Review: The Reader by Amy Hest


The Reader by Amy Hest, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

A young boy walks through the snow with his dog and a suitcase in his hand.  He gets his red sled with runners and heads out.  They climb a large hill, leaving straight lines in the snow from the sled as the dog bounds ahead.  Once at the top, they stop for a snack of toast and warm drinks.  Around them the snow continues to fall.  Finally, the suitcase is opened.  The boy pulls out a book to share with his dog, about friendship.  He reads it aloud, the two of them together at the top of a snowy hill.  When they are done, they pack everything back up and climb on the sled for the ride back down the hill.  Together.

Hest has written a book that is filled with falling snow but also warmed by the friendship of a boy and his dog.  Though the title gives a hint at what is in the case, readers will still be surprised to have them read it out in the falling snow.  Hest incorporates beautiful little details: the sound of crunching and sipping, the sound of the boy reading at the top of the hill, the hard work of getting up the high hill.  These all create a feeling of time, moments that are to be treasured because they are so beautiful.

Castillo’s illustrations are done in pen and ink and watercolor.  Against the white of the snow, all of the colors pop.  The brown of the dog, the red boots, the smears of color on the suitcase: all are cheery bright against the white countryside.  The illustrations have a wonderful jaunty feel to them, celebrating this close friendship and reading books.

A wonderful mix of snow and story, this book is a rich winter delight.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

christmas quiet book

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska

The duo who created The Quiet Book and The Loud Book have returned with a holiday version.  This simple picture book follows the same format as the earlier books, celebrating the small moments of the day that are quiet.  Here they are all Christmas themed with quiet moments like “Star on top quiet” and “Luminaria quiet” and “Listening for sleigh bells quiet.” 

As always, Liwska’s illustrations add a softness and warmth to the book that entirely suits the theme.  Her rabbits, owls and bears are all huggably fuzzy.  Their expressions are perfect for each of the moments, from the shock of a broken ornament to the bliss of gliding on ice to the horror of the mistletoe. 

A wonderful Christmas read for the entire family, this celebrates all of those moments between the hustle and bustle of the holiday.  It will get all of you thinking about your own Christmas quiet times.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.