Review: Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

too tall houses

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

Rabbit and Owl live right next door to one another at the top of a hill in separate small houses.  Rabbit likes growing vegetables and Owl likes the view of the forest.  They were good friends.  Until one day, Rabbit’s vegetables got so tall that they blocked Owl’s view of the forest.  Rabbit refused to cut his vegetables down, so Owl built his house taller.  Then Owl’s house was blocking the sun from reaching Rabbit’s garden, so Rabbit built a taller house and put his garden on the roof.   So started the competition to have the tallest house.  And my, do the houses ever get taller and taller! 

Marino does a great job of telling a story that has the heart and soul of a classic folktale.  The friendship and competition between the two animals carries a subtle lesson that is masked effectively in humor.  She doesn’t back away from carrying the tale to its very funny extreme ending.  The story is kept simple, allowing the illustrations to carry much of the story forward.

Marino’s illustrations have the colors of fall and warmth.  From the orange branches Owl uses to create his home to the terra cotta bricks of Rabbit’s, the colors are bright and autumnal.  As the houses grow into the sky, the colors are cooler, emphasizing that they are leaving the comfort of their warm homes and creating homes simply to beat someone else. 

This is a funny, warm and memorable read that will get your audience laughing.  Perfect for reading aloud any time of year.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

Review: Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley

kel gilligan

Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Dan Santat

Kel is a daredevil, willing to take on enormous challenges and risk his own safety!  He took on the challenge of eating broccoli and survived without a scratch.  He had the courage to face down “The Potty of Doom” though it did take longer than he expected.  He even managed to get dressed by himself without a net.  He has tested his underwater skills by taking a bath with only one assistant.  And has even survived his mother being on the phone without interrupting, though it was close.  When Kel faces his final challenge of the day, you may have to avert your eyes, because he will be trying to go to bed without checking for monsters first!  This is one picture book only for the bravest of readers.

Buckley’s language is over the top in the best possible way.  Kel speaks as if he is announcing his challenges to a large crowd, all rooting for him.  Buckley even gives that crowd a voice, interjecting amazement at this brave young man and what he is trying to do.  The language alone is enough to get you laughing.

Combined with Santat’s illustrations, this book will actually make you laugh out loud.  The incredulous faces of those in the crowd, the bare buttocks that you glimpse occasionally, and the pride of Kel as he defeats another obstacle, all add to the humor here. 

Give this one to kids a little older, since they will appreciate looking back on their own accomplishments in a humorous way.  Expect a cacophony of laughter when the The Potty of Doom appears.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.