Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book 120

Boats for Bedtime, written by Olga Litowinsky, illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg, Clarion Books 1999.

 Apparently, today (September 19th) is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  It's a new holiday for me, but I can work with it.  Boats for Bedtime seems like the perfect book to review today. 

The text for Boats for Bedtime is simple; at times only one or two words per page, but every word is well-chosen.  I especially like "Sail among the stars.  Play around the moon" -- so evocative.

Melanie Hope Greenberg's illustrations manage the exactly right amount of magic and whimsy to match the lyrical text.  Her lines are clean and her colors are brilliant.  Her illustrations propel the story and take it from book's pages and into a land of dreams. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book 119

Look!  A Book!, written and illustrated by Bob Staake, published by Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

Finding out that Bob Staake writes, as well as illustrates, children's books more than three years after after I stopped working as a children's librarian is like showing up late to a really great party.  I'm a bit annoyed that all these people have been having so much fun for so long without me, but, on the other hand, I am glad that I finally made it to the party.  Had I known sooner, though, I would definitely have brought other people with me.

Look!  A Book!  is the perfect example of why I wish that I had discovered the weird and wonderful world that is a Bob Staake children's book earlier.  The text is simple, fairly straightforward, and at times, silly;  all that is great, but team that text with the brilliant, zany, cram-every-inch-with-action-on-every-page illustrations and the results are nothing short of magical.  And those magical illustrations? -- they grace everything from the jacket, cover and end papers and every delightful page in between. 

My son, at not quite four, seems to be the perfect age to enjoy the beautiful madness of this book.  Maybe I did show up to the party at exactly the time, after all.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fairy Tale Haiku: 58

Little Red Riding Hood  

Grandma must have looked  
Like a wolf to start with --- or --  
Little Red was blind.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book 118

Major Manners Presents Nite Nite Soldier, written by Michael and Beth Hafer, illustrated by Russ Cox, Out House Ink Publishing, 2012.

The dedication in this book won me over right away.  Nite Nite Soldier is dedicated to military families.   As the sister of a retired veteran, I loved that; as the nephew of a retired veteran, so did my son. 

Nite Nite Soldier sets getting-ready-for-bed activities to a cadence, so it is a fun read for the adult reader.  It is also fun for the listeners who get to repeat parts of the cadence.  What makes Nite Nite Soldier really special, however, is the delightful artwork. 

On every page, Russ Cox's vivid illustrations pop with humor and texture.  I giggle every time I see Major Manners parading around in his pink bunny slippers.  And the expressions on the children's faces  have to be seen to be enjoyed.

There is also a CD with this book.  I have yet to listen to it because I want to read the story. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book 117

The Red Lemon, by Bob Staake, Golden Book/Random House, 2006

Instead of trying to explain why I like this book, I decided to write down what my three-and-a-half year old son said when we first read this book: "Wow", "Beautiful", "Delicious", "Awesome", "This is wonderful."

If you still want more information on why I bought this book, I could tell you how we've read this story almost every day, and usually more than once a day; how I had to hide it to write this review; how Bob Staake is my new favorite author/illustrator for the preschool set; how delectably brilliant the illustrations are; and how the quirky writing borders on ridiculous without crossing over.  Or I could just let Thomas sum it up:  "I love it!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fairy Tale Haiku: 57

Celtic Kai  

Kai, when he desired  
Could reach the height of a tree,  
Or shrink to a stump  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book 116

Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook, by Michael Garland, Dutton Children's Books, 2003.

Some years ago I drew a pen and ink graphic for the literacy program at our library.  It showed an open door with stacks of books and some of the characters come to life.  I thought I was pretty clever.  I was not, however, as clever as Michael Garland in Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook.

Miss Smith is the second-grade teacher that you wished you had.  She has rather punk-y red hair, red cat-eye glasses, and best of all, she sports red Converse high-tops.  She reads from an incredible storybook that brings characters to life, not just in an imaginary way as any good reader can, but in a way that fills the classroom.  Imagine the possibilities, and you have Michael Garland's book.

Michael Garland is an artist of astounding range.  The illustrations for this book are phenomenal and add to the magic that is this story.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fairy Tale Haiku: 56

The Donkeys and the Wasps

Wasp stung the donkey;
Donkey challenged wasps to war;
Wasps in ear -- wasps won.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book 115

Good Boy, Fergus!, by David Shannon, Blue Sky Press 2006.

Fergus is the cutest little white Scottish terrier, ever.  And David Shannon is a genius at capturing Fergus' expressions in his darling illustrations.  Anyone who has ever been trained by a dog will recognize themselves (and their dogs) in this story. 

So how does it go over with the target audience?  Extremely well judging by the giggling that occurs when this story is being read.  It might help that we have a dog named Sophie who behaves much the same way as Fergus.  If anyone is wondering:  Yes, Sophie does have us trained.