Don’t Blink by Tom Booth

Don't Blink by Tom Booth

Don’t Blink by Tom Booth (9781250117366, Amazon)

A little girl sits in the middle of the page, looking right at the reader. When a bird flies up and asks her what she is doing, she replies that she’s having a staring contest with the child reading the book. As the pages turn, more and more animals join the staring contest, until the page is crowded with an elephant, fox, frog, porcupine, owl, giraffe, monkey and many more. Even a slow-moving tortoise is heading to the game. But before the tortoise can get to the center of the page, everyone has blinked. Perhaps another try?

Booth’s playfulness is fully on display in this picture book. The book is entirely written in dialogue that is color-coded to the animal speaking with dotted lines to clarify who is saying something. With so many animals on the page, this book lends itself to lots of various voices which will also add to the fun. The illustrations are modern and friendly, even the alligator being more toothy than frightening. All of the animals looking directly at the reader is also very effective.

A great pick to share aloud and have children try to win the staring contest. Or maybe the next one! Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella (9781452157924, Amazon)

Olga, a friendly black cat, leads readers through her home. She shows all of the objects in the house in a variety of categories. There is everything for sitting that includes a stool, chairs, and even a stack of books. Everything that brightens has candles, lamps, and a window. The lists continue with images of each item and a name. Everything that passes the time includes games but also brother and sister. While this is a look at the objects in a home, it also speaks to the various roles that the people in a home can have.

Originally published in France, this picture book has a distinct European feel. Stella presents a simple premise of a book that becomes more complex as readers look more closely at the items included in each category. There are some lists that are unusual like everything that shows time passing and everything for warming up that include unlikely items. This picture book shows categorizing items and also teaches words so it has many uses for young readers.

The illustrations are done in a simple and bold style that offers just enough detail to identify objects clearly but avoids being fussy or too crowded on the page. Readers will enjoy discovering that Olga is a cat, something that explains the sorts of things that make her list and are distinctly from a cat’s point of view.

A book that will have readers exploring the pages closely and inventing their own categories in their homes. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (9780062290137, Amazon)

No one knows that Eliza, a senior in high school, is the creator of the immensely popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea. She spends her days at school working on art for the comic and trying to be invisible. Then a new boy, Wallace, comes to her school. He has the looks of a football player, but doesn’t seem to say much at all, instead spending his time writing. Eliza soon learns that he is a major fan of her webcomic. As their friendship grows and starts to turn into a romance, the two of them do most of their communicating through texts, online chat and written notes. Eliza has to decide whether to share her secret of being the creator of Monstrous Sea with Wallace or whether she can stay anonymous much longer.

Zappia’s writing is completely captivating. She writes with a lovely confidence, telling the story of an introverted young creator with grace and understanding. Her characters are deeply human, struggling with real trauma and finding their safe place in communities online where they can be authentic and original. She speaks to the power of art and creativity in your life, making something that you can’t stop creating and having others find value in it too. Still, there is a tipping point where fans’ expectations can become too much and overwhelm the creative process. Zappia shows how mental distress can be dealt with and progress forward can be made, slowly.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about this book, though there are many great elements is Zappia’s portrayal of introverts. There is a coziness here, a feeling of safety in the pages, as if they are forming a critical spot for introverts to bloom, just like an online community. The book shows how introverts may be awkward but are also incredibly creative, thoughtful and deep people who just need their home and dog to recharge sometimes, alright often. The book allows Eliza and Wallace to steadily use online tools to communicate and learn about one another, building their relationship with honesty and humor.

Get this in the hands of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

Raymond by Yann & Gwendal Le Bec

Raymond by Yann & Gwendal Le Bec

Raymond by Yann & Gwendal Le Bec (9780763689506, Amazon)

Raymond was just a regular family dog, adored by his family. Then he thought one day about joining the family at the table as they ate. Raymond was soon walking on two legs and becoming more and more human. He got a job at DOGUE magazine, being a reporter and soon became an anchor on a dog news show on TV. Raymond didn’t have time for his family anymore and they only got to see him on his show when they tuned in. Finally, his family persuaded him to take some time off. Can Raymond find a way back to being more of a dog and less of a workaholic?

This witty book shows how even a family dog can be drawn into the work life too deeply. Using a family dog as the main character is a smart choice, playing against the typical dog roles. Throughout the book, there is a criticism of our modern work culture that is presented at a level that children will understand. Adults and children alike will cheer when Raymond rediscovers his love for life and ear scratches.

The illustrations have a zing to them as well. From the cover with Raymond carrying a to-go coffee. There is a lovely parallel world of dogs and humans in the images, showing a rich world that Raymond gets caught up in. For their modern touches, the illustrations still have a vintage appeal to them in their flat colors and lines.

A modern fable of the balance of life and work and the joy of chasing balls and spending quiet time together. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

2 new Harry Potter books set to be published in October

The Best Children’s Books for Your 2017 Summer Reading List

David Walliams is first children’s author to reach 100 weeks at number one

Emily Blunt Looks PERFECT as Mary Poppins in This Fantastical Movie Poster

The First Rule of Q&A: An Interview with

A Florida school district is banning homework — and replacing it with this

Junot Díaz Wrote A Kid’s Book So His Goddaughters Could Feel Represented

The Poet Bao Phi, On Creating A ‘Guidebook’ For Young Asian-Americans

Q & A with Ellen Oh

Take a look ahead at the big spring 2018 titles in our Sneak Previews roundup

Today in ShelfTalker: Middle grade graphic novels that kids are looking forward to this fall

UK airline easyJet launches children’s book ‘flybrary’ with 7000 books chosen by Jacqueline Wilson | @thebookseler

Veteran author Shirley Hughes warns parents: don’t rob your children of the change to be bored: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/veteran-author-shirley-hughes-warns-parents-dont-rob-children-chance-bored/

TEEN LIT

The 10 Best New Young Adult Books in July 2017 via

How Novelist Kwame Alexander Hooks Teens on Poetry |

NYPL: We’re adding these YA reads to our “to read” list as soon as possible:

A Round-Up of Awesome Asian American Protagonists in YA Lit

SLJ’s Guide to Pride: 20 Titles Spotlighting LGBTQA+ Experience

YA Horror Reads of 2017

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Micha Archer (9781580895446, Amazon)

This nonfiction picture book looks at various ways of bathing from around the world. Americans will be familiar with the first way, a bathtub with rubber duckies and a little one refusing to bathe. The book then moves to Japan with washing before entering the square tub to soak. People bathe from oldest to youngest. Turkey is next with bathhouses and scrubbing by attendants then a sauna with mud masks. Indians take baths in the river. Yup’ik families in Alaska sweat in a wooden cabin surrounded by snow. There are many ways and places to bathe around the world, but one thing holds constant across them all: children want to avoid baths!

Bradford uses information on bathing habits with touches of humor to lighten the book. Touches of each language are shown on the page from the names of the baths to the parents saying “yes” and the child saying “no”. The illustrations by Archer are oils and collage that create bright colorful scenes of the various places around the world. In all of them, there is an inviting feel and children escaping too. The images use the same humorous moments to enliven the book.

A bright and interesting look at baths, this is one worth submerging yourself into. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.