Book Review: Fortune Cookies by Albert Bitterman

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Fortune Cookies by Albert Bitterman, illustrations by Chris Raschka

One day, a young girl gets a package in the mail that contains seven fortune cookies.  She opens one cookie each day.  The fortunes are done as pull tabs in the book, nicely mimicking the pleasure of cracking open a cookie and the surprise of the fortune.  Each fortune moves the story forward a bit.  The first talks about losing something you don’t need, and she loses her tooth.  The next about money being like the wind, and she finds a dollar under her pillow and buys a kite.  The next fortune is more vague, about finding the good with the bad.  Here the girl loses her kite, but finds a cat and takes her home.  As the days pass, more fortunes are read, the cat is lost and later found in the fort the girl has built.  But one last surprise awaits that makes for a very satisfying fortune indeed.

Librarians will be very pleased with the tabs here, because they will stand up nicely to public use.  There are only seven of them and they are sturdy and move easily back and forth.  Equally pleasing is that the tabs make sense here.  They are not an afterthought of the story, but an integral pleasure of the book and fortune cookies themselves.  The story is intriguing with its mix of fortunes, straight-forward action, and then the satisfying resolution.  It makes for a book that is great fun to read, because one is never sure what will happen next, though you have been given a clue in the fortune.

Raschka’s art adds another dimension here.  His splashing watercolors are very pleasing on the white background.  Combining this free-feeling art with the dimension of the tabs creates a book that is not only unusual in its artistry but a joy to explore and read.

A fortunate pick for any reader, this book is appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

Also reviewed by:

Book Review: Loon Baby by Molly Beth Griffin

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Loon Baby by Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Anne Hunter

Loon Baby lives happily with his mother in the northern woods.  His mother dives under the water for Baby’s dinner but he is too little to follow her underwater.  Loon Baby waited, floating and paddling.  At first he is sure that his mother will return just as she always had.  But she stays away and he begins to wonder if something has happened to her.  He tries to dive down into the water, but keeps bobbing back to the surface.  After diving so many times, Loon Baby can’t remember where home is anymore.  Everything looks the same to him on the banks of the pond.  Loon Baby has had enough and wails a cry that wavers and sinks.  His mother pops up by his side, his dinner in her mouth.  In his happiness, Loon Baby dives deep into the water, discovering that he can indeed dive just like his mother.

Griffin tells this story in prose that reads like poetry.  It is spare, simple and ideal for young children.  The story speaks to the panic a lost child can feel when their mother disappears, gently guiding children to the parallels between Loon Baby and themselves. 

Hunter’s illustrations are a lovely mix of watercolors and lines that crosshatch and offer details.  The green and blue colors evoke the northern woods.  Pulling back to a larger view, they emphasize the lone Loon Baby as he seeks his mother. 

A lovely book for preschoolers about being lost and being found again.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Katie’s (Little Ones) Learning Lounge.