Finn Throws a Fit!

Finn Throws a Fit! by David Elliott, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

I was sold on this book from the very first page, which features a huge image of Finn hugging a peach.  The look on his face of complete and utter bliss is the essence of joy.  Then of course, the book changes… 

Today, Finn does not like peaches.  He doesn’t like anything at all.  He is just plain grumpy!  He slams doors, yells, cries, stomps his feet.  His temper is so huge that when he does these things they have disastrous effects.  His tears flood the house.  Lightning flashes when he yells.  It’s an earthquake when he stomps his feet.  And then it is over.  Readers find out why he was cranky, and now?  Now, he’d like a peach please.

For any parent who has ever survived toddler tantrums, this book hits the mark perfectly.  The drama of the fit itself is right on, cranked up to the ultimate level just as every tantrum feels.  For me, the best moment of the book beyond that charmer of a first page is the end of the fit which ends with this line:

“It lasts until it doesn’t.” 

Exactly.  Perfectly and succinctly put. 

Elliott’s writing is very simple and yet dramatic.  The short sentences on each page make this a perfect book for toddlers who just may be capable of this sort of tantrum.  Ering’s art is delightfully wild, filled with stormy clouds of emotion.  Done in charcoal, oil paint and grease pencil they work very well in both the sunny parts of the book and the dramatic. 

A perfect choice for toddler story time, you could have them yell, stomp, and more while reading.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Mitten

The Mitten retold by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock

This is a retelling of Ukrainian folktale made popular by Jan Brett whose beloved version is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.   A little boy heads out to play in his new hat, scarf and mittens that his grandmother has knitted for him.  While playing, he loses one of his mittens.  The mitten is found by a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, and a bear who manage to squeeze into the mitten and be nice and warm.  But when a mouse comes by and begs to join them too, it is too much for even grandmother’s strong knitting.  The mitten explodes with a satisfying burst. The boy and his grandmother find the scraps in the snow and the grandmother knits him another mitten.

Aylesworth changes the tone and style here with great skill, creating an American folktale feel that is filled with charm.  McClintock’s art is perfectly matched here with her vintage feel.  The bright red mitten is changed from the original white, adding a punch of color on each page.  Her art and Aylesworth’s writing both evoke folktales, cold snow, warm firesides and the smell of damp wool mittens. 

This is a retelling that is equal to the original, which is astounding.  Because the text and art is reworked, it was able to take on the same story with a very different style and do it successfully.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.