Saturday, February 26, 2011

Without You

Without You. Genevieve Cote. 2011. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.

Stop! You're going to fast!
Step back! This is a racing track!
You're so careless!
You fuss over any little mess!
I don't want to play with you anymore.
Fine! I won't miss you at all.

The super-adorable stars of Me and You are back again in Genevieve Cote's Without You. The book features a white bunny and pink pig that are best friends. Well, best friends most days of the week. But after an "accident" with a wagon full of toys, their friendship is put to the test as each accuses the other. Soon these two are naming all the things they can do without the other. Proving that they don't need each other to have fun. Showing that they're just fine on their own.

Well, I can read a book without you.
And I can cook without you.
I can play dress-up without you.
I can go to the park without you.

But after awhile, both realize something: they miss each other; they need each other. I enjoyed this one very much. I just loved and adored the first book. And I found this second book just as charming. It's got a good message about friendship, about getting along with others, but it isn't preachy. It just felt right.

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party. Melanie Watt. 2011. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.

Scaredy Squirrel never has big birthday parties. He'd rather celebrate alone quietly up in his tree than party below and risk being taken by surprise. A few surprises Scaredy Squirrel is afraid could spoil the party: Bigfoot, confetti, clownfish, ants, ponies, and porcupines. So he plans a small celebration where he's the only life of the party. 

To know him is to love him, at least for me. I always enjoy a good Scaredy Squirrel picture book. He's a delightfully timid--and anxious--character. His fears may not be rational--but who are we to judge?! After all, how rational is it to be afraid of clowns? Yet a good many of us are! Anyway, I love Scaredy Squirrel. I love his "plans." I love how he tries to stay in control. I love his ultimate back-up plan--to play dead--to deal with the unknown, to deal with his fears. I love how things never go according to his plan. Like it or not, this squirrel is always having to adapt. And these "changes" may be "scary" at first, but ultimately, they're for the best.

This one was an enjoyable addition to the Scaredy Squirrel series. My review of Scaredy Squirrel, Scaredy Squirrel at Night, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

I Broke My Trunk!

I Broke My Trunk! (Elephant and Piggie) Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.

I have not seen Gerald today. Why?
Gerald! What happened to your trunk?
I broke my trunk.
How did you break your trunk?
It is a long crazy story.
Tell it! Tell it!

I Broke My Trunk is the newest book in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. Gerald, the elephant, does have a long and crazy story to share with his best friend, Piggie. The story of how he broke his trunk. Did he break it when he lifted his friend Hippo? No! Did he break it when he lifted Hippo's big sister? No! Did he break it when he lifted his friend Rhino? No! How about lifting a piano, two hippos, and a rhino? No! Then how did Gerald break his trunk?! Will Piggie believe this crazy story? She may just end up with a long and crazy story of her own to share!

I liked this one. It was very funny. It was very playful. I liked the dialogue, the language. For example, I loved this exchange:

Gerald: Then, I had an idea! I wanted to lift Hippo onto my trunk!
Piggie: Why?
Gerald: Because!
Piggie: Okay.

It just felt right. Everything about these books feel right. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Gerald and Piggie. I love their friendship. I love the way they think and act. These books are just too much fun!!!

Other books in the series include:

I Will Surprise My Friend
Can I Play Too?
Elephants Cannot Dance
I Am Going
Pigs Make Me Sneeze
Watch Me Throw The Ball
Are You Ready to Play Outside
I Love My New Toy
I Am Invited to A Party
My Friend is Sad
Today I Will Fly
There Is A Bird On Your Head
We Are In A Book

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The More We Get Together

The More We Get Together. Caroline Jayne Church. 2011. Scholastic. 12 pages.

The more we get together
together together
The more we get together,
the happier we'll be.

This familiar song is shared with young readers in board book format in Caroline Jayne Church's newest book, The More We Get Together. If you love happy, cute art--illustrations--there is a good chance you'll enjoy this one. There's just something sweet and charming about her art. I love the way she draws children, I do. In this case, she draws children playing with one another.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Twosomes: Love Poems From the Animal Kingdom

Twosomes: Love Poems From the Animal Kingdom. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Lee Wildish. 2011. Random House. 24 pages.

Good morning! How the nighttime flew!
Now, may I hang around with you?

Nice to meetcha! You smell delish!
Wanna share my water dish?

I enjoyed this small poetry book very much. The poems are very short--just two lines apiece. But some of them work very well; some are quite clever! My favorite would probably be the ones featuring porcupines and geese.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 18, 2011

You Are My Sunshine

You Are My Sunshine. Caroline Jayne Church. 2011. Scholastic. 12 pages.

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You may me happy when skies are gray.

I may not be a big fan of this love song, but this board book adaptation is cute and precious in its own way. I do enjoy Caroline Jayne Church's illustrations. I like the 'cuteness' of her artwork. I like how she captures children at play, capturing very special, precious moments.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Song of the Week: Taba Naba

This week I'm highlighting Taba Naba from The Wiggles' album, Wiggly, Wiggly World.


And as an added bonus, these clips of children enjoying Taba Naba:

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

I Love You Always and Forever

I Love You Always and Forever. Jonathan Emmett. Illustrated by Daniel Howarth. 2010. Scholastic. 24 pages.

Longtail and Littletail were playing in the forest. They scampered through the bushes and scurried round the trees. Littletail wanted to play a game. "Catch me if you can!" she laughed. And she leapt into the grass. Littletail was fast--but Longtail was faster. And he caught her and swept her into his arms. "You always catch me!" gasped Littletail. "Do I always?" said Longtail. "Well, it won't be forever. One day you will be too fast for me to catch!"

This one is wordy but oh-so-sweet. It's one of those precious-and-adorable books that perhaps adults love a more than the little ones. Longtail loves Littletail and though many things may change with time--his love for her will never, ever change. For his love for her is the forever kind of love. The book shows them spending some good quality time together--playing games, laughing, enjoying one another in the moment. It's a good book, a sweet book. With the perfect ending.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tucker's Valentine

Tucker's Valentine. Leslie McGuirk. 2010. Candlewick Press. 28 pages.

Today is Valentine's Day!
Tucker's owner tells him that 
Valentine's Day is all about love.
There are lots of things that Tucker loves: 
his dog food, his Frisbee, his favorite spot on the couch,
laundry on the floor, his stuffed piggy, and bubbles from a jar.

Tucker the dog stars in a couple holiday adventures: Lucky Tucker, Tucker's Spooky Halloween, Ho, Ho, Ho Tucker! And I believe he may star in a few other books as well--according to Barnes & Noble--Tucker Flips, Tucker Off His Rocker, and Tucker Over the Top.

This adventure is in board book, but I'm not exactly sure why. Because the audience doesn't match (in my opinion) the format. I think it's a bit too wordy for toddlers. And I think the humor is a little too much for toddlers.

In this adventure, Cupid (a dog with wings dressed in red underwear) tries his best to shoot love's arrow at Tucker. The book chronicles each of Cupid's attempts--his failures. I found it odd to say the least. I think the book is funny--at moments--for a slightly older audience. It might make a good read aloud for an older audience. But I'm not sure it's a good fit as it is.

I did like the ending. I thought that was well done. But overall, this one didn't quite work for me.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Have You Seen Duck?

Have You Seen Duck? Janet A. Holmes. Illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. 2011. Scholastic. 24 pages.

This is Duck.
Duck lives at my house.
Duck thinks I'm the greatest.
I'm Duck's hero.
Wherever I go, Duck goes too.
Duck's not frightened of anything when he's with me.
Duck won't start his dinner until I've started mine.
Duck can't go to sleep unless I'm in bed too.

I loved this one. I did. I just loved it. I thought it sweet and simple. I loved the devotion between a little boy and his favorite stuffed animal, Duck. The book shares the good times--when they're together--and the bad times--when they're apart.

For the worst does happen, one day Duck goes missing. And the little boy begins his quest to find his friend. He asks everyone if they've seen his duck. With each person he asks, he gives a different description of his best friend. He tells one, "He's yellow and raggedy." Another, "he smells like a blanket." Yet another, "He feels soft and woolly." Which leads to my favorite scene in the entire book:

"Have you seen Duck?" I asked the dog next door.
"He sounds like..."
But I don't know what Duck sounds like.
Duck doesn't make any sound at all.

But this search won't be easy, it won't be quick. The boy has to learn how to cope with life--a little--on his own. When the two are finally reunited it is sweet and wonderful.

I just loved it! I would definitely recommend this one!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. Kristine O'Connell George. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 47 pages.

Soccer Game

My friends are cracking up,
pointing at that little kid
wearing a ruffled petticoat
flowered hat
long white gloves
plaid pants
earrings like chandeliers
and plastic high-heeled shoes
with rhinestones.

That kid who's jumping up and down
on the bleachers
waving her feather boat
yelling at me,
Goooo, Jessica!

I pretend I've never seen 
that kid ever before
in my whole entire life.

I really enjoyed this picture book! This "story" is loosely told through a collection of poems. The poems focus on the oh-so-complex relationship between a big sister, Jessica, and her little sister, Emma. I liked many of the poems. Like "Emma's Hand," "Translator," "Bed Partner," Picture Books," "Snooping," "Cheating,"  and "Emma's Birthday." I'll be honest, I liked almost every single one. They were all so good, so true, so right.

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 11, 2011

All Kinds of Kisses

All Kinds of Kisses. Linda Cress Dowdy. Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. 2010. Scholastic. 24 pages.

All Kinds of Kisses 
can be the best way
to welcome the moon,
say good night to the day.

Butterfly Kisses
are soft, gentle things.
Flutter your lashes
like butterfly wings.

Eskimo Kisses
come down from the north.
Place nose to nose
and move back and forth.

All Kinds of Kisses is a board book all about kissing. In short verses, different kinds of kissing are described. It's a short book. A simple book. It didn't wow me. But I didn't dislike it either. 

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick, Slow, Mango!

Quick, Slow, Mango! by Anik McGory. 2011. January 2011. Bloomsbury USA. 32 pages.

It was time for breakfast. Kidogo stood on the bank of the winding river, picking up stones and dropping them gently into the water. "Hurry, hurry!" flapped his mama with her ears. "Chapu, chapu! It's time to drink, little one, or you'll be thirsty later."

This charming picture book stars two characters who are as different as can be. Kidogo, the baby elephant, likes to take his time. He has a pace--his own--and there is no rushing him. He loves to absorb the world around him, live in the moment. PolePole is a monkey. She is always on the go. There's no stopping her! No, she's in a hurry to live life--to live life well. Unfortunately, sometimes she's a little too fast for her own good. Her mother is always telling her to slow down. (PolePole literally means slowly, slowly. And, just so you know, Kidogo means little.) When these two meet, something magical happens! A new friendship begins, and a tasty treat is enjoyed by all! For though PolePole is a bit too quick, and Kidogo is a bit too slow--together they're absolutely right!

I found this one delightful! I loved the story. I loved the repetition. I loved the pronunciation guide too. Otherwise, I wouldn't have braved reading it aloud. And the illustrations, well, I thought they were adorable! I just loved this one!!!

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems

Cousins of Clouds. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy. 2011. [February 2011] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. 

I enjoyed this poetry picture book by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. I liked the combination of poetry with fact. How the author sprinkles interesting details and facts about African and Asian elephants throughout the book--in her prose and poetry. This collection has a nice variety to it as well--haiku, concrete, etc. Some poems are long; some quite short. The subject varies as well--focusing on both wild elephants and domesticated elephants (zoos, circuses, etc.) While you may not love every poem, I believe there is plenty here to satisfy readers!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Song of the Week: Four Little Duckies

I am really enjoying listening to Ralph's World.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit. A Book of Changing Seasons. Il Sung Na. 2011. Random House. 24 pages.

When snow falls to the ground and all the trees are bare, everyone knows it's winter...including the rabbit.
Some fly away from the cold.
Some have a long cozy sleep where they live.
Some swim to warmer waters.

Readers learn about winter in Il Sung Na's newest picture book, Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit. Young readers can follow this bunny through the changing of several seasons--though this journey isn't always completely realistic. (A rabbit catching a ride on a sea turtle?!) Our rabbit friend can be spotted on each spread of the picture book. Readers learn about how different animals prefer for winter and the changes that season brings. For example, they learn that some animals hibernate, some migrate, some gather extra food, etc.

I believe this is Il Sung Na's third picture book. Other titles include A Book of Sleep and The Thingamabob.

I didn't love this one. I didn't dislike it either. I can say that it avoids the mistake of being too cute or too precious. I think the illustrations--if you care for them--might be impressive enough to be memorable.

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

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers