Tag: families

King Baby by Kate Beaton


King Baby by Kate Beaton (InfoSoup)

From the author of Hark! A Vagrant comes a second picture book. King Baby is born to loving and devoted subjects, his parents. People bring gifts and in return King Baby bestows blessings upon them. He smiles and coos, but a King can also be demanding. When he doesn’t get his toy fast enough, he can be cranky. And his subjects don’t understand his demands, so King Baby has to do something new and bold. He crawls! Then he starts to grow and grow into a Big Boy. But as he grows up, who will rule his subjects?

Beaton has created a picture book that fully embraces the experience of new parenthood and will also work to show children about to be siblings just how very demanding a tiny baby can be for attention and time. Still, there is also the fact that they grow up so fast, quickly leaving babyhood behind. The use of imperious and lordly demands makes the book very funny and may allow overwhelmed families a little laugh about their small bundles of joy.

Beaton’s signature art work is a delight. The baby as little more than an egg with a crown captures those first few weeks perfectly. The crown remains perched on his little head all the way through tantrums and royal demands. The chaos of a home with a baby is also fully depicted with exhausted parents in hoodies and sweatpants and the floor littered with bottles, toys and clothes.

If you have a new little king or queen of your own or are expecting one to move in soon, this is a book that will have you and your other children giggling and agreeing. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.


A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary


A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng (InfoSoup)

A teacher in a classroom asks her class what they think make their families special. One little girl hesitates to answer, knowing that her family is not like everyone else’s. The children begin to share about their families. There are children being raised by two fathers and two mothers, another who is parented by a grandmother. Some have huge families with lots of siblings and others are only children. Some have a new baby and others have stepbrothers and sisters. Each family is different and special in its own way. By the end, the little girl knows that whatever structure her family has, all that matters is that there is lots of love.

O’Leary does not lecture about families here. Rather she shows the wide variety that there are in families and how each of those is based on love. There is no need to be didactic, as every child will see themselves in the pages of this book. It is a wise way to look at families, since each is just as special and marvelous as the one before. The emphasis here is on love itself, the care that is given to children in each of those families no matter their structure.

Leng’s illustrations add so much warmth to this picture book. The illustrations are full of details and invite readers to look closely. Each page zings with energy from the mothers singing under the night sky to the child who lives with both her father and mother, just at different times. There is a playfulness on the pages too, which makes each family come to life.

A strong picture book about diversity and families, this book is filled with warmth and love and not lectures. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King


Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King (InfoSoup)

Sarah has stopped going to high school after an event that she doesn’t want to talk about or even think about. Sarah is a master at not thinking about certain things, like what she witnessed on vacation in Mexico with her family. Instead Sarah thinks about things like doing something original and what art is. She spends her days on the streets of Philadelphia, visiting a derelict school building, speaking with past and future versions of herself, and wondering about art and how to start creating again. She isn’t able to continue keeping the secrets deep inside hidden even from herself. So she begins to work through her thoughts, ideas and what she has seen. She contacts the brother that she hasn’t seen since the Mexico trip six years before and begins to wake up to the problems that have always been there in her family.

My goodness, this book is impossible to explain in a single paragraph. It is multilayered book that shifts and grows and builds underneath the reader as Sarah’s memories are revealed. It is wild and powerful, the tornado in the title an apt image for the rawness of this book. King depicts the dangers of living lies, whether they are built by those who say they love you or yourself. The force of those lies, the determination it takes to keep them hidden, and the emptiness of the world shaped by those lies make for a landscape that filled with traps and danger. King is a master at allowing a character to tell her own story at her own pace while making sure that the book continues to move forward, building tension upward and showing the deep humanity inside.

Sarah is an exquisite character. She is an enigma for the first part of the book, since she is determined to keep the lies spinning and not allow the truth to escape into the world. She is the epitome of an unreliable narrator, one that becomes more reliable as the book continues. Yet even as she is unreliable, she is completely relatable. Her pain is tangible on the page, her loneliness is palpable. It is in hiding her real truth and living the lie that she becomes most human.

A powerful novel filled with pain, lies, guilt and searing truth. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dutton Books for Young Readers.


Who Broke the Teapot? by Bill Slavin


Who Broke the Teapot? by Bill Slavin (InfoSoup)

Thanks to Fuse #8 for bringing this one to my attention!

Mom is furious when she discovers the teapot broken on the floor. Who could have broken it? Each family member denies it being them. It wasn’t Sister who is busy eating just like Bowser the dog. It wasn’t Kitty who is so tangled in her wool that she can barely move. It wasn’t Brother who is stuck up on the fan by his overalls. It wasn’t Dad who is still reading the newspaper in his underwear. So who could it have been? Luckily, readers get to watch it all happen when time is rolled back to five minutes earlier. But even then, will they know exactly who broke the teapot?

Slavin has written a book that gallops along. It has a wonderfully brisk pace that suits the high emotions of the book perfectly. There is rhythm and rhyme aplenty, adding to the rollicking feel of the title. The text is filled with dialogue as well, creating a book that is a gleeful readaloud, one that almost reads itself and will have young listeners entirely entranced. Just leave enough time to potentially read it more than once!

Slavin’s illustrations are a strong mix of cartoon characters against textural backgrounds that add real depth. There are other elements with texture like Kitty’s string as well. As the action really gets going, Slavin plays with the colors of the background, revving them up to oranges from the greens and blues. Sounds words are also added, creating a comic book zaniness.

Grab this one and use it in your next story time. Giggles and guffaws are guaranteed! Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


Moo by Sharon Creech


Moo by Sharon Creech (InfoSoup)

Reena and her little brother, Luke, move to the Maine countryside with their parents. At first they spend their summer riding their bikes around the area, loving the freedom that comes with it. But then their parents “volunteer” both of them to help out on a neighbor’s farm. Mrs. Falala is unusual to say the least. She has all sorts of animals on the farm, including a pig, a cat and a snake, but the one that she needs Reena’s help with most is Zora, a grumpy cow. Slowly, Reena gains Zora’s trust and starts to understand what she needs to be happier. Just as slowly, Luke begins to bond with Mrs. Falala as he works on his drawings alongside her. As these new friendships emerge, new opportunities arise to form connections, learn from one another, and delight in the antics of one ornery cow.

Creech uses a glorious blend of prose and poetry in this novel. The poetry takes concrete form at times but usually is free verse and flows in the way summer days do. The prose reads like poetry at times, blending the two formats even more closely together. The rural Maine setting comes alive in the book, the children experiencing it with great delight that readers will share. Creech captures the emotions of a major move and the wonders and fears of being from the city and landing firmly in farm country.

This is a book with plenty of large characters. Mrs. Falala is a wonderful character, isolated and lonely, she is by turns prickly and warm, a conundrum that also makes perfect sense. From her use of music to express emotion to her willingness to learn to draw, she is an older character with plenty to still learn and even more to share. Then there is Zora, the cow, a creature with more than enough attitude and chutzpah to carry the novel. She is very much an animal version of her owner, though she tends to use hooves and head butts to show her feelings.

A rich narrative and plenty of amazing characters, this novel in prose and verse enchants as it demonstrates the importance of connections and community. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.


Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold


Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Jane Massey (InfoSoup)

This funny picture book about the life of a baby is just right for toddlers and slightly older siblings of new babies. The life of a baby is not easy at all. There’s a lot to fit into the day: eating, sleeping and pooping. If a day gets too hectic though, baby can always cut back on sleep to compensate, much to the chagrin of his parents. Then the routine can go back to normal, filled with eating, sleeping, pooping and plenty of love.

Penfold uses plenty of puns and word play in this picture book that will invite laughter and nods from families dealing with a new baby. The text here is very simple, just enough to keep the humor of the situation at the forefront and allow new siblings to understand that this is what all babies do, all day long. There is a strong focus too on love and support and by the end of the book, the tiny baby has grown into a toddler themselves though their routine hasn’t changed much yet.

Massey’s illustrations underscore the importance of a loving family as the backdrop to the infant’s story. She also includes a dog in the family, one who is displaced by the baby and has to learn to cope with the new focus on the baby. The illustrations are bright and friendly with a doting extended family who all participate in baby care.

A warm and funny look at new infants, this book will be welcomed by families who have their own eating, sleeping, pooping machine. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.


Lucy by Randy Cecil


Lucy by Randy Cecil (InfoSoup)

Lucy is a dog living on the streets. She has a routine each day where she dashes through the neighborhood and straight to an apartment building with a red door where she waits. Inside Eleanor lives with her father who dreams of being a juggler. Meanwhile Eleanor lowers breakfast on a string to Lucy waiting below her window. Around noon, Lucy settles in for a nap and dreams of the days when she lived in a grand house with her favorite stuffed toy. As the days go on, Lucy’s father tries to perform his juggling before a crowd but gets disastrous stage fright, Lucy continues to gather things to feed her new friend, and Lucy dreams more and more of her past life. As their lives converge together, one thing is certain that one small white dog can change your life!

Cecil’s book comes in four acts, each one building upon the next. The book has a lovely rhythm to it, ordinary days stack upon ordinary days, routines support other routines. It is a gentle way to build a story, a natural progression. And yet this book has a theatrical quality to it as well with each act building on the next, the juggling and subsequent disasters, and the drama of dangling breakfasts. It is a story that is uniquely told in its own time.

The illustrations are a large part of this book with the gangly humans and the compact little white dog that glows on the page. The illustrations have rounded edges, almost as if the reader was looking through a telescope to watch the action. This creates a sense of intimacy in the black and white illustrations.

A very special book about one little dog who seems to have lost everything but still has plenty to offer. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick.