Pied Piper Pics

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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 15 min 59 sec ago

Which Shoes Would You Choose? by Betsy R. Rosenthal, illus. by Nancy Cote

Wed, 2014-05-28 01:01

A story, rhyming text, and a cute quiz are combined in Which Shoes Would You Choose? Young Sherman needs appropriate footwear for many activities. Riddles invite the reader to guess what shoes our hero will be wearing next.

This is a delightfully illustrated book. There is plenty to see in the backgrounds of each scene. Encourage your children to read the pictures and create their own stories.

You may need to explain galoshes to your audience. And the children and I expected Sherman to wear cleats for baseball. But these are minor drawbacks. They allow you to expand your group’s vocabulary.

Check the WRL catalog for Which Shoes Would You Choose?


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Flip Flop Bop by Matt Novak

Tue, 2014-05-27 12:01

Flip Flop Bop will have you and your audience ready to take off your shoes and head for the beach. School is out and the children trade school shoes for the footwear of summer–flip flops. The kids are joined by a dog, a cat, and a mouse as they bop into the new season of the year.
By the end of the book, folks of all ages are enjoying the freedom of summer shoes.

The illustrations are bright and busy. The text moves from “clippety clop” to “kazoobaloobadippy.” At this point, the dog remarks, “Now we’ve just gone too far.” I found my audience was ready to contribute their own nonsense words to the story. I used this book with All You Need for a Beach to book end an early summer story time. It would also fit with a shoe theme or a nonsense verse medley.

Check the WRL catalog for Flip Flop Bop.


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An Undone Fairy Tale by Ian Lendler, illus. by Whitney Martin

Fri, 2014-05-23 01:01

Our final conflict for the week is between the illustrator and the reader. In An Undone Fairy Tale the illustrator is a character named Ned. He’s really more of a set painter, costumer, hair and makeup artist, and prop man who is creating the illustrations for a typical fairy tale out of “real” objects. His troubles arise because we are reading the book entirely too fast. Ned never has time to prepare the illustrations for the next page before we turn to it. The narrator repeatedly tries to convince us to slow down and not turn the page yet. We, of course, do anyway.

The typical fairy tale we were expecting becomes decidedly atypical as Ned attempts to cobble together characters and scenes quickly enough to match the reader’s speed. This results in some quirky substitutions. For example, the king’s crown ends up being a donut. The knight’s horses aren’t ready in time, so Ned must replace them with fish. The only costumes ready for the knights are tutus.

The fairy tale becomes stranger and stranger until, finally, the narrator offers up a plea. “This is your final warning. The next page won’t be ready for four or five weeks. So put the book down and come back then. Okay? Pretty please?” Somehow I get the feeling that even if we did as he asked, the book still wouldn’t be ready.

Check the WRL catalog for An Undone Fairy Tale.


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Wait! No Paint!, by Bruce Whatley

Wed, 2014-05-21 01:01

In the book Wait! No Paint! author/illustrator Bruce Whatley takes the familiar story of The Three Little Pigs and throws a wrench in the works. Everything is chugging along as usual (the pigs move out, build their own homes, the wolf comes to visit) until the illustrator, referred to initially as “a Voice from nowhere in particular”, interrupts the action. While illustrating the book, he spills his orange juice on the page. His actions affect the course of the story, as the first little pig’s house is now “soggy and sticky”. Then the illustrator pops in to announce that he must redo the wolf’s nose and suddenly we see a paintbrush, pencil, and eraser enter the scene. These interruptions culminate with the announcement that he has run out of red paint. As we all know, red paint is used to make pink paint, and pigs are pink.

Whatley tries making the pigs green, but that makes them queasy, he makes them flower-patterned, but they blend into the chair cushions. All the while, the wolf is advancing on the third pig’s chimney. Children familiar with the original version of The Three Little Pigs will know that it is the fire in the fireplace that ultimately does the wolf in. Without red, the illustrator can’t make the fire. What can be done to save the pigs?! You’ll never guess what solution Whatley thinks up.

Children love to hear twists on familiar stories, and this one is fun and humorous with a great ending. Readers will enjoy the blurring of the wall between the pig’s story and the illustrator’s world.

Check the WRL catalog for Wait! No Paint!


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Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illus. by Adam Rex

Mon, 2014-05-19 01:01

This week’s theme is “illustrator conflicts”. In today’s title, we have a fictional conflict between the author and illustrator. In Chloe and the Lion author Mac Barnett is dissatisfied with the artistic license illustrator Adam Rex’s has taken with the titular lion’s depiction. Specifically, Rex thinks “a dragon would be cooler”. Their argument leads to some artistic shenanigans until Barnett finally fires Rex and replaces him with another illustrator. This illustrator is willing to draw a lion, only it still doesn’t look quite right. Barnett then attempts to draw his own illustrations for his story, with less than stellar results. On the verge of giving up, it is the book’s heroine, Chloe, who convinces Barnett to keep at it. But the problem still remains, who will be the illustrator?

Mac Barnett’s books are typically filled with humor, and Chloe and the Lion is no exception. This book takes a humorous look at the various ways different illustrators interpret the same text. It includes the simultaneous use of several illustrative techniques including clay sculpting, painting, model making, and photography.

Check the WRL catalog for Chloe and the Lion.


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Seen Art? by Jon Scieszka, illus. by Lane Smith

Fri, 2014-05-16 01:01

In Seen Art? a young boy’s quest to find his friend takes an unexpected turn. Standing on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-third in New York City, a boy waits for his friend, Art. When Art doesn’t arrive the boy begins asking people who pass by if they have “seen Art”. Everyone’s reply is the same: “MoMA?” Deciding this must be some kind of code word, the boy plays along and is directed to a building just down the street. Inside, people show him many works of art including van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, and sculptures by Calder. While the boy finds all this very interesting, he isn’t any closer to finding his friend. His insistence that he must “find Art” is misinterpreted by the helpful museum-goers, as each tries to show him what art truly is. But none of their art is the Art he is looking for.

This is not your average picture book, and it is not one I would recommend for storytime. This is a great one-on-one book for older children with an interest in art. Scieszka’s story draws you in and showcases the works of art in a funny and whimsical fashion. Smith’s illustrations are built around images of the works I mentioned above as well as numerous others. Seen Art? would be especially enjoyable for a family preparing to visit an art museum like MoMA (aka the Museum of Modern Art).

Check the WRL catalog for Seen Art?


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Perfectly Percy, by Paul Schmid

Wed, 2014-05-14 01:01

Percy the porcupine loves balloons more than anything. The problem is, “Happy little porcupines with balloons are soon SAD little porcupines.” Percy’s quills always get in the way, and the balloons pop. Unable to think of a solution by himself, Percy asks his big sister, Pearl, for advice. Her suggestion involves sticking a marshmallow on the end of each of Percy’s quills. They give it a try, but it’s not particularly effective. Still, Percy refuses to give up. There must be a way for him to play with his beloved balloons. He just needs to keep thinking.

Percy’s story is simple and sweet, and perfect for a preschool storytime. His perseverance teaches a great lesson and he’s an adorable character kids will relate to and find funny. Schmid’s illustrations are large and clearly drawn in colorful pastels. Perfectly Percy is a follow-up to Schmid’s Hugs from Pearl.

Check the WRL catalog for Perfectly Percy.


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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers

Mon, 2014-05-12 01:01

Duncan’s crayons have had enough. They’ve decided to quit. Some of them, like red, blue, and gray feel they are overworked. Others, like beige, white, and pink are underutilized. Black is tired of outlining things, and orange and yellow are in a head-to-head battle over which one should be the color of the sun. Purple is a bit of a neatnik and desperately wants Duncan to color inside the lines. Peach’s wrapper got peeled off and now he’s embarrassed to leave the box. Green is just upset that his friends are so upset. Who knew crayons were this disgruntled?

Each crayon expresses its concerns to Duncan in a letter written in their particular color, which makes up the text of the story. Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations serve to augment the crayon’s arguments while also perfectly representing what a young boy might draw. The crayons each have their own voice and their anthropomorphization is very funny. The thought of using a book of letters in storytime might seem a bit daunting, but the premise will keep your audience hooked. This would also be a great book for one-on-one use.

Check the WRL catalog for The Day the Crayons Quit.


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Guess Again! by Mac Barnett, illus. by Adam Rex

Fri, 2014-05-09 01:01

Guess Again! is all about misdirection. Each page presents the reader with a rhyming clue and an image in silhouette or behind a lift-the-flap that seems to lead to an obvious answer. Only it isn’t really the answer. It only takes a couple of tries before readers realize that they need to “guess again” and not follow their instincts. Children will begin to see how they were tricked and will find the actual answers very humorous. An additional running gag leads to a great payoff at the end.

Expect your audience to want to linger over the illustrations when they discover what they thought they saw wasn’t really what they saw.

Check the WRL catalog for Guess Again!


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Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, illus. by Kevin Cornell

Wed, 2014-05-07 01:01

You’d expect that a book titled Count the Monkeys would involve counting some monkeys, but no. Other animals (and people) keep getting in the way. With the turn of each page another creature bars the way between the reader and the monkeys. It is up to the reader to escape, chase away, or avoid each of them with the appropriate method of distraction. Crocodiles, for example, can be confused with the wave of your hand. Wolves, however, are harder to deter (although extremely effective in chasing away grannies). You must cover your eyes to avoid eye contact. Readers may choose to count these animals as they proceed from “one king cobra” to “ten polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath” or they might simply want to count the monkeys, who have been relegated to the book’s end pages.

This is a great book if you are in need of some audience interaction and movement. Encourage children to follow the instructions given by the book’s narrator in order to shoo away each page’s troublesome creature.

Check the WRL catalog for Count the Monkeys.


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Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger, illus. by Cece Bell

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:01

What if Yankee Doodle didn’t want to go to town? Whose job would it be to get him there? His pony’s, of course! Tom Angleberger (of Origami Yoda-fame) has taken the traditional song “Yankee Doodle”, and put ol’ Yankee in a bad mood. He’s bored, and his pony’s suggestion that they go to town isn’t of interest to him. Yankee is still not swayed when offered the prospect of going shopping for a feather for his hat. How will pony convince him?

Children will learn that “macaroni” was once a term that meant “fancy”, but is also a word which rhymes with “pony” (fitting suspiciously well into the song’s rhyme scheme). This is perhaps the reason macaroni was chosen for the song rather than lasagna, which Yankee points out is fancier.

“Macaroni isn’t fancy. It’s macaroni. You know what’s fancy? Lasagna. Lasagna is fancy. Lasagna has all those ripples in it, and then it gets baked with cheese and tomatoes and vegetables. Then you eat it with some garlic bread. Now, that’s fancy!”

It may be helpful to read the author’s note at the end aloud to your audience before proceeding to read the book. It provides good background information on the song’s history and will also refresh the audience’s memory of the classic tune.

Check the WRL catalog for Crankee Doodle.


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That’s Mine! by Michel van Zeveren

Fri, 2014-05-02 01:01

The English adage, “Finders, Keepers” takes on a rather humorous new meaning in Michel van Zeveren’s book, That’s Mine!, when animals of varying sizes each try to lay claim to an unhatched egg.

The story opens with a little frog finding an egg and declaring, “Aha…that’s mine!” That is until other animals in the jungle appear, each one larger than last, and make that very same claim.

An argument and struggle over the egg quickly ensues until suddenly, with slap stick humor, the egg slips, is launched into the air and lands smack in the back of the head of a very large elephant. The animals are at first nervous about what is to come next. They quickly begin hemming and hawing when the cross elephant, now with a rather large bump on his head, demands to know, “Whose is this?”

Good question. Which animal is brave enough to answer the elephant and claim ownership of the egg? Will they each once more try to claim the egg or will they turn on one another? And just what is hiding in that egg?

Be sure to check out a copy and find out the hilarious conclusion. With expressive cartoonish characters to enhance the comedy and fun, this is a story that will leave you and your child rolling with laughter.

Check the WRL catalog for That’s Mine!


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I Am So Handsome by Mario Ramos, translated by Jean Anderson

Wed, 2014-04-30 01:01

In I Am So Handsome, with little humility and a whole lot of attitude, Mister Wolf sets out one morning for a stroll. Along the way he puts various fairytale characters in the uneasy position of answering his question, “Who’s the handsomest of all?”

What would you do?
Well, if you have the misfortune of being Little Red Ridding Hood or one of the Three Little Pigs, you won’t waste any time and quickly will agree that the Big Bad Wolf is, of course, by far the handsomest. Or risk getting eaten!

But wait! What happens when Mr. Wolf runs into a not so familiar character, say a baby dragon? A baby dragon that may have his own ideas of who is the handsomest and isn’t afraid to let Mr. Wolf know. You’ll be surprised to hear what the baby dragon thinks of Mr. Wolf’s question and indeed, so will Mr. Wolf.

The book features cartoonish characters and vivid colored illustrations. Discover the hilarious outcome to I Am So Handsome. And learn how Mister Wolf’s inflated ego is taken down by one unimpressed little dragon.

Check the WRL catalog for I Am So Handsome.


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The Easter Bunny’s Assistant by Jan Thomas

Mon, 2014-04-28 01:01

What happens when the Easter bunny takes on an assistant that just happens to be a skunk? A whole lot of fun and lots of giggles that’s what!

Jan Thomas has done it again with this comical new story that is perfect for the Easter holiday but stands on its own anytime of the year for a good laugh.

The Easter bunny enlists the help of a skunk in a “how to” demonstration on making beautiful Easter eggs. The only problem, Skunk is way too excited and, well, things get rather smelly when the Easter bunny tries to explain the process of making the eggs. What can the Easter bunny do? How will he ever explain each step involved in making Easter eggs if his assistant keeps interrupting him with his ‘excitement?” Get a copy and find out.

The illustrations are presented in bright pastel colors. The characters with their amusing expressions aid the story through to its hilarious conclusion.

Bonus: Though the story itself tells how to make Easter eggs, there is an additional set of instructions that are easier to follow at the end of the book. You and your child can enjoy an afternoon of fun making your own beautiful eggs.

Check the WRL catalog for The Easter Bunny’s Assistant.


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Wiggle Waggle by Jonathan London, illus. by Michael Rex

Fri, 2014-04-25 01:01

This book is a great cure for restless toddlers who can’t sit through another story. Wiggle Waggle will have them wiggling like a duck, clomping like an elephant, snuffling like a pig, bumbling like a bear and even galumphing like a camel. No sitting required!
The illustrations are colorful and huge—and the text is simple and fun, so this works one-on-one or with a large group. There’s lots of variety in the movements required, and the animals range from cat to kangaroo. This will even work with babies, because parents can bounce, wiggle or bumble their baby to imitate each animal.

Check the WRL catalog for Wiggle Waggle.


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Don’t Squish the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker, illus. by Bob Staake

Wed, 2014-04-23 01:05

Kids enjoy funny words, and they like to yell. That makes this book an instant hit because every couple of pages, the kids get to holler, “Don’t squish the sasquatch!”
The storyline is simple. A claustrophobic sasquatch (he’s green and very leggy), takes a bus ride, after warning the conductor, Mr. Blobule, that he does not like to get squished. As the bus makes its rounds, an odd assortment of characters boards the bus one by one, until things get really crowded.
The kids get to holler the refrain each time a new passenger boards. And the passengers are a strange bunch—each one a combo of two creature types, such as Mr. Octo-Rhino or Miss Loch-Ness-Monster-Space Alien. The illustrations are slightly on the small side, but I’ve used this book with two kindergarten classes in the room, and everybody enjoyed the pictures.
This one works with a monster theme, or it’s a great way to jazz up a transportation story time.

Check the WRL catalog for Don’t Squish the Sasquatch!


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Fran’s Flower by Lisa Bruce, Illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw

Mon, 2014-04-21 01:01

This is my favorite spring story for little ones! Fran’s Flower tells a simple, but engaging tale about a little girl’s first experience growing things.

Initially, it doesn’t go well. Fran finds a flowerpot filled with soil and a tiny bud peeking out. She takes it home and tells it, “Grow flower.” But nothing happens.

The flower must be hungry, she decides. So she feeds it a slice of pizza. The next day she tries a piece of cheeseburger, and the day after that she stuffs the pot with two chocolate chip cookies and a large spoonful of strawberry ice cream. Naturally, children find this hilarious.

Fran gets frustrated with the tiny plant and tosses it outside. Mother Nature takes over from there, and a few weeks later, Fran gets a delightful surprise.

This is a wonderful book for a springtime or gardening story time, and it is a natural lead-in to a discussion of how flowers grow. Beardshaw’s large, colorful illustrations are ideal for sharing with a group. WRL owns this under the title listed above, but the book also appears to have been released under the title Grow, Flower, Grow.

Check the WRL catalog for Fran’s Flower.


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What! cried Granny: An almost bedtime story by Kate Lum, illus. by Adrian Johnson

Fri, 2014-04-18 01:01

Patrick is having his first ever sleep-over at his Granny’s house and as bedtime gets closer, he turns on the stalling tactics. “I don’t have a bed,” or a pillow, or a blanket or a teddy bear he cries. His Granny is at the ready and works almost the entire night chopping trees, plucking chickens and shearing sheep to correct all of these bedtime obstacles. Is she going to be able to beat the sunrise so Patrick will actually get some sleep?

Kids are going to love hearing Granny yell “what?” every time Patrick thinks of a new problem that gets in the way of going to sleep and the story will ring true to adults who are oh so familiar with kids like Patrick.

Check the WRL catalog for What! Cried Granny: An almost bedtime story.


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Cornelius P. Mud, Are you ready for bed? by Barney Saltzberg

Wed, 2014-04-16 01:01

This is a great book that demonstrates the importance of reading the illustrations as well as the text. “Yes” Cornelius tells his mom, “I’ve put away my toys.” Only by reading the pictures will you notice he’s put them away in the refrigerator! Fed your fish? “Yes,” but look closely and you’ll notice he’s fed that fish a chocolate chip cookie.

As Cornelius gets ready for bed, the reader will continue to laugh at all of his silly antics. The big colorful illustrations are delightful and you’ll be left with no doubts that “bedtime at Cornelius’s house is no ordinary event!”

Check the WRL catalog for Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?


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Flora’s Blanket by Debi Gliori

Mon, 2014-04-14 01:01

“Flora can’t sleep.”
“No blanket she says.”

Flora has lost her blanket and no one is going to sleep until it’s been found. Every parent will be able to identify with the bunny family as they search the house from top to bottom, inside and out for that special bedtime comfort item. As the bunny family searches, see if your listeners can predict the ending. Will they find the blanket? Where has it been? Will Flora have to sleep without it?

This book’s simple text and charming illustrations are sure to make it a family bedtime favorite.

Check the WRL catalog for Flora’s Blanket.


Categories: Pied Piper Pics