Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter

Cover image for Everybody in the Red Brick Building.

Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Oge Mora (9780062865762)

Everybody in the red brick building was sleeping until Baby Izzie howled in her crib. That set off a chain reaction that got lots of people in the building awake. Rayhan tried to quietly check on his parrot, who shouted to Wake up! The boys sleeping outside got into a game of flashlight tag. Natalia set off her light-up rocket. And the noise kept growing with a car alarm too. Then quiet returned with the street sweeper going by, acorns plonking down, windchimes, and Izzie getting snuggles. Finally, everyone in the red brick building was asleep – again.

Wynter takes a classic children’s story structure and brings the noises to a full cacophony before returning the building steadily to quiet again. The book is a great mixture of wildness in the middle of the night and then quieting to fall asleep, making it a great book to get restless children to bed. The text is filled with repeating loud noises that children will enjoy joining in to help make them even louder. As the book quiets down, the sounds become soft and gentle while staying just as enjoyable as before.

Mora’s illustrations are done in colorful paper collage that show the diverse community that lives in the red brick building together. The colors take the deep blue of night to the orange warmth of indoors to teals, lavenders, and yellows. The colors are engaging, making each page turn a new room of its own. The illustrations are just as dynamic as the book, and that is certainly saying something!

A great read-aloud bedtime book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Balzer +Bray.

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.

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

Cover image for Paletero Man.

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player (9780063014442)

It’s the hottest day in the hottest month in Los Angeles, so a boy heads out with his money to find the paletero cart, hoping that his favorite flavor is still available. The first cart that he finds is the tamale cart, but that’s not what he wants today. Ms. Lee has Korean BBQ for sale, but he won’t even stop for a sample. He runs past the bike shop too, not stopping to visit. Finally, he finds Paletero Joe in the park and there is still some pineapple flavor left. But when he reaches into his pocket, all of his money is gone. Luckily, all of the business owners he ran past noticed him dropping his money and are all there at the park to return it to him.

A story of delicious food set against the urban LA cityscape, this picture book shows a strong, connected and diverse community. The various foods from different cultures are all celebrated as the narrator dashes past them looking for his desired cool treat. Diaz manages to write a rhyming picture book that is merry and bright, never becoming sing-songy but instead incorporating Spanish to create many of the rhymes.

The illustrations cleverly show the money dropping out the boy’s pockets though readers may miss it the first time they read the book. The illustrations are bold and bright, reflecting the colors of the paletero and showing the diverse people in a bright and friendly urban neighborhood.

A great read-aloud just right if you have popsicles to share. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña

Cover image

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (9780399549083)

The award-winning team that brought us Last Stop on Market Street have returned with another picture book together. This picture book is also about traveling on public transportation with Milo and his sister traveling on the subway together. Milo passes the time on the long ride by looking at the people around him on the subway. He imagines what their life is like and then draws it in in his book. Looking at a man with a crossword puzzle, Milo imagines him in an apartment with lots of pets. When a little boy in a suit comes on the train, Milo imagines that the boy is a prince who lives in a castle. A woman in a wedding dress, Milo pictures as soaring up in a hot air balloon after her wedding ceremony. When a group of dancers whirl aboard the train, Milo imagines that they are not welcome in stores or in fancy neighborhoods. When they reach their destination, Milo and his sister head into the prison, where he sees the boy in the suit in line too. Milo rethinks his image of the boy and all of the others he drew on his trip.

This is one of those marvels of a picture book that is told in a straight forward way and also manages to insist that readers think again, assess themselves. It is done without lecture or shaming, an exploration of assumptions made from people’s appearances and then how wrong they can be. Milo himself is a great protagonist for this, creative and thoughtful. He shows how race and economic status factors into stereotypes and how different the truth can actually be.

Robinson creates a diverse urban setting for Milo to experience, filled with people of all races. His cut paper images are full of characters of all ages and different cultures. Readers will find themselves thinking about the others on the train just as Milo does, making their own assumptions.

Another gem of a picture book from two masterful artists. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

Review: Wait by Antoinette Portis

Wait by Antoinette Portis

Wait by Antoinette Portis (InfoSoup)

As a boy and his mother move through an urban setting rushing to get on the train, the little boy just wants to slow down and look at things. There are ducks to feed, an ice cream truck to linger near, a butterfly to try to touch, and much more. Each little item has the boy saying “wait” while the mother says “hurry.” It’s a dance that parents will immediately recognize. A rain storm has them hurrying to put on a raincoat. Just as the pair are about to catch their train successfully though, the rain ends and there is a rainbow that stops them both and has them waiting together.

This very simple book has only two words throughout: wait and hurry. It’s one of those books that will allow very young children to try to read it to themselves once they can identify the two words. Children and parents alike will also see their own morning rush in the book. While they may not catch a train, they will have to wear coats, try to get ice cream, and see neat animals almost every morning themselves.

Portis’ illustrations are friendly and large. Done with thick black lines with lots of texture using charcoal, pencil and ink, the illustrations perfectly capture the tug of slowing down with the need to hurry. The urban setting is done in the friendliest of ways and the various distractions are too. These are the merry things that slow toddlers and young children to a crawl even as time ticks away.

Toddlers will love this book about how important it is to stop and see the rainbows, the ducks, the butterflies, and everything else! Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.