gets upset with Bear for falling asleep when she is telling a story. This one may just be my favorite of the five.
"Bear," said Maudie, "let's both sit in your big chair while you tell me a story."
"Certainly," said Bear.
So Bear told Maudie a story.
"That was a good story," said Maudie. "Now I will tell you a story. Once upon a time, long, long ago and far, far away..."
Bear closed his eyes.
"Bear!" said Maudie. "Do not go to sleep while I am telling you a story."
"I am not asleep," said Bear. "I am listening with my eyes shut."
I enjoyed some of the stories in this picture book, but not all five. Maudie can be a brat, at times, highlighting how children can be self-centered or self-absorbed. But I saw something more than that in Maudie too. Is this truly a book about friendship? Or is it a book about the parent-child relationship?

This one was originally published in Australia.

Read Maudie and Bear
  • If you're looking for books about family or friends
  • If you're looking for picture books with multiple stories
  • If you're looking for books that highlight the different emotions kids experience 
  • If you're looking for international picture books

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat. Susanna Reich. Illustrated by Amy Bates. 2012. Abrams. 40 pages.

Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child was a very lucky cat, perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris. Day and night she could hear the bells of Sainte-Clotilde tolling the hour. And day and night she could smell the delicious smells of mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, cheese souffles, and duck pates wafting from the pots and pans of her owner, Julia Child. But life had not always been like this for Minette. Oh no, not at all.

I really enjoyed Minette's Feast. This picture book shares with readers the story of Julia Child's time in Paris through the eyes of a cat. A cat who mostly preferred mouse or bird--but could sometimes be tempted by the treats of her owner, Julia Child. While Bon Appetit! spans Julia's whole life, this one is more focused on a specific time and place. I love the glimpse of French culture--the sprinkling of French words. I do enjoy the cat's perspective, for the most part. Though this cat is a little too obsessed with mice! I really enjoyed the illustrations as well. I thought she did a great job of capturing Julia and Paul, and, of course the many many moods of the cat.

Read Minette's Feast
  • If you love cats
  • If you love Julia Child and/or cooking
  • If you are looking for picture books highlighting French culture

Just Because You're Mine. Sally Lloyd Jones. Illustrated by Frank Endersby. 2012. HarperCollins. 32 pages. 

Little Red Squirrel and his daddy were playing in the big wood. "Daddy!" shouted Little Red Squirrel. "Look at me!" And he scampered off. First Little Red Squirrel showed his dad his Super Fast Running. He  ran between the two elm trees, racing as fast as he could, faster than the wind. "Little Red Squirrel," his daddy called after him. "Did I tell you today that I love you?" 
"Because why?" asked Little Red Squirrel. (He was spinning now, faster and faster, round and round in circles. "Daddy," said the spinning Little Red Squirrel. "Do you love me because I'm fast?" (Then he fell over, of course, because he was so dizzy.)

While I have seen people comparing this one to the Love You Forever, I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. To me, it feels more like Guess How Much I Love You. Will it please every reader? Of course not. Some people do not like their picture books so sweet and sugary. (It does remind me of the Mr. Rogers' song "It's You I Like.") But I did enjoy certain aspects of it. I did like the message that a parent's love is unconditional. It's NOT based on performance. It's not based on beauty or talent or skill. I do think this one would be a great one for Christian families illustrating the Father's love for his children--the spiritual concept of adoption or even election.

Read Just Because You're Mine
  • If you like super-sweet, affectionate books about the parent-child relationship
  • If you are looking for picture books with the theme of unconditional love

Z is for Moose. Kelly Bingham. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy. 2012. HarperCollins. 32 pages. 

A is for Apple
B is for Ball
C is for Cat
D is for Moose
Moose? No. 
Moose does not start with D. You are on the wrong page. 

Z is for Moose may just be my favorite of the picture books I'm reviewing today. It is fun and playful and would be great to read aloud! It is one of the best alphabet books I've read in years!!! In this one, Zebra is the boss of the alphabet book. Zebra has a clipboard and knows exactly how things should go. But Moose, well, Moose has ideas too. And he doesn't want to wait around for the letter M. Beginning with the letter D, Moose is pretty insistent that he be a part of every page of this one!!! Not everyone is happy about this, of course, the Queen looks quite startled!!! Will Moose get a proper turn?

I just loved, loved, loved Z is for Moose!!! I would definitely recommend it!

Read Z is for Moose
  • If you want to laugh!
  • If you enjoy funny alphabet books!
  • If you're looking for a Moose to love!

© 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.
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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.
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