Category: Picture Books

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis (InfoSoup)

Yelfred and Omek come from the planet Boborp where they have been best frints since they were little blobbies. They do everything together from eating yunch to playing eye ball. But sometimes even playing eye ball can lead to a long argument. For his birthday, Yelfred gets a space craft to ride around. He doesn’t want Omek to borrow it because he’s sure that Omek will crash it. When Omek takes it anyway and manages to shmackle it up, Yelfred uses his teef and not his words to express himself. Slowly, their friendship manages to repair itself just like they repair the space craft together.

The wordplay in this picture book is great fun. Portis takes English words and makes them just related enough and placed nicely into context so that the Boborp language can be understood. It makes the picture book a great pick for reading aloud. She also uses a lot of humor throughout the book, comparing the lovely behavior of Earthlings to the rather naughty behavior of those on planet Boborp, when actually the behavior is definitely seen here on Earth too. Children will love the language play and the laughter.

The illustrations are modern and bright with a vintage flair. The two aliens are delightfully friendly on the page, though their teef are quite sharp. The illustrations are critical in helping decode the language and in repairing the space craft and the friendship.

A laugh-out-loud picture book full of playfulness and fun. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

Are We There Yet by Dan Santat

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat (InfoSoup)

Caldecott Medalist Santat shows the beauty of a bored mind in his new picture book. On a long car ride to his grandmother’s house, a boy gazes out his window and his brain gets bored. Then time seems to stretch and slow down. The world shifts with the book turning entirely upside down! Suddenly the car is back in time. Next to a steam train with bandits and aboard a pirate ship. They make it to medieval times and then back to the building of the pyramids. Finally, they are all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.Time can start to move again, too quickly and they find themselves in the future. Then suddenly, they are at Grandma’s house where the boy is all too willing to head back home.

Santat takes the classic dull car ride that every child has experienced and shows how imagination can change the entire trip, aided by a healthy dose of boredom. Told primarily in images, this story does have commentary by the boy and his parents as well as a framing narrative that speaks to the power of boredom. The flip of the book is cleverly done where you have to turn the pages backwards guided by the helpful arrows to remind you. It feels different and wild, adding to the experience.

It is the illustrations here that make the book so much fun. There are small touches like Beekle toys in the car that tie this to Santat’s other works. Watch the parents’ clothing change with each new time period as well as their over-the-top reactions to what they are seeing. The images change from comic-like frames to large double-page spreads. The space is used very intelligently, allowing for new reveals with page turns and creating tension as they move through time.

A great new picture book from a master author/illustrator, this picture book will have you looking forward to your next car ride. May it be filled with boredom. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh (InfoSoup)

A boy and his dog head out onto the lake to fish one morning. Both boy and dog have their own fishing poles. They first catch the letter F. Then the letter I. The letter S is next. But beware the huge letter C that is circling the boat. When they hook a Q, it is thrown back into the water. Soon though they are caught in a whirlpool of letters, swept underwater among schools of them zigging and zagging. When the boy makes it back to the boat, he has the H under his arm, but loses it as the huge letter C reappears. Not to worry, his dog has saved the day with the H to complete FISH. But was that what they were trying to catch?

This wordless picture book depends on its wonderful illustrations to carry the story. And do they ever! Done with a limited color palette of pale blue and bright red, they shine on the page. Each character also shines with personality and energy. The ending of the book is very satisfying, especially since all readers will think that the goal was to catch FISH when actually it was to do something entirely different. It’s a great twist that is filled with jolly cheer.

A standout wordless picture book that illustrates how letters form words in the most energetic and playful of ways. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

Lion Lessons by Jon Agee (InfoSoup)

A boy heads into a shop to take lessons in being a lion. First he has to don the appropriate outfit, complete with mane. His instructor is a professional and informs him that there are seven steps to becoming a lion. First though they have to stretch. The first step is looking fierce, but the boy’s poses don’t impress his teacher. The second step is roaring, but the he wasn’t loud enough. The third step was what to eat and the boy only wanted spaghetti, not the various animals. Prowling Around came next but the boy kept forgetting his tail. Sprinting had the boy running far up a hill and exhausted by the end. Pouncing didn’t work at all. Looking Out for Your Friends though suddenly had the boy acting a lot more lion-like than ever before!

I love Agee’s surreal picture book and his absurd look at life. This picture book is a delight with the farcical attempts of a boy trying to act like a lion alongside the stern professorial lion himself. The pairing of the two of them is wonderfully funny. Children will relate easily to the joy of pretending to be an animal and will see the humor in this much more formal way to learn something that is usually done so casually.

Agee’s illustrations are done in his signature style that is minimalist and effective. The illustrations are simple and will work well with a group thanks to their large format. There is plenty of humor in the illustrations as well, from the lion stretches as yoga poses to the glower of the lion himself. It is all filled with lovely timing too, all designed for maximum joy.

A great and surprising pick for back-to-school, this picture book will have them roaring with laughter. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske (InfoSoup)

Hanging off of the bottom of a dock is not the most exciting life. Barnacle has times of day when he is cold and wet and other times when he is dry and hot. The tide comes in and out, the waves roll in, the sun goes up and goes down. Barnacle is particularly jealous of the merry life of a polka-dotted little fish nearby. He knows that the fish has to have a lot more fun than Barnacle does. He must go diving with dolphins and frolic with other fish. Just as Barnacle is completing his fantasies about how much better the little fish’s life is than his own, an eel comes along. Gulp!

Put this down as another rather dark picture book that I adore. I must admit to having a type and this one is particularly pleasing with Barnacle being entirely jealous of what another fish has that he does not. It’s an emotion that children will relate to readily. The text is very brief and fast-moving. Barnacle’s voice is a pleasure to read aloud, from his slow tones of boredom through to the joys of being a fish and all the way to the end when he realizes what he actually has going for him.

The illustrations are very appealing and have the feel of a cartoon. Done in flat colors, they play up the facial expressions of Barnacle and the other fish to good effect. The looks of boredom are particularly clear and take it so far that it’s humorous. The page turns are nicely done as well, adding to the theater of the book.

Perfect for the boredom of summer days, this seaside book will surely refresh or at any rate give everyone a good jump at the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray (InfoSoup)

This picture book is a retelling of the classic Aesop fable. The story is much the same with the added tantalizing feature of a carrot patch to get Hare to slow down and eat and then take a nap. As always, Tortoise simply walks along, not zipping at all. Hare awakens from his nap just that critical second too late and misses winning by a hair. The entire book is wonderfully accessible and readable with humorous touches added like diagrams of both Hare and Tortoise and their advantages and disadvantages. It reads aloud nicely, the pace happily more like Hare than Tortoise throughout.

Murray’s illustrations are large and will work well when shared with a group. Hare is a bounding and lean while Tortoise is rounded and with a determined set to his jaw. The illustrations show clearly that Tortoise is behind and the long walk he has to the finish line. While the snoozing Hare has the setting sun behind his full belly after leaving a trail of munched carrots.

Clever and jolly, this enduring tale is brightened by a fresh take. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.