Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins (9781368003544)
Bruce the bear continues to be mother to his four goose children. But now three mice have also joined them in Bruce’s den and it’s getting very crowded, particularly for the grumpy bear. It was messy and loud. Bruce tried to get rid of the mice, but nothing worked. So he decided to move away with the geese instead, leaving the mice behind. Bruce built a house, just the right size along the water. Bruce was very happy there, but the geese were all sad. Soon though, the mice had a solution, one that Bruce wasn’t happy with but one that felt like home. Higgins once again takes a very grumpy bear and forces him to reluctantly appreciate the chaos around him. Higgins uses a big dollop of humor throughout the book, both in the text and the illustrations. Bruce trying to cheer up the geese is a wonderful twist on the book series and seeing Bruce smile is rather creepy in a good way. A moving book that is a nice twist on other picture book moving stories, this is another winning read-aloud featuring Bruce. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy supplied by Disney-Hyperion Books.)
The Call of the Swamp by Davide Cali, illustrated by Marco Soma (9780802854865)
Boris was found as a newborn at the edge of the swamp by his parents. Boris had quite happy days growing up, though he was different than the people around him. His eyes were larger and he had tentacles rather than hair. Then one day, the wind blew the smell of salt air and Boris could smell the swamp. He eventually walked all the way back to the swamp and found himself in the water with animals that were a lot like him. It was his real family. But where did Boris truly belong? This picture book explores adoption through a human family adopting a water creature. It also explores what makes a place a home. The tone here is open and curious, exploring both the wonders of the swamp and the longing to return to the human house and his parents. The art is lovely and filled with details. The illustrations are filled with subtle colors that pay homage to the swamp throughout. A lovely book of nature and home. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.)
His Royal Highness, King Baby by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David Roberts (9780763697938)
Told from the point of view of a little girl who is about to get a new baby brother, this picture book offers a great example of an unreliable narrator for small children. The little girl was in charge at first in a land where there was plenty of time for stories with both of her parents. Then the new baby arrived, King Baby, and everything turned into screaming, poop and attention for the baby. The princess had to share the bathroom, carry groceries, and soon became invisible to everyone. Then she came up with a new plan and turned into a Mysterious Fairy with a cunning plan that would break the spell of King Baby. But it didn’t quite turn out the way she planned.
I love the way that the text stays true to the little girl’s perspective entirely. But the illustrations show an entirely different thing.The narrator has a vivid imagination that she uses to turn a new sibling into a fairy tale. Still, her parents are around and attentive to both children and often looking on with knowing glances at their older child. Wise and funny, this picture book will give children a voice and parents a nod. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)