Tag: art

Review: When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

When Sophies Feelings Are Really Really Hurt by Molly Bang

When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

Released September 29, 2015.

Sophie and her class at school are given an assignment to paint a tree from real life. Sophie has a favorite tree, the big beech tree where she goes when she is feeling sad. When she visits it, she sees how it glows in the sun, how its branches are formed. But when she tries to paint it, she realizes that its gray trunk actually looks sad in the painting, it’s the opposite of how she feels about the tree. So she changes the bark color to a vivid blue, the sky is orange and the leaves are chartreuse and ringed in yellow to make them glow. Sophie is very happy with her painting until the other children start to tease her about it not being realistic at all. Sophie’s feelings get very hurt until her teacher comes over and they talk about what Sophie was showing in her painting of the tree. Sophie also gets the chance to see the trees that everyone in the class painted and to see how they conveyed what they were feeling too.

This second book about Sophie follows the very popular When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry, which received a Caldecott Honor. This book focuses on feelings and emotions once again and wisely takes on emotions through the lens of art. Bang makes sure to explain exactly how Sophie is feeling throughout the book, focusing on the emotions from how the tree makes her feel to the way that the teasing at school feels down to her physical reactions as well. These clear looks at emotions will allow a discussion of feelings that is manageable and one that can embrace art as well.

Bang’s illustrations are exceptional. They glow with a light from within. The beech tree is fabulous and one can immediately see the connection between Bang’s art and Sophie’s. Both are playful, colorful and show deep emotion. I particularly love the image when Sophie is upset that looks at her gazing down at her feet, so that the reader is almost seeing things from Sophie’s perspective. It captures the feeling of self-doubt and even shame that teasing can create. The entire book has moments like this.

Another winning title from Molly Bang, this second Sophie book deserves to be in every library right alongside the first. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from The Blue Sky Press.

Review: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (InfoSoup)

Arthur can’t stand that the junk man is wearing his father’s hat, so he throws a brick at the old man and injures him. Sent to juvenile detention, Arthur has to appear in court where the junk man steps up and offers him a choice. He can either be sentenced to detention or he can do community service working with the junk man. Arthur agrees to work for the man. When he starts, all he gets is a list of items to find in the garbage. Soon Arthur is digging through the garbage himself. At first he does it with no interest at all, not fulfilling the list he has been given at all. Soon though, he is spotting treasures and keeping things like foil from his friend’s lunch. As he works on the items on the list, they grow in significance to him on a personal level and in his life. When he discovers what the man has been using the items for, Arthur is captivated and begins to work alongside him.

Pearsall has created a book that speaks to the power of one person to make a difference in someone’s life. First there is the brick being thrown, then the man saving Arthur from detention and then the story progresses and Arthur matures and he begins to save the man in return. It’s a beautiful cycle, one of caring and concern and humanity. The humility of garbage collecting is also a huge factor in the book, one that works not only to break down barriers but also to lift up the person to a different level along with the items they collect.

Pearsall also uses language impressively. She describes characters clearly and does not pontificate about the lessons to be seen in the book. Instead the story stands on its own merits and the conclusions you draw are your own. It makes it an ideal book to use with a class and will inspire discussions about right and wrong, and responsibility.

A vibrant piece of historical fiction based on a true story, this novel will be welcomed by teachers and youth alike. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Review: Snap! by Hazel Hutchins

Snap by Hazel Hutchins

Snap! by Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Dušan Petričić

Released September 22, 2015.

Evan had a new set of crayons that were perfect until he accidentally broke the brown crayon. He tried to fix it by pressing it together and taping it, but nothing worked. Then Evan realized that one broken crayon is actually two crayons! As Evan continued to color, more crayons snapped. When he stepped on one, he found that he could create different things with the crushed color and with others without wrappers. Evan’s only green crayon disappeared under the stairs and then he didn’t have any green at all, until he discovered that yellow and blue combined to make green. Soon Evan was mixing all sorts of colors. Finally he is left with only three colors: red, blue and green and no space to color any more. But Evan has starting thinking in new ways and finds a way to make new discoveries and art.

Hutchins has taken a universal moment in childhood, when the first crayon breaks and made it into a celebration of creativity and thinking in new ways. The discoveries outweigh the loss of a whole crayon, creating new opportunities and new ways to color and draw. The part where he steps on a crayon is so well done, allowing youngsters to see situations like that as a chance for discovery. Throughout the tone is jolly and inviting, just the antidote to perfectionism we need.

Petričić’s art is very appealing. Evan is a boy who is colored the same bright colors as his crayons, allowing him to pop on the page even as it fills with art. At the same time, he is rendered partially as an uncolored person, which makes for a very modern and intriguing look. The scribbles and child art are done well, always filled with experimentation and ideas. 

Combine this with a crayon craft and you will have a great program, just be ready for some of the children to snap your crayons on purpose! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Annick Press and NetGalley.

Review: Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

Released September 29, 2015.

A new book from the author of The Big Wet Balloon, this graphic novel for young readers encourages creating your own books. Henrietta has a new box of colored pencils and sets out to create her own book with help from her cat, Fellini. It becomes a tale of a brave girl named Henrietta who discovers a three-headed monster in her wardrobe. The wardrobe turns out to be a magic one, leading to a labyrinth filled with clothes. They search for a hat for the one head of the monster that doesn’t have one to wear. But when they find a hat they also discover another monster, this one has one head and three hats. How will they escape?

Liniers is a well-known Argentinian cartoonist. This book embraces the creative work of children, nicely capturing the simple story arc of a child as well as the colorful and loose art style. The creative process is also captured with asides from Henrietta to Fellini that show her having problems at times coming up with new ideas and at other times having problems with the continuation of the story line after something dramatic happens. It’s a clever way to demonstrate the hurdles of creativity and story writing without lecturing.

The art is wonderful. Linier uses two clearly different styles in the book, one for Henrietta’s real world and the other for her written story. The real world ones are quieter and more realistic while the story is zany. It is filled with scribbles, colors, and really looks as if a creative child could have done it. The result is a book where the real world pieces are clearly different than the story, avoiding any confusion at all.

A solid graphic novel for young readers, children with dreams of writing their own books will love this journey through creativity. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from TOON Books.

Review: I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs Bensons Blackboard by Jennifer Mann

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann (InfoSoup)

Mrs. Benson gives stars on her blackboard for things like spelling, neatness and raising your hand. Rose though, struggles with all of those things. Plus she isn’t good at math, her voice is too quiet for a star in reading, and she spilled snack on Mrs. Benson. Rose had been distracted by the artist who came to speak with them and dreaming of all of the things that she could create. At the end of the day, there was going to be a check for desk neatness, and Rose knew that she would never get a star for that. Mrs. Benson didn’t quite reach Rose’s desk that evening, so the next day Rose came in early and cleaned her desk. Then they got to make thank you cards for the artist who had visited, but doing art was messy and Rose undid all of her cleaning. At the same time, Rose had made an incredible card and who knows maybe art was a way that she could finally get that star!

Mann captures the pressure that a student who does not conform to classroom norms can feel. Rose desperately wants to do what is right, but none of the qualities that Mrs. Benson wants come easily or naturally to her. The presentation of someone to inspire her to do her best on something that she is definitely good at makes for a natural turning point in the book and allows Rose to continue to be herself all the way to the end. This is a celebration of artistic children who may lack in social graces but make up for it in boundless enthusiasm and creativity.

Mann’s illustrations make the book very kid-friendly as does the subject matter. The friendly round-headed characters are shown in a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Rose stands out in the illustrations with her bright-colored clothing and then the fact that at the artist presentation she is standing and listening rather than sitting. It all shows that she is a vibrant kid, filled with so much zing that it would be impossible to contain her.

A celebration of kids who don’t fit into classrooms easily, this picture book celebrates creativity and being yourself. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt

Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)

Released August 18, 2015.

In this companion to the very popular The Day the Crayons Quit, Duncan receives several postcards in the mail, all sent from his crayons, this times ones that have been forgotten, left behind or run away. There is Maroon Crayon who was lost in the couch, broken in half and saved by Paperclip. There is Pea Green, who is aware that no one likes his color so he’s run away to see the world and renamed himself Esteban. Neon Red Crayon has been left behind on vacation and undertakes a long and arduous journey back home, getting his geography all mixed up along the way. There are crayons that melted together in the sun, ones that were eaten and puked up by the dog, ones stuck in sharpeners, left behind in basements, and put in the dryer. All of the crayons want to return home and Duncan has just the solution for them, no matter what condition they are in.

This second picture book about Duncan’s crayons has the same fabulous sense of humor as the first one. The crayons all have their own unique personalities. While the book moves from one crayon to the next in general, a couple of them return several times during the story. So readers get to see what happens when Esteban heads out into the world and also get to adventure along with Neon Red as he makes his long trek homeward. The entire book is merry and funny, filled with puns and jokes. Even the crayons in the worst condition are done with plenty of humor.

The illustrations by Jeffers add to the fun. Make sure to take the glow-in-the-dark crayon page into a dark room to see it glow. Jeffers’ asides by the crayons are wry and silly, creating small conversations outside of the postcard format.  As always, Jeffers’ illustrations are a treat with lots of personality, even with the characters being crayons.

A winning companion book for a popular read, this book is sure to please fans of the first and to find new fans who will happily discover both books. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin Young Readers.

Review: Wild about Shapes by Jeremie Fischer

Wild About Shapes by Jeremie Fischer

Wild about Shapes by Jeremie Fischer (InfoSoup)

A wonderfully simple idea, this book features abstract patterns on each facing page. Turn the clear plastic page with its abstract design so that it overlaps the first page and suddenly an animal is revealed. While some of the animals can be guessed from the designs or from the short text, many of them are complete surprises. Children will have to be paying close attention to spot some of the animals like the fish made from the white space on the page and the octopus that floats on another.

Spiral bound, this book is printed on card stock that will stand up to little hands. Even the acetate pages are strong and thick, limiting the amount of tearing that libraries will see. The text is very limited in the book, giving full attention to the clever illustrations. They are entirely playful and fun, the book less of a guessing game and more of art that you get to experience.

Children will want to turn the pages themselves, so that they are able to look back and forth between the abstract and the tangible on the page. So it’s best for sharing with only a few children at a time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.