Sunday, April 06, 2014

Five 2014 Picture Books

The Very Cranky Bear. Nick Bland. 2008/2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold and rainy day, four little friends found a perfect place to play. Moose had marvelous antlers, and Lion, a golden mane. Zebra had fantastic stripes, and Sheep…well, Sheep was plain. None of them had noticed that someone else was there. Sleeping in the cave was a very cranky…BEAR!

I liked The Very Cranky Bear. I really liked some things about it. I liked the rhyming text. I liked the story of it. I liked how Sheep, who was, after all, so very plain…was the hero who made a friend of the "cranky" bear. Sheep's friends were a bit vain and very silly. As if adding antlers or stripes to a bear would make him less cranky?! I was less fond perhaps of the illustrations. While I certainly enjoyed it, it remains an almost book (an almost-love).

This story was originally published in Australia.

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

Mighty Dads. Joan Holub. Illustrated by James Dean. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Mighty Dads, strong and tall, help their children young and small. They keep them safe and bolted tight and show them how to build things right. Excavator Big helps little Vator dig. They go scoop, scoop, scoop.

I liked Mighty Dads. I think there will be a definite audience for this one. I think little ones who are truck-obsessed (construction-obsessed) will enjoy this very playful and active rhyming story that celebrates fatherhood. I thought it was interesting to see the pairs at work and play. To see what the little vehicles were called. My personal favorite was the pairing of "Backhoe Steady" and "Hoe-Hoe." I enjoyed the illustrations by James Dean. (Yes, the same James Dean who created Pete the Cat.)

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

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons. Jon J. Muth. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

are you dreaming
of new clothes?

these leaves
fall forever
my Broom awaits

in my Coat pocket a missing button
the wind's surprise

Dance through the cold rain
then go home
to hot soup

Eating warm cookies
on a cold day
is easy

Jon J. Muth's newest picture book celebrates the four seasons through haiku. Each season has its fair share of poems. These poems celebrate nature, life, and friendship. Many spreads star a panda that will be recognizable to Muth's fans. I enjoyed this one. I didn't love, love, love it. Poetry tends to be hit or miss with me. But I would still recommend it. These poems are, I believe, accessible to young readers.

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

Hot Rod Hamster Monster Truck Mania. Cynthia Lord. Illustrated by Derek Anderson. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Truck day, treat day, cotton-candy sweet day, fun day, fair day, music in the air day.
The monster truck show starts at there o'clock. We have some time to wait. What should we do? Rides!

I was surprised by how much I really did enjoy this one. I found myself really loving the rhythm and rhyme of it. It's a book that deserves to be read aloud again and again. It's just one of those books that reads oh-so-easily. You don't have to over-think it. It just works. For example, "Sailboat, rowboat, pirates long ago boat. Sub boat, tug boat, chugga-chugga-chug boat. Which would you choose?" Anyway, this book is about friends spending the day together at the fair. They are super-excited about the monster truck show, but, they're going to have as much fun as they can BEFORE the show starts. They are on a quest to find the best ride ever, and they will not leave disappointed!

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

The End (Almost) Jim Benton. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Once there was a bear named Donut.
That's me.
And he burped.
The end.
Excuse me.
I said, that's the end.
Really? One burp?
Yes. The story is over.
No way.
This can't be right.
Sorry, it's the end. I mean it. I'm sending you home.

Someone does NOT want his story to be over. Donut the bear is sure that there is more to his story than just one not-so-tiny burp. What kind of story is that after all?! Donut gets in a very, very long argument with the narrator. He tries EVERYTHING to stay in the book. He's determined and sneaky. But will he actually win the day? You be the judge.

I didn't love this one or hate it. It reminds me, for better or worse, of an Elephant and Piggie book. And since I love, love, love, love the Elephant and Piggie book (We Are In A Book), this one ended up disappointing me. I can see why it would probably appeal to other readers.

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

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Suko 11:23 PM  

These sounds like fun picture books to read with children!

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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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