Julia’s House Moves On by Ben Hatke

Cover image for Julia’s House Moves On

Julia’s House Moves On by Ben Hatke (9781250191373)

This sequel to Julia’s House for Lost Creatures carries readers back to the marvels of the Julia’s unusual house and the creatures she shares it with. Julia’s house was getting restless and all of the different creatures who lived there could feel it and started to act out too. Luckily, Julia had a plan for moving them, she even knew just the spot in the mountains for them. But then, the turtle whose back carried the house decided to move right then, down into the ocean. Now the house was tattered and barely afloat. Julia though had a plan filled with paddling and pushing but the house sunk faster and sharks were circling. She went to her other plan, and blew on Triton’s Horn but that didn’t work out either. With her house sinking, the creatures floated off away from Julia. All was lost. Or perhaps they had their own plan!

Written just for compulsive planners like myself, this picture book is funny and full of dynamic moments. Hatke, the creator of graphic novels like Zita the Spacegirl, is just as at home in the picture book format. His pacing is brisk, never letting poor Julia linger for long in her new spot of trouble. Julia’s plans are feats in themselves, constantly figuring out what to do, and show real resilience in dire situations.

As with all of Hatke’s art, he creates characters who are fascinating, friendly and full of life. Here he gets to delve into all sorts of strange creatures too who liven up the story. His illustrations are worth lingering over, with small touches that make Julia’s house come alive (literally).

Perhaps the perfect COVID fantasy read that shows how communities can work to save one another. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by First Second.

Review: Caterina and the Perfect Party by Erin Eitter Kono

caterina and the perfect party

Caterina and the Perfect Party by Erin Eitter Kono

Caterina is planning a party and she just knows that it is going to be perfect.  She creates the most inviting invitations, cooks the most delicious food, and hangs the best decorations she can craft.  Everything seems to be going perfectly, even with the twists thrown in by her little brother Leo.  But when the day of the party arrives, so does a great big storm.  Suddenly things are no longer perfect.  Everything is drenched, there is mud and puddles everywhere, and nothing is going as planned.  But one list does turn out to be the most important of all, her list of friends. 

This is a cheery book that avoids being too sweet thanks to the character of the little brother and the interrupting storm.  It is a book that will speak to children who enjoy having everything planned out and want things to be perfect.  But it is also one that spontaneous children will feel very comfortable reading too.  I particularly enjoyed that Caterina does all of the crafting and cooking herself.  Even better, that is not the part that goes wrong as I initially thought it might. 

Even though Caterina is a planner, she also has a spark of spontaneity to her that makes her much more relatable.  The little issues her brother creates are incorporated into her final designs without much fuss.  She also does not sulk at the end of the book about the failed plans, quickly adapting to the new party that is happening around her. 

Cheerful and warm, this book would make a great pick for reading at any celebration or crafting program.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

Review: Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt

scaredy squirrel goes camping

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is back!  This time he wants to stay far away from camping outside, much happier to watch a TV show ABOUT camping.  Unfortunately though, he needs to plug his TV in for it to work.  So he has to find an electrical outlet which means heading outside and into the campground.  As always, Scaredy plans his trip carefully.  He lists what he is scared of, packs important survival supplies, picks out a wilderness outfit to keep himself safe from things like nasty odors and bugs, and has a map of his mission timed to the minute.  But things do not go as planned, showing Scaredy that sometimes it’s not about the plan itself but the journey on which it takes you.

Watt has a wonderful comedic timing that she displays in all of her Scaredy Squirrel and Chester books.  It is all about those moments of hesitation that make the humor all the more funny.  Scaredy is a great character with his obsessive planning and worrying.  Many children will see themselves in Scaredy and also be able to see the humor as well.  As always, the illustrations are clear, clean and add to the fun.

Another great book in a strong series, this one is perfectly timed for spring and summer camp outs.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.