Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Recent Children’s Picture Book Reviews 2019 (2)

Children's Book Reviews by Susan Stephenson,

My first instalment of recent children's picture book reviews for 2019 can be found in this article.  You can browse through my book reviews here at The Book Chook via my Pinterest board.

Circle is a children’s picture book written by Mac Barnett,  illustrated by Jon Klassen and published by Walker Books (2019.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB. Circle is the third in the shape series that began with Triangle and Square. I have also reviewed Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Barnett and Klassen.

From the publisher:

Triangle and Square are visiting Circle, who lives at the waterfall. When they play hide-and-seek, Circle tells the friends the one rule: not to go behind the falling water. But after she closes her eyes to count to ten, of course that's exactly where Triangle goes. Will Circle find Triangle? And what OTHER shapes might be lurking back there?

Kids will enjoy the fact that our shape friends sound and act a lot like children! When Circle states the rules of her hide and go seek game, it seems inevitable that one of the friends will break the rule about not going behind the waterfall. It is very dark back there but Triangle is not (yet) afraid of the dark. I think children will also love that as it gets darker and darker, all they can see are eyeballs! Klassen’s art work is beautiful, as usual. I particularly enjoyed the ending and the way it rounded off the whole series.

Walker Books have a Shape Trilogy Activity Kit PDF available on their website.

Let Me Sleep, Sheep! is a children’s picture book written by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge and published by Walker Books (2019.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB. Another McKinlay/Rudge picture book I reviewed recently is Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros.

From the publisher:

When Amos starts counting sheep, there’s one thing he doesn’t quite count on … How’s he supposed to sleep when the sheep land – THUD! THUD! – in his bedroom? This zany tale of bedtime shenanigans is the new picture book from the award-winning duo behind No Bears and Once Upon A Small Rhinoceros.
McKinlay and Rudge make beautiful picture books together. This story is an imaginative one that has us pondering just where all those sheep we count actually come from and what they get up to. In Amos’s bedroom, they begin to make demands, and try though Amos does, they never seem satisfied.

What a great read-aloud this book makes! Kids will love the pushy sheep, and will delight in the softly coloured detailed illustrations. There will be much laughter over the sheep antics too. Let Me Sleep, Sheep! is a definite contender for my Top Picture Books of 2019, and I recommend it to homes and libraries everywhere.

Bear Moves is a children’s picture book written by Ben Bailey Smith, illustrated by Akyüz, and published by Walker Books (2019.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB.

From the publisher:

With funny word play and bold imagery, actor Ben Bailey Smith and artist Sav Akyuz have created a Bear to remember. If there's one thing Bear knows, it's how to move. And when the music starts up, Bear just can't help grooving to the beat – spinning round, belly dancing and even doing the foxtrot. This infectiously rhythmic and hilariously funny sequel to I Am Bear will keep readers in stitches from start to finish.

I believe kids will respond with enthusiasm to this rhyming, rhythmic story about Bear and the moves he makes! Whether it’s Furry Breaking or Foxtrotting, this bright purple bear grooves so smooth, kids will definitely want to join in. There’s a hidden message about enjoying activity, and a fun twist at the end. The illustrations are vibrant and lots of fun, adding even more humour to the story. Another great read-aloud! I will add it to my Picture Books with Strong Rhyme and Rhythm list.

Where’s Mr Duck? is a children’s board book by Ingela P. Arrhenius, published by Nosy Crow (2019.) RRP: $Au 12.99 BB.

From the publisher:

A fabulous new title in this brilliant board book series for pre-schoolers. With easy-to-grasp, shaped felt flaps, a repetitive refrain and beautiful artwork from Swedish homewares designer, Ingela Arrhenius.

Our youngest readers deserve quality in the books they encounter. Where’s Mr Duck? is a sturdy board book. The flaps children lift are made of firmly attached felt-like material that should not tear under reasonable wear I would guess. The “story” is simply questions and answers that invite kids to guess and find animals by lifting flaps.

I loved the art work. There’s a really retro vibe about it. Little ones will adore playing peekaboo with colourful creatures they know. And they’ll giggle over the surprise at the end when they see themselves clearly in the excellent quality mirror on the final page.

Rainbow Bear is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, and published by Scholastic Press (2018.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB. I have reviewed many Stephen Michael King-illustrated books, including The Duck and the Darklings.

From the publisher:

Bear likes to dive into the deep blue ocean, blowing bubbles and turning somersaults. He wakes with the Sun and sleeps with the Moon. One morning, Bear is shocked to discover that his coat has changed. Is Bear dreaming? Or are two cheeky polar bear cubs responsible?

I don’t think I’ve ever found a book written or illustrated (or both!) by Stephen Michael King that I didn’t like. Rainbow Bear joins the list. Bear is bewildered at first when he wakes up and realises he has been transformed. In fact, each day he wakes up, his coat has a new colourful pattern. Finally the penny drops, and Bear remembers the art-making gifts he had just given to his cubs. Being a great dad, Bear decides to play the same trick on his cubs.

All these shenanigans mean that King gifts the reader with a riot of colour and pattern. I know children will adore not just poring over the details, but attempting their own rainbow bears. There is no heavy-handed moralising here - just fun, a tribute to creativity and the joy of being alive, and a definite nod to fathers everywhere who play with their kids. A truly lovely book!

The Flying Light is a children’s picture book created by Yuanhao Yang and published by Starfish Bay Publishing. (2018.) RRP: $Au 25.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Enter a mystical world where a man and his strange pet lizard attempt to lure luminous flying creatures to their town. Through innovative wordless storytelling and wonderfully detailed panel illustrations that invite children to use their imagination, this story will light up the lives of those in search of direction and allow each reader to interpret it according to their own unique vision of the world.

The Flying Light is an unusual picture book. It is almost wordless. Right at the end there is a half-page narrative that explains what the illustrations have portrayed for us throughout the book. The illustrations themselves are beautiful, and presented sometimes as multiple small panels, almost like a comic book format, and sometimes as half or full page. The colours are soft and muted, almost like coloured pencil and the intricacy is amazing.

I believe this book would make an excellent acquisition for those libraries looking to expand children’s visual literacy and inference skills. While at first glance it is almost enigmatic, it is certainly a book that kids will ponder, and want to show their friends.

Queen Celine is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Matt Shanks and published by Walker Books (2019.) RRP: $Au24.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Celine Beaufort is queen of what she is quite certain is the most beautiful rock pool in the world. It's perfect. And to make sure nothing ever changes, she decides to build a wall around it. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a royal mistake. As self-proclaimed ruler, it's up to Celine to right her wrong and restore her rock pool to its former glory, this time with everyone welcome.
Celine is very cute, as you can see in the cover image of her in her goggles, snorkel, flippers and duck floatie. She is ordinary, and like lots of us, she naturally wants to protect what is hers. So she builds a big wall to protect her kingdom which is, in fact, a rock pool at the beach. For a while, things are fine, but soon Celine starts to experience problems. And comes to realise that building a wall so nothing can change does not, in fact, work out the way you want.

The illustrations are great, with lots of humorous detail young kids will love and relate to. There are environmental aspects to the story, and Queen Celine also makes a great discussion starter for older kids who are exploring immigration and refugees. I’ll add it to my Picture Books on Environment list.

On the First Day of School +CD is a children’s picture book written by P. Crumble, illustrated by Dean Rankine and published by Scholastic Australia (2019.) RRP: $Au19.99 HB.

From the publisher:

“On the first day of school, my teacher said to me, Raise your hand if you have to do a wee.”

Starting school has never been more hilarious. Join Australian musical theatre and television actress, Penny McNamee, for some joyful sing-along fun.

Even little ones starting school will have heard On The First Day of Christmas song. Crumble has changed the words to reflect perceived life in Prep or Kindergarten, although I’m not too sure about the research!

An array of cute animals learns about show and tell, painting, singing and the correct procedure for visiting the amenities. Like the song, the story is cumulative, meaning kids will have it memorised in no time, and be proud of their cleverness. I enjoyed the fact that the same little guy always seems to need to do a wee - just like in real life! The illustrations are bright, colourful and complement a book children will think is hilarious. An accompanying CD to a book is always a bonus.

AND JUST IN TIME FOR MOTHER’S DAY (May 12 in Australia):

Mum for Sale is a children’s picture book, written by Zanni Louise, illustrated by Philip Bunting, and published by Scholastic Australia (2019.) RRP: $Au 17.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Errol's mum won't get off the phone. So there's only one thing for Errol to do...

Find out what happens when cheeky Errol puts his mum up for sale!

Kids who have already met the cute penguin, Errol, will be delighted to meet him again. And those who don’t know him, will definitely be intrigued by the idea of selling …a mother! The way Mum is fixated on phone chat makes that sale sensible. Until we start to pick up clues on why it might not be such a great idea. This makes a fun read-aloud to follow-up with a discussion about Mum’s great qualities!

Thanks, Mum is a children’s picture book by Matt Cosgrove, published by Scholastic Australia (2019.) RRP: $Au 17.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Snuggling up for a bedtime story.
Kissing a sore knee to make it better.
Pushing the swing as high as the sky.

There are a million different reasons to say…Thanks Mum!

This is a nice uncomplicated story that reminds kids about all the different ways our mothers impact our lives. It features brightly coloured young animals, rhymes, and lots of action and humour. A great choice for a read-aloud, or even to use as a model for children’s own writing - why not make a whole class poem about Mums?

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

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