Review: Squeak! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Squeak! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Squeak! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee (9780525518150)

When a summer breeze tickles a little mouse’s ear early one morning, an entire cacophony follows. With one loud squeak, the mouse starts the world waking up. The chipmunks wake up, sending a pine cone into the river. The trout jump. The elk bonks into a tree launching the eagle off. The sound of her huge wings wakes the bears, whose growls wake the wolves. The wolves howl waking the bighorn lamb who leaps high. Finally, the bison bellows and all of the other creatures in the area awaken too. Except for one little mouse, who is now asleep.

The author plays with sounds in this book as they ripple across an ecosystem in this nature-focused read. From the small mouse squeak to the huge bison bellow, all of the sounds are unique and interesting. Children listening to the story will love the chance to howl like wolves, leap like trouts, or fly like eagles along the way. The book is filled with a sense of joy and wonder as the series of noises awaken all of the animals.

The art is done in two steps by the two creators, one who did the black lines and the other who colored them in digitally. The result is almost like stained glass. The sense of the glow of morning light carries through all of the illustrations. They are united by a strong feeling of being in a shared place too.

A great read aloud for a group, expect lots of participation. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Wait by Antoinette Portis

Wait by Antoinette Portis

Wait by Antoinette Portis (InfoSoup)

As a boy and his mother move through an urban setting rushing to get on the train, the little boy just wants to slow down and look at things. There are ducks to feed, an ice cream truck to linger near, a butterfly to try to touch, and much more. Each little item has the boy saying “wait” while the mother says “hurry.” It’s a dance that parents will immediately recognize. A rain storm has them hurrying to put on a raincoat. Just as the pair are about to catch their train successfully though, the rain ends and there is a rainbow that stops them both and has them waiting together.

This very simple book has only two words throughout: wait and hurry. It’s one of those books that will allow very young children to try to read it to themselves once they can identify the two words. Children and parents alike will also see their own morning rush in the book. While they may not catch a train, they will have to wear coats, try to get ice cream, and see neat animals almost every morning themselves.

Portis’ illustrations are friendly and large. Done with thick black lines with lots of texture using charcoal, pencil and ink, the illustrations perfectly capture the tug of slowing down with the need to hurry. The urban setting is done in the friendliest of ways and the various distractions are too. These are the merry things that slow toddlers and young children to a crawl even as time ticks away.

Toddlers will love this book about how important it is to stop and see the rainbows, the ducks, the butterflies, and everything else! Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Review: Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson

polar bear morning

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Stephen Savage

Following the picture book Polar Bear Night, this second book continues the story of the little polar bear cub.  The cub wakes up and peeks out at the day and snow outside her warm den.  As she starts to explore, she discovers another little cub out playing too, sliding down a little snow hill.  The two of them immediately start playing together, running towards the sea and eventually jumping into the icy water side by side.  The two little friends end up together on an ice berg surrounded by family, seals and whales.

Perfect for toddlers, this book speaks to the speed at which small children can find playmates and make friends.  As the two polar cubs run together, they pass different arctic animals like seals, walrus, seagulls and whales.  The text is brief and clearly sets the story in the arctic, the cold, the ice and the warmth of friendship.

Savage once again has amazing illustrations that are filled with chunky shapes, deep textures and shading that makes it stand out.  My favorite page in the book has the two small cubs nose to nose, one with a plop of snow on his head. 

A nice morning read aloud, this book be a good fit with bear story times or wintry tales.  Appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic Press.

Review: Eddie Gets Ready for School by David Milgrim

eddie gets ready

Eddie Gets Ready for School by David Milgrim

Eddie can get ready for school all on his own, but his routine is not what his mother would have done!  That’s for sure!  His healthy breakfast is spilled around so much that it becomes a way to take care of feeding the dog too.  He washes up with a diving mask on.  When he’s gotten dressed he has on a cape, no shirt, and his underwear is on his head.  Then comes watching cartoons and drinking root beer.  That is until his mother shows up!  His routine continues to be uproarious fun and he does make it onto the bus on time, even if he is carrying his clean underwear in his hand!

Milgrim taps into exactly what small children will find funny.  The underwear jokes are bound to get big laughs, but so is the idea that a school snack includes a whole watermelon.  Each page contains something that children would have loved to do themselves, therefore they will love to see what happens when Eddie tries it.  It is a very satisfying premise for a book.

Much of the humor is visual and told in Milgrim’s bright colored illustrations.  The white background on many of the pages make the colors really pop.  There is a feeling of enthusiasm within the illustrations and the story itself. 

Perfect for fans of the No, David! series, this book has the same zany humor and energy.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Two Little Pirates

Two Little Pirates by Ruth Paul

I must preface this review by saying that this is a book from New Zealand, so it’s not available in the US.  I received it from the author and publisher, Scholastic New Zealand.  Ruth Paul’s books are available in Canada as well as Australia and New Zealand.

In rhyming couplets, this book follows two little pirates who attack the King and the Queen.  They are actually two little boys who pounce on their sleeping parents dressed as pirates.  After a brief battle, the parents prevail and the two pirates are hung over the edge of the ship to become shark bait.  When they beg to be released, the King and Queen agree on one condition: that they tidy up the mess they made.  When that is accomplished, they have a nice snack in bed and then everyone cuddles up and dozes as the bed sails off.

Paul keeps a wonderful balance between imaginary play and reality in this title.  At all times, the ship which is the bed is surrounded by water, until the children have finally given up their pirate roles and become children again.  Additionally, the parents respond with great delight to their young pirates and the attack.  The battle is merrily fought, the capture and punishment is doled out in character, and the snack and cuddles conclude.  What a great way to spend a lazy morning together!

Paul’s art is bright and friendly.  She revels in the play along with the family, enjoying the different angles that the bed can be viewed in throughout.  Done in watercolor and colored pencil, the art has a great clarity of line and depth of color.

This is one pirate bed that is definitely worth sailing on.  Children will revel in the story though parents should be braced for a morning invasion after reading it.  Parents should also be open to snacks in bed, crumbs and all.  But who could resist if it ends with cuddles and a snooze?  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.