Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rabbits, Chicks and the Easter Cat, oh my!

Spring and Easter are here, and it's time to look at some books just right for the season. And what could be more apropos than rabbits, chicks, and the Easter...Cat?
Too Many Carrots written and illustrated by Katy Hudson
Capstone YR, 2016, 32 pages, age 4+
Are there times when you think you can never have enough of something you really love? Well, that's what Rabbit thinks about carrots. Every chance he gets, he collects carrots, so many that soon there is no more room for him to live in his own burrow. What to do? Why, turn to friends, of course. First, Rabbit tries bunking with Tortoise, but soon, it too is overrun with too many of Rabbit's carrots.
So, Rabbit and Tortoise decide to see if they can spend the night with Bird in his nest in a tree branch. Except Bird, Tortoise, Rabbit and a supply of too many carrots make the nest too heavy for the branch, and down they go, carrots and all.
Luckily, Squirrel invites Bird, Tortoise, and Rabbit to stay the night with him, but as soon as Rabbit fills Squirrel's tree house with too many carrots, Squirrel's tree bursts open.
Next, Squirrel, Bird, Tortoise and Rabbit visit Beaver, who thinks he has plenty of space for putting his friends up for the night. And he does, until Rabbit adds his carrots into the mix. Sure enough, Beaver's house collapses under all the carrot weight.
Where will they all sleep now? When Rabbit realizes his friends are cold, tire and homeless, can he come up with a solution to everyone's problem (that he caused in the first place).
The consequences of selfish behavior and not sharing things with friends while asking those same friends for help you is explored through Rabbit's behavior. And Rabbit does have a lesson to learn about the important of friends over things, which he fortunately does learn in the end. The brightly colored illustrations add to the humor of the story.

Egg written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2017, 40 pages, age 4+
Four eggs - a pink egg, a yellow egg, a blue egg, and a green egg - are all ready to crack. Out of the pink egg comes a pink chick, out of the yellow egg comes a yellow chick, out of the blue egg comes a blue chick, out of the green egg comes...nothing yet. The pink, yellow and blue chicks wait and listen to the green egg, then they peck and peck and peck at it until finally a crack appears. What a surprise when a green alligator pops out of the green egg. The chicks are pretty surprised and scared, while the alligator feels alone, lonely and sad when the chicks fly away. But wait, the chicks are coming back, and in no time, they are all friends and everyone is happy. Wait, is that the sun or an orange egg on the last page?
This sparsely worded picture book manages to say so much about the importance and the acceptance of differences within family through color, expression and one word at a time. The images are line drawings filled in with watercolor done in a springtime palette of pastels with each buff colored page framed in brown ink. The pages are divided, sometime with one image per page, other times with four sections containing one image each, and there are two pages divided into 16 squares each to reflect the idea of lengthy listening and waiting. This is a lovely thought-provoking, conversation generating book, perfect for spring reading.

Here Comes the Easter Cat written by Deborah Underwood,
illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Dial BFYR, 2014, 80 pages, age 4+
When Cat sees that the Easter Bunny is returning, he has trouble controlling his jealousy. After all, everyone loves the Easter Bunny, he brings them chocolate eggs every year. When an unseen narrator suggests that he become the Easter Cat, there are some logistics to work out - like how will Cat get around, and what will he wear, and most important what will kind of chocolate will he give out. How about chocolate bunnies, a motorcycle and a sparkly vest? But, just a Cat is ready to roll, it's time for nap number 8. When he finds out that the Easter Bunny gets really tired delivering all those chocolate eggs, Cat suggests he take a nap, too. Wait, here comes the Easter Bunny with an egg for Cat and, boy, he does look tired. Can Cat help out the Easter Bunny and still be the Easter Cat?
I am violently allergic to cats, but I just love them so much. And I particularly love Cat. Not only does he make me laugh, but Cat has just the right amount of naughtiness to make him very appealing and young readers will easily see that deep down Cat is really a pretty nice guy. Although, he can be such a bundle of conflicting emotions, all Cat wants is to be loved as much as his (perceived) rival - the Easter Bunny. And he has just enough ego to think he can do his job better...until his catness gets in his way. 
This is such a fun, light-hearted story, that kids will want to read it over and over long past Easter. And they will probably really like the ending which reveals Cat's next plan for worldly love and recognition. Cat is a charming marmalade cat and Rueda has illustrated Cat's tale using ink and color pencil illustrations that are sparse, with lots of white space on each page. Much of what we learn about Cat comes from his expressive countenance and his body language, captured brilliantly by the artist. Oh, yes, and the signs he holds up in lieu of speaking.

Do you have a favorite springtime book?

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