Review: Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe (9781481480390)

Pokko’s quiet frog parents had made a big mistake giving her the drum. When they tried to discuss it together, they couldn’t hear themselves. So Pokko’s father sends her outside with the drum, asking her to play quietly and not draw attention from anyone. So Pokko heads out quietly. The forest is very quiet, too quiet. So Pokko starts to play her drum. Another animal joins in and follows Pokko. More animals join until they have a parade of music. Back home, it’s lunch time. Pokko’s father listens for her and faintly hears music that is coming closer. He’s about to discover that Pokko can really play that drum!

Forsythe has created a book that is a complete delight. While telling the story of the rather loud and very brave Pokko, he also gives readers moments where the story pauses. These are moments like seeing other gifts Pokko’s parents have given her, like the slingshot and the llama. Forsythe isolates these moments giving them entire pages and time to have real impact. The same happens when Pokko must confront the fox who is eating others in the band. The overall storytelling is just as strong, offering a folktale feel with a modern twist.

The illustrations are done in watercolor, gouache and colored pencil. They have a gorgeous sunlit quality to them that is saturated and rich. They use patterns and colors to great effect as well.

Unique and lovely, this is one to beat the drum for! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.

Review: Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault

Albert's Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault

Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault (9781101917626)

In this second book in the Mile End Kids series, Albert is looking for a quiet place to read. His house is way too noisy, so he heads to the alley behind his house. There he notices a painting of the sea at sunset and imagines he is reading on a quiet beach. But the alley starts to get busier as he sits there. Some children are working on potting a plant. Others begin a badminton game. Another girl asks Albert to watch her doll while she gets her cat. Someone else plays music and kids start to dance. It gets too be way too much for Albert, who slams his book shut and yells at the kids to be quiet. The others sneak away and quietly bring out their own books, finally shushing Albert when he tries to apologize for his outburst.

Told only in speech bubbles in the illustrations, this story is about wanting to find a bit of solitude and quiet. The building of the noise around Albert is done well, layering on top of one another. The ending though is a pleasure and a surprise as the other children get books and read too, with the picture book ending with laughter together.

Arsenault’s illustrations are wonderfully ethereal and unique. Done in a limited color palette, they have a quiet nature to them. She plays nicely with Albert’s imagination taking up double-page spreads and showing all of the children on the beach together. The cacophony takes over the pages, a brilliant show of noise and activity on the page.

Just right for quiet and loud kids alike. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Random House Books for Young Readers.

 

Review: This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill

This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill

This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill (9780525553458)

A little boy is so excited to be headed to the beach with his father! He even made breakfast, packed and got dressed before his father woke up. On the way to the beach, he keeps up an excited chatter. But once they get there, the beach is crowded and loud. They set up their umbrella and towel a little apart from the crowd, but it’s still too sandy and hot. The boy wants to go home, right now! But his patient father helps him breathe and count. They set up a quiet fort and take some time. Soon everyone is ready to build sandcastles and have some ice cream together.

Cotterill looks at sensory overload in this picture book in the new Little Senses series. Children on the autism spectrum or highly sensitive children will recognize their response to new situations that are loud and crowded here. It is dealt with using sensitivity and exercises that are soothing and give back some control to the child. The tone here is reassuring that children can do it, with a little help.

The illustrations are bright and friendly. On the title page, readers will notice that the family has been planning and working up to going to the beach for awhile by using a chart. The noises of the beach are shown as overwhelming and loud, the chatter in the car forms the hills along the way, and the eventual shared noise making is smaller and more enjoyable. It’s a clever way to use words to create the environment around the characters and show the impact of noise.

A welcome subject for all libraries, this one is also a good read. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

3 New Noisy Picture Books

Blacksmith_s Song by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

Blacksmith’s Song by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, illustrated by Anna Rich (9781561455805)

Told in first person, this picture book shows how communication worked for the Underground Railroad. The boy’s father is a slave on a plantation, working as the blacksmith. He uses the rhythm of the forge to send messages that carry to those waiting to escape. The boy wonders when it will be their turn to escape to freedom. But day by day, his father is growing weaker and more ill. Soon he may not be able to even send the messages from his hammer. When it is finally their turn to leave, it is the boy who takes up the hammer, sending his first message and his father’s last as they head to freedom.

Rich with language, this picture book takes the words of the forge and let them shine. Throughout smoke, sparks and the hammer’s rhythm form a steady beat that the book uses very successfully. The added tension of the father’s illness brings even more pressure for the family to escape in time. While slavery is painted with a gentler brush here for younger audiences, the feeling of oppression is strong and the need to escape is clear. The illustrations are deep and dark, lit by the light of the forge and showing that dark unknowns are safer than slavery. A look at the Underground Railroad that is appropriate for young listeners aged 5-7. (Reviewed from ARC provided by Peachtree Publishers.)

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Eric Comstock (9781481480048)

When the words in Noah Webster’s dictionary get bored just sitting around, they escape and create plenty of word fun in this picture book. They form a word parade made of works like “clang” and “boom” and “crash.” There are short words and long words, action verbs pick up the pace. Homophones, contractions, antonyms and palindromes fill the pages too. Rhyming words and words with no rhymes as well as interjections and conjunctions make merry. There is plenty to enjoy here, including witty humor and a rip-roaring pace. Children won’t even realize they are learning concepts as each of the letters has a personality that suits the word they are in. Jazzy and delightful, this picture book is a celebration of our language. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Rumble Grumble...Hush by Kate Banks

Rumble Grumble…Hush by Kate Banks, illustrated by Simone Shin (9781101940495)

The day starts with a few small noises until the little boy starts to play loudly with his imaginary friends. There is roaring, banging, rumbling and dumping. Then it’s time for a bit of quiet with breakfast and thinking until once again the rumbling and grumbling starts. More quiet comes, with a bag of quiet games, puzzles and art projects, books to read and a nap. Then noise is welcome again with balls and toys and blocks and trains. Dinner comes and goes and bedtime approaches with its own quiet. The way that noise and quiet are presented here is lovely, showing they both have places and special ways of playing that allow them to happen. Loud and quiet times are filled with play and imagination here and parental expectations are shown with lots of love and support. The illustrations are playful with friendly huge imaginary friends that fill the page, dark wood floors to sit on and play, bright walls to hang art on, and plenty of room for imaginations to fill. A warm and loving look at play and noise, this picture book is a gem. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade Books and Edelweiss.)

Review: Tiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim

Tiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim

Tiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim (InfoSoup)

The jungle was a very noisy place with all of the animals making the most noise they can. The elephants went BOOM, the rhinos went BAM-BAM, the hornbill went CAW, and the ape went HOO-HAA-HOO-HAA! But there was one animal that wasn’t noisy at all, Tapir and Little Tapir. They were very quiet, tiptoeing through the jungle silently. When Little Tapir wanted to go to the Great Puddle for her third birthday, the two tapirs moved silently to get there and then enjoyed the lovely mud. Then out of the blue, a leopard attacked the tapirs. The leopard ran after them with loud THUDDING steps while the tapirs ran silently. The tapirs were almost eaten by the leopard when a gun shot rang out. The leopard was terrified, but the kind tapirs had a solution to save them all.

Kim has woven a fable-like story around his love for tapirs. The book is a delight to read aloud from the loud noises of the other animals to the hush-hush of the tapirs and their quiet silence. It’s a wonderful contrast that is great fun to act out. Kim uses repetition and solid writing to create a traditional feel in this story. There is also a lot of humor throughout, the noises are wild, the mud cakes are fresh. The focus on kindness as the solution in the end is also a treat of its own.

The art also has a dynamic mix of traditional and modern feel. Done in watercolor, ink and marker, the illustrations are filled with organic shapes of leaves and trees. Colors range from bright washes of watercolor to the darkest black of ink. The shapes of the animals themselves are delicately done, particularly the tapirs who both hide in the jungle settings and dance on the page.

Whether you are sharing this with a loud or quiet little animal, this book is a great pick to share aloud. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Holiday House.

Review: Baby Penguins Everywhere! by Melissa Guion

baby penguins everywhere

Baby Penguins Everywhere! by Melissa Guion

There was a penguin who was all alone on the ice floes.  She liked the quiet, but sometimes it did get lonely. Then one day, she discovered a top hat floating in the water.  Once the hat was on land, out popped a little penguin.  And then another!  The big penguin was very happy and no longer lonely.  But then came another little penguin, and more, and more.  Soon there were many, many little penguins everywhere.  The big penguin was very busy and quite tired.  She knew she just needed on little thing – a moment of quiet and solitude.  But after that, she merrily joined in the fun with all of the other penguins again.

Guion frames her message about the need for quiet and solitude in a way that children will understand.  The big penguin needs a little break, just like their parents sometimes do.  The best part though, is that after that break, they are ready for more fun!  The writing here is simple, making it just right for toddlers.

It is Guion’s art that really shines here.  The delight of the first two little penguins is perfection and then the surprise of turning the page and realizing that they just keep on coming makes the book even more fun.  Guion has her little penguins in constant motion, playfully coming up with new ideas and new toys.  This is much more like a class than a family, so teachers may appreciate using this book as a way to explain their own need for some quiet time too.

A cheerful look at peace and quiet, this book is wonderfully rowdy too.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from author.

Book Review: The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice by Kristen Balouch

littlegirlbigvoice

The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice by Kristen Balouch

A little, little girl has a very loud voice.  She heads out looking for a friend to play with.  She searches the jungle, but her big voice scares the animals away.  First, an elephant run, then a snake, then a crocodile!  It’s not until she meets a very loud and very large lion and isn’t scared by his roar, that she makes a friend. 

Balouch has created a book that is bright, funny and loud.  Her text is simple and easily read aloud, loudly.  It has a rhythm that is natural and easy as well as a strong structure of repetition.  As the little girl meets each animal, there is the happy greeting and then the little girl opens her mouth.  Words in each encounter are bright colored and larger, so readers will know where the punch of sound belongs.

The illustrations are just as loud as the little girl.  Just like the cover, they are filled with hot pinks, oranges, zingy greens, and bright blues.  The noise waves, whenever the little girl talks, are depicted in circles of color emanating from her.  This adds to the color, motion and zip of the book.

A winning book about being different and finding acceptance without changing, this book is a readaloud win for any child who is loud themselves.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.