Room for Everyone by Naaz Khan

Cover image for Room for Everyone.

Room for Everyone by Naaz Khan, illustrated by Mercè López (9781534431393)

Musa and Dada take the daladala to the shore, but the bus stops for a lot of others along the way. How many people can they fit inside? First there is one old man and his bicycle. Next a herder with two little goats. Then vendors with their three baskets of fruit. And on it goes counting upwards until it gets to ten swimmers with snorkels and fins. Somehow everyone fits into the daladala and everyone gets to the beach successfully. Though it takes a lot of wiggling and giggling along the trip.

This picture book offers a glimpse of life in East Africa, filled with kindness and care for one another as people squeeze together to make sure there is room for everyone. The counting structure of the book works well, but it is the boy’s response to each person and his doubt that they will fit that adds to the humor of the book. The rhyming is well done, adding to the pace of the book and the building pressure inside the daladala.

The illustrations are full of bright, hot colors that make heat of the day apparent to the reader. There is a playfulness to the illustrations with lots of stacking, moving, shifting and wiggling to make room as each new stop is made.

Funny and full of community kindness, this is a great trip to the beach. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Atheneum.

I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun

Cover image for I Am the Subway.

I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun, translated by Deborah Smith (9781950354658)

Told from the point of view of the Seoul subway itself, this picture book takes readers deep into the city and introduces them to the various people who use the subway. With a steady ba-dum ba-dum, the subway rattles and rumbles over its tracks reaching stop after stop. At each stop a different character enters the story, from the business man running to make his train to a mother with two children who is also late to a man who repairs shoes for a living to a student so tired she is almost falling asleep. Each person offers their story, glimpses of their past and plans. As the train car fills up, the light shines in showing the beauty of each person and their journey.

This Korean import is beautifully written with a dazzling combination of simple prose that moves to a poem for each of the people entering the train. The poems are set apart from the prose, offering a full story of that person in just a few lines. The bustling urban setting is brought to a personal level as each human is highlighted and given space to shine. There is space here for transformation in each person’s life, the subway used as a huge metaphor for life and growth.

The illustrations are done in ink and watercolor. The humans are shown as more faceless at first but as they are introduced to the reader, they are shown in brighter colors in the crowd rather than the gray people around them. Each person’s story and poem are shown with the bright colors from the bluest of sea water to the bustle of the city itself.

A gorgeous celebration of Seoul and its people. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy provided by Scribble.

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal

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.

Review: My Bike by Byron Barton

My Bike by Byron Barton

My Bike by Byron Barton (InfoSoup)

Tom rides his bicycle to work each day. On the way, he passes all sorts of other vehicles like cars, buses, and trucks. As he gets closer to work, he passes lots of people. Then he passes monkeys, acrobats, tigers, lions and elephants! Once he reaches the tent where he works, he changes into his costume and puts on his makeup. He heads into the circus ring as a clown, ready to do his act. Once he’s up on the tightrope, he hops aboard another mode of transportation, a unicycle.

This jolly picture book will appeal to fans of transportation books and circuses alike. Barton has written other classic titles in this series like My Car and My Bus. The book reviews the various parts of a bicycle and then through very simple sentences and words eventually reveals Tom’s job to the readers. The book is straight forward but cleverly done so that readers will wonder what his job is all along his route to work. The final panel of him riding off in his regular clothes and a clown nose is a great farewell.

Just as with the text, the illustrations are simple too. Done in Photoshop, the art is clean and bold, the colors bright and cheery. The transformation into a clown in handled well and Tom never turns creepy on the reader, instead keeping his friendly demeanor and appearance throughout. The final panel of him riding off in his regular clothes and a clown nose is a great farewell.

The simplicity of both the text and the illustrations make this a great pick for smaller children. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

Review: Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead

special delivery

Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Sadie knows that you can’t just put an elephant in the mailbox, instead you have to go to the post office. So she heads there to see how many stamps it will take to send the elephant to her Great-Aunt Josephine who lives alone and could use the company. It takes far too many stamps and too much money to mail the elephant, so Sadie looks for another solution and decides to fly. But elephants are heavy and the plane sputters out and crashes before they reach their destination. Sadie asks a nearby alligator to guide them down the river and then jumps aboard a train where a group of monkey bandits armed with bananas try to rob them. Sadie and elephant join them and have a great time until they tire of eating beans for every meal. Finally, they board an ice cream truck after purchasing ice cream sandwiches for the bandits and arrive at Great-Aunt Josephine’s. However, she may not be as lonely as Sadie thought!

Stead has written a rich imaginative tale that takes readers on a wild journey. Sadie is undaunted by adversity, simply figuring out what to do next to get them closer to their destination. The entire book is unhindered by logic like pilot licenses and the thought of mailing an elephant.  Instead the world in this picture book is filled with an off-center zing that means each of Sadie’s original ideas are embraced by everyone. It’s a refreshing and fun approach to the story.

Cordell’s illustrations are wonderfully scribbly and loose. They capture the wild spirit of the book, the silliness and the move from one awesome idea to the next. I particularly enjoyed the illustrations of the post office and the great-aunt’s home. Both are simply people standing underneath trees that are shedding their leaves. This cheery openness and connection to nature immediately will have every reader knowing that this is an unconventional book.

A terrific picture book that offers up a cheery, silly and fun-filled journey with an elephant as a companion. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Everything Goes by Brian Biggs

everything goes in the air

Everything Goes in the Air by Brian Biggs

Brian Biggs has several new books out which is great news for youngsters who love cars, trucks and airplanes.  Everything Goes in the Air takes Henry and his family on an airplane ride.  Readers get to  visit a bustling airport, where they can search for lost babies.  From vintage airplanes to modern ones, we learn about the different parts of a place and the various types they come in.  Modern airport security is explained, then the book turns to helicopters and hot air balloons.  Just before takeoff, children get to see inside the cockpit and marvel at the crowded airspace.  Then it’s up, up and away!

Biggs’ crowded pages show the hustle and hurry of an airport.  His friendly art and seek-and-find activities will keep children busy exploring the pages.  Information is given in small bits, mostly through conversations that are shown in cartoon bubbles.  This is a marvelously fun and exciting way to explore airplanes and airports.

A great pick for a plane ride, or to help prepare children for an upcoming flight, this book has such detailed illustrations that it is best shared with just one child at a time.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

everything goes 123 everything goes stop go

Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep!: A Counting Book by Brian Biggs

Everything Goes: Stop! Go!: A Book of Opposites by Brian Biggs

These two board books simplify the busy style of Biggs into books that are more appropriate for toddlers.  Here the bright colors and cartoon-style illustrations pop.  The counting book goes up to ten, each page offering a different sort of vehicle to count.  They range from RVs to busses.  The opposites book again uses vehicles to show things like dirty and clean, old and new, ending with stop and go. 

Very young children who enjoy cars, trucks and other vehicles will love these board books.  Expect the basic text to be accompanied with lots of motor sounds from the audience!  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

All items reviewed from copies received from Balzer + Bray.

Review: Don’t Squish the Sasquatch by Kent Redeker

dont squish the sasquatch

Don’t Squish the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker

This is one zany ride of a picture book.  When Sasquatch gets on the city bus, he expresses to the driver, Mr. Blobule, that he hopes it doesn’t get crowded because he doesn’t like to be squished.  Immediately, things start to look like the bus may be crowded.  There’s Miss Elephant Shark, Mr. Octo-Rhino, Miss Goat-Whale, and Miss Loch-Ness-Monster-Space Alien!  Each one bigger than the last and the bus is filling up fast!  You will have to read the book to see what happens when Sasquatch actually gets squished.

Children will enjoy the slow build-up to the actual squishing of Mr. Sasquatch.  As each weird animal combination gets larger and larger, you just know that it’s going to happen.  Then when it does, it is completely worth the wait.  The book is very funny and the timing of the humor is perfect.  Add a very neat twist at the end and you have a unique picture book that is worth sharing.

Staake’s art is modern, bright-colored and adds to the strangeness.  The different animal combinations don’t seem to phase him at all, as he merrily creates a pink elephant shark and a purple octo-rhino.  Mr. Blobule has the feel of a Muppet sitting behind his steering wheel.

This is a weird and rowdy picture book that is sure to add zest to a story time.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Subway

Subway by Christoph Niemann

Take a trip through the tunnels with two children and a father on a rainy day.  Wait for the train to come, feel the breeze and the rumble.  Take the A train to all 44 stations.  Then the F train filled with interesting people.  You can take the 1 or 2 trains depending on whether you need the express.  7 heads to Times Square and you get a wonderful view on Q.  F and G run together, then apart, and then return together again.  When the day is done, you will still want to be riding the rails underground. 

Told in happy rhyme, this book plays with rhythm and internal rhyme.  It has the pace of trains, pauses at stations, rushes forward at times.  The illustrations are done in thick lines with bright colors on black backgrounds.  They evoke a feeling of looking at signs rather than illustrations.  At the same time, they have a jaunty sense of humor that works really well.

I’d grab this one in a New York minute to use in a transportation unit or storytime.  Children from New York will immediately recognize the places, while folks from around the country will enjoy this uniquely NY title.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

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