Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Picture Books - flash reviews

Angry guy

beetle bop by Denise Fleming. Oh are these illustrations great! Energetic and colorful, I will reupholster my couch in this book! For little little kids.

The perfect pumpkin pie by Denys Cazet. Kind of a weird pie-centered ghost story, with a kicky grandma who is not impressed with the ghost AT ALL. My Mr Four liked it.

Whopper cake, by Karma Wilson and Will Hillenbrand. A little young for my kids, a little pointless too, but the rhymes flow really well and the illustrations have a lot of energy - I like this Hillenbrand fellow.

At night by Jonathan Bean. This could easily have been a wordless book. It's so quiet, and the illustrations are so balanced and detailed, it is my new favorite bedtime book, and the kids like it too. The last image, of the little girl asleep in the nest she made on the roof, with her mother awake beside her gazing at the moon with her hand on her child... lovely.

The apple pie that Papa baked by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Ok I love these illustrations too - Jonathan Bean is just as expressive and disciplined in three colors only - but you know, I have just never liked the "house that Jack built" stories. The Train to Glasgow, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, I think they're kinda tedious. Ahh, that's just me.

My dog is as smelly as dirty socks and other funny family portraits by Hanoch Piven. This is another of Hanoch Piven's books with illustrations constructed from found objects: whistles become eyes, a nose is a lightbulb, etc. I think they're great. I love it when my kids are inspired to go into the kitchen and make faces out of what they find.

My dog is as smelly as dirty socks extends this technique to portraiture: the child in the book goes about identifying the characteristics of her family members and selects objects that she thinks represent those characteristics, then arranges them to make portraits. At the end of the book, Piven even provides examples of objects that might represent characteristics such as "strong" or "smart" - with the aim of getting kids to make their own object portraits of the people they know best.

Bonus: the endpapers are illustrated with portraits created by kids on a cancer ward at a hospital in Israel. But the one with a syringe for a nose made me sad.

Together by Jane Simmons. I am often impatient with the little sweet books that teach us lessons about friendship. But I liked this one ok, I think it was the saturated colors and full-bleed art. I think I like Jane Simmons.

Raymond and Nelda by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi. Friends who have a falling out and need to get back together. Majorly pepped up by the cool postal carrier, who helps them figure out how to communicate honestly with each other. I'd consider giving this as a gift to the greatest mail carrier of all time, our pal Steve the Postman.

The adventures of the dish and the spoon by Mini Grey. For older kids - there are too many visual jokes and subtle references for the PreK - 2 crowd. That said, wow, are there some visual jokes and subtle references in this book! It's more like a graphic novel than a picture book.

Well there you go. Nine new(ish) picture books reviewed in half an hour. All kid-tested, all mother- (and librarian-) approved.