Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker by Jessica Ahlberg

Fairy Tales for Mr Barker by Jessica Ahlberg

Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker by Jessica Ahlberg (InfoSoup)

When Lucy tries to share a story with her dog, Mr. Barker, he follows a butterfly right out the window. As Lucy follows him through the window, they end up in the house of the Three Bears with Goldilocks eating porridge at the table. Then the three bears come home and it’s time for the two girls to follow the dog into the next story. They head right into the Three Little Pigs where a wolf is on his way to the house. One-by-one Lucy has different protagonists join her from several fairy tales and they get chased by all sorts of characters as well. Just as they are almost caught though, they return to Lucy’s room where she tucks them all in bed with a story.

Ahlberg has a great touch for the dramatic in this picture book. She cleverly offers just enough information for the reader to recognize the story that Lucy and Mr. Barker have entered. Then she gives the reveal on the next page, so parents and adult readers will know that children should be given a chance to guess the story. In that way, it is also an invitation to read stories that small children may not know yet, like Jack and the Beanstalk.

Ahlberg uses cutouts in this picture book, having each switch to a new story as a cut out through which the characters climb. There are windows, doorways and then even holes in cheese that make great escape routes to another tale. The illustrations have Ahlberg’s signature softness and fine lines where watercolors have an appealing mix of bright colors and gentleness.

A winning mix of cut outs to jump through, fairy tales to explore and a guessing game too, this picture book is a great choice for children who love fairy tales. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


Will’s Words by Jane Sutcliffe

Wills Words by Jane Sutcliffe

Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by John Shelley

Though she set out to write a book about the Globe Theatre and Shakespeare himself, the author was quickly caught up in all of the ways that Shakespeare has impacted our modern language and wrote the book about the instead. The result is a book that is immensely engaging and great fun to read. It is still in so many ways a book about the bard, his work and his theater, but it is also a vibrant and fascinating book about language and how modern colloquialisms hearken back to Shakespeare himself.

Sutcliffe clearly tells the story of Shakespeare and his theater on one part of the page and then in a side note shown on a scroll on the other page she pulls words directly from her explanation and shows exactly how they connect with Shakespeare and his writing. So many of the words are surprising words like “fashionable” and “hurry.” Other phrases have interesting connections like “dead as a doornail” or “green-eyed monster.”

Shelley’s illustrations are playful and vibrant, showing the bustling London streets and the crowded theater jammed with people. Some pages show the Globe Theatre from above while another shows how the stage appeared from the audience on the floor of the theater. Care has been taken with each face even in the crowd, each person reacting in their own way to what is happening in the scene.

This book should generate lots of “excitement” and “amazement” allowing people to read about Shakespeare to their “heart’s content.” Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.