Awâsis And The World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illustrated by Amanda Strong (9781553797791)
When Awâsis accidentally loses her grandmother’s world-famous bannock as she is taking them to a relative, she starts to cry. When a duck hears her crying, the duck offers to help and gives her some tohtosapopimehkan or butter. A rabbit in the woods offers her some flour or askipahkwesikan. As Awâsis walks on, more animals offer her ingredients to make the bannock again. Readers will see a bear lingering nearby and wonder about what he is up to. When Awâsis returns home to her grandmother, she is still missing one key ingredient for the perfect bannock. Who will provide it?
Hunt skillfully integrates Cree words into his tale about a Cree girl, her grandmother and the animals who help her. In the author’s note, he also mentions that the story celebrates traditional indigenous storytelling methods and readers will notice the strong structure of the story and the way it reads aloud beautifully. A pronunciation guide and glossary of Cree words is provided as well as the recipe for world-famous bannock. The illustrations have a lovely softness to them that invites readers into a forest filled with helpful animals.
A marvelous picture book celebrating the Cree language, storytelling and food. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Highwater Press.
Sweet Dreamers by Isabelle Simler (9780802855176)
Enter the dreams of creatures around the world in this picture book. The dreams of the animals can be surprising like the sloth dreaming of racing and moving fast without moving at all. They can also be more logical, like the ant who dreams of dots marching in single file. Other animals are shown in their habitat and their unique way of sleeping like the swallow who sleeps while flying, the flamingo who has pink dreams, or the frog who sleeps in the mud. Each animal is given a short poem about their slumber, creating a book that is ideal for bedtime but fascinating enough to return to again and again.
Simler’s writing is exquisite. By using different approaches to the various animals, she creates a book that explores the wide variety of creatures in our world while focusing specifically on how they sleep. There are the animals who are prey that sleep looking for security and safety while the predators like the lion with a full belly don’t need to worry about that. The illustrations in the picture book are equally successful with their touches of neon orange illuminating the night. Done in fine lines, the pages use their mostly black backgrounds very successfully as the creatures shine against it.
A delightful mix bedtime and beasts. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans.
Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron (9781771473040)
On each page of this book, human babies are compared with animal babies in their activities throughout the day. Baby wakes up like a sea star in the sun. They play like a kitten batting at a butterfly. Baby toddles like a bear cub. They bundle up like a penguin. They eat like a chipmunk, filling their cheeks with food. The book contains many similes and metaphors and even the smallest child will enjoy looking at the animals and the ways that they are just the same.
The text is simple and straight-forward, showing the direct comparisons between baby and animal in a charming way. Activities like crawling, diaper changes, hopping, and toddling make this book accessible to all children. The illustrations show a diverse group of babies, ranging in age from around six months to one year. Done in collage, they are simple enough for little ones and delightful as well.
A winning book for infants and toddlers. Here’s hoping it comes out as a board book soon. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Owlkids.
Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai (9780525554158)
Immediately upon opening this book, young listeners are presented with flaps to lift. It invites them to explore and find out what is going to happen. The book is an alphabet book presented as a guessing game where flaps and page turns reveal the answers. The book begins with ant for A and moves all the way through the alphabet using animals for each letter, ending with the logical zebra. As each animal enters, the book asks a question of the reader. Moving on from ant, the text asks “Who is fancier than an ant?” The answer of butterfly is hidden by a bouquet of flowers that has tantalizing cut outs.
The book is a journey and a quest, from the answering of the questions with animals that start with a specific letter to the turning of each page to reveal a new creature. The questions are helpful at times, jumping high cues the kangaroo’s entrance, for example. Other times, readers will need to think a bit before guessing. The book forms an entire circle, moving from zebra right to ant as the answer for the final question in the book.
The illustrations play a huge role in the pleasure of this book. They are filled with peep holes, flaps to lift, pages to open and much more. The illustrations are full of bright colors, entire habitats, and jaunty animal figures. The joy here is a tactile and mental one combined, making it a very successful and never-dull alphabet book.
Beautifully designed and executed, this one will be a favorite. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Dream Flights on Arctic Nights by Brooke Hartman, illustrated by Evon Zerbetz (9781513261898)
An Alaska-themed bedtime story, this picture book matches gorgeous illustrations with rhyming verse. A boy makes a nighttime wish that he could fly and a raven appears at his window, ready to carry him away. The boy climbs on his back and they fly together, seeing all sorts of Alaskan wildlife along the way, such as wolves, ptarmigan, bears, and sea lions. For awhile, the boy flies on his own near eagles, then a snowy owl takes him even further on his journey. The northern lights appear in the sky, and the boy floats with the colors and the stars. Then the raven returns to fly him back to bed just as dawn begins to break.
Hartman’s poetry is rhyming and gentle. She takes readers on a beautiful journey through her native state, allowing them to see the incredible animals and natural features that make Alaska so special. Throughout, the child is enjoying his flight and in control of his journey through the sky. There is a sense of thrill and joy as he makes his way.
The art in the book is exceptional. Done in linocuts, the illustrations are dramatic and very effective. With the darkest of black backgrounds, the stars, animals and northern lights shine like lanterns on the page. The images have a feel of mythology and honor nature.
A unique look at Alaskan wildlife and nature. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (9780062574206)
Take a jaunty trip with this picture book that looks at all sorts of animals and vehicles going on grand journeys. The book begins with cows heading to the moon in a rocket ship with the promise that “I will love you till the cows come home.” Then the verse moves on to yaks who eat grass and then take off in a fire truck. The refrain changes to match the yaks and work with the rhyme. The book progresses to sheep setting sail, wolves returning, frogs riding past, deer dancing, geese flapping down, and ants marching in. Until finally, all of the animals end up fast asleep on the final pages, exhausted from their adventures.
What could have been a saccharine rhyming tale turns out to be an active picture book filled with plenty of giggles, lots of animals and all sorts of vehicles. The rhymes are jaunty and fun without being sing-songy. The message of love is present in each of the stories but doesn’t overwhelm the dynamic fun happening on the page.
The illustrations are friendly with animals that smile and often look directly out at the reader. They are also filled with action and activity, with leaping frogs, flying geese, zooming rockets, racing trucks and much more.
A fast-moving and funny picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, illustrated by Heidi Smith (9780062741615)
This nonfiction picture book takes a brief look at a series of different animals and shows an unexpected side to each of them. Fierce gorillas are actually wonderful parents caring deeply and well for their offspring. Fanged wolves when looked at more closely are all about being friends with one another and connecting through their howls. The feared shark is an important part of its ecosystem and food cycle. The porcupine is less about throwing quills and much more about being a shy herbivore. Each animal is labeled with a false impression and then with a turn of the page the more detailed truth of the animal is shared.
Gardner has carefully selected animals that are perceived as something they are not. She wisely shares a mix of features of the animal and corrective facts that offset the false perception. The text is brief enough to make this book a great read aloud to share when exploring animal life. The book ends with a group of female pack leaders of different types and then shows all of the animals in the book together.
The illustrations are particularly lovely. Done in subtle colors and fine lines, the fur of the animals is almost touchable. Each animal is shown both singly on a simple blank background and then again in their habitat.
A beautiful and fresh look at some of the most misunderstood animals in the world. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat (9781999802851)
This science-focused nonfiction picture book takes a close look at animal eyes and the ways that different animals see the world. Incorporating flaps to lift, readers can lift the eyes of the animals on the pages to see the way that they do. What does it look like to only see things clearly that are a few inches away? How does it change things to only be able to see three colors instead of five? What happens when a bird can see all the way around in a 360 view? How do insect eyes work to form a full image of what they are perceiving? All of these questions and more are answered in this engaging nonfiction picture book.
Beautifully designed, this picture book offers an engaging format combined with fascinating facts. While reading about how other creatures see the world is interesting, being able to actually see what that means in a visual way is incredible. The book includes mammals like cats, dogs, horses, and cows and then moves on to other types of animals like reptiles, insects, and birds. Each page turn brings a new animal with a new flap to peek behind.
The art here is vital. The flaps to lift offer a hidden view into the way these animals perceive the world. The art invites us to look right at the creature and then look at the world through their eyes. It is beautifully done, with all of the animals looking at the same scene so that readers can see the differences clearly.
An eye-opening look at the science of vision and animal eyes. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from copy provided by What on Earth Publishing.
Mama Dug a Little Den by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins (9781481480376)
In this companion book to Mama Built a Little Nest, the story explores the many animals who build dens to protect their babies. The book offers rhyming couplets as the main part of the story but each animal also has facts included on the page. These facts include how long the babies stay with their mothers, how the dens function and how the animals are fed while in the den. There are mammals, toads, lizards, spiders and many more on these pages, each with a unique den of their own and interesting reasons for having them.
Ward has selected a broad range of animals to highlight here. Her poems are jaunty and clever, the rhymes never feeling forced. The facts she shares are brief, pertinent and fascinating, just what you need in a picture book format. As always, Jenkins’ art is exceptional. He captures small details and interesting habitats with his cut paper collage that introduces texture to the illustrations as well.
Curl up in your own den to share this with your own baby animal. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.