Category: Picture Books

Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin

Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin

Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin (InfoSoup)

This is the second book featuring Bear and his adopted family of ducks. In the first book, the bear and ducks had to figure out a home that worked for all of them. In this follow up, bear is getting steadily more and more sleepy as winter approaches. But ducks don’t hibernate and Bear worried about missing out on things throughout an entire season. So Bear decided not to sleep, but the ducks started to notice that Bear was acting differently. Bear tried and tried to stay awake, but nothing seemed to work. Finally Mama Duck pulled Bear aside and promised that if he slept through the winter, he would not miss a thing. And it was true!

Gavin has written another winning picture book about the unusual pairing of a family of ducks and a solitary bear. Here the story focuses on Bear and his unique need to sleep through the cold months. It’s a story that will speak to families who have people who respond differently to things, who like different activities, but still want to be with one another. Perhaps the ducks’ ways of including Bear in everything despite him being asleep will inspire new ways of thinking for human families to stay close even when they are doing different things.

Gavin’s art work has a lovely gauzy quality to it, giving Bear his huge softness. Meanwhile the little ducks are done in firmer lines. All of them have personalities that brighten the page and enhance the story. The little ducks are all characters, and it is clear through their body language alone how much all of the animals love one another.

A lovely winter read, perfect for curling up on a cozy couch or snuggled at bedtime. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper

A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper

A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper (InfoSoup)

Released February 9, 2016.

Every card has a special grown up job, except for Little Card and Long Card. There were cards who were price tags, others were office folders, others were postcards. So the two cards waited for their special letter to arrive. But on the day the letter arrived, the two cards collided and cards went everywhere. Little Card picked up a letter and read that he was going to be a birthday card! He got lots of training and found that he loved everything about being a birthday card. But one day when he got home, Long Card was there and told him there had been a mix up. She was the birthday card and he was a different type of card. It was too late to be trained again, so Little Card was sent off immediately to work at the library as a library card. He tried to use his birthday card training at his new job, but his loud singing wasn’t welcome. Little Card soon learned though what special things were available at the library and was thrilled in the end to know that he could be at the library more than once a year!

This clever take on libraries and having a library card is very nicely structured. The exuberance of Little Card makes the book read aloud well. Children will enjoy the pleasure of the birthday card part of the book, the loud singing, the cake, and the balloons. One might think that that would overshadow the more quiet library portion of the book, but the author made sure to make the library part just as appealing, so the result is that libraries are shown as being just as much fun and just as joyous as a birthday party. Hurrah!

The illustrations of the book are just as fun and buoyant as the story itself. Done in ink washes, pencil, pen and ink, and stamps, they were also colored digitally. They have a nice simplicity to them that will make this book easy to share with groups. The sprightly Little Card dances (literally) across the page and invites children to have a great time with the book and at the library.

A jaunty picture book about libraries, this book will be welcome for library tour groups as well as for introducing children to libraries as a place of fun. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

ABC Dream by Kim Krans

ABC Dream by Kim Krans

ABC Dream by Kim Krans (InfoSoup)

This wordless alphabet book is a wonderful mix of concept book and also guessing game. Each double-page spread is dedicated to one letter and filled with natural elements that demonstrate that letter being used. The detailed illustrations invite readers to look closely and explore what other items they can spot that start with that letter. Nicely, the book ends with a list for each letter so adults can help make sure all of the details are noticed. This alphabet book is a unique and wondrous book that invites whimsical dreaming even as young ones learn their alphabet.

The illustrations are the entirety of this book. They are a gorgeous mix of pen and ink fine lines and watercolor washes. This combines black and white detail with touches of color that enliven the pages. Each illustration is its own fine composition with colors that complement one another and invite you to lean in and look even closer.

One of the more unique alphabet books around, this picture book will delight adults and children alike. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Books for Young Readers.

Whatever Happened to My Sister by Simona Ciraolo

Whatever Happened to My Sister by Simona Ciraolo

Whatever Happened to My Sister by Simona Ciraolo (InfoSoup)

A little girl knows that something strange is happening to her older sister. She has gotten a lot taller lately and never wants to play any more. She doesn’t like pretty things and has become very secretive. She spends a lot of time in her room alone with the door shut. The little girl tries to seek out advice from her sister’s friends, but they all seem to be acting in a similar way. Her mom and dad are no help at all either. Then the little girl realizes that she misses her big sister so much and the way they used to be together. But maybe someone else feels that way sometimes too.

Ciraolo has created a funny and shining look at the transition from childhood to being a teenager. Told from the first-person perspective of the younger sister, the book reflects her confusion about the changes she sees in her older sister. Any child living with a tween or teen will relate to this book, laugh at the teens with their earbuds in, and also share in the feeling of being left behind. Throughout, Ciraolo honors the emotions of the child with a real tenderness.

The art is modern and dynamic with playful colors that surprise with some page turns. They beautifully convey the emotions, pages with loneliness are filled with gray while moments of connection are a glowing orange that jumps off the page.

A strong book about a moment in life that can be painful to process, this book shows how growing up can also be done side-by-side. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Flying Eye Books.

Glow by W.H. Beck

Glow by WH Beck

Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights by W. H. Beck (InfoSoup)

This nonfiction picture book invites young readers to explore the world of bioluminescence. Set against black backgrounds these glowing creatures pop on the page. The book not only shows different organisms that glow, but also explains why they glow too. Children will learn the terms for the chemicals that allow the light to be created and also see that there are some creatures who glow but no one knows quite why. Filled with dazzling photographs, this is a book that will fly off the shelves of public libraries as kids are hooked by the fish on the cover.

Beck has the book written at two levels. The larger font offers a less specific look at the organisms themselves and therefore a simpler experience. The smaller font allows readers to learn more about each creature. More information on each is also found at the end of the book where size, Latin name, and the depth they live at is given for each. This is a book that is engaging and fascinating. The text is restrained and focused, offering enough information to appeal but never standing in the way of the dazzling creatures themselves.

The photographs in the book are exceptional. Each shows the light of the creature against a black background, allowing that creature attention by the reader. The photos were taken by several different photographers, yet they make for a cohesive book thanks to their similar nature and the beauty they depict. I particularly enjoyed the firefly photo and the glowing shoreline.

An awesome book that is sure to appeal to children who enjoy nature and bizarre creatures, this is a winning science book for public libraries. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from HMH Books for Young Readers.

Frankencrayon by Michael Hall

Frankencrayon by Michael Hall

Frankencrayon by Michael Hall (InfoSoup)

This picture book has been cancelled. The crayons in the story are saddened that the picture book won’t be happening. After all, they have costumes and were going to tell an amazing story. But now that someone is actually reading the cancelled story, they may as well tell the reader exactly why the picture book has ended. It is all because of the horrible scribble that suddenly interrupted the story. They tried to clean the page, but the scribble just got larger and larger. It was out of control and everyone was so disturbed by it that they forgot to tell Frankencrayon that something was wrong. So when the crayons playing him entered on Page 22, they ran right into the scribble. It would take some quick thinking and fast action to save the story.

Hall has such a playful approach to picture books that one never quite knows what sort of story they are heading into. This book is great fun from the set up of the “cancellation” to the crayons in costumes. It is clever and humorous with exactly the sort of humor that preschoolers adore. Children will not be scared by anything here thanks to the use of crayons and the horror being a scribble on the page. This one reads aloud beautifully, filled with voices of the pencil, the crayons, and even one evil scribbler.

The cut paper collage pops on each page, the crayons bright with their colors and delightful in their different sizes after clearly having been merrily colored with for some time. The pointy pencil too somehow has its own personality. The solution that Frankencrayon comes up with is exactly what children would think of and adds to the visual appeal of the book.

This funny picture book is perfect to share aloud with a group of preschoolers who may love to do their own transformations of scribbles into something more friendly. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

My Story, My Dance by Lesa Cline-Ransome

My Story My Dance by Lesa Cline Ransome

My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (InfoSoup)

Starting from his birth through his rise to Artistic Director at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, this picture book celebrates Robert Battle’s life. Born with bowed legs, he was taken in by his aunt and uncle and then raised by his cousin Dessie. It was with Dessie that he discovered a love of music and words. He sang in the church choir and after he got his leg braces off, he began to take karate. At age 13, he started dance late in life for a dancer. Soon Robert was noticed by his high school dance instructor and then auditioned for The New World School of Arts. As he grew, he got to see the Alvin Ailey dance troupe perform and was awed by them. Moving to New York City to attend Julliard, his dancing reached another level and progressively he moved to work with Alvin Ailey. This story of talent and determination celebrates dance and the power it has to communicate.

The prose by Cline-Ransome is spry and fast moving. She shows the importance of family in Robert’s upbringing, even if his mother was not in the picture. The theme of the warmth of family plays throughout the book, from the early pages to the very end where Robert Battle is speaking to the Alvin Ailey audience. The author makes sure to not only talk about the facts of Battle’s life but also shows how his early disability and his willingness to work exceedingly hard played into his later success.

Ransome has done the illustrations in this picture book biography in pastels. The rich colors are gorgeous on the page. He uses them to show the richness of Battle’s life and then when the book shows the movement of dance, he uses them to create the moves from one position to another fluidly across the page in a rainbow of sketches.

A lovely biography on a contemporary figure in American and African-American dance, this picture book is rich and powerful. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.