Little Red Henry by Linda Urban, illustrated by Madeline Valentine (InfoSoup)
Henry’s family does way too much for him. They dress him. They feed him. They bring him anything he needs. But they haven’t noticed that Henry is getting much more independent and wants to start doing things himself. So Henry starts to insist on doing things entirely on his own. Henry feeds himself. Henry brushes his own teeth. He gets himself dressed, refusing all of their suggestions for things to wear. Then he headed next door to his friend’s house to play. His worried family peers at him from behind trees and other objects, but Henry does just fine on his own. At first Henry’s family doesn’t know what to do with themselves with no Henry to take care of. Slowly though, they start to find their own way again. When bedtime comes, Henry gets himself ready for bed, but he just might still need some help going to sleep.
A perfect story for children in the age of helicopter parenting and a reminder for parents to give their children the space and opportunities they need, this picture book has a snappy tone that is great fun to read aloud. It plays homage of course to The Little Red Hen who asks for help and gets none. Nicely, this book is the reverse and echoes the flip at the end of the traditional story with one of their own as well. It’s a great riff on a beloved tale, modernizing it and changing it so that young readers may not even realize the connection.
Valentine’s illustrations add to the pizzazz of the book. The worried and overbearing family is filled with doting love. Henry is vividly independent, standing on chairs and being entirely himself. There are great moments of activity where Henry tries on different outfits and where the family tries out new activities. This echoing of each other adds to the pleasure of the read.
A modern riff on a classic tale, this picture book is sure to support independent kids and send helicopter parents spinning. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
All by Myself by Emile Jadoul
Leon is potty trained, but at night he still wants his parents to help him get to the bathroom. So when he has to use the bathroom, he calls to his parents from his bed and waits for them to take him to the potty. Then the next morning, his parents are exhausted. So his mommy tells him that big boys go to the potty by themselves at night. Leon decides to try it. So that night when he has to use the potty, he climbs out of bed. He considers calling his mother…but ends up going all by himself! Then comes the clever bit at the end that I won’t spoil, but that makes the book all the more enjoyable to read.
Jadoul perfectly captures the later part of the pottying process, when there is still a little help to be given. Told in very simple words, it is a quiet story of a loving family. The writing level is just right for preschool children to enjoy. The ending twist will have everyone giggling too.
The art in the book is done in black pencil and oil paints. The rough darkness of all of the penguins plays nicely against the finer lines of the backgrounds in the story. The addition of the little purple teddy bear emphasizes the youth of the main character and his need for security.
This book will nicely encourage almost-trained children to continue to do things on their own. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
A little frog takes his first small leaps over a ladybug, over a bee, and over the clover before returning to his waiting mother. His leaps get bigger and he leaps over the creek and over the beavers. Then they get even bigger, leaping over trees and hills! After every outing he returns to his mother who is waiting for him with either a book to share, food to eat or a hug. Soon the little frog is leaping out into space and the stars, but no fear, his mother is still there for him.
Thompson has created a picture book that is very simple with just a few lines on each page and a gentle concept. Her text has an infectious rhythm to it, adding to the jaunty tone of the book. The humor of the book builds as the little frog leaps over larger and larger things. Children will love the humor and will delight in the final pages as the little frog enters outer space.
Cordell’s illustrations echo the jaunty tone of the text and add a friendliness, warmth and plenty of color to the story. The little frog soars into the sky with a joyous freedom, his froggy legs and arms waving merrily.
An ideal book for toddler story times featuring frogs, this is sure to become a favorite of young listeners. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Also reviewed by 100 Scope Notes.