Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?

Is Everyone Ready for Fun by Jan Thomas. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Look! It's Chicken's sofa! PLOP!
It's time to...
Up and down,
up and down.
Let's all JUMP
up and down!
On Chicken's sofa!

I love Jan Thomas. I do. I just love, love, love her books. There is just something happy-making about them; they're simple, true, but oh-so-much-fun. There's just something pure and simple and wonderful about them all!

This book stars three cows and a chicken. The three cows are ever so excited about jumping on chicken's little red sofa. (I love how this is illustrated!) But Chicken, well, Chicken has a different perspective on the matter. She wants it to stop. NOW.

They hear her. They do. So they get ready to have fun in a different way...or do they? You be the judge!!!
Is everyone ready for more fun?!
It's time to...
Back and forth,
back and forth.
Let's all DANCE
back and forth!
On Chicken's sofa!
Highly recommended if you love funny books!

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Bippolo Seed And Other Lost Stories

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss. 2011. Random House. 72 pages.

I love Dr. Seuss. I do. And I was oh-so-happy to discover that Random House was publishing a new collection of Dr. Seuss stories. These seven 'lost' stories were originally published in magazines in the early 1950s.

The seven stories are:

The Bippolo Seed
The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga
Gustav, the Goldfish
Tadd and Todd
Steak for Supper
The Strange Shirt Spot
The Great Henry McBride

I enjoyed almost all of these stories.

The Bippolo Seed is about greed. A duck finds a magical seed. He's told to make a wish and plant the seed. But before he can make a wish--a practical, simple wish--a cat stops him. He must want more than just a week's worth of food. How unimaginative a wish is that after all? So with a little encouragement, this duck named McKluck gets a little out of control. 

The Rabbit, The Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga is about a rabbit NOT wanting to become the bear's dinner. The rabbit has to think quickly to make sure that does not happen! But it's not enough for the rabbit to manage an escape, it has to be done in style!

Gustav, The Goldfish. It didn't take me long to recognize that this was FISH OUT OF WATER. What I didn't know was that this story inspired it. And that the author of A Fish Out of Water was Dr. Seuss's first wife, Helen Palmer. Seuss' story rhymed, Palmer's didn't. But essentially the same story about a boy and a fish and the importance of following directions very very carefully!

Tadd and Todd is a story about twins. One of the twins just loves to look exactly like his brother. The other twin isn't quite so pleased. In fact one of the brothers will do just about anything to be different. But that isn't always easy. I liked this one because it used the phrase: "which one was what one, and what one was who." It is an outlandish tale, of course. And it just gets more and more elaborate...what one brother will do to stand out from his brother. So it's enjoyable.

Steak for Supper introduces some fun animal-like characters--much like Wocket in My Pocket. It introduces the Ikka, the Gritch, the Grickle, the Nupper, and the Wild Wheef. The moral of this one is don't brag too see, the little boy was going around saying that he had steak to eat every Saturday night. Well, one Saturday, these fanciful creatures decide to join him because they want steak too! Of course, the little boy doesn't know how he'll ever explain all this to his parents...

The Strange Shirt Spot is a very interesting story in that it introduces the idea of a spot that just WON'T go away. It is the inspiration, if inspiration is the right word, for the pink cat ring in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. The spot even gets on some of the same things.

The Great Henry McBride celebrates imagination and daydreaming. In this case a little boy dreams about what he wants to be when he grows up...

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 3, 2011

Toys Come Home

Toys Come Home. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. 2011. Random House. 144 pages.

StingRay has missed the birthday party. She didn't mean to. It was her first party, first party ever in the world to be invited to--and she missed it. She didn't even know she was missing it. She didn't know anything about the party until now, when it is already over. 

The full title of this delightful prequel is "Being the Early Experiences of An Intelligent Stingray, A Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic." Of course, if you've read Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party, you know all about Stingray, Lumphy, and Plastic. But what you may not know is how they all three came to belong to the Little Girl.

I love the premise of this one. I do. I definitely wanted more stories about these three friends. And these 'early' stories are just perfect!!! The six stories:

In Which There Is Nowhere Nice To Sleep
The Story of an Ear
What Happened to Bobby Dot
You Can Puke On Me
In Which Lumphy is Brave With a Tuna Casserole
The Arrival of Plastic, and Also The Reason We Are Here

The main character of this one happens to be Stingray. In the first story, we learn of how she arrived too late for the little girl's birthday party, but just in time to arrive on the ACTUAL birthday. As a new toy, she hasn't really found her place in the bedroom just yet. She's getting acquainted with the other toys, the other stuffed animals. She's learning--observing--everything.

Two new characters introduced are Sheep (was Sheep in the other two books? Have I forgotten?) and Bobby Dot. There's a good reason why Bobby Dot, the walrus, is NOT in the later books. At first, I wasn't exactly sure why Bobby Dot's story is included in Toys Come Home. Then I thought about it and thought about it some more. Things like that just happen. Not to be overly dramatic, but that's just a toy's life. And I definitely liked how that story is REDEEMED with a very familiar character, Lumphy.

It was so much fun to see the Little Girl shopping. There's just something oh-so-true about these books. In this one, one of the things I loved was HOW very individual the toys were. How when she was shopping she just knew, she just could tell, which (stuffed) ANIMAL was for her. Because the toys are so very-very real to her. Maybe not every reader can relate. But I can!!!

So some of the stories are just good fun, and one or two are slightly more serious. (Though not as tragically sentimental as say The Velveteen Rabbit).

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Umbrella by Taro Yashima. 1958/2004. Penguin. 40 pages. 

Momo is the name of a little girl who was born in New York. The word Momo means "the peach" in Japan where her father and mother used to live. On her third birthday Momo was given two presents--red rubber boots and an umbrella! They pleased her so much that she even woke up that midnight to take another look at them.

Umbrella by Taro Yashima IS my favorite, favorite, favorite picture book. I can't remember a time when I didn't love and adore this one.

Umbrella is the story of a little girl, Momo, who is oh-so-excited about her birthday presents. On her third birthday, Momo received red rubber boots and an umbrella. But Momo has to learn some patience. For the rain is SLOW in coming. And her parents aren't going to be easily persuaded that her umbrella is a must for dealing with sun and wind.

But, of course, the rain does come. And the wait was worth it. For Momo gets to use her new boots and umbrella. And she gets to walk all by herself without holding onto her mother's or father's hands.

Perhaps it is the rhythm of the rain that makes this such a memorable story? With it's oh-so-lovely refrain:
On her umbrella, the raindrops made the wonderful music--

bon polo
bon polo
ponpolo ponpolo
ponpolo ponpolo
bolo bolo ponpolo
bolo bolo ponpolo
boto boto ponpolo
boto boto ponpolo

all the way home. 
As much as I love the text--and I do LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the text--I must say that I really, really LOVE the illustrations. I do. From cover to cover. Even the end papers. I just LOVE Taro Yashima's artwork. His style made a definite impression on me--and it's one that has stuck with me through the years. There's just something unforgettable about each page--almost each page.

It's just a sweet, sweet book that continues to charm.

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Time to Nominate for Cybils!

I just wanted to let everyone know that it is time to nominate books for Cybils!!! Nominations close October 15th. Be sure to read the NEW eligibility rules

The categories are:

Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books
Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade)
Fantasy and Science Fiction (Young Adult)
Middle Grade Fiction
Young Adult Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Nonfiction Picture Books
Nonfiction Middle Grade and Young Adult
Graphic Novels (Middle Grade)
Graphic Novels (Young Adult)
Book Apps

All nominations must be intended for children or young adults.
To be eligible the book must have been published between October 16, 2010 - October 15, 2011.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers