Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long (InfoSoup)

Everyone in the Super Happy Magic Forest loves picnics, fun and dancing. But that all changes when the Mystical Crystals of Life were stolen. Old Oak blames the goblins for stealing the crystals and sends a team of heroes to adventure to Goblin Tower to bring the crystals back. Five heroes set out and travel through one region to the next. They encounter frightening creatures like penguins. They must brave the dark dangers of the Super Creepy Haunted Forest. They survive dungeons and even bees. But is their quest doomed even though they are brave? It’s up to these five heroes to unravel who really stole the crystals.

This picture book is surprising and completely awesome. Opening it, I did not expect to find the rather sarcastic tone that makes this book work so very well. The main text of the book sets the larger scenes for the book but the real action takes place in the speech bubbles and the illustrations. The scenes are drawn large almost as maps and the various characters are scattered throughout, each having their own encounters along the way. It’s almost like a video game map, each scene a new level to explore.

Throughout the book, humor plays a large role. The book has more of a feel of a graphic novel or comic though it only has a few panels at times, usually it is one large image. Frightening tree stumps refer to guidebooks for their evil phrases. Walruses argue about sending out more penguins to the fray. Readers have to scan the page for the elusive dungeon key. It’s all busy, frenzied perfection.

Sure to appeal to video-game-playing children, this picture book will work best with slightly older children who will also enjoy the humor the most. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban (InfoSoup)

This clever update to the beloved folk song has a focus on large machinery. The book follows the structure of the original song, filled with E-I-E-I-O’s and then inserts a different type of truck or machine in each verse. The Excavator arrives first with a “DIG DIG here and a DIG DIG there.” The front loader scoops, the bulldozer pushes, the motor grader scrapes, the dump truck does a satisfying “dump thump.” Throughout the book, it is clear that they are building something with all of these machines and all is revealed when Old MacDonald and his wife appear in their truck at the end.

This book is very engagingly designed with page turns right before the reveal of the next machine in the book: “And on that farm he had a…” There is a certain delight not only in the surprise of the equipment being shown but also in the noise that that machinery is going to make in the song.

Kaban’s jaunty and modern illustrations are great to see in a farm picture book. The animals on the farm are just as involved as the humans in doing the work, changing into hard hats and racing uniforms as appropriate for each scene. There is near mayhem on most pages, adding a zing of energy to each verse.

Smart, funny and engaging, this is just right for youngsters who enjoy big machines along with a little song. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.