Underwear! by Jenn Harney (9781368027939)
A worn out father bear tries to get his little bear into underwear after his bath, but it’s not going to be easy! Told entirely in a rhyming dialogue between the two characters, the story is rollicking and lot of fun to read aloud. Using homonyms for plenty of humor, the little bear asks “Under where?” and then heads into a rhyming series of lines about where the underwear might actually be. When the underwear is finally located, the fun isn’t over as the little bear immediately puts it on his head as hair and also pretends to be superbear! A new change of underwear is necessary after all this fun and then a bedtime story. But even lights out can’t stop the puns.
Full of lots of laughs, particularly for preschool audiences, this picture book seems simple on the surface. Harney though has taken a single rhyme and used it throughout the entire book, weaving in puns and fun along the way. Her rhythms are dead on, her characters speak as individuals, all within a strict rhyming format. Harney’s art is bold and big on the page, making it a great story to share aloud. The expressions on both bears’ faces are funny and often priceless.
A great bedtime romp, this will also make a great closer to any story time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Disney Hyperion.
Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown (9781442402980)
Jasper returns for a second gently-scary story. In this picture book, Jasper needs some new underwear. He decides to get one pair of green creepy underwear, because he is big enough for them. When he wears them to bed, he finds out that they glow with a green light. Jasper quickly changes to plain white underwear, hiding the creepy underwear in the bottom of the hamper. Waking up the next morning, he realizes that he has the creepy underwear on! Jasper tries all sorts of things to get rid of the underwear, from mailing it to China to cutting it into bits, but the underwear keeps on coming back. What is a bunny to do? This picture book is a delightful mix of funny and scary with echoes of classic monster movies. Exactly the right pick for Halloween reading. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)
The Pomegranate Witch by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (9781452145891)
Deftly written in rhyme, this picture book features a mouthwatering pomegranate tree that is watched over by a witch. Still, the children of the town desperately want a pomegranate from the tree and are willing to go to war with the witch to get one. The children tried again and again, but the witch stopped them with water cannons and rolling walnuts. In the end though, the children got one delectable pomegranate to split among themselves. The next day, the tree was picked bare and the war was over. It was time for Halloween where a Kindly Lady gladly shared out pomegranates from her home. A lady that looks a lot like the glimpses readers get of the witch.
Doyen’s writing is spooky and rich. This is not a picture book for preschoolers, since the writing demands a longer attention span. Elementary classes would enjoy it or it could be added to a read aloud for older children on Halloween. Perhaps with pomegranate seeds to try. Appropriate for ages 5-7. (Review copy provided by Chronicle Books.)
The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea (9781484730461)
A spooky ghost lives by a frightening dark forest in this picture book. The ghost is the one who is scared, asking the reader to keep on checking on what is happening in the forest. But the forest isn’t nearly as scary as the ghost expects, which adds a zingy humor to this story. The tone of the book is deftly handled, walking a line between shivery ghost story and Halloween party for friends. It’s a book that will invite children to be just as scared as they might like, but also enjoy doughnuts and some costumes too. The art is lovely and graphic, filled with zaps of bright color emphasized by white and black. A great read aloud for slightly older children. Appropriate for ages 5-8. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera
Polar Bear has lost his underwear and he can’t remember what they looked like. It’s up to readers to turn the pages and help Mouse find Polar Bear’s underwear. Could it be the striped underwear? Nope, those are Zebra’s favorite ones. The pair covered in doughnuts and treats belongs to Pig. The little flowery pair is too small for Polar Bear but fits Butterfly perfectly. Rabbit wears carrot printed underwear…on his head! One after another, there are no Polar Bear underwear. But wait, could it be that Polar Bear had them on all along?
Sure to elicit giggles, this book uses die cuts on pages to great effect. The first page shows just the underwear and little readers will delight in turning the page and seeing who they belong to. Each one makes sense with the animal on the next page, making a book that is nicely satisfying even as it is full of humor.
The illustrations are strongly done and will project well to a room of children. With plain brown paperbag backgrounds, the collage illustrations pop on the page, whether for pink pigs or black cats. The twist at the end works very nicely with the illustrations, since readers can turn back to the very first page and notice the trick carried throughout the entire book.
Funny and delightfully clever, this Japanese picture book is sure to find a happy audience in the United States. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman
Released April 7, 2015.
All different sorts of vegetables demonstrate the joys of wearing big-kid underwear in all sorts of colors and styles. Never taking the subject too seriously, this book celebrates an often under-appreciated piece of clothing. One after another vegetables show the different sorts of underwear from dirty to clean, big to small, and serious to funny. But there is one sort of kid who doesn’t wear underwear, since babies wear diapers. Suitable giggle-worthy, these grinning vegetables invite young children to join the underwear ranks.
Chapman has written this book in an infectious rhyme that is jaunty and adds much to the fun of reading this book aloud. One never quite knows what is on the next page, except that it will be friendly and fun. The book ends with a silly reminder that you should have your clothes on top of your underwear before you leave the house, something that will have preschoolers laughing along.
Chapmas has created an entire garden of smiling vegetables here. Using whitespace very nicely, they pop on the page in all of their colorfulness. The vegetables are friendly, approachable and entirely silly. Children will immediately get the joke of vegetables being the ones to show humans how to wear undies.
Funny and friendly, this is a great pick for potty training giggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.
Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
An import from France, this picture book has a wonderful quirkiness. It is the story of Leon, a lizard, who is having a lovely morning, eating breakfast, sitting in the sun, and then he has to go to the bathroom. But after he goes poo, he discovers that he’s out of toilet paper. He looks around, but only sees prickly leaves and messy grass. Until he discovers pair of old underpants hanging on a nearby branch. They are full of holes anyway, so he uses them to wipe and tosses them away. But that’s when a loud voice, his conscience, starts to talk to him and tells him to clean them up and hang them up to dry. In the end, his conscience turns out to be something else entirely and the grand twist of the tale adds to the merriment of the book.
Escoffier is a popular author in France and this book marks his debut into the American market. His humor is spot on for young readers who will adore the idea of what this lizard does for toilet paper. They will not see the ending coming, since it is fresh and completely surprising. In the end, the twist will delight readers even more than the original joke.
Di Giacomo is the illustrator of My Dad Is Big & Strong, BUT… and I am very pleased to see another of her picture books come to English translation. Her art is a fabulous blend of paint, crayon, fine lines and texture. She uses blots of color as the leaves, something that is surprising but works very well.
Share this with all of those children who love something a little naughty in their picture books. If you share it with a group, you will most likely be asked to read it over again. Also, expect riotous reactions to the humor. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.