Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall
Turn to the first page of this picture book and you will see people waiting at a bus stop. Another page turn has them aboard the bus and only two words: “Red bus.” The next page has a red car join the red bus and readers will see two people dashing for the bus stop. By the time the bus reaches its next stop, the page is filled not only with a yellow van, yellow car, the red car and the red bus, but the people running for the bus have dropped their teddy bear. As the pages turn, the road gets more crowded with vehicles and it becomes all the more fun to figure out what the story is on the side of the road. The only words in the book describe the colors of the vehicles and name the vehicles themselves, otherwise it is more of a wordless book as the complicated action takes place in pictures only.
Steggall has created a picture book that really plays with the reader. At first, I thought it was going to be a very simple color and vehicle book for toddlers, but it is something much more. The intricate cut paper illustrations tell the story along the roadside, as each page turn moves the reader further down the road. There is a wonderful sense of motion to the entire book. The vehicles appear in patterns with colors and sorts of vehicles.
This is a delight of a read, surprising in its depth and yet fully appropriate for the youngest reader who enjoys cars and trucks. This is one to linger over and discuss, talking about the story that is told wordlessly, perfect for curling up with your special little one. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Oliver by Birgitta Sif
Oliver was different than everyone else. He spent time in his own little world, visited only by his friends who were his toys and puppets. They played endlessly together, having adventures across the living room. When his family got together, Oliver played by himself under the table, wishing that he didn’t have to be there at all. Then there was the day when he played the piano for his friends, but no one bothered to listen. Oliver felt different all over again. The next day though, when playing tennis alone, his ball bounced and bounced away. It landed near a girl, who was herself playing tennis alone. Yes, Oliver was different but it turns out that Olivia was too.
This debut picture book speaks directly to those of us who are introverted and who feel a bit different too. Oliver lives in a world that may seem lonely to some, but is also obviously rich with imagination and creativity. Sif takes care to make sure that it is evident that Oliver is not unhappy, he prefers to be alone. I also particularly enjoyed that the book does not have parents worried about making Oliver less different. Instead it is all about Oliver’s own point of view.
Sif’s illustrations have a great softness to them. The colors are muted, the backgrounds on the pages are softly colored too. Children looking closely will be able to find mice on each page as they watch Oliver’s life. They visit the library with him, listen to him play the piano and only disappear when Oliver is feeling lonely. They are a wonderful whimsical touch.
This strong picture book looks at introverted and solitary people with a warm fondness that will make even the most introverted reader want to visit Oliver and become his friend too. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.