It’s OK, Slow Lizard by Yeorim Yoon, illustrated by Jian Kim, translated by Chi-Young Kim (9781632062772)
Slow Lizard lives in the forest with Bird, Elephant, Rabbit and Monkey. He likes to take things slow, just like his name. So when Little Bird is fretting about not having enough time to get things done, Slow Lizard invites her to share some tea. When Elephant gets angry, Lizard asks him to look at the clouds together. When Rabbit is sad, Lizard sits with her until she feels better. Lizard shares a quiet book with Monkey when his pranks get out of control. When a storm threatens, the other friends display their strengths too, using their generosity, planning, cleverness and humor to get everyone home safely.
Using repeating structures, this picture book beautifully shows the power of slowing down and giving your emotions the ability to be felt and then to pass. Lizard demonstrates various approaches to handling frustration, anxiety and other qualities in your life, showing both the characters in the book and the reader these skills. Just as the book feels like it might end, Yoon also shows the positive qualities that the others characters have. This pivot in the story is particularly effective as it show that all of us have struggles and strengths within us.
Kim’s illustrations are full of fine details but will also work well with a group. The forest setting comes alive with fan-like flowers, dandelions, clover and many small plants. The illustrations also show the characters’ emotions clearly.
A perfect book to share along with some tea under the sky. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
An import from France, this picture book has a wonderful quirkiness. It is the story of Leon, a lizard, who is having a lovely morning, eating breakfast, sitting in the sun, and then he has to go to the bathroom. But after he goes poo, he discovers that he’s out of toilet paper. He looks around, but only sees prickly leaves and messy grass. Until he discovers pair of old underpants hanging on a nearby branch. They are full of holes anyway, so he uses them to wipe and tosses them away. But that’s when a loud voice, his conscience, starts to talk to him and tells him to clean them up and hang them up to dry. In the end, his conscience turns out to be something else entirely and the grand twist of the tale adds to the merriment of the book.
Escoffier is a popular author in France and this book marks his debut into the American market. His humor is spot on for young readers who will adore the idea of what this lizard does for toilet paper. They will not see the ending coming, since it is fresh and completely surprising. In the end, the twist will delight readers even more than the original joke.
Di Giacomo is the illustrator of My Dad Is Big & Strong, BUT… and I am very pleased to see another of her picture books come to English translation. Her art is a fabulous blend of paint, crayon, fine lines and texture. She uses blots of color as the leaves, something that is surprising but works very well.
Share this with all of those children who love something a little naughty in their picture books. If you share it with a group, you will most likely be asked to read it over again. Also, expect riotous reactions to the humor. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
Gravett’s latest is a charmingly simple picture book that showcases her illustrations. The featured character in the book is a chameleon who is feeling blue because he is lonely. So he sets off to find a friend. As he meets different objects and animals, his color changes to mimic theirs. He turns yellow like the banana. He turns pink like the cockatoo. He even turns spotty like a ball and striped like a sock. But he just can’t find a friend. As he mopes gray on a rock and then disappears white against the page, he finally finds a friend who is just as colorful as he is.
Gravett has created a book about colors where the colors are a vital part of the story being told, making it very different than some picture books about colors that don’t read nearly as naturally. Adding to the appeal is the emotive chameleon himself and his attempts at making friends. Children will get the humor of the situation, love the moment he begins to show patterns, and also will relate to making friends.
Gravett’s illustrations and text work well together. The bulk of the text is just the color and the object the chameleon is interacting with. The chameleon also makes friendly comments to the potential friends, adding a welcome touch of more humor to the title. The illustrations are bright, large and will work equally well with groups or reading to one child.
Highly recommended for any library’s colorful shelves, this book will be enjoyed by any preschooler or toddler. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
Nic Bishop books combine fascinating science with exquisite photographs. They are magnets for reluctant readers who love animals and nonfiction. His latest book on lizards continues with the high quality standard he has set with previous books. See a lizard hatching, so close that you can almost feel the rubbery egg. Look right into the eyes of a bright-green baby chameleon. Marvel at the skin of the thorny devil. Run across water with a basilisk in a series of stunning shots. Gawk at the geckos in all of their diversity. Linger with lizards here in this book that makes science accessible, fascinating and beautiful.
Bishop excels at creating nonfiction for children. His writing turns scientific facts into accessible and fascinating prose that points readers to reasons for wonder. With his stunning photographs accompanying his prose, it is too easy to ignore the fact that his writing works so well. And of course, you have his amazing gift for photography. Photography that is crystal clear and brings readers so close to the subjects. Make sure you read his author notes at the end for details about what it took to get the photographs you see in the book.
Highly recommended, this belongs in every school and public library along with Bishop’s other titles. Get this in the hands of animal lovers, both reluctant readers and non. But beware, bring it home and you too may be looking into a pet gecko for Christmas. I hear his name is going to be Bob.