Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer (InfoSoup)
The geese are flying south, the squirrels are busy and the crows are the only birds left in the trees. The air smells different and everyone knows that the trees must drop their leaves soon. Then the wind comes and the air fills with yellow leaves. Children run outside and play in the swirling yellow breezes. When the leaves have fallen, the yellow is in piles on the ground, covering everything. Children gather the leaves to press in books to remember the special time just before winter comes with its whiteness.
Stringer shares the drama of autumn in this picture book. She uses phrases like “a symphony of yellow” to capture the wonder of what is happening, mixing senses of sound and color together. When she describes the smell of autumn just before the leaves fall, she uses comparisons that children will understand: “Like wet mud and dry grass with a sprinkle of sugar.” It offers up the richness and deepness of the smell, the intangible dryness that is part of it and the sweetness as well. She skillfully creates autumn on the page with her words.
The illustrations celebrate the diversity of a small neighborhood filled with yellow trees and the children who wait for the falling leaves to start. There is a gorgeous overload of yellow on the pages, bright and cheerful, filled with motion and tumbling breezes and leaves. The pages are just as fresh and vibrant as the season she is depicting.
A joyous book that welcomes autumn with open arms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing (InfoSoup)
Charles and his parents have just moved to Echo City where they are going to be living in The Bellwether, an apartment building that used to be a hotel. Charles is worried by the state of the building, knowing immediately that it must be haunted. When Charles tries to sleep in his bedroom for the first time, he discovers he is right and there is something in his closet. Luckily, a neighbor gives him a card for Margo Maloo, Monster Mediator. Charles considers himself a journalist and wants to interview Margo, but she is having none of it though she lets him join her in negotiating with the troll who lives in the basement. Charles finds himself in a parallel world to his own, where there are trolls, goblins, ogres and many more monsters than he could ever have dreamed.
Weing’s graphic novel tosses readers into a new world that is strongly based in our own. With Margo as an expert guide, this book is much less about battling monsters. It is more about how monsters can get along and live alongside humans in a urban setting. Weing has created a complete monster society and ensures with his stories that the monsters are not the bad guys, just easily misunderstood. The writing is clever, the dialogue solid and the pacing is fast.
The art of the graphic novel is modern and filled with plenty of action. The city and characters are filled with diversity that includes humans and monsters in different skin tones. Weing uses the real estate of his panels in smart ways, lengthening them to share more scenic detail, focusing the scope closely when necessary and broadening them for large buildings.
Just the right book for Halloween, expect this and future books to be popular thanks to a wise mix of humor and shivers. Appropriate for ages 8-11.
Reviewed from library copy.