Monday, November 27, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? We Read 12 Picture Books

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s Monday! What are you reading? - from Picture Books to YA is a kid lit focused meme just like the original and is hosted weekly by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. The purpose is the same: to recap what you have read and/or reviewed and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. Twitter: #IMWAYR 
Everyone is getting excited about the upcoming holidays and I'll be posting some book gift suggestions for young readers soon.  Meantime, since last week was a short school week and we didn't do much work but we did reread some of our favorite picture books. Here are my mini reviews of them: 

I Wrote You A Note written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books, 2017, 36 pages
A young girl lying in a meadow writes a note and leaves it to be found. And it is found by all kinds of small animals and birds who each use it according to their needs and then abandon it.  Eventually though, it is found by its intended recipient and the contents revealed. Boyd’s sparse stylized gouache illustrations done in a limited palette of green, blue, yellow and dusty pink on a beige background add a bit of whimsy to the note’s journey. The text, including the refrain of “I wrote you a note. Did you find it?” looks just like the block lettering of a young child. Readers will have fun spotting the different critters in the background, many of whom will find a use for the note.  A fun, thought-provoking story.

Say Zoop! written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books, 2017, 64 pages
Say Zoop! is the fourth simple interactive concept book by HervĂ© Tullet that includes Press Here!, Mix It Up!, and Let’s Play!. Even in the age of flashy, noisy games for kids on iPads and iPhones, Tullet makes simple red, blue, and yellow dots and simple sounds together with simple suggestions for amping up the action fun and appealing to young readers as they create and follow the dot adventures. And don’t be surprised at just what dots can lead to as the ideas get progressively more complex. 

Small written and illustrated by Gina Perry
Little Bee Books, 2017, 40 pages
When  you are young and must look up to see most things, the world can make you feel very small. And that is exactly why Gina Perry wrote this charming picture book. Told from the perspective of a little girl, readers spend a day in the city with her, where everything, from tall buildings, speeding bikes, noisy cars, to the long line at the hot dog stand, makes her feel small…Until she slides down the slide and feels big, or plays a fierce game of basketball. In fact, she discovers a whole host of reasons to feel big in the world. Perry’s playful illustrations and her serious message will help kids realize that they are really as big as their heart and dreams are.

Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
Chronicle Books, 2017, 32 pages
I didn’t really get this book at first, but the surprise ending had me laughing out loud. A crocodile get up in the morning, does all the usual things one does to get ready for work, and leaves the house impeccably dressed for business. He commutes on public transportation, reading the morning paper, stopping to look at things that catch his attention, even getting splashed by a passing car, eventually arriving at his job. And what a job! The end may be unexpected, but this wordless picture book, with beautifully detailed illustrations, has lots to explore on each page before the crocodile gets to work.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Dial Books, 2016, 40 pages
The Uncorker of ocean bottles lives alone by the ocean, looking for bottles to open, so he can deliver the notes and letters inside them. Sadly, the Uncorker had no name himself, so he never received a note or letter, but wished he would. When he finds a seashore party invitation with no address, and tries to deliver it, no one can help him find out who it is for. The Uncorker, who never failed to deliver before, decides to go to the party an apologize to the writer of the note. But what a surprise he finds when he arrives at the party. This is a touching story that teaches us about the importance of friendship and connection, that no man is an island, and that everyone has value in this world. The illustrations, done in woodblock prints, oils and pastels, have a ethereal feeling to them, which perfectly suits this beautifully done picture book.

Under the Silver Moon: Lullabies, Night Songs & Poems illustrated by Pamela Dalton 
Chronicle Books, 2017, 48 pages
Using cut paper and watercolors give these old lullabies and poems new life. There is a wide range of poems, from traditional nursery rhymes like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to lesser known songs like Evening Prayer by Englebert Humperdinck (the German composer, not the pop singer). But the real standout in this collection are the incredibly detailed, brightly painted cut paper illustrations. Scherenschnitte (meaning scissor cuts) is a 16th century German art form, and Dalton has truly mastered it. Most of the illustrations are two page spreads, and each is placed against a black background, which simulates night, but which also really highlights the different subjects of Dalton’s cut papers. A lovely addition to any child’s bedtime bookshelf.

Little Elliot Fall Friends (Little Elliot #4) written and illustrated by Mike Curato
Henry Holt & Co BYR, 2017, 40 pages 
It’s fall and Little Elliot and his best friend Mouse decide they need a little time away from the big city and take a bus to the country. The country is big, beautiful in its fall colors, and there is lots to do. But when the friends play hide and seek, and Elliot hides among the corn stalks, he waits and waits, but Mouse doesn’t find him and it’s starting to get dark. Suddenly, Elliot notices an really yummy smell and follows his nose to a freshly baked pie. Sure enough, Mouse has found Elliot, but the fun doesn’t end here. This is the fourth Little Elliot and the pastel polka-dot elephant’s adventures are still fresh and fun. Curators mixed media illustrations detail the rich colors of autumn, but never over shadow the friendship between Little Elliot and Mouse. A gently quiet story that will surely please young readers.

Nothing Rhymes with Orange written and illustrated by Adam Rex
Chronicle Books, 2017, 48 pages
I never thought I would ever read a book about fruit that is so wildly funny and silly that I was laughing out loud from start to finish, and where, in the middle of a children’s book, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra would make an appearance, as well. Well, that all happens here, and apparently I found this book much more amusing that the poor orange that could find nothing to rhyme itself with. Apples, pears, grapes, peaches, cherries, even kiwi and quince are all included and seem to be able to be rhymed about how good they are. But poor orange is feeling really dejected and left out. But wait, it seems the other fruit have noticed orange. Will orange finally find a rhyme, too? This is an off the wall but powerful parable about difference and inclusion, with equally zany illustrations that still manage to convey orange’s feelings. I loved this book.

I Know Numbers! written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books, 2017, 40 pages
Using vividly colored, simple illustrations that are Taro Gomi’s trademark, this concept book is not a counting book, as you might expect, so much as it is one that demonstrates for young readers just how useful numbers are in helping us navigate the world. After all, the world is full of things that rely on our understanding their use of numbers - clocks, calendars, prices, telephone numbers, the numbers on seats and sport jerseys, even the numbers on the pages of I Know Numbers!  But while it might not be a counting book per se, as you read it with your young readers, they can certainly practice lots of number recognition on each page. Numbers are really such an abstract concept that a book giving them real life context is truly welcomed.

The Curious Cares of Bears written by Douglas Florian, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Little Bee Books, 2017, 32 pages
Travel through the seasons with this energetic sleuth of bears as the play their way to their winter’s nap. In spring, there’s honey to find and enjoy, games to play with siblings. When summer comes, there’s swimming in the creek, feasting on berries with the relatives, and time to party. Fall brings its own fun, and then, winter rolls round again. Young readers will discover that the curious cares of bears are sometimes not so very different than their own, at least in terms of fun, friends, and family. The simple rhyming text moves the story along season by season enhanced the lively whimsical illustrations. This book is a great read aloud, and my young readers certainly loved reading it - over and over and over (I loved the expressions on the faces of the bears, but then again, I love a good bear book).

 Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books, 2017, 40 pages
Living in an area that always seems to have massive amounts of construction happening, it never ceases to amaze me how much people like to stop and watch it happening, adults as much as kids. And yes, there are all those construction vehicles. My kids are no different, I’ve read Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site so many times to them, I almost have it memorized. The same five vehicles as in the first book wake up to a day of work, and Rinker deftly shows how teamwork and cooperation among the different vehicles of the construction team can work together to make a job fun and get it done fast. The rhyming text is spot on, that reading this book aloud, the words just flow smoothly, even when there is lots of alliteration, and each page of the detailed colorful illustrations kept my young readers talking and exploring. Now we all know the names of this construction vehicles that we keep seeing. The last page of this book is almost exactly like the final page of the first book, so they together can be read in an endless loop, much to the delight of young fans.

Owl Bat Bat Owl written by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Candlewick Press, 2017, 32 pages
This wordless book is such a charming story about difference and acceptance. An owl family, a mom and three kids, are perched on a tree limb sleeping when along comes a bat family, also a mom and three kids, who decide to hang from the same tree limb. Owl mom moves her kids away from the new neighbors, but soon one of the kids gets curious, and decides to check out the bats, but is soon pulled away. Along comes a gust of wind that knocks everyone off the tree limb and there is a mad scramble to save bat and owl kids. And yes, soon owl is saving bat and bat is saving owl, and in the end, there is harmony and friendship. Kids exploring the pictures closely will notice what each of these nocturnal creatures are thinking through body language and facial expressions. The digitally created illustrations, done is shades of blue and green, with yellow owls and black bats, are cleverly done so the book can be read right side up or up side down, so young readers can see things from both perspectives. I gave this book to my kids so they could go through it without any input from me, and it was interesting how easily they picked up the idea of friendship and acceptance. 

What are you reading?


  1. So many of these are new to me - thanks for putting them on my radar! My girls are obsessed with lullabies right now so I'm definitely going to be looking for Under the Silver Moon. I also love Taro Gomi, and I'm sure my math-loving four-year-old would enjoy I Know Numbers.

  2. I didn't review it, but sat down and read The Curious Cares of Bears at the library recently. It is cute. I love The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles and Owl Bat Bat Owl, very nice stories. Thanks for so many Alex, especially Under The Silver Moon.

  3. I keep hearing about Small so definitely need to add it to my stack ASAP!

  4. Lots of great books here. Wasn't crazy about Zoop, but loved Uncorker.


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