Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker



This is an amusing book about parents who try to keep their kids in their dull world. The Dullards stare at blank tv's, watch paint dry and eat plain ice cream with no cones. Little exciting intrusions keep happening to the Dullards and they're forced to move their children, Blanda, Borely and Little Dud to another location. Of course, excitement follows them: one room has bright yellow floral walls and the kids are caught doing acrobatics outside. To avoid further excitement, the Dullards move back to their old town. At the end of the book, Mr and Mrs. Dullard are blissfully unaware that their kids have joined up with the circus that's visiting town. The illustrations are funny and show the extent of the family's dullness with their grey, plain outfits, blank walls and "pragmatic moving container".

Wherever you go by Pat Zietlow Miller


This poetic book about a rabbit and his owl friend who take to the roads on a bicycle is gorgeously illustrated. The watercolors are vivid and creatively used. Their journey flows along from page to page, over rivers and through woods, cities and mountainous terrain. They hitch along with bus-riding friends until they part ways and home is once again in sight.

Snoozefest at the Nuzzledome by Samantha Berger




Snuggleford Cuddlebun, the sleepy sloth protagonist wants to go the the Snoozefest at the Nuzzledome. She and other good sleepers are taken by bus to the Nuzzledome, carrying all their blankets, pillows and lovies. At the Nuzzledome there's a pj parade, food booths, posters and t-shirts for sale. Various animals play quiet sleepy music on stage and Snuggleford sleeps in her hammock only to wake up and realize the festival is over. That's okay with Snuggleford since she's a sloth, but she can't wait until next year's festival. The colorful, pattern-y illustrations are adorable with all the different animals snuggling in their blankies. A cute, kiddie version of festival-going and naptime.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Peace is an Offering by Anette LeBox




This book is basically an illustrated poem about ways to celebrate or express peace and walk away from a fight. The rhyming is relatively simple yet touching and the illustrations are adorably sweet.

                  "Peace is a joining not a pulling apart.
                   It's the courage to bear a wounded heart.....
                   Sing a quiet song.
                   Catch a falling star.
                   May peace walk beside you
                   Wherever you are."

Peace is an Offering has a classic, timeless quality which will help children see ways to be a friend and enjoy the quiet strength of peace.

Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear



"Julia, Child" is subtly deceptive. Though it has Julia Child's name in the title, it isn't a picture book biography of Julia as a child. The preface states that the book was inspired by, but not about Julia's childhood. However, the main character does love to cook. Julia and her friend Simca shop, take classes and whip up meals. They begin to notice that adults are too busy to savor food and life. So they decide to make some meals for them. The first foray turns out badly, since most adults "don't have the proper ingredients" and start fighting over the food. Julia and Simca's next effort fixes that: they make "smaller portions....just enough to feed the sensible children from whom these senseless grown-ups grew." This dinner party does the trick; the adults have a wonderful time and are more generous. In a nod to the other Julia, the girls write a book, "Mastering the Art of Childhood" for grownups. Overall, the book has sweet vintage illustrations and the message is a positive one, though more understandable for older kids.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sparky! by Jenny Offill



A little girl wants a pet, but her mother says she can only get a pet that doesn't need to be "walked, bathed or fed." After a visit to the library, she picks out the perfect pet from a book: a sloth. She orders one through the mail and Sparky as she calls him, lives up to his reputation as a lay about. The girl is determined to interact with him, but the only game he plays successfully is Statue. She tries one last time to impress her friend by putting on a show of sloth pet tricks. Once again, Sparky refuses to do anything. In the end, she learns to appreciate the sloth's slow companionship. This is a quiet book (as one might expect of a sloth), but the illustrations are cute and the underlying message of appreciating the low-key is a nice one. Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow award.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson



Sidewalk Flowers is a wordless picture book that manages to convey a lot with just pictures. A girl takes a walk with her father through the city and collects flowers. It's a simple plot line, but there's little episodes along the way where the girl interacts with people, animals and her flowers. The images are done primarily in black shades of ink and watercolor with spots of color for emphasis. The girl throughout is wearing a red jacket and bits of nature are painted with color also. Toward the end, the color is much more prevalent and the illustrations spread across the page. Overall, this is a sweet and gorgeously done children's book.

Henri's Scissors by Jeanette Winter




Henri's Scissors is another great introductory artist biography for kids. The beginning of the book introduces Matisse, but focuses mostly on his later years when he was confined to a bed and wheelchair. It was at that time that Matisse discovered a new way to express himself through shape and color by using scissors. Jeanette Winter's art captures Matisse and his art with her painting that shows the large shapes and colors Matisse used. At the end is a short author's note with a reference and a quote. Children as young as 4 or 5 would appreciate this book, especially if they love art.

How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian



How to Draw a Dragon is a fun, rhyming book that lists all the aspects of a dragon: pointed spines, claws, wings, teeth and scales. Various children "drag" their dragons to their yard and attempt to draw these huge, imposing creatures while watching out for fiery breath and sharp claws.The illustrations are done in a child-like, mixed media style that echoes the children's perspective in the text. A cute book for the artistic dragon-lover in your family.