Category: Picture Books

Now by Antoinette Portis

Now by Antoinette Portis

Now by Antoinette Portis (9781626721371, Amazon)

This picture book celebrates living in the now as a little girl walks readers through her favorite things. Each of them is her favorite because it is the one she is interacting with right then. It is her favorite cloud because it’s the one she is watching. This is her favorite song because it’s the one she is singing.

The book is pure simplicity with its concept and the art. The concept is used throughout the book, the writing straight forward and also celebrating something deeper too. It’s about a connection to the present moment and a joy in just spending time doing exactly what you are doing and loving it.

The art of the picture book also speaks to the connection with the now. Done in thick lines and rich matte colors, the illustrations show the playful nature of simple pleasures in life.

Perfect for those of us who love the book we are reading right now most of all, this picture book is about simple pleasures and enjoying the current moment fully. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood

Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood

Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood (9780399539053, Amazon)

The latest in the long Here Comes Cat series, this picture book is just as charming and fun as the earlier ones in the series. In this book, Cat is asked to step in as a substitute teacher. He’s not happy about it at all, since he wants to nap. Plus, he’s not really comfortable around kittens. Cat attempts to get out of it several times, but finally is in front of the class. They try music first, but Cat’s rock and roll approach disturbs other classes. They build with blocks, which turns out brilliantly and offers a snack too! Art is next and it gets really messy just as the teacher returns to the class room. Can Cat and the kittens get everything cleaned up in time?

I love the way that Cat is always teetering just on the edge of disaster throughout the book. He also has is own style of approaching everything that adds to the chaos and the fun. Putting him in charge of a classroom is rather like putting a child in charge, since he react so much that way and the results play out in a similar fashion as Cat figures it all out on the fly.

Just as with the other Cat books, the book has minimal words and Cat communicates by holding up signs with pictures on them. It’s a trick that the kittens learn by the end of the book, which is a great way to end a long day of teaching.

Just right for early days of school, this picture book is silly fun. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One (9780983661597, Amazon)

Roy Choi was born in Seoul, Korea and moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was two years old. His family owned restaurants and he grew up loving his mother’s cooking. When his family got successful, they moved into the suburbs where Roy didn’t fit in. He eventually found his way to being a chef and worked in prestigious kitchens until he lost his job. When a friend had the idea to open a food truck that served tacos, Roy agreed. Soon his food truck was a huge success. Still, Roy wanted to do more. He decided to open fast food restaurants in neighborhoods that needed them. Roy stayed in the neighborhoods where he felt most at home and where he was needed, and that’s exactly where you will find the very successful chef today.

This is the third book about chefs and food people by Martin. As with the previous two books, she captures the essence of this person with skill. Her prose is shown as poetry on the page and often reads that way too. Her take on things so succinct and focused, she uses only the necessary words to tell the story. Her collaborator, Lee dances poems on the page that have the feel of modern lyrics.

The illustrations are entirely unique. Done with backgrounds of spray-paint on large canvases that were then photographed, there is a wild energy to them. The play of music and food on the page is apparent, the graffiti inspired art ties to the urban setting and the poorer neighborhoods.

Strong and successful, this picture book captures a modern master of food. Appropriate for ages 6-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends

What's Your Favorite Color by Eric Carle and Friends

What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends (9780805096149, Amazon)

Eric Carle and fifteen other well-known illustrators offer their favorite colors and why they love them. Carle’s bright yellow pick on the first pages shows the skill needed to handle some colors well. Others like Brian Collier select colors that reflect their personal lives. The late Anna Dewdney tells of her love of purple as a small child. Philip Stead takes a whimsical look at green and elephants. Yuyi Morales ties her hot pink to the bougainvillea flowers of Mexico. Each is a person story of life and art intertwined into color.

Turning the pages in this collection is a treat. Each page is dedicated to a specific color. Then each is drawn by a different illustrator. The result are a series of lovely surprises, some subtle and gray other vivid and bright. The book ends with Uri Shulevitz’s selection of all colors as his favorites, tying the entire book together nicely. The book finishes with information on each of the illustrators who contributed.

A rich and lovely look at color that will lead readers to discover new illustrators and seek out their work in all colors. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Super Slug of Doom by Matty Long

Super Slug of Doom by Matty Long

Super Slug of Doom by Matty Long (9781338054354, Amazon)

This is the second picture book in the Super Happy Magic Forest series. This book has the same tongue-in-cheek humor as the first as it once again laughs at fantasy tropes. In this second book, our heroes (the same ones as in the first book: a unicorn, gnome, centaur, fairy and mushroom) must face a new danger. Zorgoth, an evil slug who has been trapped under a rock (and accidentally released by one of our heroes), heads out to destroy the forest by drinking the Potion of Power. Our heroes must journey through different fantasy landscapes and eventually defeat Zorgoth, who is munching his way across them leaving a trail of slime. How can our hapless heroes succeed?

Long’s writing is over the top and great fun. He frames the book with a Prophecy at the beginning that predicts Zorgoth’s emergence and ends it with what has become the Legend of the heroes, which doesn’t quite match what the reader just saw happen. Throughout the book, there is humor sprinkled everywhere. Speech bubbles and labels add to the fun, mixing modern-day with fantasy world in a gloriously haphazard way.

The illustrations are bright and colorful. Entire worlds of fantasy are depicted in double-page spreads that contrast with one another. There is a dragon world of fire (filled with fire puns), underground chambers of jewels where readers can try to find the missing rainbow jewel, and ogres doing yoga and trying to eat our heroes too.

This is another wild and very successful romp through fantasy in a picture book. Share it with individual kids or very small groups so that the pictures can be searched for small details. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The One Day House by Julia Durango

The One Day House by Julia Durango

The One Day House by Julia Durango, illustrated by Bianca Diaz (9781580897099, Amazon)

Released August 15, 2017.

Wilson wishes that one day he will be able to help Gigi in many ways. He says that one day he will paint her house yellow like the sun, but Gigi assures him that he is all the sunshine she needs. Wilson wants to build a fence for her yard, fix her stairs so she can climb them again, fix her piano so it can be played once more. He wants to create a garden for her and fix her roof. There are so many things to fix and Wilson can’t do them by himself. Luckily though, Wilson asks for help and the community turns out to help Gigi and have Wilson’s wishes for her come true.

Inspired by an action day in the community the author lives in, this book shows the power of community to help the elderly and those with disabilities live in safe and functional homes. Details on this sort of community involvement is offered in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. The young character in the book discovers the program at the beginning and has to wait several months and seasons for the help to come. There is no quick fix here, it’s people coming together to make a difference.

The illustrations are rich and bright, showing Wilson’s own art as well as depicting the friendship between young and old vividly. Done in watercolor, gouache and acrylic, the art is filled with the bright colors of an urban setting, lit by a sunlit sky.

A call to communities to come together, this picture book is inspiring. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson

This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson

This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee (9781481441391, Amazon)

Three children are spending a gray day inside as it pours rain. Then they start to dance and twirl, pulling blue into their day. They head outside with umbrellas and boots, walking through puddles, jumping and stomping. The rain ends and other come out with yellow and pink umbrellas and clothes, the colors starting to fill the page. Their umbrellas float up into the sky that is now blue with white clouds. The group of children play together in the field of flowers, climbing trees, rescuing umbrellas, and then treats back at home on a lovely day.

Jackson’s text is filled with motion and rhythm. It invites readers to swirl and twirl with the characters on the page. The action words in the text zing and zip, moving the book forward even as they celebrate the bad weather and move to the sunshine. There is a sense of optimism throughout the book, an acceptance and joy of rainy weather and then a true delight when it becomes sunny later.

Lee’s illustrations are lovely. They use color so skillfully, showing first the gray day while the children are quietly playing alone and then the single swirls of blue that color the children and their clothing. The book slowly unfolds with color, until it bursts like the meadow of flowers and the sun in the trees.

Share this one on rainy and sunny days. Just have umbrellas and boots ready along with popsicles too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.