A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins


A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans (InfoSoup)

Released January 3, 2017.

This is a picture book that will leave you breathless in two ways. First, it is an astounding feat of wordplay that romps and gallops. Second, if you read this aloud I guarantee you will be out of breath by the end, much to the delight of your little listeners. A long lean greyhound that is round when it curls to sleep meets a very round brown groundhog and the two of them spend time playing together. They run and dash, filling the pages with movement and speed. The book takes a lovely pause suddenly when the two spot a butterfly and then more butterflies. And it ends with the two exhausted friends dozing side-by-side. Be ready to read it again and again, if you can do it!

Jenkins takes wordplay on a wild ride in this picture book that is pure mad joy. Readers not caught up in the swirl of words will notice that they all make sense, the wordplay is not at the expense of the story, rather it builds it and allows the play to happen. It is a wonder of rhythm and rhyme. The pacing is very well done from the blazing pace of the playing together to the delicious stop for the wonder of butterflies to the dozy ending. It is masterfully built and executed.

Appelhans’ illustrations are buoyant and bounding. He uses watercolor to create the two characters who whirl across the page, jumping and leaping, dashing and darting, the two becoming one joyous act of play together. Appearing on a white background, it the characters who shine on the page, simple and sunny.

A truly breathless read aloud, this picture book will be a wonderful addition to any story time. Save it for the end! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Schwartz & Wade.

Penguin Problems by Jory John


Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith (InfoSoup)

One rather grumpy penguin takes readers on a tour of all the things that are wrong in his penguin life. There is the cold, the snow, the crowd of other penguins who make too much noise and all look like him. The sea is too salty. The sun is too bright. There are predators in the water. He waddles when he walks and can’t fly. It goes on and on. Then a wise walrus overhears the penguin and explains that he is wasting his one life focused on the negative rather than the spectacular beauty around him. But is the penguin ready to hear this? Maybe for a moment or two.

John’s text is uproariously funny. The litany of complaints is cleverly written and ends up having a rather jaunty if petulant rhythm to it. Even children will recognize that there are some people who just complain all the time. The walrus’ wisdom is rich and lovely, delivered as a lecture and something that makes this book even more fun to share aloud. Even better is the penguin’s reaction, which ends the book in just the right way.

Smith’s art adds to the humor. The penguin looks like all the others but has a personality all his own. The illustrations use a subtle color palette filled with shades of whites and grays to create the snowy landscape. Against that, the penguins pop. The dark underwater scenes are deep and menacing, setting a great contrast to the snow.

Don’t miss the book jacket where the penguin greets readers with his attitude right from the start. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Books for Young Readers.