Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse by Johnathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox (9781250222855)
Llama continues on his path of scientific exploration and world destruction in this second picture book in the series following Llama Destroys the World. The book opens with the promise that by dinner Llama will have unleashed a great alpacalypse upon the world. Breakfast comes first but Llama makes an awful mess making a balanced meal. He hates to clean up, so he turns to inventing a new solution, a dangerous one, a Replicator 3000. At lunch, Llama invites Alpaca over. Alpaca loves to clean and soon is inside the replicator. With a zoop, she is replicated, but then Llama continues to push the button, creating an army of cleaning alpacas set to clean the world. As they leave Llama’s house and head out, dinnertime arrives. Disaster near, but a clever plan involving great pizza may be enough to save us all, until dessert.
I adored the first book in this series which had plenty of humor and lots of science. This second book has a lot to love too. It has less science but continues with the wild humor of the first, offering plenty of clever noises, rather clueless characters, and dangerous but exhilarating science experiments.
Fox’s art adds to much to the book with her googly-eyed Llama and Alpaca, the merrily cleaning army, and the alarmed citizens. Swirls of toilet paper, wet mop paths, and spritzes of cleaner make this just right for our pandemic sensibilities too.
One joyous mess of a picture book. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry, Holt and Company.
The Yawns Are Coming! by Christopher Eliopoulos (9781984816306)
A sleepover is great fun as long as you can avoid the yawns! This is the story of two children and their sleepover where they planned to stay up all night long. They even had a long list of things to do like playing hide-and-seek, board games, soccer, and trampolining. The yawns started to appear while they were playing cards together. Soon there were hundreds of them. The kids ran, climbed and hid from them, but it was no use. Soon they were yawning and then suddenly a Doze landed on their heads, Snores came, and finally a Sleepie covered them up! Next thing, it was morning, but there was still fun to be had.
Eliopoulos’ picture book has a great look and feel that is made all the more fun by the humor of the story. Using cute monsters as the yawns, snores, dozes and sleepies was a great idea, especially when they appear in droves or drop from the sky. The book captures the great plans made before every sleepover and how they never quite manage to be achieved.
In the illustrations, it’s great to see a picture book that features diverse characters who are close friends. I also appreciate that the narrator and their friend “Noodles” are not given genders in the book and could be whatever the reader chooses. The use of hooded pajamas and then daytime hats to keep them clearly identified but also gender neutral is a great touch.
A funny and marvelous bedtime (or staying up late) book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Dial.
Hello, World! by Ethan Long (9781250191755)
The first in the new Happy County series, this picture book invites plenty of exploration by readers. The bright colored and vibrant pages are filled with details for children to explore. The text in the book invites readers to look for specific things, but it’s also great fun to just explore this world on your own too. Some pages are filled with noises, others with a quest for a great spot to nap, still others with restaurants with signs to match. Turning the page may reveal an up-close look at a specific character or a wider view of the entire community.
Inspired by Richard Scarry, this updated version is brighter and funnier. It also offers a wider variety of activities to engage in. The text is funny, filled with puns, and has a merry tone that invites readers to really have fun. The illustrations are colorful and filled with marvelous details yet still have a simpler feel to them.
A great book for a trip, this one will keep children happily busy for some time. Worth exploring together too! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt & Co.
Don’t Feed the Coos! by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox (9781250303189)
The team behind Llama Destroys the World return with a book that’s for the birds. The book cleverly begins with the tone of Give a Mouse a Cookie but quickly turns it into a cautionary tale about feeding “coos” or pigeons. If you do feed one coo, more will come. You may try to escape, but they will follow you all the way home. No matter what you do, they will still stay with you. And because you have fed the coos, they will make coo poos. Everywhere. You will try everything to get rid of them and nothing will work. So you will accept your fate and make them part of the family. Until one day, you return with them to the park…
There is something so just right about the style of Stutzman’s writing. His tongue-in-cheek is clear but he also clearly cares about writing a superb picture book for children at the same time. That balance is not an easy one to create and sustain. Here, he pays homage to a favorite picture book style, yet also plays with it enough to break it just enough to make it fresh and interesting again.
Fox’s illustrations are bold and graphic. They use white space strategically, playing up the humor of an existence filled with pigeons and how that will change everything. The coos are adorable, until the pooing starts.
A clever and funny delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt & Co.
Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom by Heather Tekavec, illustrated by Susan Batori (9781525300240)
Take a look at the thirteen most wanted creatures in the animal kingdom. Their crimes are all unique to them and their names indicate what they have done. There is Big Bad Mama, Bubbles, Queenie the Meanie, and the Backyard Burglar. Each animal has its own rap sheet, complete with what they are wanted for, their aliases, distinguishing features, life span, sightings, witnesses and even previous arrests and gang affiliations. The various crimes are things like faking their own death for a frog, assault for spitting llamas, and traffic violations for crabs who cross the road in a huge crowd.
Done with a broad sense of humor, the book also offers factual information within the laughter. The criminal activity part of their rap sheet offers a paragraph about the animal and its problematic behavior. Some of the animals may be familiar to children but others will be a delight to discover. The art works seamlessly with the text to create a full rap sheet with loose paperclips, file folders, photographs and much more.
Humor combines with science and police records to create a funny and dynamic animal picture book. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Kids Can Press.
Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton III (9780823444489)
Join Bear as she goes through the process of making maple syrup. Joined by her friends, Fox and Squirrel, who are desperate for pancakes, Bear begins by getting her tools ready. Both Squirrel and Fox don’t really help much, offering a lot of side comments and once knocking a hole in one of the buckets. That hole though gives Bear a chance to show readers that all sorts of containers can be used to catch the sap as it drips from the trees. Readers will learn about the type of maple used for syrup making, about the tools used, and then the process of boiling down the sap into maple syrup. Bear does this outside with an open fire and a lot of patience. The end result is sweet, particularly for the impatient pair who have joined Bear throughout the book.
Eaton excels at making nonfiction subjects jovial and great fun. His use of Squirrel and Fox to offer comical asides makes the book great fun to read. Bear herself is knowledgeable and unflappable as she reacts patiently to her friends and buckets with new holes. The information shared here is fascinating and delivered in a way that allows readers to really understand things like why sugar maples are the best for syrup and how many gallons of sap it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup (40!)
The illustrations are bold and colorful, inviting readers into the woods with Bear and showing in detail what the steps are to making maple syrup. Squirrel and Fox peek out from various places on the page, offering their opinions on what is happening.
Funny and factual, this picture book is not syrupy at all. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Layoverland by Gabby Noone (9781984836120)
Anyone who has ever taken an airplane can completely get behind purgatory being an airport. Still, it is surprising when Bea finds herself first in a car crash and then waking up in an airplane. When Bea discovers she is in purgatory, she wonders why she hasn’t gone straight to hell after the way she treated her sister just before Bea died. Unfortunately, Bea has been selected for a special program where she is removed from the lottery of names to make their way to Heaven and must help 5000 people find their way to Heaven before she can leave the airport. She gets to wear a hideous orange outfit and then is assigned to help the boy who killed her through to Heaven. Now she has to decide whether to help him or keep him in purgatory with her. The choice gets a lot more difficult when she finds out how much fun it is to kiss him and that she just might be falling for him. This may be Hell after all.
Noone’s writing is deft and exactly on the mark, making this novel’s tone just right. The entire purgatory experience is marvelous with showers that don’t have hot water, food encased in jello, and no Internet or real TV. Throw in a girl who can’t wash the mascara drips from her face or wash her dirty hair, and you have a great recipe for a book. When Caleb enters the novel, readers will respond like Bea, not sure whether to detest him or adore him. Their banter is right on, with Bea often offering her own large opinions on things like mansplaining and high school.
With a concept and writing this good, it is great to have characters this well drawn too. Bea is angry in a way that will speak to all teenage girls. She cares deeply, yet also doesn’t give a crap a lot of the time too. She is manipulative, something which comes in handy with convincing people to open up to her so they can move on to Heaven. The added pressure of the 5,000 lives she must help is twisted and bizarre, giving her just enough room to both care and not care at the same time.
Hilarious, romantic and never dull, this novel is heavenly. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from library copy.
This annual British book award, known as the Lollies, is given for the best and funniest books for children and youth. The winners are chosen by teachers and children from shortlists. Below are the winners and shortlists for each age category:
BEST LOL PICTURE BOOK
Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Tor Freeman
PICTURE BOOK SHORTLIST
Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and illustrated by Stephen Collins
Spyder by Matt Carr
You’re Called What? by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nikki Dyson
BEST LOL BOOK for 6-8 YEAR OLDS
World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross
6-8 YEAR OLD SHORTLIST
Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn
The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton
BEST LOL BOOK for 9-13 YEAR OLDS
I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson
9-13 YEAR OLD SHORTLIST
I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed
Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge
Hat tip to The Bookseller for the news
Chapter Two Is Missing by Josh Lieb, illustrated by Kevin Cornell (9781984835482)
The book begins with Chapter One, of course, where it is discovered that Chapter Two is missing! A phone number for the police, an email and even a place to tweet is offered to the reader. When the page is turned to Chapter Two, the reader only sees some erased and illegible text on a few pages. Then the book picks up again in mid-story. The chapters move past quickly, with even the characters noting the brisk pace. The detective arrives, the janitor redecorates with M’s and messes with punctuation. Another story merges in for some chapters and then some are blank as characters think hard about the mystery. In the end, the culprit is identified but not caught. Perhaps the reader though can find proof in their own home. Take a look!
Lieb has written a chapter book full of wild humor and a twisting mystery. The book has only three characters: the first person narrator, the detective and the janitor. So the potential suspects are limited. The joy of the book comes with the silliness of the premise, the jaunty pace and the knowledge that each turn of the page will bring something fresh and different. Lieb uses blank pages, inserts a different genre, mirror writing, and messes with punctuation to great effect.
While this may present as a chapter book, it actually bridges between a chapter book and a picture book as it is filled with illustrations and often the chapters are single pages. Done in black and yellow-orange, the illustrations are very funny, often interacting directly with the text on the page.
Funny and fast, this chapter book is a silly mess that really works. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Razorbill.