City Dog, Country Frog

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth

I was a little concerned about a book by Willems that he didn’t illustrate himself, but I shouldn’t have.  This book is a rich exploration of friendship.  A dog who has never lived in the country before runs out through the fields and comes upon a frog sitting on a rock near the water.  The frog immediately invites the dog to be his friend and the two play frog games together that spring.  When summer comes, the dog and frog play city dog games together, including fetch.  In the fall, the frog is growing old and tired.  So the two play remembering games together, thinking of spring and summer and the games they played.  Then winter came and when the dog headed to the rock, the frog wasn’t there.  Then spring came again, and this time the dog was the one sitting on the rock waiting for a friend.  And guess who came?  A new and unexpected friend.

This book is about friendship, that deep and abiding type of friendship that is about connection.  It is also about loss and it captures it so vividly that children will immediately understand the gravity of winter and exactly what the dog is experiencing.  It is a very powerful moment, depicted in deep blues of winter cold and silence in the text.  Beautifully captured.  At the same time though, it is a book about friendship continuing, new friends arriving, and the ability to move on and resume.  Willem’s language is simple and adept, he says things is so few words yet captures feelings perfectly.  Muth’s illustrations really capture the seasons. One can almost smell the grass of spring, the autumn leaves, and the crisp snowy air.  He also imbues the animals’ faces with deep emotions yet makes sure that they are still dogs and frogs. 

Highly recommended, this pairing of author and illustrator has created an amazing story that is deep and moving.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.  Make sure when you share this with a child that there is time to talk afterwards, it is sure to start a conversation.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out the trailer that Mo Willems created for the book:

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LMNO Peas

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

Follow the energetic and very friendly green peas in an alphabet journey through various activities.  Starting with A, the peas are acrobats, artists and astronauts.  Each letter has activities that are shown in the illustrations with charming detail that invite readers to spend time with the book.  The use of activities rather than objects as the words makes for a dynamic picture book filled with lots of action.  The text reflects that same active feel with a jaunty rhyme that gallops along.  Make sure to read aloud the comments of the peas along the way, because they are worked into the verse and maintain the meter of the rhymes.  This is a charmer of an alphabet book that is sure to be a hit with kids.

The illustrations in the book are done digitally.  They have a warm and natural feel to them that suits the subject of friendly, active peas very nicely.  The smiling green peas have limbs, wear costumes, and use props.  They use the letter themselves as the basis of their activities, climbing them, mining them, using them as a stage.  This makes sure that kids are really looking at the letters themselves.  There is a superb sense of humor on display throughout, sure to have adults and children smiling and laughing along. 

A very inventive alphabet book that should find a home in every public library collection, this book is appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins – The Movie

 

According to /Film, two new names have been mentioned with Fox’s adaptation of Mr. Popper’s Penguins.  Director Mark Waters of Freaky Friday is a possible director.  Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson and Jack Black’s names have been mentioned as possible stars.

Sigh.

Really?

Sigh.

I was hoping for a quirky interesting film because it’s such a cool book.  Now it looks like star-power, big-budget, CGI-animals type movie.  Let’s hope that I’m wrong since the book deserves better.

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