Unstoppable by Adam Rex

Unstoppable by Adam Rex

Unstoppable by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laura Park (9781452165042)

Beginning with almost wordless panels of a cat jumping at both a crab and a crow, this book quickly transforms into a picture book that is made to share aloud. Crab and Crow join forces to be able to both fly and pinch the cat with claws. They are unstoppable now! But then they both thought about being able to swim too, so they talked to a turtle and transformed into something even more unstoppable. When an angry bear tries to attack them, they invite him to join in too. Upon finding out that forest demolition is what is making the bear angry though, they have to take action and become truly unstoppable!

As always Rex delights and surprises with his story lines. While this seems like a straight forward cumulative story at first, it transforms much like the animals themselves into something far more interesting by the end. Rex injects the tale with plenty of humor as the creatures come up with a variety of mash-up names for each of their combinations. The refrain of unstoppable will be a great way to get audiences participating in the book too.

Park’s illustrations are crisp and clear, bright colors against a white background. They will work particularly well with a group, adding even more to the readaloud appeal of the title.

Funny, surprising and empowering. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.

Review: One Little Chicken by Elka Weber

one little chicken

One Little Chicken by Elka Weber, illustrated by Elisa Kleven

When Leora finds a chicken has wandered into their house, her mother reminds her that finders aren’t keepers.  When her father returns from work, he agrees.  But it is their duty to take care of the chicken until its rightful owners claim it.  So, they build a chicken coop.  When the hen lays eggs, they do not eat them but the eggs hatch into chicks.  Soon there are chicks everywhere.  So they take them to market and sell them for coins that they use to purchase a little goat.  They milk the goat, turn the milk into cheese, but again do not eat it, because it is not their cheese.  They sell the cheese for coins and buy another goat.  Soon they have a family of goats who are often causing mischief, creating odors, and wreaking havoc.  Finally, Leora’s mother has had enough and runs off down the road with the goats chasing after her.  And who do you think she meets on the road?

This is the retelling of a story from the Talmud and retains the feel of a classic story.  The story is not only about “finders aren’t keepers” but also speaks to the responsibility of community to care for one another.  Weber’s writing incorporates small details that add to the depth of the story.  For example, when Leora and her father are building the chicken coop: “Sawdust flew, wood shavings scattered, nails bent.”  It reads aloud with a lovely rhythm and ease.

Kleven’s illustrations are done in mixed-media collage using watercolors, ink, pastels and colored pencils.  They have a detail that is very engaging.  Some of the panels are framed in flowing flowers, others have interesting textures, and all have a warmth that is welcoming.

A great addition to units on cooperation or community, this book will also be a good pick for chicken story times.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.

Also reviewed by Journey of a Bookseller.

Book Review–Three by the Sea by Mini Grey


Three by the Sea by Mini Grey

Dog, Cat and Mouse all live happily together by the sea with their household chores neatly divided.  But when a Fox comes ashore, he causes all sorts of trouble.  He brings tempting items from The Winds of Change company that will change their lives.  Dog’s gardening is criticized for only being buried bones, so the stranger offers Mouse herb seeds and new cookbooks.  Dog is encouraged to wear a new collar and is upset at Cat’s laziness.  Cat is shown how dull and repetitive Mouse’s cheesy recipes are by the Fox offering some canned fish.  Soon all of them are at odds with one another.  In the end, Mouse heads away along the shore, but is picked up by a wave and carried out to sea.  When Cat tries to help, she has trouble floating.  So finally Dog, rescues them both.  Now the lives of the three look very different, so was the Fox actually helpful or harmful?

Grey’s book is about cooperation, working together, and also outside influences which can be seen in different ways.  She has created a picture book that is not definitive about the Fox and his influence.  The nuanced conclusion offers room for discussion and speculation.  Grey’s illustrations continue to charm.  She incorporates photographs and cut paper art into them to great effect.  They have a whimsical charm that invite readers right into the world she creates.

Another winner from a great picture book author and illustrator, this book will be a great addition to any beachy story time.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.

Also reviewed by:

Broom, Zoom!


Broom, Zoom! by Caron Lee Cohen, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

What is to be done when Little Witch and Little Monster both need to use one broom at the same time?  Little Witch notices the full moon and heads inside for the broom.  Little Monster needs to use it right then.  Little Witch still wants the broom, but when Little Monster shows her the mess, she lets him use it first.  She even helps him clean things up.  Now it’s Little Witch’s turn to use the broom to fly in the sky.  She invites Little Monster to fly with her, though he’s not really sure he wants to fly at all.

Told in very brief text that is entirely conversation, this book is a winner for young children. Spare and minimal, the text still manages to tell a clear story about sharing and taking turns.  Yet it never becomes didactic at all.  Ruzzier’s illustrations are bright, clear and vibrantly colored.  There is no white space here, just a saturated palette that makes for a compelling visual.

Highly recommended, this is a very sweet Halloween story that is sure to appeal to toddlers who are looking for monsters and witches with no scare.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from book received from Simon & Schuster.