Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Picture Book Summer Reading Roundup

"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August"
                                                                                            Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty  

Beach Baby by Laurie Elmquist, illustrated by Elly MacKay
Orca Books, 2016, 24 pages, Age 3 months+

A day of playing at the beach makes for a tired baby.  Baby drifts off to sleep in mother' arms, whose sings a lullaby perfect for the day, reminding baby that all those wonders that were there today will be there tomorrow.  There's not real story here, just loving reassurances.  The illustrations, created with paper, ink, light and photography are as soft and gentle as the lullaby.  A perfect board book for baby's first days at the seashore - whether the visit is real or imagined.

At the Beach by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Harlow Rockwell
Aladdin Books, 2016, 24 pages, age 4+

A young girl goes to the beach with her family and describes everything she sees and does.  There seashells to collect, sand castles to build, a wonderful picnic lunch, other kids to play with, sandpipers to follow and of course, sunscreen to put on.  This is a nice beach book for slightly older kids who might already have some beach experience.  The text is done in simple, declarative sentences, matched by the simple but colorful lines of the illustrations.  This book really reminded me of summers at the beach when my Kiddo was young.

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Amazon Publishing, 2016, 32 pages, age 4+

After a very long day at the beach playing and have fun with her mom and dad, Lucy and her parents sure are tired, yawning and yawning.  When mom falls asleep reading to Lucy, Lucy is suddenly wide awake.  And in the dark, everything looks different.  Getting out of bed, she discovers her dad is asleep in a chair.  Umm...what to do?  Before she knows it, Lucy is in bed with all her stuffed animals, yawning and falling asleep.  Yes, you can count 20 yawns throughout this book, but its real strength for me is that Lucy is a biracial child from a happy, intact home who knows how to self-soothe when she gets scared,    The digitally rendered illustrations with painted textures are bold, but soft and simple at the same time, and may remind you of some of Kevin Henkes illustrations.

Are We There Yet? written and illustrated by Dan Santat
Little, Brown BFYR, 2016, 40 pages, age 4+

Planning a road trip with the kids this summer?  You might want to share a copy of this book with them.  A young boy and his parents are off to grandma's house for her birthday party, but no sooner are they in the car, when the boy in the back seat asks "are we there yet?"  Bored, he suddenly finds the car transported page by page back in time because this trip is taking a million years.  The trip back in time is cleverly done by following a path that turns the book upside down.  But time can also pass too quickly and the path leads to the future, 2059  to be exact.  Finally, the car returns to the present and the family arrives at grandma's just in time for her party.  The message is loud and clear: Be patient, and enjoy the moment you are living in.  Santat's whimsical  pencil, crayon, watercolor ink and photoshopped illustrations add much to the humor of the story.

The Airport Book written and illustrated by Lisa Brown
Roaring Brook Press, 2016, 40 pages, age 5+ 

If your young readers are going to be flying somewhere this summer for the first time, or even if they have some flying experience, this is the book for them.   A young boy traveling with his family describes every step of the way from packing to getting to the airport, to check-in, all the way to arriving at his grandparents house as only a young kid can - that is to say, concrete factual details in simple declarative sentences.  Take time to pay attention to the background details on each page to really appreciate the variety of people and things you run into while traveling.  This story of a happy, intact,  biracial family traveling together on an airplane is sure to become a family favorite.

The Storm written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
Kids Can Press, 2016, 32 pages, age 5+

A young boy can't wait for Saturday.  His parents promised to take him to the beach, but on Friday, his teacher warns that there is a storm coming.  As the sky gets darker, his parents bring in potted plants, and close the shutters.  As the storms rages outside, the boy jumps into bed and pulls the covers over his head.  He dreams he's on a ship, sailing through the storm right into clear skies.  Will the skies be clear Saturday morning so the anticipated trip to the beach can happen?  This is a charming story by the author of The Tea Party in the Woods.  Miyakoshi uses the same technique here of detailed, variously shaded charcoal illustrations with touches of color.  The story moves along illustration by illustration, with just enough text to carry it.  This was originally published in Japan and very popular over there, as I'm sure it will be here as well.

The Whale story and illustrations by Vita Murrow and Ethan Murrow
Templar Books, 2016, 32 pages, age 6+

The Whale is a wordless picture book that will take a little more effort on the part of the reader, but is so worth it.  It is the 50th anniversary of the supposed spotting of a Great Spotted Whale in a seaside town.  Now the newspaper has issued a challenge - prove the whales exists and that it wasn't just a whale of a hoax.  A young boy and a young girl separately take up the challenge, outfitting their small boats for the task - he with sound equipment, she with camera equipment.  But when their boats collide, they decide to join forces.  The two clever children do indeed spot the Great Spotted Whale, and when they get back to shore with their proof, they are in for a real surprise.  See if you can spot it in the newspaper at the end of the book.  I loved this book.  The illustrations are done in graphite and there is so much detail from the first page to the last, that I spent a great deal of time going over each beautifully rendered page, and I am sure your young readers will be as captivated as I was by this whale of a tale (OK, I done with the whale idioms now).

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