Catching Fire – The Trailer

At Comic Con, they released an exclusive teaser trailer for Catching Fire.  Now it’s not so exclusive.  Enjoy!

Review: Henry’s Map by David Elliot

henrys map

Henry’s Map by David Elliot

Henry was a pig who believed in being neat and tidy with everything in its place.  So when he looked out from his very clean sty, he was bothered by the messiness of the farmyard.  He decided to make a map, so that everyone could find things on the farm.  That meant he had to travel around the farm and write things down.  He included the sheep and the woolshed, Abigail the cow with her tree, Mr. Brown the horse and his stable, and the chicken coop.  Then all of the animals climbed up a nearby hill to look down on the farm and compare it to Henry’s map.  But when they looked closely, none of them were where they were marked on the map!  Luckily though, they all knew right where they belonged thanks to the map and back they all went, even Henry.

Elliot has a feel for writing picture books.  His pacing is delightful, the storyline is dynamic but not frenetic, and the characters are personable and ones that you want to befriend.  Henry is a little pig with a big vision, and there is satisfaction in him completing a big project on his own.  Elliot also nicely navigates having just the right amount of text on the page, enough to tell a full story but not too much to overwhelm or bog it down.  Add the twist of the animals being alarmed at not being in the same place as the map tells them they should be, and you have a very strong read. 

Elliot is the artist behind the Brian Jacques series of books.  Here his art has a wonderful playfulness but also a timelessness.  This book is beautifully illustrated with lots of jolly characters and one very serious pig.  The map itself looks like something a child would make complete with drawings and misspellings. 

A top pick, this picture book is perfect for map units in preschool and elementary school.  It also makes a fun addition to any farm or pig story time.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel.

Review: 123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

123 vs ABC

123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

The letters and numbers just can’t agree in this book!  Is it a counting book or an alphabet book?  You will just have to read on to figure it out.  As the pages turn, it just gets more confusing.  Sure the first animal to appear is an Alligator, but there is just One.  Then there are Two Bears, Three Cars, and on and on it goes.  The book is narrated by the number one and the letter A, both of them arguing over what the book is really about.  Happily, they are both right in this mash up of an alphabet and counting book that is funny, silly and a romp of a read.

Boldt manages to make a counting and alphabet book that has a real freshness to it.  A large part of the success is in the humor, much of which is contributed by the two main characters, A and 1.  There little rivalry and clever asides add to the tension of the premise but also resolve in the end to something much more friendly.

Boldt’s art is bright colored and pays homage to vintage picture books.  The two main characters have a cartoon-like appeal to them with their broad expressions and Mickey Mouse gloves.  Boldt makes good use of white space throughout the book, allowing the mix of alphabet and numbers space to breathe on the page, something that becomes particularly important as the pages get more crowded.

Fresh and funny, this is one clever mash-up of ABCs and 123s that will appeal to every child who likes a lot of laughs.  It will work well with preschoolers who will enjoy the jokes as they review the content.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.