Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Ball for Daisy

A Ball for Daisy. Chris Raschka. 2011. Random House. 32 pages.

What do you need to know about A Ball for Daisy? Well, it's a wordless picture book. I'll be honest, I find wordless picture books difficult--at best--to review. It's not that I dislike them all. There are good wordless picture books--and I feel A Ball for Daisy is a good wordless picture book--but still I'm at a loss for words. What is this wordless picture book about? It's about a dog, of course. A dog that LOVES her red ball. Readers see in frame after frame, page after page, all the ways this dog LOVES her ball. But. One day something HORRIBLE happens. The dog--presumably named Daisy--loses her ball when another dog--a brown dog--plays too rough with it. We see Daisy go from exuberant to sad because of this loss. But there is hope--for Daisy finds a couple of friends and gets a new ball--a blue ball. That being said, I'm not sure I can make a story for every illustration, that I can trace the story through every single picture. I feel I got the basics, but I'm not sure I got everything that there was.

I liked this one. I didn't quite love it. But it was good.

Illustrations: 3 out of 5

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life With the Chimps

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps. Jeannette Winter. 2011. Random House. 48 pages.

"Jane, Jane, where are you?"
"Jane, can you hear me?"
EVERYONE had been searching for hours and hours, looking for little Valerie Jane Goodall.
Then, from the henhouse, Jane came running to her mother, shouting--"I know how an egg comes out!"
At five years old, Jane was already a watcher.
Jane watched ALL the animals in her world, big and small--earthworms, insects, birds, cats, dogs, and horses.

The Watcher is a picture book biography of Jane Goodall. And, I believe, it's a good way to introduce Goodall to young audiences. The focus is exclusively on her work--her life--with chimpanzees. Which, I think is how it should be. Readers see Jane grow up ever-curious. Readers see Jane prepare to go to Africa. Readers see Jane slowly but surely become successful. Readers see how this took patience, patience, and more patience. And diligence! But eventually she becomes accepted as "a white ape." The chimps accept her, welcome her, and she is able to observe them naturally and diligently. The book records her observations, noting the similarities between humans and chimpanzees. The book also records her work to help save chimpanzees and their habitat.

I liked this one. I liked the text. The illustrations were also quite nice.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tweak Tweak

Tweak Tweak by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.

"Hold on to my tail, Little Elephant," Mama Elephant said. "Today we are going for a walk. If you want to ask me a question, tweak twice."
Tweak, Tweak! 
"Yes, my little elephant?" 
"Mama? What is that?"
"That is a frog."

"What is he doing?"
"He's jumping."
"Can I jump?"
"No, because you are not a frog. You are a little elephant. But you can stomp your foot and make a big sound."
"Like that, Mama?
"Just like that, my little elephant."
And on they went.

I enjoyed Tweak Tweak very much! I loved the Mother Elephant and Little Elephant. I loved the question-answer format of it. How curious Little Elephant was. How Mother Elephant always related everything back to her little one. I thought it was fun and playful. But. As much as I enjoyed the text. As much as I liked the text--really, really liked the text. I must admit that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the illustrations. For me, the illustrations make this one a LOVE. I just love Sergio Ruzzier's illustrations. They were playful, fun, expressive, and dare I say it? Cute! I thought they complemented the text nicely!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Boss Baby

The Boss Baby. Marla Frazee. 2010. Simon & Schuster.  40 pages.

From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss. He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule, with no time off. And then he set up his office right smack-dab in the middle of the house. He made demands. Many, many demands. And he was quite particular. If things weren't done to his immediate satisfaction, he had a fit.

Thus begins The Boss Baby a charming, oh-so-delightful look back at the early days of parenthood written by Marla Frazee. I loved this one from the first spread. The art had me at hello. (It was very retro.) And the text, well, the text was clever and fun. The joke--the 'office' humor--could have gotten old perhaps in the hands of another author. But. I found this one to be so true-to-life, so charming, so funny--in a clever, grown-up way--that it worked from cover to cover.

This is a picture book that I found myself reading and rereading just so I could take in every detail.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Chicken, Chicken, Duck!

Chicken, Chicken, Duck! Nadia Krilanovich. 2011. Random House. 32 pages.

maa maa
baa baa

Chicken, Chicken, Duck! is one of those picture books that is very simple. In just a few words--in just a few pages--Nadia Krilanovich tells a simple story with a humorous twist. (Will every reader find it funny? Well, I can't answer that for you. Picture books are incredibly subjective.) If you have a little one in your life that loves everything farm-related, farm-animal related, if you have a little one that loves animal sounds, then this new book may be for you.

This one didn't wow me. I thought it cute enough that it was worth reviewing. And I do plan on sharing it as a read aloud. But. It's not one I see--at this moment--making my best list. Still not every book has to be THE BEST BOOK EVER.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 4 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Side of the Car

My Side of the Car. Kate Feiffer. Illustrated by Jules Feiffer. 2011. Candlewick. 32 pages.

My dad and I are going to the zoo. We've tried to go to the zoo before. But we never get there.
One day when we were supposed to go to the zoo, my mom tripped over a toy fire engine.
So we went to the hospital instead of the zoo.

Thus begins Kate Feiffer's My Side of the Car. Who could resist Sadie, our narrator?! I mean really! She looks so joyful, so happy, so hopeful, so exuberant. You can almost HEAR her as the story begins. I think it was love at first sight, for me at least. I just HAD to keep reading!

So Sadie, our young narrator, really, really, really, really wants to go to the zoo. Now she's tried to go in the past. Again and again and again. But something has always happened to prevent them from getting there. Be it an unexpected visit from her grandparents or her dog getting lost or her poor mom's accident! This time Sadie just HAS to get to the zoo!

So. It starts to rain. But Sadie insists it's not raining on MY side of the car. Her father keeps talking about the rain, how hard it's coming down, etc. But over and over and over and over again, Sadie's insisting that is just not raining on her side of the car.

"I look out my window, and the sun is shining on my side of the car. People are putting on their sunglasses and heading to zoos all over the world on my side of the car."


"It's not raining on my side of the car. People on my side of the car are watering their lawns."

This picture book is funny! I mean I just loved it! Loved, loved, loved it even! It's delightful and charming!!! And it's just a great picture book about a father who loves his daughter very, very much!!!!

While this one would make a great book for Father's Day--in my opinion--it's one that should be read again and again and again any time of year!!! What makes this one even more charming--as if it needed any help--was that it is based on a true story of this father-daughter author/illustrator team!!!

I think this one would pair well with the Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Everywhere Babies

Everywhere Babies. Susan Meyers. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. 2001/2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 30 pages.

Every day, everywhere, babies are born~
fat babies, thin babies, small babies, tall babies
winter and spring babies, summer and fall babies.

Every day, everywhere, babies are kissed~
on their cheeks, on their ears, their fingers, their nose,
on the top of their head, on their tummy, their toes.

Every day, everywhere, babies are dressed~
in diapers and T-shirts, in buntings and sleepers,
in playsuits and dresses, in sweaters and creepers.

I really enjoyed this board book! I loved the text. It was simple. It was rhythmic. It flowed well. And, the subject matter--it being ALL about babies--well, it works! I loved the art. (It's Marla Frazee!!! Whose work I just adore!!!) On every page readers see babies being babies. Capturing the simple little things that make up a baby's day, a baby's life. And I *liked* the message. That babies are babies are babies no matter WHERE you live. Yet this book is NOT message-driven.

The board book is large--much larger than most board books. And the art while not being bright, bright, super-bright should engage little ones nonetheless. 

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Your Mommy Was Just Like You

Your Mommy Was Just Like You. Kelly Bennett. Illustrated by David Walker. 2011. Penguin. 32 pages.

Your mommy was born bright-eyed and fuzzy-topped. Just like you.
I'd rock her and blow on her tummy and tickle her toes.
She'd giggle and coo, and play 
"Where's Baby Peek-a-boo?"
Just like you.

I really enjoyed this sweet picture book. It's a great story focusing on family life. It's narrated by Grandma! And does she have some stories to tell to her granddaughter! All about when the little girl's mommy. Stories about when she was sweet as sweet can be, and stories about her fits and tantrums! In each story the grandmother shares with her granddaughter, she points out her mommy was once just like her.

It's predictably cute and adorable and sweet. I really found it enjoyable. I loved reading the stories and looking at the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers