Friday, June 21, 2013

Eight Picture Books from 2008

The Odd Egg. Emily Gravett. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. 

All the birds had laid an egg. All except for Duck. Then Duck found an egg! He thought it was the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world. 

The Odd Egg may not be my favorite Emily Gravett picture book, but I still liked it. (I really loved, loved, loved Monkey and Me! And I thought Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears was fabulous!) Duck may not have been able to lay an egg, but that won't keep Duck from being "Mama" by the end of the book. Even if her offspring is...well...a little odd.

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

President Pennybaker. Kate Feiffer. Illustrated by Diane Goode. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.

On a not too sunny but not too cloudy, not too hot but not too cold Saturday afternoon in May, Luke Pennybaker asked his father one question because Luke Pennybaker wanted just one thing. "Dad," he said. "can I watch TV?" His Dad didn't say yes, as Luke thought he should have. And he didn't say no, as he usually did when Luke asked him if he could watch TV. Instead, he answered Luke's one question with five entirely different questions.

Luke has just realized that life is unfair. He decides to do something about it, something other than complaining. He will run for president. He won't be in the Republican party or the Democratic party. No, he'll be in the BIRTHDAY PARTY. The "political party" that treats everyone like it is their birthday! He has definite ideas on how to improve the quality of life for the ordinary citizen. But can he win the election? He might just be able to do it, even if he can't vote for himself.

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

Friday My Radio Flyer Flew. Zachary Pullen. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.

One Saturday I searched...and my dad's old Radio Flyer surfaced. That Sunday we went for a stroll. Then on Monday morning I got motivated. Maybe that old Flyer could really move.

A little boy spends a week working on his dad's old wagon, and with a little help, by the end of the week, he is ready to FLY.

I really loved some of the illustrations. Some spreads I just loved; other spreads I didn't like at all. But the story is simple and fun.

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

Madeline and the Cats of Rome. John Bemelmans Marciano. 2008. Penguin. 48 pages.

From an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Left twelve little girls in two straight lines,
Their bags were packed, a camera stowed;
They were ready to escape the cold.
The train it leaves at half past nine--
Hurry, hurry, Madeline!

This will be no ordinary excursion to Rome, not with Madeline. After a busy day of seeing all the sites, a day without any mishaps, the worst happens: a thief steals Miss Clavel's camera. Madeline begins a very long, very complicated chase. A chase that reveals dozens of homeless cats--all in need of good homes. What's a girl to do?

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

Utterly Otterly Day. Mary Casanova. Illustrated by Ard Hoyt. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Little Otter wakes in his safe, snug den, ready to play in an utterly otterly way. He tugs Sister's whiskers, wrestles Mama's tail, then slides out the tunnel--whippidy, slippidy, sail!

Little Otter has a mind of his own. Now that he's a "big otter" he thinks he can look out for himself, that he doesn't have to stay close to his family. But is that really the case? On this Little Otter's "utterly otterly" day, a big crisis is averted and great fun is had. But has he learned any lesson at all? I'm not sure.

The language was very playful, very figurative, I suppose. And I liked the illustrations. But I didn't quite love this one.

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

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2008. HarperCollins. 56 pages.

Chapter One
Louise At Sea
Louise longed for adventure. She left the henhouse and went to sea, where the water was deep and dark. Louise stood alone on the deck of the ship and let the wind ruffle her feathers. 

Louise is not your ordinary chicken. She longs for adventure. She dreams of adventures. She's a very restless chicken. Now, she's had plenty of adventures, as you learn in this picture book. She's been at sea, even survived being captured by pirates, even survived a shipwreck. She's joined the circus and survived a lion's attack. And that's just the start...

It was interesting to see a picture book broken down into chapters. But I didn't exactly love this one. I found some of the illustrations a bit disturbing--like the drowning pirate.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

Monsters on Machines. Deb Lund. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. 2008. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.

 Construction crew monsters arrive on the scene. They don hard hats before they go near a machine. Leather work gloves, some earplugs, and big heavy boots are required for safety by all builder brutes. Stinky Stubb's the mechanic. He checks out the grader, the tractor, the cranes, and the big monster-vater. Once engines are greased and the gears start to spin, he shrieks to the others that work can begin.

If your little one loves monsters and construction vehicles, this one is for you. If you don't particularly like monsters or construction vehicles, well, you won't miss much by skipping this one. 

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 4 out of 10

Off to First Grade. Louise Borden. Illustrated by Joan Rankin. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. 

Twenty-one poems celebrating the first day of first grade in Mrs. Miller's class at Elm School. Twenty-one poems celebrating different perspectives; in addition to the perspective of students, we get the perspective of the teacher, the bus driver, and the principal too. The students' views are all different too. They like different things, are excited about different things, are nervous about different things. Some take the bus. Some come by car. Others walk. Some have older siblings that attend the same school. Others have younger siblings who are not ready to start school just yet. I liked the poems. I thought they were very natural.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2013 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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