Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Five 2012 Picture Books

The Chicken Problem. Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. 2012. Random House. 32 pages.

This is Peg. She loves solving problems. She also loves pie. This is Cat. He loves helping Peg solve problems. He loves pie too. One day, Peg and Cat were on a farm, getting all ready to have a perfect picnic with a pig. The sun was shining. The chickens were cheeping. The pie was fresh and juicy and gooey. And everybody had a piece of pie that was just the right size for them. So they were ready to start their perfect picnic with a pig, right?

 I really enjoyed The Chicken Problem. I enjoyed Peg and Cat. Peg, at times, could be dramatic. Like when she gets so distraught because there's a tiny piece of pie with no one to eat it. NO BODY! But Cat is always there to help Peg think things out. And he's got a solution. Who better to eat a tiny piece of pie than one tiny chick?! Unfortunately, Cat didn't properly close the chicken coop, and now there are a HUNDRED CHICKS on the loose giving Peg plenty of reasons to panic. I loved the liveliness of the story.
There were one hundred chickens going crazy all over the place! Chickens leaping! Chickens skipping! Chickens hopping! Chickens doing somersaults! Chickens standing on their heads! Chickens standing on each other's heads! Chickens doing the chicken dance! Chickens bending over and wiggling their bottoms in the air! There were chickens chickens chickens chickens chickens everywhere!
I think the text offers readers plenty of opportunity to read (aloud) expressively, to really get into the story! How can Peg and her friends get all these chickens back in the coop? Will they ever get to eat their pie?

Bedtime is Canceled. Cece Meng. Illustrated by Aurelie Neyret. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

The note read, "Bedtime is canceled." Maggie thought of it. Her brother wrote it. Their parents read it. They didn't believe it. So into the trash it went...until the wind got a hold of it. Up it flew, out the window, loop-de-loop, across town...until finally it landed on the desk of a newspaper reporter, right on the pile of finished work. The newspaper printed it in big, bold black letters...

Once the local newspaper and news broadcast reports that BEDTIME IS CANCELED it isn't long before everyone starts believing it to be fact. Word continues to spread through e-mail. EVERYONE believes that bedtime is a thing of the past, now Maggie and her brother know better. But, why would they want to stop such wonderful news?! This is the best thing ever, right? Who wouldn't be thrilled not to have to go to bed? Well, the adults aren't happy... but why should upset adults bother them?

Bedtime is Canceled has a playful premise, but, it didn't quite work for me.

The Other Side of Town. Jon Agee. Scholastic. 2012. 32 pages.

I was having a lousy day--few fares, bad tips, a flat tire--when this guy in a funny hat waved me down. "Take me to Schmeeker Street," he said. "You mean Bleecker Street, downtown?" "No, Schmeeker Street, on the other side of town." He told me how to get there, past the bus depot and the city dump, till we came to a dead end. "Here we are," I said. "This must be the other side of town." "Not yet," he said, and he whipped out a remote control and pressed a button.

What a strange little picture book! Jon Agee's The Other Side of Town is a playful, imaginative story told from the perspective of a cab driver who has picked up a strange little man. The cab driver learns that "the other side of town" is quite different. It is like he's awakened in a strange, new world. Fortunately, the man left his remote control behind or he might never have got back to his own side of town...but just because he's gone home doesn't mean that he leaves the experience unchanged...

In some ways, this book reminded me of Jan Slepian's The Hungry Thing.

Rabbityness. Jo Empson. 2012. Child's Play. 32 pages.

Rabbit liked doing rabbity things. Rabbit liked hopping. Rabbit liked jumping. Rabbit liked twirling his whiskers. Rabbit liked washing his ears. Rabbit liked burrowing, and Rabbit liked sleeping. Rabbit also liked doing unrabbity things. He liked painting...and making music.This made Rabbit VERY happy! It made him SO happy, all the other rabbits caught his happiness. He filled the woods with color and music. 

 Rabbityness is not your typical picture book. It is about grief and loss. Readers aren't exactly told the specifics of why Rabbit has gone away or disappeared, but, we are told that his going away has left a "deep, dark hole" that left the rabbits deeply saddened. The collective loss to the woods is FELT. But underneath the layers of grief, buried deep within that loss is a legacy...a legacy left to each and every rabbit that ever knew and loved Rabbit. And that gift is art and music. And using this legacy, they can choose to color the woods with their own artistic endeavors.

The Red Boat. Hannah Cumming. 2012. Child's Play. 32 pages.

Perhaps you'll enjoy The Red Boat more than I did. The Red Boat is a picture book about a little girl, Posy, who has just  moved to a new house and neighborhood. She's ANXIOUS about everything, especially starting school. Her only comfort seems to be a dog named George. In Posy's yard is a red boat. At night, Posy and George sneak out of the house to get into this red boat. Once in this red boat, the boat travels here, there, everywhere. Posy gets extra-opportunities at night time to learn how to make friends with others (polar bears, aliens, etc.). She takes these new skills and starts applying them during the day. The book concludes with a big, big party with all her new friends. Some of these friends--the neighbors, her classmates--are from the real world, but the other friends are from her fanciful travelings in the red boat. If the ending had been different, if the red boat hadn't been taken so seriously--taken as fact--then I might not have disliked this one.

© 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.
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