Sylvia Jean, Scout Supreme

Sylvia Jean, Scout Supreme by Lisa Campbell Ernst

This is the second book about the irrepressible Sylvia Jean.  In this book, Sylvia Jean’s Pig Scout troop is working on getting their Good-Dead Badge.  Each of them has to select one a good deed to do.  Sylvia Jean realizes that she can help her neighbor Mrs. VanHooven who twisted her ankle and can’t walk.  Sylvia Jean gathers everything she is going to need to help Mrs. VanHooven and arrives on her doorstep merrily blowing her tuba in case Mrs. VanHooven has difficulty hearing.  Sylvia Jean arrives with too much energy and ends up tripping and falling on top of Mrs. VanHooven.  The doctor then insists that Sylvia Jean not visit any more to let her have rest.  But Sylvia Jean is not that easily turned away.  She comes up with a clever solution that allows her to keep helping her neighbor without her neighbor knowing.  But what happens when she has to turn in her information for her badge and no one knows how helpful she has been?

Ernst has poured so much energy and creativity into this young pig that she is more than a breath of fresh air.  She is a gale.  Sylvia Jean is a great character who young readers will enjoy spending time with.  Ernst’s writing and illustrations are filled with plenty of humor and the book moves along at a brisk pace.  The story is interesting and has more depth than many picture books.  There is more text here than in some picture books.  It reads aloud very easily and the details add to the story and the fun.  Ernst’s illustrations are done in warm colors and gently waving lines.  They are equal in humor and energy to the story itself.

Recommended as a read aloud, this book will be enjoyed by a wide range of ages and children.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Penguin Books.

The Best Family in the World

The Best Family in the World by Susana Lopez, illustrated by Ulises Wensell.

When Carlota is told that she has been adopted by a family, she lets her imagination range over what kind of family she will be joining.  It could be a family of pastry chefs who would let her have chocolate pastries for every meal.  Or perhaps a pirate family who will let her search for treasure and wear an eye patch and a peg leg.  Maybe a family of tiger trainers so she could take a cub to school with her.  It might be a family of astronauts and she could count the stars to fall asleep at night.  When the Perez family shows up the next morning, they are the best family in the world for Carlota who finds many of her dreams have come true in small ways.  Most importantly, she has found a family that loves her.

This is a marvelous book about adoption.  It captures the dreams of the child and then the reality itself where the reality may not be as flashy but is perfect none-the-less because they love her.  Created by an author and illustrator from Spain, this book is universally appealing.  Lopez’s text is friendly and effusive.  The daydreams are fanciful and interesting, but Lopez has allowed the reality to be the real star here.  Wensell’s illustrations are charming and friendly.  They invite young readers into the story, reveal the humor of the daydreams, and linger lovingly and warmly on the real family.

Recommended for all library collections, this book about adoption is something special.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller Publishing.

Also reviewed by Jen Robinson and A Patchwork of Books.