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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 58 min 36 sec ago

How Loud is a Lion? by Clare Beaton

Fri, 2015-04-24 01:01

Clare Beaton has created a clever book that shows characteristics of several different African animals. Each double-page spread ends with “But how loud is a lion? Shhh! Listen!” Your children will quickly pick up this refrain and chime in.  Will everyone be ready when we finally turn the page and discover how loud the lion is? And the humor of the last page can be enjoyed by all.

The applique and embroidery illustrations give this book a friendly, folk art atmosphere. This can be the jumping off point for a lesson on descriptive adjectives. Older audiences may also find this book a great stimulus for their own art projects.

Check the WRL catalog for How Loud Is a Lion?


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I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur by Stella Blackstone and Clare Beaton

Wed, 2015-04-22 02:01

This book will delight  whether or not you have a dinosaur fan in the group. Each page introduces one or more dinosaurs to the reader. Each dinosaur is identified and the fact that each is given a first name isn’t a major drawback. The large and larger animals are the focus of the book but be sure to look for a snail that appears on each double-page spread.

There is no plot here. We are on a walk through an ancient landscape and we check out the animals around us. But that will not discourage your audience. This is perfect for group sharing as the pictures are large and bright and the text is minimal.

Facts about the Age of the Dinosaurs and descriptions and pronunciations of the dinosaur names are included at the end of the book.  Check the WRL catalog for I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur.


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There’s a Billy Goat in the Garden: based on a Puerto Rican folk tale. Retold by Laurel Dee Gugler, illus. by Clare Beaton

Mon, 2015-04-20 01:01

This week I’m going to share books illustrated by Clare Beaton. I love her fabric applique and embroidery collage illustrations. On her web page [www.clarebeaton.com] Ms. Beaton tells us that she was brought up in North London in England and continues to live and work there. She always loved folk art and used that inspiration in her children’s book work. She works with felt and a mostly vintage range of buttons, braids, and fabric. The pictures are all hand-stitched.

 

Two young farmers want the billy goat out of the garden (think back yard in America) but flowers and laundry drying on the line are too wonderful for goat to leave. One by one the other farm animals try their best to hurry the goat out of the garden. But this is a very stubborn goat. Can you guess what animal will finally send the goat on his way?

The collage illustrations are perfect for this story which is adapted from a Puerto Rican folk tale. The cumulative nature of the narrative is echoed in the pictures.

The illustrations are large enough to share with a group. The book may also be used in a family setting.

Check the WRL catalog for There’s a Billy Goat in the Garden.


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Fraidyzoo, by Thyra Heder

Fri, 2015-04-17 01:01

What could Little T be afraid of at the zoo? Her parents and big sister try to figure it out alphabetically. As the family proceeds through the alphabet, they call out a letter or a description and use their bodies and whatever is lying around to act out the animal. Children will be able to guess the animal for each letter based on these clues, but the family goes from A to Z and still cannot guess what frightens Little T.

Upon arriving at the zoo, Little T’s family finally solves the mystery. When they return home they amusingly act out Little T’s fear as well. Your readers will never guess what Little T’s fear is, but the payoff will still be great, perhaps even better for being completely unexpected.

Check the WRL catalog for Fraidyzoo.


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What Animals Really Like, by Fiona Robinson

Wed, 2015-04-15 01:01

As the song goes, “Fish got to swim and birds got to fly”, but that doesn’t mean they have to be happy about it. What if what we thought we knew about our friends in the animal kingdom turned out to be vicious stereotyping. The revelatory volume, What Animals Really Like blows all our assumptions about animals out of the water.

As the book begins, Mr. Herbert Timberteeth is debuting a song of his own, “What Animals Like Most.” His choir is composed of cows, monkeys, frogs, and a menagerie of other animals. He’s not expecting them to go off-book.

Things start off well: “We are lions, and we like to prowl. We are wolves, and we like to howl. We are pigeons, and we like to coo.”

But then things take a turn: “We are horses, and we like deep-sea diving. We are worms, and we like to bowl. We are warthogs, and we like to parachute.”

Children will enjoy this irreverent story and its surprising twists. Very ambitions storytellers might even choose to find a tune to which they can sing Mr. Timberteeth’s song.

Check the WRL catalog for What Animals Really Like.


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Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Dan Santat

Mon, 2015-04-13 01:01

It’s hard living at the top of the food chain. Sure, you might have your pick of yummy food to eat but nobody likes you.

“The lion tries to ignore it when the gazelles whisper behind his back. He pretends not to see the zebras looking down their noses at him. The wildebeests call him ‘bad kitty’ just because he’s eaten half the neighborhood. It hurts. It really does.”

So, the lion, timber wolf, and great white shark decide to go vegetarian. It goes just about as well as you might think. Carnivores just can’t ignore their natural instincts. They try disguising themselves as less threatening animals, but that doesn’t work either. Finally, they seek out the great horned owl for advice. What he tells them changes everything.

Carnivores is a darkly humorous picture book perfect for older children and fans of similar titles including Ugly Fish, Whatever, and Jim: a Cautionary Tale.

Check the WRL catalog for Carnivores.


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The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky, illus. by Andrew Joyner

Fri, 2015-04-10 01:01

Woodland critters are very skittish. The slightest noise can send them scampering away. So, when a few bunnies sitting under a tree by a lake hear a sudden “PLOP!” they are off and running. They warn the fox, who warns the monkey, and soon all of the animals are running for their lives. All except the big brown bear.

The big brown bear is not scared of things; things are scared of him! He wants to find this “PLOP!” that is stepping onto his turf. So, the big brown bear forces one of the bunnies to take him back to see the “PLOP!” When the two return to the lake, they hear the “PLOP!” again. This time the bunny notices where the sound is coming from and is no longer afraid. The big brown bear, however, has a different reaction.

This is a story about bravery and the fear of the unknown. Children will quickly realize what caused the “PLOP!” and will find humor in each animal’s overreaction. Colorful illustrations fill the page and even make use of photographs. A picture of cake is created by combining a photo with hand-drawings, while the texture of the big brown bear’s fur looks like real yarn. Pictures of a knife and glass appear to be clip art inserted into the illustrations. This is another title perfect for a storytime audience.

Check the WRL catalog for The Terrible Plop.


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It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle, illus. by Jeremy Tankard

Wed, 2015-04-08 01:01

“We’ll start in the jungle where the tall trees grow and the monkeys swing from vine to vine. Wait a minute. That’s not a monkey. That looks like…A TIGER! Run!”

In It’s a Tiger! a boy runs from a tiger that seems to be following him. Through the jungle, underground, on the sea, everywhere he goes he finds the tiger. Does the tiger want to eat him, or does he just want to hear a story? Given that this is a picture book recommended for preschoolers and kindergarteners, you can probably guess which.

This book is great for storytime and a natural for doing call and response. As children learn the rhythm of the book they will pick up on the prompt for their part: “A TIGER!” You could also integrate movement by having the children mime the boy’s actions as he ducks, climbs, tiptoes, and swims away from the tiger. The ending always gets a good reaction from the audience as well, as a new animal enters the picture.

Mr. La Rochelle has written an entertaining, interactive book perfectly illustrated with Tankard’s bold and colorful pictures.

Check the WRL catalog for It’s a Tiger!


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How to Hide a Lion, by Helen Stephens

Mon, 2015-04-06 01:01

How to Hide a Lion is about the unlikely friendship between a girl and a lion. Unfortunately, “Moms and dads can be funny about having a lion in the house”, so the girl embarks on the ambitious task of hiding the lion from her parents. This friendly lion is easier to hide than a ferocious lion would be, but he is still rather large. He’s also very difficult to move when he’s sleeping, which proves to be their downfall.

This picture book is a bit of a throwback, as it is very reminiscent of oldies but goodies like The Story of Ferdinand and Madeline. Part of that similarity may come from the sketched illustrations, but it also comes across in the quaint quality of the story. This is a great book for either storytime or one-on-one, perhaps paired with a few classic titles.

Check the WRL catalog for How to Hide a Lion.


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Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin, illus. by Fumi Kosaka

Fri, 2015-04-03 01:01

Karla Kuskin has written over fifty books for children. She has also won the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Award for Excellence in Poetry. Under My Hood I Have a Hat is a simple and simply darling portrayal of a child’s experience on a snowy day. Our little hero and her dog head inside after playing and building a snowman. The girl describes all the layers that have kept her warm as she takes them off. And again, as she dresses to head back out to the cold. Children will definitely identify with the process.

Fumi Kosaka who was born and raised in Japan has created bright illustrations with a soft look and plenty of gentle humor. I don’t if it is possible to read Under My Hat… without a smile.

Check the WRL catalog for Under My Hood I Have a Hat.


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Cock-a-Doodle-Moo! by Bernard Most

Wed, 2015-04-01 01:01

Cock-A-Doodle-Moo! poses an interesting question. What can a rooster do when he can’t wake up all the folks on the farm? What if he can only whisper “cock-a-doodle-doo” instead of his usually LOUD announcement of the day’s start? After several valiant efforts that leave the animals fast asleep, rooster is getting very concerned. Finally, he resorts to pecking at a cow. And he begins to teach the cow how to crow. Your audience will laugh and laugh at the cow’s efforts to master rooster’s wake-up call.

The illustrations and typography show the rooster’s frustration and the laughter of the other farm residents as they are finally awakened by cow’s version of cock-a-doodle-moo.

I’ve used this many times with groups and I’ve had great success. Pictures, type, and text all join together for a pleasing story experience.

Check the WRL catalog for Cock-A-Doodle-Moo!


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Zoe and Her Zebra by Clare Beaton

Mon, 2015-03-30 01:01

The illustrations in this very cute alphabet book were created in felt with braid, buttons, beads and assorted bric-a-brac. This gives the pictures a gentle three-dimensional feel. The bright colors of the fabric and decorations and the hand-embroidered details result in a satisfying visual pleasure.

This book includes 25 children who are each being chased by an animal. From Alice who is chased by an alligator to Yoko who is chased by a yak, there are plenty of vignettes that show the adventures of all. Child number 26 is Zoe. Who is she chasing? Can you find a clue in the picture?

Check the WRL catalog for Zoe and Her Zebra.


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Baby Polar by Yannick Murphy, illus. by Kristen Balouch and My Little Polar Bear by Claudia Rueda.

Fri, 2015-03-27 01:01

I chose two books to highlight today. They each show a mother and baby polar bear interacting in their snowy home. The illustrations in both books are rendered in blues, grays, and whites. The animals are not photographic or cartoonish in style. Instead they are soft with rounded shapes against neutral backgrounds. These are excellent for preschool story time.

In Baby Polar, the little one sees snow falling and asks to go out and play. Mother says yes but warns him that a storm is coming. We enjoy the gentle play of the baby but he doesn’t listen to his mother tell him to come back. And then he can’t find his mother or the tracks he had made in the snow as he played. He is bewildered by the snow coming from all directions and stinging his nose. He digs a snow cave to find some protection from the storm. And guess who he finds in his cave. The theme of losing and then finding Mother is perfect for a preschooler. I would suggest this book for a very small group or a couple of children snuggling up with Mom or Dad.

Check the WRL catalog for Baby Polar.

In My Little Polar Bear, a cub wants proof that it is a polar bear. Mother describes things that identify a polar bear. The little one points out that there are some things that it can’t do. Mother tells him not to worry because she will teach him all he needs to be a polar bear. In the end, the little one announces that there is one thing that it already knows—that its mother loves him. The desire to belong to a group is as important to preschoolers as it is to baby polar bears. Parents may find that this book allows them to talk a little about what it means to be part of a family. I would also use this book only with a small group or in a family setting because the lovely illustrations do not have enough contrast to be visible from a distance.

Check the WRL catalog for My Little Polar Bear.


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Road Work Ahead by Anastasia Suen, illus. by Jannie Ho

Wed, 2015-03-25 01:01

            Road Work Ahead is a treat for any child who likes construction equipment. A road trip to Grandma’s house takes a little boy and his mother through a variety of road work situations including tree trimming and concrete pouring. There are male and female workers shown busily improving the streets and surrounding areas. The rhymed and rhythmic text is a pleasure to read.

Jannie Ho’s colorful illustrations add to the delight of the story. Spend some time with your child exploring the scenes to discover little stories within the story. Hint: Can you find the missing chicken?

I have used this successfully with small groups but the detailed illustrations will be better enjoyed by an adult and one or two children curled up on the couch.

Check the WRL catalog for Road Work Ahead.


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Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley, illus. by Roberta Angaramo

Mon, 2015-03-23 01:01

Dog has just finished reading a very good book. And then he heads to the shoe store to find a pair of boots. Wonderful boots. But he finds that boots don’t really fit his lifestyle. The same goes for high heels, flippers, and skis. What does Dog really need for his feet? The large bright illustrations show the problem with each of Dog’s choices. Let your children guess what Dog finally decides to wear.

When Dog is happy with his feet, he begins to read a new book. Hmmm, could there be another clothing search in Dog’s future?

Check the WRL catalog for Dog in Boots.


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Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

Fri, 2015-03-20 01:01

It’s one of those days when Frankie and Sal feel like they’ve done it all. The only solution, “Let’s do nothing!” And they certainly make an attempt, pretending to be motionless statues, trees, and skyscrapers. Unfortunately, Frankie’s imagination is too active to do nothing. As a statue he attracts pigeons, as a tree he attracts a dog with a full bladder, and as a skyscraper he attracts King Kong. Each attempt at doing nothing fails, but Sal is undeterred. What will they do if they can’t do “nothing”?

The visuals in this book are highly entertaining and will have readers laughing out loud. This one is a crowd-pleaser perfect for an older storytime audience.

Check the WRL catalog for Let’s Do Nothing!


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Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox, illus. by Jan Thomas

Wed, 2015-03-18 01:01

Interactive books are great for storytime. It’s even better when the book is both entertaining and educational. Let’s Count Goats will provide the necessary fun, as these anthropomorphized goats behave much like humans. This book will also give children a chance to practice their counting. And, as children love to point out, “It’s a rhyming book!”

“Here we see a show-off goat playing on the bars. But can we count the rowdy goats careering round in cars?”

Anything written by Mem Fox is a sure bet, and Jan Thomas’ pictures are perfect, as usual. The illustrations are cute, humorous, and flooded with color.

Check the WRL catalog for Let’s Count Goats!


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What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds

Mon, 2015-03-16 01:01

Sometimes you just need a book of practical advice. Such as, “If an elephant stands on your foot, keep calm. Panicking will only startle it.” Unfortunately, our hero lets out a shriek anyway, and now must run from a startled elephant. The book’s next piece of advice: “Running my attract tigers.” You see where this is going.

What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot is a cumulative story in which the actions of a young boy on safari put him in one perilous situation after another. He can’t seem to follow the book’s advice, so he finds himself being chased by everything from the titular elephant to a family of snakes.

Children will enjoy watching the young hero get into and out of some sticky spots with the help of the narrator (and some helpful monkeys). This humorous story is sure to entertain.

Check the WRL catalog for What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot.


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Beautiful Bananas by Elizabeth Laird, illus. by Liz Pichon

Fri, 2015-03-13 01:01

This is a beautifully written story by Elizabeth Laird, a specialist in African Folklore. Liz Pichon, the illustrator, has used a large vivid format ideal for group storytelling. I was reminded of Little Red Riding Hood. Only Beatrice is going through the African jungle to take bananas to her grandfather’s house. She is bringing him lovely, ripe bananas. However unlike Red Riding Hood, Beatrice meets careless but kindly animals throughout the jungle. Giraffe flicks the bananas out from Beatrice’s hand but picks her some flowers. The bees settle on the flowers and squash them but present her with a honeycomb to take to her grandfather. She continues to lose and receive various gifts. Finally, elephant picks another bunch of bananas for her and she eventually gets to grandfather’s house without further mishap. This book would make a good addition to a story time about jungle animals. My favorites are Who Is the Beast? by Keith Baker and Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman.

Check the WRL catalog for Beautiful Bananas.


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Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, illus. by Shane W. Evans

Wed, 2015-03-11 01:01

This is a great story with  a message for any child that is different! Award winning illustrator, Shane Evans enhances the simple story with his extremely large illustrations. These big illustrations make it ideal for a class reading for preschoolers, kindergartners or first graders too.The dark skinned little boy in the picture calls himself *Chocolate ME* and he laments to his mother that he wants to look like his light skinned friends. His mom shows him a spoon with chocolate on it.

“you have skin like velvet frosting mixed in a bowl (you can lick the bowl)
Cotton candy hair soft to the touch of my fingertips or braided like rows of corn with a twist.”

He begins to look at himself and likes what he sees. He shares delicious chocolate cupcakes with his friends-and finally comes to terms with the color of his beautiful skin. Chocolate Me! This is an excellent story about self esteem and acceptance.

Check the WRL catalog for Chocolate Me!


Categories: Pied Piper Pics