Review: Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers

Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers

Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers (9781776572502)

In this wordless picture book, Papa Monkey and his little monkey are heading home from school in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The two of them are aboard his banana-cycle with a sidecar for little monkey. But from the beginning, the little one is engaging with the other vehicles along the way. He leaps on to a firetruck that is fighting a fire on another vehicle while driving. He takes a piece of cake from a royal car with a mobile kitchen and waiters. He munches the cake in the crow’s nest of a boat with wheels. He dodges a rooster after seeing a police chase. He dangles above an ambulance, gets ice cream from an ice cream truck, and ends up with a perfect wrapped present for his mother along the way.

Timmers’ traffic filled with inventive vehicles will remind readers of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town. This art though is much more modern and the interaction between the vehicles is more robust. There is a lovely logic to each vehicle, a little story being told to the reader who slows down to explore each one. The bustle and rush of the traffic would seem to make a fast-paced book, but this is one to linger over and enjoy following the adventures of a little monkey through the wildness of the different modes of transportation.

If you have a little one obsessed with vehicles, the humor and wonder here is sure to entice them. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Gecko Press.

Review: Motor Mouse by Cynthia Rylant

Motor Mouse by Cynthia Rylant

Motor Mouse by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard (9781481491266)

The beloved author of many easy readers returns with the first book in a new series. Done in a larger picture book format, the book still has three short chapters inside. The first story focuses on the joy of having cake every Friday for our Motor Mouse and Telly. When they discover that their cake shop is closed one Friday, what will they do? Perhaps another sweet treat can save the day thanks to a friendly hedgehog. In the second story, Motor Mouse decided he’d rather look around than drive. He takes a cab but can’t quite figure out what he wants to see. In the end though, he moves from memory lane to a bowling alley to making a new friend. The last story takes Motor Mouse to the movies with his brother, Vincent. Vincent always orders one large popcorn and doesn’t quite manage to share it. So when he does the same thing, Motor Mouse insists on being the one to hold the bucket this time. But sharing can be really hard!

Told with Rylant’s beautiful writing that sets just the right curious tone on each of the short chapters, this is a fantastic picture book. With a look towards dealing with expectations, managing friendships, and learning to share and appreciate one another, the themes are universal for small children who are trying to navigate similar situations. The stories are gentle but also profound.

Howard, who has collaborated with Rylant on the Mr. Putter & Tabby series as well as the Gooseberry Park books, returns with his signature style. With clear black lines, the illustrations are bouncy and friendly even when situations get a little problematic. There is a constant optimism about Howard’s work that is particularly effective here.

A great start to a new series that is sure to be popular. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane.

Review: I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi

i'll love you till the cows come home by kathryn cristaldi

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (9780062574206)

Take a jaunty trip with this picture book that looks at all sorts of animals and vehicles going on grand journeys. The book begins with cows heading to the moon in a rocket ship with the promise that “I will love you till the cows come home.” Then the verse moves on to yaks who eat grass and then take off in a fire truck. The refrain changes to match the yaks and work with the rhyme. The book progresses to sheep setting sail, wolves returning, frogs riding past, deer dancing, geese flapping down, and ants marching in. Until finally, all of the animals end up fast asleep on the final pages, exhausted from their adventures.

What could have been a saccharine rhyming tale turns out to be an active picture book filled with plenty of giggles, lots of animals and all sorts of vehicles. The rhymes are jaunty and fun without being sing-songy. The message of love is present in each of the stories but doesn’t overwhelm the dynamic fun happening on the page.

The illustrations are friendly with animals that smile and often look directly out at the reader. They are also filled with action and activity, with leaping frogs, flying geese, zooming rockets, racing trucks and much more.

A fast-moving and funny picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Bunches of Board Books

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (9781681198958)

Sung to the tune of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” this board book will quickly become a favorite for any little one who loves vehicles. The book is filled with all sorts of cars, trucks, boats, and planes. Each one carries a rhyme with it and creates all sorts of motion on the page. The illustrations are bright and friendly, inviting the littlest readers to explore their thick lines and bold shapes. This is one beeping good board book.

Reviewed from copy provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin (9780714877204)

Just right for fall reading either one-on-one or with a small group, this board book offers a unique experience. With only a preface containing words, the book opens to reveal see-through pages that form a leaf pile. Readers turn the pages, removing one layer of leaves at a time and discovering interesting things hiding in the leaves. There is a worm, ants, a mitten, a key, a grasshopper and more. Beautifully, the leaves continue to pile on the pages to the left, creating a new pile to explore. Clever and a delight to explore, this board book is like breathing crisp fall air in book form.

Reviewed from library copy.

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Susan Reagan (9781568463216)

This exceptional board book tells the story of an older sibling with a very adorable new baby in the house. Sharing time with Grandma isn’t easy,  but the older sibling is patient. The baby has lots of cute things that they can do, but so does the older sibling. In the end, the baby finally goes down for a nap and it’s time for the older child to be paid a lot of attention. The poem in this board book is gentle with rhymes that sway. The illustrations are truly amazing, filled with eyes alight with joy and both siblings wonderfully androgynous as well. These are images of a loving African-American family that celebrate being an older sibling.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Bundles of Board Books

Animal Colors by Christopher Silas Neal

Animal Colors by Christopher Silas Neal (9781499805352)

This bright board book offers a mix of animals, colors and wordplay that is immensely engaging. The book takes one colored animal, mixes it with another animal and then ends up with an odd hybrid. For example, a blue whale and a yellow lion mix together to make a “Green Whion.” This continues through the book moving from primary colors mixing into secondary ones and then on to more complicated color combinations. The wordplay adds a delightful silliness to the book, making it impossible to quite guess what is on the next page. A colorful whimsical board book worth sharing. Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Birds of a Color by Elo

Birds of a Color by Elo (9781536200638)

In this board book, each bird shows not just one color but two. It takes little hands to help turn over the flaps to see the surprise color hiding behind wings, heads, beaks and more. The text of this book only shares the names of the colors, often hiding any words behind the flaps. There is a great sense of fun about this book, because the turn of the flap reveals a new side of that bird that is entirely unexpected. Playful and enjoyable, this is a great introduction to colors. Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Ciao, Baby! In the Park by Carole Lexa Schaefer Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride by Carole Lexa Schaefer

Ciao, Baby! In the Park by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (9780763683986)

Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (9780763683979)

In these two board books, Baby gets to explore their urban home. In the first book, Nonna takes Baby to the park where they see a squirrel, a grasshopper, and a pigeon before having to head home. Baby scooches and crawls toward each animal until they scamper, jump or fly away. In the second book, Mamma and Baby head across the city to visit Nonna. They have to take many types of transportation to get there, including a stroller, the bus, a boat and the train. When they head home after the visit, they take the vehicles back in reverse order. A loving and warm look at life in an urban setting with a Hispanic family at its heart. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copies.)

Opposites by Jacques Duquennoy Shapes by Jacques Duquennoy

Opposites by Jacques Duquennoy (9782747087001)

Shapes by Jacques Duquennoy (9782747086998)

These two board books are the first in the Zoe and Zack series. They feature die-cut pages that are sturdy enough to hold up to public library use. The opposites book offers clever uses of die cuts that turn stairs from up to down, rebuild castles with a single page turn, and bring back ice cream cones. Even more successful though is the shapes book where the two characters draw shapes together. The shapes are drawn partially on see-through pages that when turned form a complete shape. This clever mechanism makes for a dynamic book that will have children wanting to make their own shapes too. Two great board books with unique designs. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copies.)

 

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: Poem-Mobiles by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian

poem mobiles

 

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes

This collaboration between two masters of children’s poetry will transport you to new and different places.  Filled with cars that are amazing and wild, the humor-filled poems will delight.  Visit the times of the dinosaurs, underwater driving, cars made of paper or shoes.  Even cars made from bathtubs and bugs.  The poetry flows fast and furious, a perfect pace for young car enthusiasts who may be surprised at how much they enjoy poems.

Lewis and Florian write with a single hand here, the poems flowing naturally from one to the other, the styles of each forming one cohesive whole.  They use humor to great effect both in the titles of the poems and throughout, delighting with puns and word play.  The poems are also very brief, perfect for young readers to enjoy or even memorize.

The art by Holmes plays up the humor in the poems.  His busy active style has lots of motion and zany combinations.  The dinosaur car looks like it could reach right off the page and grab you, the ocean page will have you floating along merrily, and the blueprint style of the contents page sets the tone early.

Perfect poems to share aloud with a class, this one may get lost in poetry collections but marketed correctly should zoom off of library shelves.  Beep beep!

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

Review: Bang by Leo Timmers

bang

Bang by Leo Timmers

Using only the word “bang” throughout, this nearly-wordless picture book is a humor-filled delight.  In a series of car crashes, one after another, the story is told.  It all starts with a deer who isn’t paying any attention, since he’s reading this book while driving.  Then comes the truck full of chickens driven by a pig.  Then a fashionable giraffe in an orange sportster.  A hungry alligator with a truck full of tires follows.  And more and more.  After each car enters the page, there is an enormous bang, and then each new car impacts all of the others in new ways.  Colors change, items move from one vehicle to another, and merry chaos reigns. 

Timmers fills his wordless book with wonderful details that make lingering on the pages a must.  You even start guessing from the introduction of the new elements about what will happen to the other vehicles in line.  The final fold-out page with all of the vehicles in a row is great fun to look at and makes for a grand finale.

Timmers’ art is quirky and bright.  The vehicles are all completely unique, formatted to fit the bulk of a pig, or the height of a giraffe.  The pages are filled with bright colors and lots of action.  As each new vehicle comes onto the page, there is wonderful moment before you know what happens.  This pacing is perfection and all thanks to the art.

Jolly and very funny, this is a picture book that children who enjoy vehicles or large crashes will adore.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Review: Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

night light

Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

Count from one to ten in this picture book all about lights at night.  The book begins with a black page and just one light shining through from a die cut to the page beyond.  Turn the page and you see that one light is a train.  Keep turning and you start counting more and more lights, each attached to a different vehicle.  Some of the pages have clues so that you can guess what sort of vehicle it is.  This is a book perfect for small children to start to count and ideal for children who love trucks, planes and trains.

Blechman keeps his writing very simple.  The real draw of the book is the clever use of die cuts to show just the lights before you turn the page.  The blackness of the page also adds to the drama and suspense very nicely.  The book is printed on heavier pages, making it very friendly for toddler hands.

A simple and engaging book for young truck lovers that is a mix of counting and guessing game.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.