The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert
This follow-up to the charming Ice continues the story of the community of pigs. One night, an enormous seed landed near the homes of the pigs. The pigs immediately set to work planting it, watering it, and caring for it. It grew into an enormous dandelion. Just as the flowers were blooming, a volcano near their village started to erupt. Hot ash fell onto their homes and the pigs were forced to flee. They found the solution in the dandelion seeds, riding them to a new island filled with trees and fresh water.
Geisert’s pig stories are told entirely through pictures. The long, narrow format of the book allows for a series of panels, one picture on each page, or a lovely long image that takes up the entire spread. Geisert uses all of these formats for his images. His illustrations are done in etchings with fine lines and small details. The mystery of the real size of the pigs continues with one wondering if they are either very tiny pigs or the dandelions are truly larger than trees.
As readers face another disaster alongside the pigs, they will enjoy the whimsical solution and the impressive art. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey
Traction Man and his faithful sidekick Scrubbing Brush are on the way to the beach. There they explore the depths of the Rockpool to discover what creature live beneath the calm surface. They are then called upon to guard the picnic from any intruders. Unfortunately, Truffles the dog decided to bury Traction Man. Happily Scrubbing Brush was there to dig him free. But just as they are feeling safe, a wave comes and sweeps both of them out into the ocean. When they resurface, they have been discovered by a girl who carries them to the Dollies’ Castle where there are garlands, sweet treats, and plenty of pink. Truffles returns to save Traction Man from the castle, and Traction Man and the dolls head off on a shared adventure, to explore digging to the Center of the Earth.
This is the third Traction Man book, and I continue to delight in them. Grey has exactly the right tone in the writing with Traction Man often speaking like a movie announcer and always in capital letters. She incorporates plenty of humor into the book, but the reader is not laughing at the adventures or the play of the children. Instead it is the inherent humor of action figures, their worlds, and that strong dialogue voice.
Grey also uses small details throughout the book to really create a full world for Traction Man. Garbage on the beach has brand names and logos, the text of the book is shown on graph paper with torn edges, action sequences are put into frames and read like comic books. The end pages of the book are just as fun with details about Beach-Time Brenda, one of the dolls, at the front of the book and a comic featuring both Traction Man and Brenda at the end.
A great summer read for Traction Man fans, this third book can stand happily on its own. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
It seems to be a season for losses in the children’s book field. Author Ellen Levine has died at the age of 73 from lung cancer. Her children’s books focused on historical fiction about immigrants and minorities.
Her Henry’s Freedom Box from 2007 received a Caldecott Honor for Kadir Nelson’s artwork.