A Blog of Children's Literature

Mouse Shapes January 26, 2011

Mouse ShapesMouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mouse Shapes, by Ellen Stoll Walsh (2007)

Picture Book, 36 pages

With adorable and crafty mice made of paper as their guides, children will love this shape adventure. The mice not only review basic shapes and what can be made when shapes are combined, but they also work to outsmart a wily cat. The text is clear and highlights the dialogue between the little creatures. With its blank background and black text, the colorful shape and animal cutouts stand out and would be a great read to a group of 2-4 year olds. Mouse Shapes would also be a great inspiration for a shape making project for home or school.


Not a Box

Not a BoxNot a Box by Antoinette Portis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis (2006)

Picture Book, 32 pages

In Not a Box, a creative little rabbit shows what a little imagination can do to transform a box into so much more. With a cardboard cover that mimics the color of a box and reality drawn in black and white, Portis creates an imaginary world of red and yellow that surrounds both the rabbit and the reader. The book challenges the ordinary adult perspective and shows where our imaginations can take us. With its limited text and basic backgrounds, this is an ideal book for a read-aloud to pre-readers at the library. It is also a great read for beginning readers at school or home, sparking discussion for an art project or prompting creative thought.


Wow! City!

Wow! City! (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))Wow! City! (Ala Notable Children’s Books. Younger Readers by Robert Neubecker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! City!, by Robert Neubecker (2004)

Picture Book, 36 pages

“Wow!” is right! This picture book is packed with amazing and colorful illustrations portraying a trip to the big city through the eyes of Izzy, a red-haired lively little girl from the mountains. The almost full-page illustrations in the book capture the bustling world of New York City and what it’s like for anyone to go there for the first time. Neubecker truly outdid himself with the illustrations in this book, hiding Izzy and her father in every page spread. Whether it be finding Izzy’s father’s glasses in the rearview mirror of a taxi or Izzy running to pet a dog in a crowded Central Park, young and older readers alike will have fun absorbing all the colors and images trying to find the pair. Unlike other books which draw a reader to a singular image on each page, Wow!City! truly captures the busy life of the city that never sleeps, allowing readers to glimpse an array of people and goings-on. With minimal text, this book would be a great read for a small group with an eye for detail and adventure. Keep an eye out for the reappearing golden retriever!


Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal AlphabetGone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet, by David McLimans (2006)

Picture Book, 36 pages

With its black, white, and red motif, Gone Wild takes a new approach to learning about endangered animals inspired by the alphabet. As McLimans explains in the introduction, each letter was carefully crafted to portray one of these animals in beautiful black and white illustrations. While the artistic alphabet letters may suffice for a younger reader deciphering the images, a more sophisticated reader is given so much more. With Latin names, classes, habitats, ranges, threats, statuses, and descriptions about each animal provided, Gone Wild is definitely for a particular younger audience. While this book might not be intriguing to all beginning readers, young ones especially interested in science, animals, or endangered species will be fascinated by this book. However, a cautionary note to parents: this book’s aim seems to promote more understanding of endangered animals than it works to teach the alphabet.


My Heart is Like a Zoo

My Heart Is Like a ZooMy Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall (2009)

Picture Book, 30 pages

Full of fascinating heart-shaped animals and cleaver similes, My Heart Is Like a Zoo is a whimsical cross between handcrafted Scandinavian hearts and colorful comparisons. Both parents and children will love examining these creatively constructed animals on the colorfully contrasted pages. Teachers may even use this as a great resource to teach basic adjectives or similes. As a possible jumping-point for penning their own similes, fourth through sixth graders will relish the opportunity to be read to again while receiving grammar reinforcement. I would also share this book with parents who want a good one-on-one read to have at home with their pre-readers. It echoes childhood games that show how big our hearts are.


Orange Pear Apple Bear

Orange Pear Apple BearOrange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Orange Pear Apple Bear, by Emily Gravett (2007)

Picture Book, 28 pages

With its witty and yet simplistic narrative, Orange Pear Apple Bear addresses the basics and still finds a way to challenge what we know. Do pear bears or apple bears exist? With subtle nuances, such as commas and color changes, Gravett uses four words and beautiful pencil and watercolor illustrations to change their meanings. Young ones will be surprised by the quick and quirky change of the story as a silly and playful bear tests what form “apple”, “orange”, “pear”, and “bear” can take. While the book has a plain white background that does not complicate the story, I would prefer to read this book with a smaller group to point out the delicate changes and play on words. This would be a definite recommendation for a parent, especially with a quizzical child full of humor and quick perception.


LMNO Peas January 25, 2011

LMNO PeasLMNO Peas by Keith Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LMNO Peas, by Keith Baker (2010)

Picture Book, 32 pages

With its catchy title and adorable illustrations, LMNO Peas is sure to please young readers learning the alphabet. Little busy peas share their occupations alphabetically in this rhyming narrative of jobs and letters. Illustrations abound as the peas go to work and interact with one another, giving readers plenty to peruse as they read. Baker uses each letter as the foundation for every page and then literally has the peas drive, fly, paint, and sing on them, building a city of busy little peas. With such amazing graphics and nifty rhymes, I would love to read this book to children. My only hesitation with a large group is the visibility of the small sets of peas around the pages. However, with clear text and individual occu-pea-tions all eager readers will have something to look at on each page.