Sunday, May 04, 2014

Seven 2014 Picture Books

Go! Go! Go! Stop! Charise Mericle Harper. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

One day, Little Green said a word. 
It was his first word. He had never spoken before. The word was... GO!
He liked how it sounded. He practiced it quiet. Go! Then medium. Go! And finally very, very, loud. GO!
It was exciting to have a new word. Little Green couldn't wait to share it. 

Loved it. In this picture book, readers meet Little Green, who loves the word, GO, and Little Red, who loves the word STOP. Before Little Red showed up, things were lively: very, very lively. A bit out-of-control, and growing more chaotic by the minute. Little Red and his STOP definitely prove their worth in this one. Little Green and Little Red learn to work together to achieve the right balance at this super busy construction site.

For little ones who love construction, who love trucks and action, who love funny books, this one is great! I liked the story. I liked the language. "Tow Truck towed terrifically. Crane carried carefully. Dump Truck dumped dependably. Mixer mixed marvelously. And Backhoe waved his long arms in the air." I liked the details. I liked looking at the illustrations closely, the trucks were often talking to each other, or, interacting with each other. For this story, these illustrations work well.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Weasels. Elys Dolan. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Weasels. What do you think they do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Frolic in the leaves? Lurk in the dark? Argue with squirrels? Hide in their weasel holes? 
Well, all of these are wrong.
What they really do is...
plot world domination!
And today is the day they'll take over the world.

I loved this one. It is worth spending time with this one, focusing on the illustrations, following it along from cover to cover. If you do, you'll see that these weasels have personalities. The basic story is simple: the weasels have worked very hard, they are getting ready for the big countdown, they think their moment is at least here, and, then, they discover something is horribly wrong: the machine is BROKEN. Can this plot to take over the world be saved? Can the weasels work together to find out WHY the machine is broken? Can they fix it? This one has plenty of text. There is the main text of the narrator, and then the weasels' dialogue among one another. Added to the stories told through illustrations alone, and, readers are in for a fun treat. It may take more than a quick read to appreciate everything. This one may work best reading one-on-one with a child rather than in a group setting. Also this one may be a picture book older readers (independent readers) pick up. I think it's fun for many different ages--adults included.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Mama's Day With Little Gray. Aimee Reid. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The sun shimmered in the sky as Little Gray walked in Mama's shadow. "Mama," said Little Gray, "when I grow up, will you grow down?" "Well," Mama said, "when you grow big, I may look smaller." "If I grew up and you were my calf," said Little Gray, "I'd spend every day with you." "I would be your calf and stay right by your side," said Mama. Their trunks swung together as they strolled along.

Mama's Day is a sweet picture book. I liked it very much. I like books that celebrate family. Little Gray imagines that she is all grown-up. She also imagines that her Mama has grown down, that she is, in fact, Little Gray's calf. The following conversation is cute, sweet, and perhaps familiar. What-if conversations between parent and child aren't exactly new to the genre. But. I liked it. I happen to LOVE elephants which certainly helped.

Plenty of books celebrating mothers are published each year, and this one is a very nice addition. I thought the illustrations were especially lovely.

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

Taking Care of Mama Rabbit. Anita Lobel. 2014. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 One morning, Mama Rabbit stayed in bed. That made her ten little rabbits worried. "Where is Papa?" they asked. "Papa went to get me medicine," Mama mumbled.
Medicine! Mama did look very pale. And not at all happy. "We have to cheer up Mama," the ten little rabbits agreed. One by one, they brought her...

I think the book itself is simple enough, but, I can't stop over-thinking it. First, the story: Mama Rabbit is sick in bed. The ten rabbits can't find their father. They learn he's gone to buy medicine. They decide to cheer her up. By the end of the book, when the father returns with a bottle of medicine, she is all better without it.

The problem? If you're really sick and in need of medicine, drinking hot chocolate, eating cookies, and putting ribbons in your hair is not going to make you magically feel better. It's a nice enough thought, perhaps, but what Mamas need more than toys and apples and ribbons and necklaces is to be left alone to rest. I can imagine the ten rabbits interrupting her every five minutes in an effort to "cheer" her up. If she's not actually sick, if she is perhaps just SICK of her children's behavior and wants to take a break, then, the children's kindness might get her out of a bad mood. This one just leaves me unsatisfied.

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

A Gift for Mama. Linda Ravin Lodding. Illustrated by Alison Jay. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Morning bells rang out over Vienna. Shoppers and sellers filled the streets, and carriages clippity-clopped against the cobblestones. Oskar peered wide-eyed into the shop windows. It was his mother's birthday, and he wanted to give her the perfect gift. 

I enjoyed this one. Oskar, our hero, wants to give his Mama a gift. He has one single coin to buy that gift. His first gift is a yellow rose. It doesn't stay the gift for mama, however, for someone soon appears that has greater need for it. And he's willing to trade. A paintbrush for a rose. This may be the first exchange, but, it won't be the last. What gift will Oskar give his mother?

Oskar travels all around Vienna meeting lots of different people in Lodding's picture book A Gift for Mama. I think the premise is a good one. I enjoyed meeting the different characters. The illustrations in this one are just wonderful.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

Where's Mommy? Beverly Donofrio. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Maria had a friend who was a mouse. And Mouse Mouse had a friend who was a human. Maria and Mouse Mouse lived in the same house but couldn't tell anyone about each other. If Maria's parents knew there were mice in the house, they'd get a cat. If Mouse Mouse's parents knew their daughter was friends with a human, they'd flee to a hole in the ground. And so Maria and Mouse Mouse kept their secret.

Maria and Mouse Mouse think they know their mothers well. But. It turns out that their mothers both have secrets from their daughters. BIG secrets. Maria and Mouse Mouse get suspicious one night. Both Maria and Mouse Mouse realize that their moms are completely missing. No one else cares. No one else worries. But Maria and Mouse Mouse, well, they HAVE to find out where their moms are NOW! So they go searching everywhere. 

Where's Mommy is either a sequel or companion to Mary and the Mouse and The Mouse and Mary. I have not read the first book. But I'm guessing that this is a book about Mary's daughter.

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

The Pigeon Needs A Bath! Mo Willems. 2014. Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Hi! I don't know if you've noticed, but the pigeon is filthy. So, I could use your help, because: THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!
That is a matter of opinion.
What a Kidder.
I don't really need a bath!
I took one last month!
I think it was last month.
"Clean." "Dirty." They're just words, right?
I feel clean.
Maybe YOU need a bath!
Yeah! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!
Oh. That was pretty recently.

I love Mo Willems. I think if you were to go back and read all my reviews of Mo Willems' books, they'd all start the same gushy way. I do indeed love Mo Willems' work. I would never say--could never say--that my love for Pigeon matches my LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for Elephant and Piggie, I have grown fonder of this character over time. I think The Pigeon Needs A Bath may be my personal favorite from the Pigeon series.

Pigeon is going to do his best to convince you, his reader, that he absolutely does NOT need a bath. He sets forth quite a few arguments, but, ultimately, all fail. To the bath, he goes, will he like it? will he hate it? will he love it?

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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