Review: The Beatles Were Fab by Kathleen Krull

beatles were fab

The Beatles Were Fab (And They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Stacy Innerst

This is a picture book biography of The Beatles that captures their humor and the way that they used it in their music and lifestyle.  The book begins with the formation of the band and the fun they had naming themselves.  The book talks about their use of silliness and jokes to keep their spirits up as they struggled to make it, looking for a record deal.  When success came, it came quickly and with success came fame and fans.  Then there was the Beatlesmania craze that swept the United States, nothing like it had been seen before or since.  Krull includes some small details like American fans throwing jellybeans on stage because the band said they liked jellybabies, but jellybabies are soft where jellybeans are certainly not.  She then has a section on each Beatle and some of the interesting responses they gave during interviews.  This is a merry and fast-moving look at one of the greatest bands of all time.

Krull injects her nonfiction work with humor and zest.  She tells specific stories that offer insight into the Beatles nature.  It is a treat to hear their own words but it is also wonderful to read about moments in history that are revealing about their character.  Krull and Brewer skillfully end the book before drug use became an issue for the band.  Instead they focus on the early Beatles and their humor rather than the complexity of the later Beatles music and attitudes.

Innerst’s illustrations are just as humorous and playful as the stories that Krull and Brewer tell.  The characters have a feel of bobble-heads and a strong modern vibe.  He she uses bright colors that match the energy of the text.  I have to say, I am particularly partial to Ringo’s nose in the illustrations.

This strong picture book biography is not made for research, but instead fans of the Beatles can share part of their story with children and everyone is sure to end up humming some of the songs.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka

everyone can learn to ride a bicycle

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka

The two-time Caldecott Medalist returns with another exceptional picture book.  In this book, a little girl learns to ride a bike.  She first picks out the bike she wants to try, then watches other people ride their bikes.  The training wheels are very helpful, keeping her upright and they steadily are moved upward so that she can start to balance on her own.  Training wheels off, she tries riding in the grass but when she heads down a small hill, she tips over.  It takes a lot of courage to get back on again and again and again after tumbling off.  But then, suddenly and incredibly, she learns to ride a bicycle on her own!

Written in second-person, the book really allows readers to see themselves as the one riding the bicycle.  Raschka’s text is simple and effective, encouraging readers to give it a try.  When the tumbling begins, Raschka starts talking about courage, sure to inspire young readers to see that quality in themselves both in learning to ride a bicycle and in other endeavors too.  As always, the art is the key with Raschka’s picture books.  His style is loose and flowing, capturing movement and wobbles with easy watercolor strokes. 

A great pick for spring when children are sure to be longing to be out playing in the warmer weather, this book is a quietly inspiring read.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.