Review: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don_t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (9781368003551)

Penelope Rex is starting school. As a dinosaur, she was very surprised when her classmates turned out to children! Delicious children! Immediately, Penelope ate all of the children. She did spit them out when her teacher told her to though, but it was not a good start to the school year. Penelope noticed that the other children were make friends with one another but not with her. Her father offered the advice that children and dinosaurs are just the same on the inside, but Penelope could still not control her eating. It wasn’t until Walter, the class goldfish, took a bite of Penelope that she realized what it was like to be someone’s snack. Penelope got a lot better after that, though barbecue sauce incidents were still far too tempting to pass up.

Higgins, the author of the Mother Bruce series, has brought his signature humor to new characters in this picture book. The text moves along briskly with splashes of humor, saliva and sauce adding to the zing. The illustrations will work well with a group. They show a class of human children who are very diverse too. Penelope is a dinosaur who is charming, if at times a little chompy. Readers will adore her and her attempts to fix what she has done and make new friends.

A great pick for a new school year. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Disney Hyperion.

3 Silly New Picture Books

If the S in Moose Comes Loose by Peter Hermann

If the S in Moose Comes Loose by Peter Hermann, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (9780062295101)

This picture book takes wordplay and makes it the focus of the story. When Cow’s friend Moose loses her S and E, cow decides to get some glue. But in order to do that, she has to make some and spell the word “GLUE”. Cow asks to take Goat’s G, and exchange it for a B that she steals from Bear. So Goat becomes Boat and Bear becomes Ear. As Cow continues to take letters, things get stranger and stranger. A chair becomes hair, a lake becomes cake, a house becomes a hose, and so on. Finally Cow has the letters she needs to make glue and bring back her friend, but there’s still some mess to clean up too.

This rambunctious story takes a wild look at words, letter sounds and spelling. Hermann’s fast and zany pace creates a picture book that flies right by. Throughout, different characters add to the chaos, including the Bull who refuses to share his U and the very confused Boat who used to be a Goat. The illustrations by Cordell add to the fun with their loose lines and dashing action scenes. They also make it nicely clear what letters are forming each creature’s name, so that children will be able to play along as the words shift. A fast and funny look at words. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Sheep 101 by Richard T. Morris

Sheep 101 by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Leuyen Pham (9780316213592)

A boy is counting sheep to fall asleep, but then sheep number 101 crashes into the fence and gets stuck. The boy tells them not to stop and talk to each other, but soon even more is going wrong. A cow enters instead of a sheep, posing as number 103 and jumping the fence and the sheep easily. The pig who comes next can’t make it over Sheep 101 who is still stuck. When the blind mouse and Humpty Dumpty add to the chaos, someone has to help. Who could it be?

Filled with lots of humor and surprises, young listeners will love this book. It is a treat to read aloud with the characters talking directly to the reader and causing all sorts of problems along the way. The final twist will surprise everyone and places the book firmly into the world of today’s children. The illustrations are a treat, featuring lots of speech balloons, a weeping pig, a cow who does backflips, and a rather cross sheep. Share this one with a group of preschoolers for plenty of cheers! Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

People Don_t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler

People Don’t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Molly Idle (9781481490825)

This picture book is all about not biting people but being able to bite other things like gum. Animals may bite too, but they are not people. Even if you mood is bad, you don’t bite other people. No biting mothers or fathers, you choose who you chomp. This book must be read aloud with its galloping rhyme that even has a chorus that repeats and invites listeners to join in too. The entire book is a look at biting and has a light hearted tone throughout that will have children giggling. The illustrations by award-winning Idle have the same feel as her popular Flora books but this time with a vintage flair. Ideal for sharing with a group of kids! Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum.)



A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy


A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy, illustrated by Matthieu Maudet (InfoSoup)

A young wolf who has been taught good manners by his parents heads into the wolf to hunt alone for the first time. One of the most important rules is that he must honor the final wishes of his prey. When he nets a rabbit, the rabbit requests that the young wolf read him a story. So the wolf heads home to find his favorite book but when he returns to the woods, the rabbit has left. Next, the wolf captures a chicken who requests music. After the wolf returns with an instrument, the chicken is gone too. The wolf then captures a little boy, who asks for a drawing. The wolf almost doesn’t agree, but the little boy has said please. When the wolf returns, the boy is still there waiting! And the boy loves the picture so much that he wants to show his friends. In a twist ending that is both satisfying and wonderfully dark, the wolf finally succeeds in his hunt.

Leroy sets a brisk pace in this picture book where much of the dialogue is done in speech bubbles and the text is kept to a minimum. The book dashes along on the hunt with the wolf, to and fro from his house and back to his disappearing prey. As the book gains momentum thanks to the repeating pattern, Leroy breaks it and moves ahead with the story at just the right time. It’s a wild and wolfish look at manners that everyone will enjoy.

Maudet’s illustrations convey the frustration of the young wolf very clearly. The wolf uses the book to capture the chicken and then leaves the instrument smashed on the ground in frustration. The limited color palette is filled with orange and red, played against gray and brown.

The book is completely wonderful, satisfying and the twist ending will leave children surprised and asking to hear it again. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.


Review: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

mr tiger goes wild

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger was bored with the proper life he was living.  Filled with tea and stilted conversation each day, he longed to get wild.  Then one day, he does just that by starting to walk on four legs instead of two.  He felt better immediately.  And each day, got wilder yet: roaring, casing people, bounding across rooftops.  Then he took it one more step and left his clothes behind.  The other disapproved and sent him off to live in the wilderness unless he could change back and act properly.  So Mr. Tiger headed off.  The wilderness was glorious and Mr. Tiger went completely wild.  However, he also missed the people he left behind in town.  When he headed back to society though, he found that he’d had quite an impact without even knowing it.

This is a stellar picture book.  Brown tells a story that all children can relate to, that of being too wild and too loud and not acting appropriately.  The storytelling is exemplary with perfect pacing and plenty of humor.  That story is well-matched with the bright and bold illustrations.  From the get-go the orange of Mr. Tiger pops from the page, particularly when everything else is dirty sepia toned.  There are glorious moments, including the one where Mr. Tiger is wearing no clothes at all. 

This picture book is a welcome antidote to books on manners.  After all, we all need more wild in our lives.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

maya makes a mess

Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

Maya doesn’t eat with very good manners at all.  She likes to eat with her hands, has terrible posture, and doesn’t use a napkin.  Her parents are trying to get her to make less of a mess and her father asks what she would do if she was eating with the queen.  Just then, a knock comes on the door and a royal messenger is there to invite Maya to dine with the queen that night.  Maya arrives via plane to the castle where the queen greets her and she is taken to the dining hall.  There are many people in fancy clothes there and the food is fancy too.  Maya requests (very politely) pasta with ketchup, but then can’t figure out what fork to use.  The gentleman next to her, brushes off her questions and tells her to eat the way she usually does.  Uh oh!

This is not the graphic novel for parents to pick up to teach their children manners, thanks to a big twist at the end of the book.  Children on the other hand will adore this book that turns manners on their head and have the young protagonist victoriously messy in the end.  Modan plays the rules of a royal dinner up with great effect.  There are moments in the middle of the book that you are sure it is headed in a completely different direction.  It makes for a wild ride of a book that is great fun.

The illustrations have a great vintage quality to them, something that plays well with the subject matter and makes the ending that much more of a surprise.  I particularly enjoy Maya’s outfit with her hoodie and mismatched socks.  The socks become all the more noticeable as she greets the queen. 

A droll look at manners, this is a graphic novel perfect for even the messiest of children.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Toon Books.

Review: School for Bandits by Hannah Shaw

school for bandits

School for Bandits by Hannah Shaw

Ralph was not a normal raccoon.   He looked like any other raccoon, but he certainly didn’t act like them.  He was polite, clean, and tidy.  His parents were frustrated and so sent him to Bandit School where he could learn to be naughty, dirty and thieving.  Ralph had an awful time in school because he was just too nice.   When his teacher announced the Best Bandit in School competition, Ralph just knew that there was no way he would ever win.  He spent his break reading inside instead of causing trouble out on the streets like his classmates.  Can a nice raccoon ever come out ahead? 

Shaw captures the naughtiness of raccoons with glee.  They are shown with frizzy fur, bad breath, and are often playing pranks and taking other animals’ things.  Yet they are never frightening, despite the worry on other characters’ faces, they are rascals rather than being gang-like.  Children will love many of the touches here, including burping in class and brushing teeth with chocolate.

The text is simple and tells a good story, often crooked on the page.  The illustrations and text work well together, sometimes playing off of one another in style. 

This is a book that speaks to the importance of manners but in a way that remains fun and light-hearted throughout.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.

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Book Review: Manners Mash-Up


Manners Mash-Up

Fourteen picture book creators take on manners in this mash up of talent.  Each illustrator is given a double page spread to fill with their work as well as some advice on how to mind their manners.  There is a specific setting in each one, including school, birthday party, table manners, and the supermarket.  All of the illustrators approach manners with a light touch and plenty of humor, meaning that this is one manners book that children will actually enjoy!

One of the pleasures of the book is turning the page and discovering an entirely different style from a new illustrator.   The book includes illustrators like Bob Shea, Tedd Arnold, Lynn Munsinger, Sophie Blackall, and Adam Rex.   It keeps the book very fresh, as each illustrator works in their distinct and unique style.  The lists of manner rules are very silly, especially when they deal with the ultimate manner rule of no picking! 

Manner books at libraries tend to come in sets of books and trend toward the preachy.  This is a fresh, funny look at manners that puts those to shame.  Make room on your library shelf for this one!  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.

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Being a Pig Is Nice

Being a Pig Is Nice: a child’s-eye view of manners by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrations by Dan Krall

It’s tough to be a kid!  You have to be polite and clean.  But what if you were another kind of animal?  If you were a pig, you could be just as dirty as you want.  If you were a monkey there would be no such thing as table manners.  If you were an owl, you could make noise at night.   A little girl explores the freedom of being different kinds of animals instead of herself.  Of course with each animal comes some additional rules that make it not quite such a great thing to be.  This is a humorous and clever look at manners through the eyes of a child.

Lloyd-Jones has a great ear for what will make children giggle and groan with delight.  Her text is humorous and has a great romping rhythm without being really structured.  Krall’s art adds a lot to the book, offering plenty of parental glares of all shapes and sizes as well as lots of delightfully googly eyes too.

A funny look at manners yes, but make sure you don’t save this book for a discussion of manners!  It is worth sharing at any time.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

For a feel of the text and illustrations you can take a peek at the book trailer below.