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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 49 min 38 sec ago

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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