Tag: Reading

This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier

This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier

This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier (InfoSoup)

Duck discovers a book that doesn’t have any pictures in it. He takes a look at it but kicks it away. When his friend Bug asks if he can read it, Ducks starts to try. But words can be difficult to read. He does see some words that he knows and keeps on trying. Soon Duck is finding that words can take him special places, on wild adventures or into quiet calmness. Words can be funny or sad. And words return you home again in the end, where they stay with you. Even in a book with no pictures!

Ruzzier has created a picture book that proudly sends children on their way to harder reads where they won’t have pictures to ease the way. The way that Duck deals with it, first to be frustrated and then to work hard at it speaks volumes about the way that children work to learn to read better and better. There is also a strong and soaring message about the power of words themselves and how they can convey emotions and meaning.

The book design here is wonderful. The end pages are filled with words that are just jumbled enough to be confusing, but if readers work like Duck did, they can puzzle their way into making sense of them. Ruzzier’s illustrations are always a bit wacky with strange landscapes and bright colors. The settings match what Duck is reading, showing through pictures what the words are conveying.

An inspirational book that will encourage reading, this book certainly IS a picture book that belongs in all libraries. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

 

Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander

Surfs Up by Kwame Alexander

Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (InfoSoup)

Dude comes to the window to let Bro know “Surf’s up!” But Bro is busy reading his book. Dude is shocked that Bro would prefer reading to heading to the beach. Bro comes along, still reading his book as they walk along. As they walk, he tells Dude about Moby Dick’s story and then reacts with gasps and amazement as the story continues. Bro finishes the book as they reach the beach and suddenly it is Dude who wants to read more than he wants to surf.

Told in a merry back and forth between the two frogs, this picture book is entirely in dialogue. The dialogue is wonderfully effortless, reading just like any two real people shooting the breeze, lightly teasing one another, and then enjoying the drama of a tale well told. There is a breeziness and hipness to the book as well that will appeal to modern children looking for a cool read.

Miyares’ illustrations are double-spread and cover the entire page. The world he creates wraps around the reader, much the way the story of Moby Dick encompasses both of the frogs. The drama of the story is told in a deep blue and gray palette while the frogs’ world is lighter. When both frogs are caught up in the whale tale together, that story entirely takes over the page and the frogs become characters in the book.

A dynamite and fresh book to show that everyone can get into a good book, even when the surf’s up. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer

Ducks Vacation by Gilad Soffer

Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer (InfoSoup)

Duck is out on the beach having a relaxing vacation when suddenly, you arrive. And you turn the page! Duck is frustrated because he is on vacation and doesn’t want any kind of bother to happen. And you keep turning pages! As the pages turn, some bad things do start to happen from a bird pooping on Duck’s head to a crab pinching his toes. Then people start to arrive and the beach gets very crowded. It starts to rain and Duck says that it can’t get worse, but it certainly can. There could be snow! Or maybe pirates! Are you willing to stop turning the pages and not find out what happens next?

Originally published in Hebrew, this is a book that will have young readers and listeners giggling as the pages are turned. Duck is such a grumpy thing from the moment the first page is turned. Of course this is a trope used in one of my favorite childhood books, The Monster at the End of This Book. The reaction of characters to a reader turning pages really works well. The reader controls the pace of the reaction, and can delight in causing things to happen in a static book. It is also a set up that works really well read aloud.

Soffer’s illustrations play up the humor to top effect. The crowds of people who swarm the beach almost obscure Duck, the snow turns his bill blue, and the pirates, well he’s not cold anymore! Duck also has a range of emotions that he can display thanks to his expressive eyebrows that are sure to be in some sort of grimace.

Funny and a great choice to share with a preschool group. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel and Friends.

Review: Look! by Jeff Mack

Look by Jeff Mack

Look! by Jeff Mack (InfoSoup)

A little boy won’t look away from the TV even with a very active gorilla in the room. The gorilla tries wearing books as a hat and then starts balancing them on his nose. The little boy just pushes him to the side. The gorilla ties to balance on three books set end to end, managing to knock the TV over. The boy kicks him out of the room. But the gorilla returns juggling books and riding a tricycle. When he falls over, the TV is broken and smoking on the floor. The boy is furious and kicks the gorilla out. But then a book captures his attention and soon the two are looking at stories together.

Told in just two words, Mack masterfully takes those two words and makes them work in a variety of ways. “Look” and “out” pair up over and over again, creating moments where the gorilla is demanding the boy look, times when the boy throws the gorilla out the door, and other times when disaster is about to happen. It’s a clever use of just the pair of words and the concept really works well.

The art is particularly interesting. The gorilla is a puff of watercolor where his fur is almost touchable on the page. The backgrounds of some of the pages are book covers, used both subtly and to strong effect. The page where the boy is truly angry is filled with ripped paper and jagged edges.

A celebration of books and words, this simple picture book will have new readers and young listeners alike enjoying the interplay of the two characters. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Philomel Books.

Review: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

fish in a tree

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

The author of One for the Murphys returns with a brilliant second novel. Ally hates school. She’d much rather spend her days drawing the vivid pictures in her head. Homework is almost impossible for her, since she has such trouble reading. To cover up her problems, she uses her disruptions and gets sent to the principal’s office often. When Ally gets a new teacher though, things start to change. Mr. Daniels can see who she is under the reading and writing problems, offering her compliments about the way she thinks and the way she draws. As Ally gets more confident, she just might be brave enough to ask for the help she needs rather than hiding and trying to be invisible.

Hunt writes with a light touch, never negating the powerful feelings that Ally is wrestling with and how serious her issues are. Yet it is that soft touch that allows the book to be so effective in its approach to dyslexia and the variations in the ways different brains think. Throughout the book, there is hope and readers will yearn to have Ally recognized as the bright and funny person they now her to be. Hunt also incorporates a bully who is intelligently drawn with just a glimpse as to why she is that way and who is just cruel and mean enough to be realistic.

Ally is a wonderful protagonist. She doesn’t hide her difficulties from herself at all, but works so hard to hide them from everyone else in her life, something she can achieve because she is so bright. Throughout Ally is immensely likable, someone who would make a tremendous friend. I love that she does not become this as the novel moves on, but she is already there, just waiting for others to discover her behind the barriers she puts up. The two characters who become her close friends are also strongly written and unique voices too, adding depth and diversity to the story.

An incredibly strong novel, this one belongs in every library and will be inspiring to students and teachers alike. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Voyage by Billy Collins

voyage

Voyage by Billy Collins, illustrated by Karen Romagna

The former US Poet Laureate wrote this poem in honor of John Cole who is the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.  The poem celebrates reading and books, and the voyage of discovery that writing and words can take us on.  In the book, a young boy gets on a boat and travels across the open sea.  When he can no longer see land, the boat turns into a book which he starts to read.  When he finishes the book, he becomes the book.  The moon looks down as the boy returns to shore with his boat and his book.

Collins offers children a book that truly introduces them to poetry.  This is a book that asks children to stretch and understand that there is more to the story than is right on the page in the words.  The poem is about reading, about journeys, about wonder and the way that books can inspire and change us.  That is not there on the page, and yet it is there if you look for it.  This is a great book to introduce children to deeper poetry and how it too is dazzling.

Romagna’s illustrations take a literal look at the poem, offering images of what the words are depicting and also hinting at the depths behind them as well.  Filled with moments of whimsy with a friendly moon and a blowing cloud with a face, the illustrations are friendly and celebratory.

A poetic picture book that will make a great gift for book lovers, those who enjoy Billy Collins, and children who are ready for their own voyage into poetry.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak

book with no pictures

The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak

No pictures?  In a picture book?  Is it still a picture book?  Is it still for preschoolers?  The answer is a resounding yes!  And even better, this is a book filled with words and no images that preschoolers will delight in.  First, the audience is told that the rule with reading a book aloud is that the reader has to say everything that is on the page, whether they like it or not.  Even if the words are nonsense, even if they have to be sung, even if they insult themselves.  Completely silly, this picture book is filled with funny things the reader has to say aloud and then clever asides about what the reader is thinking to themselves.

Novak understands child humor wonderfully.  Reading this book to a group of preschoolers will be a delight, particularly when they realize that the author has you under their control.  Play up your dismay at having to be silly and you will have the children rolling with laughter.  Novak walks the line perfectly here, never taking the joke too far into being mean, but keeping it just naughty enough to intrigue youngsters to listen closely. 

This is one of those picture books that you save to end a story time, since it is guaranteed to keep the attention of the entire group of children.  It’s a winner!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.