Tag: siblings

It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el

It's Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el

It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by Gina Perry (9781770496057, Amazon)

One by one, mythical creatures appear and tell the reader how great a life they have. The unicorn loves prancing and their gorgeous horn, but the horn does make it very difficult to eat, particularly if you get a table stuck on it. Bigfoot has a great time being strong and helping his friends, but his big feet can be a problem. The robot loves his flashing lights and memory, but rain is an issue. Then there is the Loch Ness Monster and the “fairy queen ballerina doctor” who help the others. But there are always problems like the sneaky flying alligator pirate. Who can help all of these mythical beasts? Dad, that’s who.

This book embraces the idea of creative and imaginative play completely as the children first introduce themselves as the characters they are pretending to be. Steadily though, the illusion breaks a bit as each new character is introduced and their personas get more complicated. Bar-el does a lovely job of allowing the fantasy to fracture steadily and then break altogether as Dad enters the picture.

Perry has created first a lovely fantasy world with rainbow colors, deep forests, lochs and castles. She then goes on to morph that into a multicultural family filled with children of all ages who are trying to play near one another if not together. The connection between fantasy and reality is strong in the illustrations and children will love seeing the ties.

A warm look at imaginative play and great parenting, this picture book is a celebration of dads. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes (9781452131535, Amazon)

Based on Snyder’s own two sons, this early chapter book is a real delight. It perfectly captures the relationship of siblings who enjoy spending time together. The four stories in the book are alluringly short and yet immensely satisfying. The book begins with Charlie waking up to a lump next to him, a lump that isn’t ready to get up yet. The second story has the two boys deciding that it’s the day of a neighborhood party and gathering their parents and friends. In the third story, the brothers try to sell rocks for money and find that people would rather pay them to take rocks away. The final story brings the book full circle with the brothers getting ready for bed and the sleepy lump reappearing.

Snyder writes with a refreshing frankness about the children, depicting them playing without fighting and enjoying their time together. Still, these are real children who have silly ideas, strong personalities and a zany sense of humor. The two boys are wonderfully distinct from one another despite the shortness of the chapters.

Hughes is one of my favorite illustrators of children, showing them in all of their playful wildness. These two brothers are the same, their messy hair, interesting wardrobe choices, and outdoor play adding to the feel that these are real children. The illustrations also give a feeling of the neighborhood and community that the children are growing up in, a friendly feel with small town aspects.

We don’t see nearly enough stories about children who love spending time with their siblings. This book celebrates that as well as the silliness of childhood. Children will look forward to the next adventures of these brothers. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy, illustrated by Molly Idle (9780385390866, Amazon)

Poppy is not scared of anything at all. She likes spiders and snakes; she has monsters as imaginary friends; she loves the dark and scary stories. Her sister Petunia is seen as the more careful one. When Poppy is asked what kind of pet she’d like she thinks of tarantulas, sharks, or bears! Petunia tries to scare Poppy, but nothing seems to work. Sometimes, Petunia finds Poppy’s bravery handy like when she needs something out of the basement. Then one day, Poppy suddenly discovers that there are things that make her scared and she needs Petunia’s help to overcome it.

McCarthy’s writing is light and playful. She has created two very different siblings who manage to support one another even though they tease each other too. It’s a natural sibling dynamic that is neither overly sweet or too cantankerous. The story has plenty of action and moves ahead swiftly as Poppy’s bravery is shown again and again, though she has friends and family who also help keep her safe.

Caldecott Honor winner, Idle has illustrated this in her signature style. There is a lovely merriment in the illustrations. I particularly enjoy the boredom of Poppy on the children’s roller coaster as others are cheering, frightened or ill. It captures the entire book quite nicely.

A jolly picture book about bravery, sensibility and personal limits, this picture book is great fun. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers.

When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost

When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost

When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost (9780374303037, Amazon)

Sisters Claire and Abi have been going to their family’s lake house since they were born. After their mother died, her things were kept just the way she had left them at the lake house: her chair at the window, books on the shelves and a painting on the easel. Now everything is different. Their father has married Pam and their mother’s things have been moved from the house. Pam is pregnant and the baby should come during their time at the lake. Claire discovers that Abi is changing too. Abi is interested in boys and starts to sneak off to meet them, involving Claire in her lies. Claire finds herself alone on the lake often, trying to figure out what all of this change means for her family.

Frost is a master of the verse novel, and this book is a great example of her skill and heart. She plays with formats for her poetry, using different types of poems and different structures for the various voices. The book is told not only by Claire and Abi but by the lake itself, and those poems are my favorites. They have embedded sentences using the bolded letters either at the beginning or ends of the poetic lines. It turns reading them into a puzzle that leads to discovery, rather like Claire’s summer.

The two sisters are dynamic characters. Abi’s interest in boys is seen as natural and normal, and so is her pushing the boundaries. Organic progression is made in Claire’s relationship with Pam, positivity slowly moving in to replace the wariness. Claire is a girl who is brave and wonderfully written. She has fears but overcomes them and never stops trying.

A beautiful verse novel that captures summer days on a lake and a family becoming stronger. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton

harry-and-clares-amazing-staycation-by-ted-staunton

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton, illustrated by Mika Song

Released February 7, 2017.

Brother and sister, Harry and Clare, aren’t going anywhere for their spring break plus it’s raining. But they manage to visit exotic locales anyway, using their imaginations. Their living room turns into the volcanic surface of Mars. The next day they raced cars in the grocery store. The third day, they went to the local pool and Harry was forced to walk the plank. In fact, every day Clare decided on the game and then managed to eat Harry’s snack along with her own. As the week went by though, Harry started to plan a way to keep the snacks for himself and decide on the game.

The dynamics between these two siblings are wonderfully honest and accurate. The older sister who knows all and manages to be tricky too. The younger brother who loves the games that he plays with his sister at first and then slowly realizes that he wants some decision-making power too. The two children are the only real characters in the book with parents along the periphery but nothing more. Harry himself figures out the way to get his sister’s attention through food and then how to insert his own point of view into their play. It’s done gently and intelligently without drama.

Song’s illustrations embrace the imaginative play of the children, showing how a playground transforms into a jungle and a couch becomes the way to the volcano. The pictures have a playful lightness. The hair of the children is wonderfully wild, exactly the way that children’s hair really looks, particularly while on school break.

Perfect for your next staycation or any time that children are spending time at home, this picture book is exactly the snack kids will want. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

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

 

 

Paul and Antoinette by Kerascoët

paul-and-antoinette-by-kerascoet

Paul and Antoinette by Kerascoët (InfoSoup)

Paul and Antoinette may be brother and sister, but they don’t enjoy doing the same things. Sometimes that works out perfectly, like after breakfast when Paul neatens up and Antoinette licks the knives and plates clean as she clears the table. Antoinette wants to spend the day outside in the mud but Paul has other plans, like working on his model ship. When Antoinette sees her chance, she drags him outside with her, even though she knows that Paul doesn’t like the outdoors that much. The two play just as differently outside with Paul picking flowers for Japanese flower arranging and Antoinette licking snails. When they return home, Paul has to clean up and Antoinette is covered in mud. At the very end of the day though, Antoinette makes the type of mess that even Paul can enjoy.

Kerascoët is from France and is a well-known and award-winning illustrator. This picture book has a distinct European vibe that is completely charming. The two siblings demonstrate that being different from one another works when you accept that you won’t be changing each other. While they don’t always get along, the two respect one another and play together for most of the day. This isn’t about sibling rivalry at all; it’s about sharing, loving and accepting one another.

Kerascoët’s art is warm and delightful. There is a sense of humor throughout as the two pigs show just how clean one can stay outside and just how dirty you can get in the same trip. The moment where Antoinette licks the snail is wonderful and squidgy, vividly depicted on the page. When she plays with a cobweb beard that she puts on her brother, it is wonderfully sticky and itchy.

A book sure to create laughter, gasps and delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Bossier Baby by Marla Frazee

the-bossier-baby-by-marla-frazee

The Bossier Baby by Marla Frazee (InfoSoup)

Caldecott Honor winner, Frazee has returned with a sequel to Boss Baby. Unfortunately for Boss Baby, things in his corporation have started to change. His staff isn’t treating him the same way and suddenly there is a new CEO! She first restructures the organization, and then does the seemingly impossible: she’s even bossier than her big brother. She manages to get better perks than he ever got too. Boss Baby has had enough and starts to display outrageous behavior and then he just gave up. But luckily, his new CEO knows exactly how to handle a crisis like this.

All of the wonderful mix of babyhood and the corporate mix of the first book returns in the second. It’s a winning combination where corporate take over feels exactly the same as a new baby in the house. While the first book had a lot of parental perspective, this second one is all about the older siblings and his feelings of displacement. Told with plenty of humor, the book is hilarious and oh so true.

Frazee’s illustrations are exceptional, of course. They have a wonderful mix of page designs from montages of images to full double-page spreads. Each has a specific perspective that heightens the emotional feel of the story as well. Just look at the long shadow thrown by the new CEO, or the disruptive behavior which is sure to get children giggling.

A delight of a sequel, this book is ideal for children who have been the Big Boss in their family but are now dealing with their own takeover. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.