Caterina and the Perfect Party by Erin Eitter Kono
Caterina is planning a party and she just knows that it is going to be perfect. She creates the most inviting invitations, cooks the most delicious food, and hangs the best decorations she can craft. Everything seems to be going perfectly, even with the twists thrown in by her little brother Leo. But when the day of the party arrives, so does a great big storm. Suddenly things are no longer perfect. Everything is drenched, there is mud and puddles everywhere, and nothing is going as planned. But one list does turn out to be the most important of all, her list of friends.
This is a cheery book that avoids being too sweet thanks to the character of the little brother and the interrupting storm. It is a book that will speak to children who enjoy having everything planned out and want things to be perfect. But it is also one that spontaneous children will feel very comfortable reading too. I particularly enjoyed that Caterina does all of the crafting and cooking herself. Even better, that is not the part that goes wrong as I initially thought it might.
Even though Caterina is a planner, she also has a spark of spontaneity to her that makes her much more relatable. The little issues her brother creates are incorporated into her final designs without much fuss. She also does not sulk at the end of the book about the failed plans, quickly adapting to the new party that is happening around her.
Cheerful and warm, this book would make a great pick for reading at any celebration or crafting program. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial.
Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
Every morning the truck stop has to open for business. A boy and his family own the truck stop and get there early in the morning before the sun has come up. The boy squeezes the orange juice while his parents prep the other breakfast foods. Soon the trucks start arriving. The boy knows all of the regulars and his parents know their orders by heart. There is Eighteen-Wheeler who wants all of his tires checked. Milk Tank and Maisie arrive next for a sweet breakfast of coffee and doughnuts. The man with the moving van wants pancakes. But where is Green Gus the old pickup truck? More trucks arrive, but still no one has seen him. It’s not until the little boy gets on the school bus that they figure out what has happened to Gus.
Rockwell tells a story that is a fine mix of family, food and trucks. Children will enjoy seeing how a restaurant runs and also the warmth with which regulars are remembered and served. Still, it is the trucks that will have this book off of the shelves and into little hands. It is good to see more than just a list of different types of trucks and instead have a book that can be read aloud as a story as well. Even better, there is a little mystery at the end about Gus that makes it all the more fun to read.
Iwai’s illustrations are done in cut paper collages. The types of paper add a richness to the images, combining textures from textiles, slick painted papers, and lots of patterns. The result are pictures that are colorful and a pleasure to look at closely.
A solid book, this will be a welcome bedtime addition for any family with a truck-loving child as well as a choice pick for story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Viking.