Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ category

My Favorite September Picture Book Choices

October 7, 2021

Below are some of the books I read during the month of September that piqued my interest.

Beatrice Was a Tree written and illustrated by Joyce Hesselberth, Greenwillow Books, 2021

Not wanting to go to bed, Beatrice stays outside. She imagines herself to be a tree that changes during the four seasons. She stretches her branches, feels the warmth of the sun, provides homes for animals, sheds her leaves, and, after a snowy winter, she blossoms once again. The magic of imagination is broken when Mom calls, “Beatrice, Bed! Now!” This book is filled with whimsical illustrations and lyrical text that will delight readers who appreciate nature. 

Mel Fell written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor, Balzer + Bray, 2021

I love this book because of its unique format. It’s not your usual book as you follow Mel who wants to learn to fly. But before she flies…”Mel fell.” Readers follow Mel as she falls down, down, down past the critters in the tree who try to help her. Mel and the book take a turn (literally) as she plunges into the water. Make sure you follow the directions on how to turn the book to find out if Mel ever learns to fly. This book is sure to entertain readers!

Are You a Cheeseburger? written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo, Katherine Tegen Books, 2021

Grub, a raccoon, and Seed, a seed, meet in a garbage can. Grub is convinced if Seed grows, cheeseburgers will blossom. Grub plants Seed and the two spend every night talking to each other and describing what is going on above ground and below ground. When Seed finally sprouts, they celebrate. Grub makes sure to water Seed every day as he longs for the promise of delicious cheeseburgers that will soon appear. But when Seed blossoms as a flower – not a cheeseburger plant – Grub is quiet. What is he thinking? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I love the uniqueness of this delicious book and the unusual friendship that evolves.

Mucky Truck written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Elisa Ferro, Henry Holt and Co., 2021

Kids will love this rollicking story about a little truck, a crane, a digger, and a forklift that get stuck in the muck until the firetruck comes to get them out. Onomatopoeia and rhymes will keep kids engaged along with an unexpected messy ending.

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round written by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and illustrated by Lorian Tu, Orchard Books, 2021

This is a delightful story of a Chinese family coming together to prepare for their evening dinner. Readers will have fun joining in with the rhythmic text that goes along with the familiar song, “The Wheels on the Bus.” 

The Longest Storm written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, mineditionUS, 2021

Stuck in their house with no place to go, a single father and his children slowly learn how to reconnect with one another to become a supportive family unit once again. A definite must-read!

Norman Didn’t Do it! written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins, Disney-Hyperion, 2021

A humorous picture book about learning to share your best friend with others and accepting new friends.

Bright Star written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Neal Porter Books, 2021

A beautifully illustrated book about love, honor, and respect.

If any of these books are of interest to you and your family, make sure to check them out and enjoy!

PB Review: When Water Makes Mud

June 24, 2021

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children written by Janie Reinart and illustrated by Morgan Taylor, Blue Whale Press, 2021

This is a beautiful book about two young girls who are in a refugee camp They arrived there with nothing but their dreams. The older sister sees the sadness in her little sister. So, she picks up a stick to make something from nothing. She uses it to draw pictures from home. The little sister smiles, but happiness fades quickly. The older sister continues to find things to cheer up her sister – pebbles to make a puzzle, a bag to make a balloon… Each time, the little sister is happy, but then sadness takes its place. Until…water makes mud. The older sister sculpts a doll out of the mud. The mud baby becomes a precious toy for the little sister. As the days pass the two add more mud toys and dream. Janie Reinart’s lyrical text and Morgan Taylor’s captivating illustrations will evoke emotions that will melt your heart.

The publisher’s profits from the sale of this book are being donated to UNICEF. I highly recommend adding this book to your home library.

Picture Books I Enjoyed Reading

June 3, 2021

These are a few of the books I picked up at my local library that I found enjoyable. Do any of these interest you?

Find Fergus written and illustrated by Mike Boldt, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020

Fergus is a silly bear. He doesn’t know where to find a good place to hide. He hides behind a skinny tree. He hides in a crowd of bunnies. He hides among elephants and moose. With a little practice, Fergus finally finds a perfect place to hide. Can you find Fergus?

Avacado Asks: What Am I? written and illustrated by Momoko Abe, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2021

When a little girl at a grocery store asks if an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable, Avocado suddenly doesn’t know where he belongs in the store. Is he a fruit? A Vegetable? An herb, a fish, cheese, egg…? He is feeling lost and lonely until Tomato helps Avocado understand the many things he is good at being. Avocado and Tomato agree being themselves is good enough!

Zonia’s Rain Forest written and illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal, Candlewick, 2021

This beautifully illustrated book is about a young Asháninka girl who lives in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest. She happily greets her animal friends each day until the day she sees something she has never seen before. Trees in the rain forest are being cut down. The little girl knows the forest needs help, and she vows to protect it. This book is a call to action to help save the Amazon rain forest.

Mars! Earthlings Welcome written by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Stevie Lewis, Henry Holt and Co., 2021

Stacy McAnulty has added another delightful book to her universe series. This time readers learn about Mars. This kid-friendly book is filled with wordplay, humor, and lots of information. How about a trip to Mars?

Don’t Be Smug! A PB Review

May 20, 2021

Sometimes you just need a good laugh, and Smug Seagull provided that for me. This book is written and illustrated by Maddie Frost. The format is a combination of prose and graphic picture book. Seagull has a high opinion of himself and his masterful way of snatching snacks from unsuspecting beachgoers. He thinks he is “the best snack swiper from shore to shore.” Until…the day Seagull confronts a small crab.  Seagull’s confidence is shaken when he is unable to snatch a french fry from Crab. Crab continues to outwit Seagull’s efforts. When Seagull tries to snatch snacks from beachgoers, they fight back. Seagull is devastated as he realizes he has lost his swipe. Seagull abandons hope and decides to move to a lake and “eat soggy breadcrumbs with ducks.” Until…Crab shows up once again and shows Seagull how easy it is to snag a snack just by being cute and courteous. Seagull teams up with Crab and discovers a little humility goes a long way. The hilarious text and illustrations in this book are sure to keep readers laughing.

Coming Soon: A Hilarious Picture Book!

February 25, 2021

Cow Says Meow written by Kristi Call and illustrated by Brandon James Scott, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, March 16, 2021.

If you like animals, wordplay, and serious silliness, this is the book for you! Cow Says Meow written by Kirsti Call and illustrated by Brandon James Scott will have you and young readers meowing, clucking, and belly laughing with each page turn. The illustrator’s bold art will appeal to the youngest of readers who can practice identifying the animal pictures and matching the animal sounds to the proper animal. The clever text with a young boy as the narrator combined with the humorous illustrations make this book a winner! “Ewe” will love it!

Join the free virtual book launch on Tuesday, March 16th at 7pm EST. Kirsti Call will be singing a song written by her daughter especially for Cow Says Meow. The illustrator will be there, too, for a fun evening. You can register here. https://www.anunlikelystory.com/event/cowsaysmeow  Once at the site, click on the date above the pictures of Kirsti Call and Brandon James Scott in the big black box.

See you there!

PB Review: The Clothesline Code

February 18, 2021

The Clothesline Code: The Story of Civil War Spies Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Trisha Mason, Brandylane Publishers, Inc., 2021

Have you ever thought about becoming a spy? Is it dangerous? What if you get caught? Award-winning author, Janet Halfmann‘s newest book, The Clothesline Code, tells a compelling story about Dabney and Lucy Ann Walker, two black patriots, who fled slavery and became spies for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Dabney and Lucy Ann found refuge and work in a Union camp near the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Lucy Ann worked as a laundress, and Dabney worked as a cook and scout. Camped across the river was Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army. Major General Hooker of the Union army wanted to find out every detail about the enemy. Dabney volunteered to help by becoming a spy. He told Lucy Ann about the flags the Union soldiers used to send coded messages. Together the two of them came up with a clever way to use different colors of clothing and different patterns of hanging laundry on a clothesline to send messages across the river.

Dabney and Lucy Ann worked hard to flesh out every single detail of their code and practiced until they knew exactly how to work it. It was time for Lucy Ann to take her place as a spy. She used her wits to cross the Rappahannock River and blend in with the other women doing laundry in the Confederate camp. She washed clothes for General Lee and his officers, and she also cooked for them. She was in the perfect place to gather information. Spying was a dangerous job, but the clothesline code worked well. Dabney decoded the messages sent by Lucy Ann which then provided General Hooker with valuable information about the enemy forces. Janet Halfmann has written a powerful story of two extraordinary black patriots who were willing to risk their lives so others could enjoy freedom. Trisha Mason‘s illustrations help tell the Walkers’ story, depicting emotions of fear and elation experienced by Dabney and Lucy Ann. This book is a fascinating look at American history and how two heroic people came up with an ingenious idea to help the Union Army during the Civil War.

A perfect book to celebrate African American History Month!

PB Review: Little Dandelion Seeds the World

February 4, 2021

Little Dandelion Seeds the World written by Julia Richardson and illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell, Sleeping Bear Press, March 15, 2021

Dandelions!

Children love them. Lawn enthusiasts not so much.

Where do dandelions come from? Why do they seem to pop up everywhere?

Julia Richardson has the answer to these questions in her delightful book about the adaptability of the dandelion in Little Dandelion Seeds the World. With the use of repetition, rhyme, and alliteration, the author’s lyrical text is music to readers’ ears. Each page turn engages readers as they follow the path of one little dandelion seed. The wind twists and turns the seed, taking it to far-off places where it plants itself. Down with a root. Up with a shoot. And when the yellow flower fades, POOF! The seeds take flight once again. It slowly travels across the world. It finds its way to each continent by hitching a ride with the weather, indigenous animals, and human beings. Readers will enjoy the bright and colorful illustrations created by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell as they follow the journey of the dandelion seed to unusual places. This book is informative, entertaining, and provides room for discussions about seeds, animals, and continents. Little Dandelion Seeds the World celebrates resilience and deserves a prize bouquet of — dandelions!

PB Review: WILD STYLE

January 14, 2021

Author, Jenna Grodzicki, offers readers a new way of showing off a “wild style.” This book is about creatures found in nature that dress up themselves in unusual ways. Their style is definitely unconventional. Wild Style:  Amazing Animal Adornments is filled with colorful photographs that beg to be carefully examined. These extraordinary creatures have adapted to their environment in exotic ways. There’s the assassin bug that protects itself with a pile of dead ants on its back. A carrier crab carries a sea urchin on its back to keep predators away. And readers will love learning about the golden tortoise beetle larva that covers itself with poop! Jenna Grodzicki cleverly introduces readers to a variety of animal adornments that are as fascinating as they are unusual. Dress up your bookshelves with this stylish book!

PB Review: Bird Hugs

January 7, 2021

Bird Hugs written and illustrated by Ged Adamson, Two Lions, 2020.

Bernard, the bird, has a problem. His friends have all left the nest and flown away, but Bernard can’t. He is different than his bird friends. His oversized wings hang to the ground. They’re too heavy to fly. Bernard tries everything to get his wings working, but he has no luck. One day he hears a sob from none other than an orangutan. Bernard uses his oversized wings to give him a hug. The orangutan immediately feels better – much better. Soon everyone wants a hug from Bernard. They tell him their problems. Bernard listens and gives them a hug. With each hug, Bernard’s wings become stronger. With his new strength, he knows he can fly. Bernard tries again and again with no luck. He finally has the strength to realize flying isn’t everything – especially when you have friends. Ged Adamson‘s text and humorous illustrations are filled with heart and include a surprise ending that readers won’t want to miss!

PB Review: THE BOY and the GORILLA

December 3, 2020

The Boy and the Gorilla written by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Cindy Derby, Candlewick, 2020.

The Boy and the Gorilla took me by surprise. This touching story written by Jackie Azúa Kramer with illustrations by Cindy Derby brought tears to my eyes. After the death of his mother, a young boy is consumed with grief. Not knowing who to turn to, he finds comfort in a gorilla that happens to appear. The gorilla stays with the boy and patiently answers questions about the loss of his mother. The gorilla offers friendship and empathy as the boy goes through the stages of mourning. When the boy sees his dad is sad, too, he finds the courage to reach out to his dad and tell him how he feels. The two come together to share their grief, and the gorilla fades into the distance. Cindy Derby’s use of soft muted colors with sprinkles of brighter colors perfectly capture the essence of the story. Derby’s art and the simplicity of Jackie Azúa Kramer’s heartrending story are perfect for a child who has loved and lost someone special in their life. This is a beautiful book to have when the need comes.


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