Saturday, December 06, 2014

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio



Gaston is a French bulldog who lives with a family of poodles: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo and Ooh-La-La. He tries his best to fit in, being precious and delicate like his siblings. One day at the park Mrs. Poodle meets another pup family of mostly bulldogs and one poodle, Antoinette. After playing, Gaston and Antoinette switch places and go home with their new, supposedly correct pup family. It doesn't feel right: Gaston isn't as rough and tumble as the other bulldogs and Antoinette is not as delicate as the other poodles. The next day the pups switch back, but keep visiting each other at the park. Eventually, Gaston and Antoinette go on to have a family of their own, teaching them "to be whatever they wanted to be." The colorful, simple artwork and fun names for the dogs will keep most kids entertained by this pup tale.

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett



This is a wordless picture book that nonetheless manages to impart a lovely message about sharing. A girl walking with her little brother, sees a bike in a store window which she must have. The girl goes home and promptly gets busy, looking for loose change around the house and doing chores for the neighbor. When she finally gets enough money (months later) she looks in the window and the bike is gone. The girl buys a tricycle for her brother instead. There's a happy ending for her, which is sweet but not overly preachy. The illustrations have a vintage feel, done in tones of sepia and the bicycle in green. The overall effect is simple and understandable for a variety of ages.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig



This is a picture book which has a message, but is written in such a way that it doesn't feel preachy. Brian, a young elementary school boy is quiet; so quiet he's invisible. Other children and the teacher ignore him when teams are chosen or hands are raised. He draws when his classmates read or play board games. Things change for Brian when a new boy joins the class. The new boy Justin, appears to be a different ethnicity than the other classmates and is looked upon strangely at first. Being outsiders, Justin and Brian make friends and soon a third friend is included. Toward the end of the book, the three boys work on a project together that cements their friendship. Patrice Barton's illustrations show Brian faintly in the beginning and gain some color when he makes friends. At the end of the book, there's a reference page with further reading for children and adults about friendship and introversion.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton


 "Shh! We Have a Plan" revolves around four friends going into the woods to capture a bird. The smallest (or youngest) friend has another idea, however. He just wants to talk to the bird: "hello birdie". After several attempts, the youngest succeeds and draws a whole forest of red-hued birds to him.  A large angry bird chases them off when the friends again attempt to capture a bird. At the end, the youngest points out a squirrel and they're off and running again. Younger readers will appreciate this book's slapstick humor, simple art and minimal text.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne




This is a clever little picture book where the gutter of the book "eats" various items starting with Bella's dog. Soon the gutter starts swallowing the fire truck,  dog rescue truck and Bella also. The girl tosses a note out of the gutter asking the reader to help by shaking the book. Finally, the entire crew of helpers, the girl and and her dog fall out of the gutter. The book's premise sounds scary for little ones, but the drawings are whimsical and with the reader's help it becomes a funny, interactive story.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett





This is a sweet tale about a girl who finds a box of yarn and proceeds to knit for all the townsfolk. An evil archduke covets her box of yarn and steals it, only to find out that the box is empty. He curses the girl, but she gets the box back and continues to knit. There's a message to the story: it's the kindness of the girl's heart that enables her to knit with no yarn. The message is subtle though, and doesn't overwhelm the whimsy of the story. The illustrator, Jon Klassen, even includes his bear from I Want My Hat Back (wearing a sweater). Extra Yarn is a simple story with illustrations that give the book an instant classic feel.

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty




Madame Chapeau lives in what seems to be Paris and makes hats for other people. Madame herself is a sad eyed, but fashionable young woman. Every year on a special day she goes out in her finest hat and matching outfit. But this year things go wrong and she loses her hat to a bird. The rest of the story is about Madame Chapeau looking for her hat while others offer theirs. She refuses their kind offers until a girl gives her a hat she knit specially for her.
The clever rhyming and unique illustrations make this a great book, particularly for kids who like fashion.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Bad Dog Flash by Ruth Paul




If you like dogs, even mischievous ones, you'll enjoy Bad Dog Flash. Ruth Paul captures the energy of a young dog getting into trouble all throughout the house. Flash eats shoes, chases the cat, tracks mud into the house and shreds the laundry among other things; all the while maintaining a look of innocence.The text is easy for the little ones and the illustrations are soft and sweet. In the end, Flash is forgiven by the little girl who loves him.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt


This is an adorable celebration of books for the little ones. Babies and toddlers are everywhere and so are books. The simple text shows children in what ways and where you can enjoy books: on sunny days, rainy days, in scary ways and funny ways. Though the text is simple, the illustrations are charming and fill out the sparse text. Lots of color and little details (like a mouse hiding on each page) are fun for kids to play search and find.