Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
A stunningly gorgeous picture book about the changing seasons, this is a perfect way to welcome winter even when you don’t want it to arrive. The book begins on a cold day in September with a girl out in nature watching the animals. She has along her drawing pad and climbs into a tree house to see even better. From that platform, she sees a red fox stealing the last wrinkled fall apple from a low branch. A mother bear and her cub are also in the woods searching for food. As fall progresses, she sees different animals: a family of skunks, rabbits, woodpeckers, a lynx, chipmunks, deer and geese. All are preparing for the approaching winter in their own way. As winter gets closer, the animals stop appearing until the day the snow arrives when the red fox is out to see it too.
Johnston has created a book that truly shows children what it is like to be surrounded by the wonder of nature during one changing season. Her poetry sparks on the page, showing not only the different animals but also explaining what is beautiful and special about each one. Even more mundane animals like the chipmunks get this honor. Young readers will be inspired to get outside and sit still and just watch.
The art from LaMarche is stunning. He takes advantage of the length of the pages and creates wide landscapes that embrace the changing colors of the seasons. They turn from the bright yellows of early fall to the deeper reds and browns and then to the chill grays of winter. He uses light beautifully throughout and various perspectives that all center around one tree and one girl. It is extraordinary.
Perfect pick for just this time of year, get your hands on this beautiful picture book and then be ready for adventures outside, hopefully with your own pen and paper along. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska
The duo who created The Quiet Book and The Loud Book have returned with a holiday version. This simple picture book follows the same format as the earlier books, celebrating the small moments of the day that are quiet. Here they are all Christmas themed with quiet moments like “Star on top quiet” and “Luminaria quiet” and “Listening for sleigh bells quiet.”
As always, Liwska’s illustrations add a softness and warmth to the book that entirely suits the theme. Her rabbits, owls and bears are all huggably fuzzy. Their expressions are perfect for each of the moments, from the shock of a broken ornament to the bliss of gliding on ice to the horror of the mistletoe.
A wonderful Christmas read for the entire family, this celebrates all of those moments between the hustle and bustle of the holiday. It will get all of you thinking about your own Christmas quiet times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Baby Penguins Everywhere! by Melissa Guion
There was a penguin who was all alone on the ice floes. She liked the quiet, but sometimes it did get lonely. Then one day, she discovered a top hat floating in the water. Once the hat was on land, out popped a little penguin. And then another! The big penguin was very happy and no longer lonely. But then came another little penguin, and more, and more. Soon there were many, many little penguins everywhere. The big penguin was very busy and quite tired. She knew she just needed on little thing – a moment of quiet and solitude. But after that, she merrily joined in the fun with all of the other penguins again.
Guion frames her message about the need for quiet and solitude in a way that children will understand. The big penguin needs a little break, just like their parents sometimes do. The best part though, is that after that break, they are ready for more fun! The writing here is simple, making it just right for toddlers.
It is Guion’s art that really shines here. The delight of the first two little penguins is perfection and then the surprise of turning the page and realizing that they just keep on coming makes the book even more fun. Guion has her little penguins in constant motion, playfully coming up with new ideas and new toys. This is much more like a class than a family, so teachers may appreciate using this book as a way to explain their own need for some quiet time too.
A cheerful look at peace and quiet, this book is wonderfully rowdy too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC received from author.
Shhh! by Valeri Gorbachev
When his baby brother is sleeping, the older brother is very quiet. He walks on his tippy-toes and doesn’t make any noise. Of course, this involves getting even the toys to be quiet. So he has to tell the clown to stop laughing, the knights to stop battling, the tiger to stop growling, the pilot to stop flying, the train to stop rolling, and the pirates to stop firing their cannons. Happily, when his baby brother wakes up, he can run around, play with his toys, and make plenty of noise. Until… baby goes to sleep again.
There is no resentment in this book from the older sibling to his baby brother. Instead the book embraces the differences between awake and nap time in a playful way. The older brother sees being kind to his little brother as a way to demonstrate how much he loves him. While parents are present in the book, this is much more about the self-control of a child and his own willingness to help by being quiet. There are no lectures from parents or even reminders to be quiet.
Gorbachev’s art is colorful and fine-lined. He sets a playful tone in the book that works well. When readers are first shown the toys that have to be quiet, they are presented as if they are fully alive and life-sized. Once the baby is awake, they are shown in their true forms, as toys.
A positive book about being an older sibling and having to be quiet. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.
Also reviewed by A Picture Book a Day.
Willow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
Willow’s voice was never any louder than a whisper. She wished it were louder because no one in her class could hear her speak. She got the wrong juice at snack, couldn’t tell others that she was playing with the toys, and never got picked as line leader because she couldn’t speak up. Her father knew that her voice was inside her and would find its way out. The next morning, Willow got up and made a magic microphone. When she spoke into it, her voice was strong and loud. She could speak to her classmates and ask for what she wanted. But disaster struck at the end of the day when the microphone was crushed. Could Willow find her her voice in time to be line leader?
Written with an understanding of being shy and the effort it takes to overcome, Button has captured the shy, quiet child perfectly here. The loving relationship between Willow and her father is also worth noting. He does not pressure her to change, rather it is her own decision and creativity that bring it about. Howell’s illustrations make great use of white space. They have a simple design and child-like feel to them that really works well.
This book will really speak loudly to those who are quiet. It also offers a window of understanding to those who aren’t. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.
Also reviewed by Kiss the Book and BookDragon.
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska
There are many kind of quiet. Quiet can cozy. Quiet can be tense. Quiet can be worth savoring. Quiet can be gone in a flash. This book celebrates the many kinds of quiet, offering examples of the many moments of quiet in a day. Starting with the quiet of being the first one awake, the book ends with the quiet of being sound asleep. In between, readers will find examples of quiet that are funny, surprising and poignant. This is a simple premise executed with great finesse.
Underwood’s one-per-page examples of quiet each end with the word “quiet.” As you read through the book aloud, you will discover which of the examples make you hush your words even more and which examples are exuberant despite the silence. Deftly done, the examples are varied and interesting. Liwska’s illustrations add to the gentle humor, offering visual examples of quiet. Her pencil and digital images are soft and witty at the same time.
Recommended for bedtime reading, this book is perfect for snuggling under the covers and reading to a little one. Happy cuddles! Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Check out the websites of Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska