Dinosong by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Richard Smythe (9781534430020)
A little ankylosaur is heading down a steep slope, other dinosaurs walk and fly near him. After tripping on a rock, he rolls downhill clanking and clacking, crinkle crackle, finally landing with a clunk. Soon he meets two other dinosaurs, seeking shelter from the rumbling thunderstorm and the smoky volcanoes. After lightning hits a nearby stone formation, the volcano starts to spill lava. The three dinosaurs run to shelter in a cave where they find fresh water to drink. Then they glimpse light on the other side and emerge to find a safer and quieter landscape full of other dinosaurs.
Told in rhyming words, this simple picture book uses those words to create a merry prehistoric soundscape. There is the sound of the tromping dinosaurs, the storm, the volcano, and the quiet of the cave. The pace is brisk and the tale has plenty of action to keep things moving ahead. People looking for a great read-aloud dinosaur book should look no farther, they don’t even have to try to pronounce dinosaur names!
Smythe’s illustrations are filled with jewel-colored dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are friendly and funny, whether happily joining together on an adventure or wildly rolling or dashing across the scenes. The scenes move nicely from pastel humor to dangerous orange to the deep black of the cave.
A winning dinosaur read aloud sure to please the youngest dinosaur fans. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
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.
Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol (InfoSoup)
A grandmother is all set to start knitting for her very big family, but they just keep on interrupting her. The children love to play with her balls of yarn and she can’t seem to find a quiet place to work. So she packs up her knitting things and heads out the door, shouting “Leave me alone!” She finds a quiet place in the woods to knit, but soon she catches the interest of some hungry bears. She again has to pack up and leave, shouting “Leave me alone!” It doesn’t get any better when she climbs a mountain and finds a cave to work in. The mountain goats find her yarn delicious and even eat her scarf too. So the grandmother climbs up the mountain and onto the moon. Even there, the aliens won’t leave her alone. Where can one grumpy grandma go to knit? You will be surprised by the answer!
I applaud a picture book willing to take something that has a traditional folklore theme hearkening back to The Old Woman in the Shoe and then twists it into a modern and wild picture book that you never ever realized was even headed your way. It’s an impressive shift that happens in the story, leading back ultimately to an ended that restores the folkloric tradition but along the way takes it in a scientific and funny direction. Children will love the twist, adults will enjoy the surprise making this a great book to share aloud.
Brosgol’s illustrations are a hoot. With every new area that the grandmother attempts to quietly knit in, it seems like the perfect choice at first. Then slowly and with great pacing, the interruptions appear and then devolve into wild abandon. There are very clever moments in the illustrations: a goat perched on the mountain of yarn, the hungry bear who doesn’t scare the grandmother a whit, and the goat that wanders up to the moon too.
An outstanding read aloud with a very surprising twist, this picture book is a great example of mixing folklore and science. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Oh No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
A virtuoso picture book by two masters, this is bound to be a new favorite for toddler and preschool story times. The story begins with Frog falling into a deep hole. Oh no! Mouse came along and tried reaching down but she fell in too. Oh no! Loris slowly came down from her tree to help, but an allergy made her sneeze and you guessed it, she fell in too. Oh no! Sun Bear tried to help, Monkey swung by and fell in, and then Tiger reveals himself fully above. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed him lurking from the very end papers right on through. He’s ready to pounce on this hole full of juicy animals. But wait! There’s one more animal headed for the hole! Oh yes!
Fleming has written such a simple and yet jaunty text here. It reads aloud so well, so vividly that there is no other way to read this book. The text doesn’t rhyme, instead it is filled with so much repetition and rhythm. There is the chorus of “Oh no!” that meets each animal as they tumble into the hole. But there are also words that repeat as each animal is introduced.
Rohmann did the illustrations as relief prints. They have bold lines, lithe animals, and lots of action. They also have that wonderful texture of prints that make them such a great choice for children’s books. The illustrations lift this book even higher.
Get your hands on this for your programs. I guarantee it will be part of your regular story rotation. It’s also a great pick for children’s reader theater. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.