Tag: play

My Little Fox by Rick Chrustowski

My Little Fox by Rick Chrustowski

My Little Fox by Rick Chrustowski (9781481469616, Amazon)

Mama Fox watches closely over her little fox as he heads outside for the first time. When he is scared at first, she reassures him that she will always be nearby. Little Fox discovers the wonder of water in both rain and a pond. Sunny summer days have him frolicking in the flowery meadow. In the fall, he hops into the fallen leaves. Winter snow shows his footprints. As another year begins, it’s time for him to head off on his own. Even then, his mother will be close.

Chrustowski notes in his blurb on the book jacket that he discovered a fox den in Minneapolis one day and returned regularly to try to catch a glimpse of the foxes. Finally seeing one is the inspiration for this picture book. That inspiration shows as a real reverence for these animals is clear. The book is a celebration of maternal love and also of giving youngsters the freedom to explore and discover on their own. Mama Fox doesn’t rescue Little Fox at all, rather being nearby to encourage.

The illustrations in the picture book are done watercolor and pastel pencil. They have a deep richness of color that works well with the wooded setting. Chrustowski has used the illustrations to show different words in his rhymes. The words are made of leaves, mushrooms, the sun and pond weeds. This ties the words directly to the images and adds a playful touch.

A lovely look at maternal love and childhood play. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

 

Claymates by Dev Petty

Claymates by Dev Petty

Claymates by Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge (9780316303118, Amazon)

Two balls of clay meet one another and then are formed by an artist into an owl and a wolf. The two are left alone and quickly discover that they are able to change their own shapes as they like. They rapidly change from one form to another, elephants and peanuts, things big, small, flat and sharp. As the artist returns, the two balls of clay try to remember what they had originally been shaped as but don’t quite get it right. So back they go into a wolf and an owl and then eventually into balls of clay. But they aren’t done playing yet!

The text of the book is entirely done in a dialogue between the two characters, so it is simple and easy. The result is a book done in photographs that reads much more like a comic with speech bubbles. There is a delight in the photos and the clay shapes, evoking claymation movies and the joy of childhood play with clay.

Throughout the book, there is lots of humor both in the dialogue and the shapes that the clay takes. The illustrations also incorporate the tools the artist uses to shape the clay, and the early pages of the book show an image of the set and photography equipment. The clay shapes are clever and funny, inviting readers to explore clay themselves and start to make friends through play.

A joyful look at friendship and creativity. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Secrets I Know by Kallie George

Secrets I Know by Kallie George

Secrets I Know by Kallie George, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (9781101938935, Amazon)

A little girl spends a rainy day playing in her backyard and sharing secrets with the reader. She knows lots of secrets like secrets are for whispering and whispers hide in trees. She uses the tree as an umbrella and then her umbrella as a boat for her toys. She and her puppy play in the sandbox and have a tea party there, the sunshine sweetening the tea. A friend joins her and they play dress up and then head outside to the trees once again when darkness falls and the stars come out.

George writes with a poetic simplicity here. In the little girl’s voice, she chains together the different experiences she is having, each one leading naturally to the next. It’s rather like a daisy-chain of a picture book spent outside and having a wonderful time whether on her own or with a friend.

Zakimi’s illustrations are detailed and filled with warmth. The blustery and rainy day is shown as an opportunity to play outside and have fun, not as anything that limits activities. Even darkness can’t stop the little girl from enjoying herself outdoors as stars fill the sky. The use of just one backyard as the canvas for the day shows how large imagination can be and how much fun can be had.

A simple book with lots of big ideas, this picture book shows how any day can be a special one. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade Books.

Mud Book by John Cage

Mud Book by John Cage

Mud Book: How to Make Pies and Cakes by John Cage and Lois Long (9781616895525, Amazon)

This book dates from the 1950s. Created by avant-garde composer Cage and artist Long, this book looks at mud pies as one of the first creative and maker experiences of children. The book is presented as the simplest of cookbooks. It begins with a recipe for mud pies that involves dirt, water and sunshine. There are tips on what to do if your mixture is too wet too. The book then turns to a much more complicated recipe for mud layer cake that involves pans, rocks and more. Exactly what any youngster needs to design their own pies and cakes into masterpieces.

This book shows the joy of playing in the mud and dirt. The illustrations by Long are filled with dabs and dribbles of muddy color, looking exactly like dirt on the page. There’s a looseness to the illustrations that plays nicely against the instructions which are serious in tone and still inviting for exploration.

This is a joy of a book that is part art and part how-to manual and all fun. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan

wolfie-fly-by-cary-fagan

Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Zoe Si (9781101918203)

Renata Wolfman doesn’t have friends, she’d much rather play all alone because then you don’t need to share or compromise with others. Even her parents can’t get her to go out with them, she’d rather stay home and read her factual books about sea life. When Renata is left alone at home one day, a boy comes over. Livingston Flott, known as Fly at school, wants to hide from his older brother. Renata, called Wolfie by Fly and others at school, reluctantly lets him in, interrupting her building of a submarine out of a refrigerator box. Soon the two of them are starting to play imaginary games together, something entirely new for Wolfie. But when real water starts to pour into the windows, can they imagine their way right into the sea?

This early chapter book features a girl who loves control and facts and a boy who wants to create songs and loves to imagine. The two together are a dynamic mix, creating just the right amount of tension between them and showing how opposites can actually make the best playmates as long as ideas are shared and there’s a willingness to try new things. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the water turns out not to be entirely imaginary, something that underlines that fact that imagination and reality mix to something entirely extraordinary.

Si’s illustrations are playful and add exactly the right amount of pictures to break up the text, making this a great pick for newer readers. Her art is playful, done in black and white and shows the submarine that Wolfie made and the adventures that the two have together with a jolly merriment.

A strong pick for early chapter book collections, fans of Ivy & Bean and Bink & Gollie will find another pair of playmates worth knowing here. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NetGalley and Tundra Books.

 

A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins

a-greyhound-a-groundhog-by-emily-jenkins

A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans (InfoSoup)

Released January 3, 2017.

This is a picture book that will leave you breathless in two ways. First, it is an astounding feat of wordplay that romps and gallops. Second, if you read this aloud I guarantee you will be out of breath by the end, much to the delight of your little listeners. A long lean greyhound that is round when it curls to sleep meets a very round brown groundhog and the two of them spend time playing together. They run and dash, filling the pages with movement and speed. The book takes a lovely pause suddenly when the two spot a butterfly and then more butterflies. And it ends with the two exhausted friends dozing side-by-side. Be ready to read it again and again, if you can do it!

Jenkins takes wordplay on a wild ride in this picture book that is pure mad joy. Readers not caught up in the swirl of words will notice that they all make sense, the wordplay is not at the expense of the story, rather it builds it and allows the play to happen. It is a wonder of rhythm and rhyme. The pacing is very well done from the blazing pace of the playing together to the delicious stop for the wonder of butterflies to the dozy ending. It is masterfully built and executed.

Appelhans’ illustrations are buoyant and bounding. He uses watercolor to create the two characters who whirl across the page, jumping and leaping, dashing and darting, the two becoming one joyous act of play together. Appearing on a white background, it the characters who shine on the page, simple and sunny.

A truly breathless read aloud, this picture book will be a wonderful addition to any story time. Save it for the end! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Schwartz & Wade.

Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe

Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe

Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe, illustrated by Jessica Warrick (InfoSoup)

Darcy’s day is ruined when her best friend gets sick and has to cancel their playdate. Her father suggests that they do a Darcy-Daddy Day instead, where they pick alternating things from their to-do lists until both lists are done. They start with coffee time, or chocolate milk time for Darcy. Then comes dress up where Daddy gets super fancy in a tutu and flannel shirt. Next the lawn gets mowed in a glamorous way. Hair Salon comes next until both Darcy and Daddy are fabulous. Laundry is a sock battle and then a quest to match each sock. The day ends with repairing the fence, something new for Darcy to try, and a manicure for the both.

An ideal father and daughter book that shows how open minds and playfulness can save a day from disaster. Parents will recognize their chores as the day goes on and then their aches and pains after playing too hard. Children will love seeing a dad get into imaginative play, wearing both a tutu and a headband with no care at all. There is a real sweetness to this book that captures the adoration between a father and daughter and one special day they shared together.

Warrick nicely captures the play as the two of them have their day together. Princess dresses and tutus get grass stained and hammers nicely fit into red purses too. The lawnmower takes on royal status with its umbrella and garlands too. Each little flourish is used to great effect and the interplay between the two characters is radiant.

A testament to the power of positive parenting, this picture book will be loved by fathers and daughters alike. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.