The Very Hungry Plant by Renato Moriconi

Cover image for The Very Hungry Plant.

The Very Hungry Plant by Renato Moriconi (9780802855763)

A little plant sprouted on one beautiful morning. The little plant was hungry! The sun couldn’t satisfy how hungry it was, because it was a carnivorous plant. It ate a caterpillar passing by. It ate a butterfly. The plant got bigger and hungrier. It ate a spider, a gecko, and a rabbit. It grew bigger and hungrier with each one. Then it ate a gymnast, an acrobat bear, and a parachuting cow. It even ate an entire airplane of parachuting cows. But it only got hungrier as it grew. It ate a flying mammoth, a bunch of witches, a UFO and a dragon. Finally, it ate an angel choir. Now it was finally satisfied, and stopped to rest. But the story doesn’t quite end there!

With a repeating structure and ever-increasing surreal silliness, this picture book is great fun. Readers will notice the nod to Eric Carle and his Very Hungry Caterpillar in the first part of the book, something that is marvelous to see incorporated so nicely. The carnivorous and voracious plant eats so many marvelous things, small and then so huge! The absurdity of it all is delightful as is the simplicity of the story and the twist at the end.

The illustrations are very simple as well, accompanied by hand-painted text that adds to the zany nature of the book. The plant stays an open, yawning mouth of green with red teeth-like cilia until it is finally satiated towards the end of the book. When it closes, the maw of hunger becomes almost docile, just in time for the ending.

Funny and immensely satisfying. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul

Nerp by Sarah Lynne Reul

Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul (9781454934028)

Picky eaters take center stage in this picture book. A young monster is disinterested in all of the delicacies his parents keep bringing out of the kitchen. To each one, he replies with “nerp or nerpy nerp” in refusal. His parents make more and more different options, but he doesn’t want anything. Until, suddenly he is clearly slurping food off the page. His parents are delighted at first, until it’s clear that he’s munching pet food. With a blurp, he finishes eating, with the pet finally getting what they have been drooling over all along, the food for the child!

This picture book invents its own language, full of nerps, yerps, schmerps and blurps. Each of the types of food is wildly named too but in a way that makes it wonderful to say it all aloud: Hotchy-potch, mushy gush bloobarsh, picklefishy verp, yuckaroni smackintosh. Each one is a dance on the tongue that will have children laughing along.

The illustrations are digital drawings done over photographs of cardboard models. They have a marvelous three-dimensional quality to them with furniture, rugs, and an entire house. They are engagingly unique and also bright and humorous too.

Perfect for reading aloud, maybe just before snacks. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Snack Attack by Terry Border

Snack Attack by Terry Border

Snack Attack by Terry Border (9781524740115)

The creator of Peanut Butter and Cupcake returns with a new cast of characters in this look at snack food. One afternoon, a cheese doodle, a cookie, and a pretzel stick all escape from their packaging. They had been warned about the monsters who would gobble them up in two bites. But the kitchen seemed like a lot of fun, filled with games to play, bright sprinkles, and even a boat ride in the sudsy sink. But then they found the note on the counter from “Mom” who tells her kid to eat the snacks she left out. That’s them! The three come up with a cunning plan to trick the kid into not eating a snack at all. When the plan works, celebrations begin, but perhaps a bit too soon…

A strong story really makes this book shine along with its winning illustrations. The tale of humans as monsters will be a lot of fun for children. The various concepts of ways that the snacks could be consumed or protected from being eaten are very funny and clever. There is a merriment here that offsets the darkness of being devoured. The illustrations are done in photographs with the eyeglasses and limbs of each character done in wire. The result is entirely captivating, one wants to head home and put wire glasses on all sorts of things.

A delicious snack of a book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Philomel Books.

Review: Gobble You Up! by Sunita

gobble you up

 

Gobble You Up! by Sunita, text by Gita Wolf

Based on a Rajasthani folktale, this picture book is a work of art.  Jackal’s best friend is Crane, but then one day he was too lazy to hunt for food.  Jackal challenged Crane to catch twelve fish all at once.  Crane managed to do the feat, and then Jackal quickly gobbled down all twelve fish.  Crane protested and then Jackal ate Crane too.  Tortoise witnessed this, so Jackal had to eat Tortoise as well.  Squirrel dared Jackal to eat him too, and Jackal managed.  One by one, more animals get eaten and Jackal’s belly stretches and stretches.  The elephant was more difficult to swallow, though Jackal managed.  Then Jackal got very thirsty from eating all of those animals one after another.  And you will just have to read the book to see how it all ends!

The first thing that you notice about this book is that it feels different in your hands.  It has a different weight, a different balance.  It smells different.  The pages have a texture to them and the ink has body on the page that your fingers can feel.  Inside, the story is told rapidly and with wonderful sounds and reactions.  This is a story that comes from an oral tradition and you can hear it as you read it aloud.  It flows and moves.  If you are a librarian who does storytelling, get your hands on this book.

Sunita’s art is the center of the book.  Called Mandna, this art form is practiced only by women and taught from mother to daughter.  It is used to decorate the mud walls of homes and done without brushes.  The art is beautiful, richly detailed and unique.  Make sure to read the information at the end of the book for more facts about the art and how the book was made.

Unique and lovely, this is a rich folktale from a region of India that will delight and amaze.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

maya makes a mess

Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

Maya doesn’t eat with very good manners at all.  She likes to eat with her hands, has terrible posture, and doesn’t use a napkin.  Her parents are trying to get her to make less of a mess and her father asks what she would do if she was eating with the queen.  Just then, a knock comes on the door and a royal messenger is there to invite Maya to dine with the queen that night.  Maya arrives via plane to the castle where the queen greets her and she is taken to the dining hall.  There are many people in fancy clothes there and the food is fancy too.  Maya requests (very politely) pasta with ketchup, but then can’t figure out what fork to use.  The gentleman next to her, brushes off her questions and tells her to eat the way she usually does.  Uh oh!

This is not the graphic novel for parents to pick up to teach their children manners, thanks to a big twist at the end of the book.  Children on the other hand will adore this book that turns manners on their head and have the young protagonist victoriously messy in the end.  Modan plays the rules of a royal dinner up with great effect.  There are moments in the middle of the book that you are sure it is headed in a completely different direction.  It makes for a wild ride of a book that is great fun.

The illustrations have a great vintage quality to them, something that plays well with the subject matter and makes the ending that much more of a surprise.  I particularly enjoy Maya’s outfit with her hoodie and mismatched socks.  The socks become all the more noticeable as she greets the queen. 

A droll look at manners, this is a graphic novel perfect for even the messiest of children.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Toon Books.