Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Red Koehler
Three children are up in their treehouse in the dark with a flashlight. As the flashlight beam breaks the night, it reveals an adventure. The children head into a woods, through a tomb, on to a pirate shore. There are sword battles, a grabby giant squid, and finally an escape. Then they are back in their treehouse, sharing a good book by flashlight. The text quietly builds the space for the illustrations that fill the page with discoveries by the handheld light. Throughout, there is a feeling of wonder, of the light revealing things that may or may not be there. The illustrations are exceptional, showing the joy of flashlights in the dark and the power of imaginations at play. Perfect to read with flashlights and then head outside for your own adventures. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Lines by Suzy Lee (9781452156651)
A lone ice skater skates past leaving swirling lines on the ice. There are curls and tight spirals and loose curves that feel like music on the page. In her red hat and mittens, the ice skater fills the page with her patterns. Then she falls to the ground and suddenly the page is crumpled up by the artist in frustration. Unfolded again, the page is wrinkled and smudged. But soon more skaters are joining in and the crumpled page becomes a pond filled with people enjoying the ice. Lee once again creates a beautifully simple book that speaks to nature, beauty and quiet. The use of the pulling back and having the artist crumple the page breaks the fourth wall and then turns the picture book into something even more interesting and fresh. This picture book is beautifully designed and very clever. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Review copy supplied by Chronicle Books.)
Windows by Julia Denos (9780763690359)
Windows light up as night falls in this picture book that takes readers outside to explore a neighborhood. A boy heads out to walk the dog as night falls, able to see into others’ homes as he passes by. He can see people eating, partying, watching TV. He glimpses a cat and a raccoon. Some windows are dark, some houses are entirely dark. Then those are left to his imagination. Soon he returns back home to his own glowing window where his mother waits for him. There is a lovely quiet to this book, a pleasure in being outside at sunset, the sky lit with colors as the buildings turn dark with windows alight. The illustrations are beautiful, lit by the reds of the sky and the darkness growing with each turn of the page. Time for a flashlight walk in your neighborhood! Appropriate for ages 4-6. (ARC provided by Candlewick Press.)
Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Tory Cummings
Released October 27, 2015
A new take on Little Red Riding Hood, this picture book fills the storybook forest with snow and takes readers on a twirling ride through several fairy tales. Little Red Gliding Hood loves to ice skate down the winding river to her grandmother’s house. She does it so often that her skates are wearing out. Then she discovers that the prize for the upcoming pairs skating competition is a new pair of skates. Now she just has to find the perfect partner. But many of the good skaters have already been taken. She asks her grandmother for ideas and her grandmother suggests her new neighbors who live in a brick house. When Little Red approaches the house, the Wolf shows up and chases her on the ice where they discover that they are both great skaters!
Lazar twists and turns the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale into a wintry wonder. She pays clear homage to the original, also making many nods to other fairy tales along the way like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Three Bears, and Humpty Dumpty. The entire book has a freshness to it, that makes for a lively read that is perfect both for children new to the story and for those familiar with the original.
The art by Cummings is filled with brisk winter colors of blues and whites. It is made cozy when Little Red visits her grandmother where they sit by the fire and the colors turn to oranges and reds. The art is playful and funny with lots of small touches, particularly when there are characters from lots of fairy tales in one place.
A terrific new take on a traditional tale, this picture book is a great pick for winter story times. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House.
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
This is a delightful wintry follow-up to Flora and the Flamingo, a book that stole my heart when it came out. With clear connections to the ballet of the first book, this second book has Flora on ice skates swirling with a penguin. Flora puts on her skates and the penguin climbs out of the water and the two glide together across the page, through different flaps to lift, landing synchronized jumps side-by-side. But then the penguin disappears back into the water and Flora is left skating alone. The penguin returns with a fish for Flora, but Flora tosses it back into the water. The penguin is entirely angry and dejected, so Flora figures out how to repair the budding friendship.
Idle tells so much in her wordless books. Who knew that a penguin could communicate so very clearly with the tip of its head, the tilt of its wings and the set of its shoulders. Flora too communicates her feelings clearly on the page to great effect. It’s a book that explores friendship, dance and the joy of winter play.
The illustrations are top notch, they invite the reader to glide along with them. The flaps on different pages are ingenious ways to have readers participate, culminating in one amazing jump the two characters do together. They amazingly leap right off the page, or perhaps it’s the book that leaps out to catch them. Beautiful, icy and pure joy.
Another magnificent offering by Molly Idle, this book will be embraced by fans of the first and will make a great holiday gift. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
Bunnies on Ice by Johanna Wright
This icy read is just right for a very cold winter day, like we have been having here in Wisconsin. One little bunny thinks that she is a champion ice-skater. As a champion, she has to wait for conditions to be just right, even if it means waiting through spring, summer and fall! When the waiting is finally over, she has to eat a big breakfast to prepare. Clothing selection is also important, enough layers to be warm, but not too many. Finally, it is time to skate her adoring fans. She demonstrates her high level of skill, well, almost. The day ends with hot chocolate, a warm bath and a cozy bed. The perfect ending for a champion day.
Wright has created a cheery book about not only ice skating but the wonder of big dreams. It is a delight to find a picture book with a young girl exhibiting such strong self-esteem with no hesitation. Wright nicely weaves in the truth behind the little girl’s dreams. This happens particularly when the actual skating begins and readers discover that she’s not really a champion ice skater.
In her illustrations, Wright creates a cozy world. There is the rabbit’s home inside a large tree that is filled with deep colors that evoke a warmth. This contrasts nicely with the blues of the outdoors and the white of the snow. The entire book exudes a cluttered friendliness and family-centered cheer.
Sparkling with ice and plenty of bravado, this picture book will inspire children to dream big themselves. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.