Fix That Clock by Kurt Cyrus (9781328904089)
Full of rhythm and rhyme, this picture book takes a broken down clock and rebuilds it. The clock is teetering and old, with the structure and the clock no longer functional. The only things that live in it are the wild animals who have moved in. So three builders arrive to change all of that. Floor-by-floor, they transform the zigzag of crooked walls into straight new boards and squares. The clock too gets reworked and soon the tower is straight and working once again. But what will happen to the little creatures who lived there?
This book was made to share aloud. It has such a jolly rhythm to it, with hammers banging, boots tramping, and the clock bonging. Still, Cyrus takes the time to tell a full story here, giving quieter moments where the reader gets to more fully understand the structure itself and the creatures who live there. It’s that contrast that really makes the book work as a read aloud, giving it a heart beyond the rhythm and rhyme.
Cyrus’ art is great, the old wood grayed and weathered by time contrasts with the fresh gold of the new wood. One can almost smell the sawdust as you turn the pages. The three builders are diverse as far as race and gender, which is very welcome to see. The use of interesting perspectives adds to the appeal visually.
A great choice for reading aloud for any units on construction or clocks. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex (9781452154435, Amazon)
All of the other fruit are having great fun creating rhymes for themselves. But Orange knows that nothing rhymes with him, so he can’t join in. He does ask if he can participate, but no one has time to answer him. Meanwhile the rhymes that the other fruit are using get forced and the kinds of fruit get more unusual. Soon other fruit that don’t have rhymes either are included and only Orange is left out. Luckily though, Apple has noticed and creates a rhyme just for Orange!
Rex has immense joyous fun creating the weirdest rhymes for fruits in this book. Readers will agree with Orange’s take as the book gets odder and odder as it continues. Adults will laugh aloud with surprise with even Nietzsche makes an appearance just to force a rhyme with lychee. The dynamic energy of the book makes it great to read aloud and will have everyone laughing along and hoping that Orange gets to play too.
The illustrations combine grocery-bag brown paper with photographs of different fruit. The fruit also have faces with big expressions and lanky limbs that make them friendly. Orange in particular is very emotive as all sorts of emotions are felt by him during the course of the book.
A great read aloud and a hilarious book, this one will have everyone rhyming! Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
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.
On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bon Marstall (InfoSoup)
A child goes walking on Bird Hill with their dog, along a shoreline and down paths. On Bird Hill there is a tree that shines with both dark and light. On the trunk is a limb with a twig. On that twig is a nest with a bird on it. Under the bird is an egg and then the chick begins to hatch. The chick hatches and stretches and looks down from the tree, sees everything around him, even the child walking away.
This is the first picture book by Yolen for a new series with Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It plays with the traditional cumulative nursery rhyme style, creating a story that builds and builds. The language is simple while the concept is complicated. It’s a story that insists upon the reader looking closely and seeing beyond the basics to what lies underneath. The book is also circular and spiraling, showing the interplay between humans and nature as one and the same. There is a real playfulness about it and also a deep seriousness that provides a dynamic tension in the book.
The illustrations are wild and whimsical. The world is similar to ours but also so different, filled with green grass, circular ponds, unique trees and interesting birds. They have an almost folksy quality to them that merges with modernism too. They depict nature’s connection to our own lives, particularly in the scene where the shell the chick has hatched from shows the house the child lives in.
A master author has created a poem that dances and lifts which is accompanied by illustrations that surprise and delight. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Jess Golden (InfoSoup)
This picture book puts an Eastern Indian twist on The Wheels on the Bus rhyme. Here it’s the tuk tuk taxi’s wheels that go round and round instead. The picture book captures the hustle and bustle of a city in India with people getting on and off the tuk tuk, rupees going ching ching as payments are made, and people having to squish in together.The tuk tuk stops for cows in the road and also for a drink of chai for the driver. There are spraying elephants and then the trip ends with Diwali fireworks in the sky. It’s a merry and dynamic ride that pays homage to the original while being uniquely its own story.
It is the energy of this book that makes it so much fun. The setting is captured in small moments that make sure that readers know that they are somewhere specific and exceptional. The rhyme retains its dynamic pace with the tuk tuk filling with passengers of all ages as the book moves along the streets of India.
The illustrations in the book are bright and cheery. They show busy streets with monkeys, cows, goats and more. Good food appears like steaming chai and poppadoms and then is happily shared with one another.
A superb look at another culture through a familiar preschool rhyme, this picture book invites readers along for a ride of a different sort. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan (InfoSoup)
The pig in a wig comes first in this story where she is quickly floating in a boat on the moat. But then it all starts to get even more silly as a frog, a dog and a goat on a log join her in the boat. A rat and an elephant come next and it gets even more crowded, then a skunk and house! It’s completely full when a mouse and a panda join the floating group. But the pig has had enough and orders everyone to leave. They swim to shore, but then it’s all a bit too quiet for the pig who figures out exactly what they need to stay together.
This very simple rhyming book takes a classic story line of wildly silly building up of creatures in a limited space. The rhymes are silly themselves, often forced in a way that adds to the humor. The entire menagerie of animals have no rhyme or reason them other than rhyming and sometimes not even that. It’s a very silly story and one that is sure to appeal to new readers.
The illustrations are done with simple lines and colors. Looking almost like a coloring book, the illustrations add to the simplicity and the innate appeal of the book.
An early reader that has enough silliness in it to appeal to new readers. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.
Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
Duck has lost his new blue socks. He searches in his box, but they aren’t there. He asks his friend Fox who hasn’t seen them either. Perhaps Ox knows where his socks are? Ox remembers seeing some socks down by the rocks. But those socks are purple, not blue socks, and they aren’t new either. Finally, Duck asks a group of peacocks about his socks. And they do know where his socks are! It turns out they are in a most surprising place!
Bunting has written a picture book in rhyme that dances along to a jaunty beat. The rhymes are merrily done, done in a humorous way. She makes it all look so easy and effortless, but rhyming picture books are some of the most difficult to do well. Kudos to Bunting for maintaining the joy in simple rhymes. Her words read aloud well and are also simple enough for beginning readers to tackle.
Ruzzier’s illustrations are the key to young readers spotting the blue socks which are slowly revealed as the book progresses. Expect eagle-eyed children to figure out the answer even before the adults. Ruzzier fills Duck’s world with lots of clutter from starfish to soccer balls to underwear. Done in ink and watercolor, the colors are bright and add to the surreal nature of the story itself.
Socks lost and then found, rhymes and rhythms, and a delight of a read aloud to share, this book has it all! Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.