My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole

My Family, Your Family cover image

My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole, illustrated by Cornelia Li (9781772601336)

Told in the simplest language, this picture book explores different sorts of families in a way that even the smallest children will understand. Some families have triplets, others have older siblings and pets. Some families have two mommies and others have two daddies. Some families share children in different houses. Some families are large and multigenerational, others are just two people. Some families are blended, some children are raised by their grandparents. Some families live together, others connect from far away. But all kinds of families are still families and still full of love!

With simple sentence fragments, Cole writes in a way that is inclusive and deeply empathetic. She creates a space here for children to think of their own families, or those of their friends, and realize that any sort of family is a good one. Li takes that openness and creates gorgeous families that represent all sorts of families, some that are not called out specifically in the text. She takes care to include people of different faiths as well as people of all races, genders and ages.

Representative of many families, this is a book where children will see themselves reflected. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Second Story Press.

Mama Baby by Chris Raschka

Mama Baby by Chris Raschka

Mama Baby by Chris Raschka (9780763690601)

This very simple picture book is just right for infants and toddlers to share with their parents. It’s a story about a mother and baby who smile and then clap to each other. Eyes are then covered. Peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake games are played. But then a phone rings or alarm sounds, calling mama away. Now it is just baby on the page, looking surprised at the reader and then bursting into tears and asking to be picked up. Together again, held close, the two wave goodbye to the reader.

Told in only the barest of words, this picture book is much more about the illustrations which show a warm and loving relationship between mother and baby. The modern interruption of a musical sound happening off the page shows how the connection between mother and child stays strong. Done in watercolor, the illustrations are simple with emotions clear on the faces.

Bound to be a board book too, this is a great first picture book. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.

 

Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke

Catch That Chicken by Atinuke

Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank (9781536212686)

Lami is the best chicken catcher in her small Nigerian compound. Happily, the compound is full of all kinds of chickens and she helps out by catching them for everyone. She may not be fast at spelling like her sister or fast at braiding hair like her friend, but she is the fastest at catching chickens! But one day, Lami moves too fast to catch a chicken, ignoring everyone telling her to slow down. She chases the chicken right up a baobab tree, toppling from a branch and falling. Her ankles swells up, and now she can’t catch any chickens at all. But her Nana Nadia sits down with her and gets Lami thinking of a new way to catch chickens without the wild chase.

Atinuke is the author of the Anna Hibiscus series and several picture books set in her native Nigeria. Her skill as an oral storyteller always shines in her picture books. This one also reads aloud beautifully, building in pace to a great crescendo before the literal fall. Atinuke uses repeating phrases and sentence structures to create a warm energy throughout the book.

The illustrations will work well for sharing the book with a group. Done in mixed media, the move from long distance images of the compound to being right in the mix of the action with Lami as she dashes after chickens. These are energetic illustrations that perfectly suit the story.

Clever and fun, head on a wild chicken chase with this picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.

Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (9780062910370)

Join Mr. Gilly in his crane with a wrecking ball in this dynamic picture book. Mr. Gilly’s crane is slow moving, but it can do a lot. When he swings the wrecking ball and hits a wall, it goes “Smash! Smash! Smash!” When he hits it again it goes, “Crash! Crash! Crash!” The wall tumbles down. Is he done? No! On goes the demolition, the ball swinging, smashing and crashing. When it is finally finished, Mr. Gilly uses his bulldozer to clear up the mess he made. The new building starts going up as Mr. Gilly heads home to dinner and bed.

This is a picture book just right for toddlers who love trucks and machines. The text is jaunty and great fun to read aloud. It has plenty of rhyming repetition in the smash and crash as well as the repeating question of whether Mr. Gilly is done yet. Get the children you are reading to involved in the crash and smash with claps and stomps, and you have a great finishing book for a story time.

The art by Yaccarino is bold and simple, ensuring that this is great for reading to a crowd of children. The art has the same good humor and merriment as the text, offering a busy urban setting for demolition as well as a final view of a public library being built on the site.

Let this one crash your story time! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

Dinosong by Tim McCanna

Dinosong by Tim McCanna

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.

Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder

Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder

Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Robin Rosenthal (9781419738913)

Count up to ten with the help of a lot of dogs and one sneaky cat in this picture book. One dog is alone, but soon joins another dog on a trike. They become three dogs on a scooter, four on a bike. Then five dogs on a trolley and six on a train. Seven on a ferry and eight on a plane, then nine dogs in a hot-air balloon. Ten dogs in a UFO? Wait! Is that a cat? Soon the dogs are moving back through the vehicles, decreasing by one each time, until there are two cats on a trike.

Told very simply, this book has a wonderful fast pace that makes it great fun to share aloud. The vehicles are varied and interesting, making each page turn a surprise. The rhymes are gentle and add to the wildness of the book at just the right moments. The art is graphic and strong, the dogs silly and varied with googly eyes. Readers will see the cat right from the start, which creates a tug of anticipation through the entire first part of the book.

A great book that happens to have counting too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Appleseed.

I Can Be Anything by Shinsuke Yoshitake

I Can Be Anything by Shinsuke Yoshitake

I Can Be Anything by Shinsuke Yoshitake (9781452180380)

At bedtime, a little girl insists that her mother play a guessing game with her. She pretends to be something and her mother must guess what she is. Her mother is reluctant and it’s clear that the little girl has gotten grumpy playing this game in the past. Readers will soon realize that this is a much more difficult game than they might have thought! The mother makes logical guesses but each time is wrong as the little girl pretends to be everything from an omelette to Mount Fuji. By the end of the game, the little girl is very tired and finally falls asleep in the middle of acting something out. Readers and the mother wonder what that might have been.

Yoshitake takes a classic moment in childhood and makes it priceless. She captures both the tired mother and the dynamic child deftly in this clever picture book. The mother getting everything wrong is pitch perfect as is the little girl’s building frustration with the situation. The relationship between them is quietly loving and filled with acceptance. The art in the book is simple and effective, showing the little girl’s version of the object and then an image of the actual thing.

Just right for all children trying to avoid bedtime. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.

 

Review: Beehive by Jorey Hurley

Beehive by Jorey Hurley

Beehive by Jorey Hurley (9781481470032)

This simple picture book focuses on bees and beehives. The book follows bees that explore the area, find a hollow tree just right for a new hive, and build there. They lay eggs and then care for and feed the immature bees. They sometimes need to defend the hive from predators too. When the new generation of bees emerges, they go right to work too, continuing to care for and build up the hive.

Told in single words, the story really plays out in the illustrations which are done in Hurley’s distinctive style. Her simple text is just right for very small children learning about bees and the environment. Hurley’s author note cleverly uses the single words within the book as a structure for more information on bees as well as a comment about the recent decline in bee populations. The digital art is strong and has large shapes that will work very well with a group of preschoolers.

Buzzy and busy, this book is a glimpse into the life of bees. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Simon & Schuster.

Review: My First Busy World by Eric Carle

My First Busy World by Eric Carle

My First Busy World by Eric Carle (9781534443914)

Beloved author, Eric Carle, brings us a board book to explore and touch. The pages are filled with special cut outs, a mirror to look at yourself in, and textures. There are flaps to lift, sparkly elements, and windows to look through. The book is also filled with elements that are labeled. These are basic things like different foods, what you see outside, and what is in your bedroom. Parents can also talk about colors, the child’s own family members, and much more along the way.

Just right for the youngest of children, this board book is done in a larger format than most. The design is one that invites talking about what is on the page with little children. They are encouraged to count stars, touch different items, and explore the universe inside the book fully. Done in a robust format, the book will stand up nicely to use in a public library setting too.

An inviting book to explore. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Little Simon.