A Blog of Children's Literature

Tupelo Rides the Rails February 13, 2011

Tupelo Rides the RailsTupelo Rides the Rails by Melissa Sweet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tupelo Rides the Rails by Melissa Sweet (2008)

Picture Book, 34 pages with 3 foldout pages

Tupelo has something for dog lovers and astronomers alike. Sweet does an outstanding job weaving literary elements of allusion, alliteration and other wordplay into a dog’s tale full of stars and stinky stuff. With very detailed mixed-media illustrations and longer text on each page, it may be a difficult read for a large group at story time. Then again, there is so much to look at on every page, little eyes will be able to absorb the images as little ears listen to Tupelo’s quest to find her place in the world. 4 or 5-year-olds will love following Tupelo’s tail on this journey full of hopes and dreams.


Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready

Dog and Bear: Three to Get ReadyDog and Bear: Three to Get Ready by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (2009)

Picture Book, 32 pages

As adorable best pals, Dog and Bear share domestic adventures of friendship and folly in three comic-like vignettes. Only an adult would notice that Dog’s sock monkey is just a chew toy, and Bear, an obvious descendent of the teddy clan, is a walking talking animal full of stuffing, color, and character. Throughout the book, the pair revels in the mischief of tight situations, grand imaginations, and most importantly, friendship. Vaccaro Seeger’s writing style, text, and illustrations all work fluidly to create a unique and whimsical friendship. With its clear text and comical illustrations, Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready would be an excellent read for story time with pre-readers or beginning readers.


The Heart and the Bottle

The Heart and the BottleThe Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (2010)

Picture Book, 32 pages

The Heart and the Bottle truly captures the human experience and our fragility as temporary inhabitants of this lifetime. Using an extended metaphor to explore the stages of loss and heartache, the book shares the brilliance of a child’s passionate curiosity and its ability to heal all of us. Dealing with the pain of losing her father, a girl grows up with her heart locked safe within a bottle around her neck to avoid painful memories. However, this action leaves her even emptier without her father until she decides to do something to change it. With its deep storyline and unconventional illustrations, the book takes a unique approach to a topic that people of all ages have trouble dealing with. While the text may be simplistic and smaller readers may miss the deeper meaning, it may be just the read that enables a young one to open his or her heart to the world. I would suggest the book to a parent of a child who is having difficulty coping with a loss or who just needs an emotional pick-me-up.


In a Blue Room

In a Blue RoomIn a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Tricia Tusa (2008)

Picture Book, 32 pages

In a Blue Room is sure to be a bedtime favorite requested over and over again. Young Alice is wide-awake in her bedroom and refuses to fall asleep without everything in the room being blue, her favorite color. Alice’s mother tries numerous approaches to try and soothe Alice’s senses into slumber. There is something magical in Tusa’s fluid illustrations that portray Alice gradually slipping into sleep by the blue light of the moon. With crisp text placed on a white background and only small flourishes from the illustrations spilling over onto the text pages, the book would also make a great naptime book in a preschool or kindergarten class. Because of its beautiful illustrations, adorable story, and perfect sized text, I would definitely give In a Blue Room a try during library story time!


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!