Swim Swim Sink by Jenn Harney (9781368052764)
After three tiny ducks hatch from their eggs: “Crack! Crack! Crack!” “Quack! Quack! Quack!” Their mother leads them down to the pond to swim. The ducklings jump in: “Swim, swim…sink!” Wait, ducks are supposed to float and swim. They try it again, and the duckling sinks every time. Perhaps there’s a solution? Water wings? Scuba gear? A jetski? But nothing seems quite right, until the duckling comes up with a unique solution all their own that involves using their discarded eggshell. Now the story works again and so does the rhyme.
Harney uses broad comedy in this picture book that just has to be read aloud to be enjoyed to the fullest. The rhyme she creates is wonderfully bouncy and jaunty, offering just the right amount of rhythm and speed to be cleverly derailed by the sinking duckling. The humor here is just right for toddlers who will delight in the surprise of the story shifting right in front of them.
The art is bright and bubbly with a merry tone. The sinking duckling in the green-blue water is satisfying and abrupt, adding to the humor of the moment. The final solution the duckling figures out is another great visual moment in the story.
Reading this one aloud will always go swimmingly. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Goose Egg by Liz Wong (9780553511574)
Henrietta is an elephant who loved quiet. Most of all, she loved the lake and sinking below its surface into silence. She would get lost in her thoughts and just swim. But one day, she got too lost in her head and she banged it on a pole! She went home and discovered that she had a big lump, a goose egg, on her head. She bandaged the bump and stayed quiet until something on her head hatched open! She reached up and found a gosling. She tried taking the baby goose back to her nest, but the mother goose never returned. So now quiet Henrietta had a very noisy gosling to take care of. Goose got louder as she grew bigger. By then, Henrietta realized that she needed to teach Goose to be a goose. So she taught her how to look for food, how to swim behind, how to flap her wings and more. Eventually, it was time for Goose to fly south. Henrietta was able to return to her quiet life again, but it wasn’t the same. Henrietta dreamed of Goose’s honking and longed to hear it again, until one day she did!
Wong takes a one-liner joke about a goose egg on the head being a real goose’s egg and turns it into a completely charming picture book. Readers who enjoy a bit of quiet will find a kindred spirit in Henrietta while those who enjoy a more raucous life will relate to Goose. The pair of them are opposites and manage to teach one another things along the way. The book has a gentle tone, allowing the story to unwind before the reader at its own pace.
Wong’s illustrations are done on a white background that nicely frames the drama of the bumped head, the goose egg and then the hatching. The images have subtle coloring until Goose appears in his bright yellow feathers, showing visually how he change Henrietta’s life. The illustrations take on a vaudeville humor as Goose and Henrietta interact. Then Henrietta’s solution for teaching Goose is a lovely visual as well.
A sweet and gentle tale of adoption, letting go and returning home. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Knopf.
Here are four new board books to enjoy with little ones:
Duck’s Ditty by Kenneth Grahame (9781486713868)
From the song in The Wind in the Willows, this board book is a clever adaptation of the original that makes it just right for little listeners. The song and the book focus on the ducks dabbling in a pond. The ducks look for food and are very content with their quiet days spent along the riverbank. It’s a quiet book, celebrating contentment and simple pleasures. The book is a larger format of board book than many, making it very appealing. The illustrations have an organic feel, dappled with shade and sun and almost speckled with water drops. A great summer pick. (Reviewed from copy provided by Flowerpot Press.)
Little Truck by Taro Gomi (9781452163000)
Little Truck starts driving and is very fast. He passes bigger trucks as he goes. But when he comes to a very big hill, he slows way down and is almost unable to make it all the way up. It just takes a little help from that slower big truck to give him a nudge. Little Truck rushes off again, this time heading into a dark tunnel. But when only the big truck emerges from the dark, what has happened to Little Truck? This board book offers a wheeled version of what it is like to walk with an enthusiastic and energetic toddler. The book has plenty of action, an homage to The Little Engine That Could, and the danger of a dark tunnel. Exactly what little ones will love! (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)
Llamaphones by Janik Coat (9781419728273)
I am a big fan of this series and the third entry doesn’t disappoint at all. Here the book focuses on homophones and uses llamas on each page to demonstrate each word. There are lovely surprises inside like fairy sparkles, moving clock hands, and touch-and-feel pages. But it is the humor that carries the book, almost every page worthy of a smile if not a full guffaw. The book has art that is strong and graphic, making it something that would work with a group if you have time for them all to touch the pages. A great concept board book to share. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer (9781452164755)
This book offers places for little fingers to explore. It starts with a race track that scoops both pages and then becomes more and more complicated. Fingers dance and tap as the concepts of right and left are taught in a fun way. Fingers spin around spirals, they zigzag and hop, until finally all that is left to do is dance. Great fun to play with, the book teaches colors and even the littlest ones will love reading this with their adult. (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)
Ducks Away! By Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (9781338185669)
A mother duck crosses a bridge with her ducklings, all five of them! But then one of the little ducks is blown off of the bridge and down into the water below. Mother Duck doesn’t know what to do with four ducklings on the bridge and one down in the water. Then one by one, the other little ducks tumble down to the water. Finally, all five are floating below and they encourage their mother to join them and take the jump herself. This playful counting book merrily counts up to five in a natural way, then counts both up and down as ducklings move from bridge to water. It all feels so much a part of the story thanks to the subtle rhyme structure and the rhythms deftly created by Fox. The illustrations continue the simplicity of the text, and are just right to share with a group or with one child. A picture book you can count on! Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Everybunny Count! By Ellie Sandall (9781534400146)
As the foxes and bunnies play together, they decide that today is the day for hide-and-seek. They count up to ten and then as they search, the counting begins again. They steadily count up to ten once more, giving young listeners objects to count on each page. When the bunnies finally find Fox, he has a surprise for them! One that will help them count all the way to ten again. Sandall’s picture book has a freshness and a lightness that is very welcome. The incorporation of so much counting in a single book adds to the fun as do the personalities of each of the animals. A counting delight. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Shake the Tree by Chiara Vignocchi, Paolo Chiarinotti and Silvia Borando (9780763694883)
This bright and active picture book is just right for sharing aloud. When Mouse discovers a nut high in a tree, she tries shaking the tree to get it to fall down to her. She shakes it a little to the left and right, but the nut doesn’t budge. A fox though falls down out of the tree and wants to eat the Mouse who scampers up into the tree’s branches. So the Fox shakes the tree, but the Mouse and the nut do not fall down, instead a Warthog comes down and Fox runs up the tree to escape. When Bear falls down next, he really shakes the tree a lot. All of the animals fall down to the ground along with the nut. What will Bear do now?
Shared aloud, the reader will be shaking the tree and the book back and forth. This book could so easily help with concepts of right and left, particularly if you made the story time interactive and the children helped “shake” the tree too. The book also has a clever way to incorporate counting with each animal adding a shake each time they try. It counts up without actually counting, making it a book that has a natural rhythm and appeal. The illustrations add to this with their bright colors and the large animals tumbling from the tree. Funny and a great read-aloud add this one to your next story time on trees or counting. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear? By Ashley Wolff (9781481499163)
This picture book continues Wolff’s series on Baby Bear and his explorations of his habitat. Here, Baby Bear and his mother head out to look for food. But every time his mother looks for him, Baby Bear has disappeared. Again and again she has to call out “Where, oh where, is Baby Bear” and then her little bear responds. Readers will enjoy spotting where Baby Bear is heading and then where he is hiding as the pages turn. The repetition is handled nicely, giving the book a lovely rhythm when being read aloud. The illustrations are crisp and filled with details of their forest home. A great read aloud pick. Appropriate for ages 1-4. (Review copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)
Where’s Halmoni? By Julie Kim (9781632170774)
This picture book is done in a full-color graphic-novel style that will be appealing to children even beyond picture book age. It is the story of Korean-American siblings who head to their grandmother’s home to find her missing. They discover a magical passage in her home that leads to a world filled with creatures from Korean folklore. There is Tokki (the rabbit), Dokkebi (the goblins), and Horanghee (the tiger). As the children figure out how to get past each of the creatures using snacks and games, they come close to learning their grandmother’s secret. Sharp-eyed children will realize what happens to the fox at the end of this Korean adventure. The appeal of folklore combined with a modern graphic-novel style makes this book a winner. Appropriate for ages 5-9. (Reviewed from library copy.)
The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
When a mouse is gobbled up by a wolf, he discovers there is life after being eaten. Inside the wolf’s stomach, a duck is already living. The duck has a bed, a table, tablecloth, chairs and much more. The duck likes being inside the wolf, because he no longer has to worry about being eaten, since it’s already happened. Soon the mouse has decided to stay and the two have a dance party to celebrate. Unfortunately, this makes the wolf’s stomach hurt. He is spotted by a hunter and soon all three animals are in danger as the hunter takes aim. What can be done to save them all? It will take all three to save the day. Barnett has the perfect rather dark humor to work with Klassen’s illustrations. The story has a mix of fun and fate that will have readers guessing right up until the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer (9781481460903, Amazon)
Get ready for some brave ducks in this picture book! The firefighter duckies are called into all sorts of emergencies and have to find the solution for them all. They are brave and strong. They rescue a gorilla in a chef hat who has started a fire with his cupcake candle. They rescue whales caught in hungry, angry trees. They help dinosaurs on bicycles and stop rampaging centipedes. They even straighten out the alphabet and aid hairy monsters. It takes strength, bravery, hair cuts, kindness and being helpful. And it also takes a lot of rest afterwards!
Dormer taps into a stream of extreme weirdness in this picture book, demanding that readers just go along with it. The wild ride is definitely worth it and the result is a very fast-paced book that is hilarious. The simple but silly text works perfectly with the equally silly illustrations. Make sure not to get too caught in the speed of the book to notice the details. Just the looks on the ducks’ faces is a hoot as are the circumstances they need to figure out.
A book sure to “quack” you up, this is the perfect book to rescue a toddler story time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall (9781943645220, Amazon)
This is the second book in the children’s picture book series by the award-winning duo of Yolen and Marstall that is done in conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A boy and his dog take a walk in a new setting. This time it is near a pond where everything is very quiet but soon the ducks arrive and break the silence with their splashing and quacking. The other creatures at the pond are startled and move away, including frogs, turtles, a heron and the tadpoles. Soon the pond goes back to being still and quiet and the other animals come out of hiding.
Yolen’s poetry is particularly effective. She pays such attention to small details not only in the animals as they react to the ducks but to the reflections in the water as they go from mirror-like to shattered to reflective once again. The water itself reacts similarly to the animals and the sounds, it’s a lovely connection that is clearly done and yet poetically presented allowing a sense of discovery for the reader.
Marstall’s illustrations are detailed and wonderfully natural. They embrace the greens of the surrounding land and also the colors of the animals themselves and the water. He uses plenty of detail on the animals themselves, showing them up close to the reader so that one can almost smell the pond water on the pages.
A grand look at a small pond and its vibrations throughout a boy’s day and life. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
My Kite Is Stuck by Salina Yoon
This second Duck, Duck, Porcupine! book continues the refreshing humor of the first. Familiar characters return with Big Duck leading the way, often into confusion. Porcupine joins in. Little Duck is quiet and wise, though no one ever pays him any attention. The book is made up of three short stories. The first story faces the problem of a kite stuck in a tree and their unique and very silly solution to the problem. The second story is about what happens when the characters make new friends, with bugs. Finally, there is the problem of the excitement of the lemonade stand and Big Duck and Porcupine forgetting one important ingredient: the lemonade!
Yoon has a great touch with humor. She allows each joke to play out just long enough to get all of the joy out of it and then briskly moves along to the next story. The stories are entertaining and fun, each of them written for beginning readers to enjoy with adult help or on their own. The three characters play beautifully against one another and will appeal to young readers.
The art is bold and bright. It reminds me of comic panels with its thick black outline on each double-page spread. The speech bubbles add to that feeling as well, making this almost a graphic novel for new readers, but not quite. I particularly enjoy the moments when Little Duck breaks the fourth wall and looks out directly at the reader for sympathy.
Funny and full of laughter, this emergent reader almost-graphic-novel is just right. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.
Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin
Released February 14, 2017.
This is the third book in the sweet series about a bear that lives with a flock of ducks. Bear discovers his love of jam and forgot to share it with the ducklings. He ate it late at night and during the day. Mama Duck worried that Bear wasn’t eating a balanced diet, even though Bear proved that he could balance very well. So she started trying to feed Bear vegetables at dinner with no jam. Bear refused to even taste them and went to bed hungry. Breakfast was oatmeal with no jam in sight. Dinner came around with no jam either. But then the ducks showed Bear a new game! It was a game that got him eating vegetables without even noticing and then he was a happy bear because he could also have a jar or two of jam a day along with the ducks.
Throughout this series, Gavin has played off of the fact that Bear has unique needs just because he’s a bear compared to all of the other ducks in the family. The last book was about hibernating and this one is about delicious foods. Bear is a wonderful character who just is who he is. His love of jam suits his character perfectly and once again the ducks band together to create a solution to help Bear be healthier and yet still be himself too.
The art has delicate lines, the ducklings tiny compared to the mountainous bear. The watercolors add sweep across some pages, but most of the pages use white as a background. Small details add to the appeal with flowered pillows on seats to get little ducklings high enough and ducklings merrily munching on fruits and vegetables.
A book that addresses healthy eating with a sense of balance and plenty of sweetness. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.