More Favorite Picture Books

May 19, 2012

I wrote these reviews before creating this blog.

1. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Mo Willems
I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Mo Willems fan. (His very popular Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was only so-so at best. Maybe it will be funnier when Aaron is a little older.) But Knuffle Bunny was easy to fall in love with.

As a quick summary, Trixie is a toddler, absolutely in love with her stuffed bunny. Tragedy strikes when Knuffle Bunny is accidentally left at the laundromat, but Trixie doesn't have the language skills to tell her daddy.

I can completely relate to the frustration of communication barriers between toddler and parent. Aaron and Max LOVE the page where Trixie desperately tries to make the words come out: "Aggle, Flaggle, Klabble!" (or something like that). I have to read that page over and over again, and it's always met with a duet of giggles.

The illustrations are very unique: ink sketches superimposed over photographs of Brooklyn. Unlike Soup Day, which also combines different artistic elements but in a random way, I love these pictures. Very fun.

P.S. And just for the record, in our house we've decided, after much deliberation and research, that the correct pronunciation is "Kuh-nuffle." We beg you to differ.

2. Press Here, Herve Tullet
This book is so simple, why didn't I think of it myself? Seriously, WHY?! I could have even provided my own illustrations...and there are not many books I can say that about.

Really, this book is so clever in its simplicity. It is interactive without any flaps, touch-and-feel, or pop-outs. The concept is this: the reader is asked to "press here"...a single yellow dot...and turn the page. Wonder of wonders, there are now TWO yellow dots! Press the dot again, and now there are THREE. You get the idea: by performing certain actions on the dot or the book, the reader is led through all kinds of fascinating changes. And of course, to a child, it looks like he's initiated all the changes.

I love it! Imagination WITHOUT having to tape back on the flaps or glue the pop-outs back together.

3. Bubble, Bubble, Mercer Mayer
Having grown up on nearly every Little Critter book available, I have always loved Mercer Mayer. But this particular book is a newly acquired favorite.

The basic premise reminded me a lot of Chalk: a boy buys some "magic" bubbles. He creates all kind of shapes and pictures, including some dangerous animals. Using his quick wit, he blows bigger bubble animals to scare off the others. Finally, he gets tired of the game, and with one finger, he pop, pop, pops all the bubbles.

The text is very simple, and the illustrations are delightful. Maxwell loves bubbles, and it is one of the few words he can say, so we have read this story quite a bit.

*There is something about the cover that makes me feel so reminiscent...I'm not sure why since I had never read the book until last week...I think it's just Mercer Mayer's style.

4. The Seven Silly Eaters, Mary Ann Hoberman, illust. Marla Frazee
You know how there are some books where you love the illustrations, but the text is just downright awful? you're thinking, "someone was actually paid to write that?!" or "the 'author' gets to be acknowledged on the cover for writing three ridiculous sentences?" It can go the other way, too...delightful text, poor illustrations.

Well, THIS is NOT one of THOSE books. I repeat, THIS is NOT one of THOSE books. Both the text and the illustrations deserve awards, they're that clever and adorable and memorable. Seriously, every time I read this book I can't decide if I like the story or the pictures better. So, I give up. I love them both. In fact, I wish I could quote a part of the text here, but sadly, the book is back at the library, and my pregnant brain can't remember it verbatim.

Anyway, anyone from a big family can relate to this book (and if you didn't grow up in a big family, you'll wonder, "is it really like that," and yes, it is). By the end of the book, there are seven children, and each one has a favorite food (pink lemonade for Lucy, homemade applesauce for Jack, etc.). Mrs. Peters is simply frazzled by the end, trying to meet the demands of all her "darling little Peters." I can well remember my own mom telling us that she was not a short-order cook when we would make similar requests.

There is one illustration that I particularly love: Mrs. Peters is at her wit's end, and the house is an absolute disaster: overflowing bread coming out of the oven, folded (and unfolded) laundry on the kitchen table, dirty dishes just looks so real.

The book has a very sweet, very clever ending, which I won't spoil here, but needless to say, this is a book I would highly recommend. Five stars all the way.

5. Eating the Alphabet and Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert
These are two books that, I'll admit, I'm a little surprised Aaron likes so much.

The first one, Eating the Alphabet, showcases each letter of the alphabet by showing every fruit and vegetable beginning with the showcased letter. Some letters, like "P," have four pages filled to the brim with yummy produce. Some letters, like "X," get less than half a page because, honestly, can you think of any fruit or vegetable that begins with "X"? (Well, there's one...xigua...a type of watermelon grown in China; now you know.)

The second book, Planting a Rainbow, goes through the process of planting a flower garden: planting the bulbs, buying the seeds, watering the plants, and enjoying beautiful bouquets of blossoms.

I guess my surprise comes because I never suspected Aaron to have a fascination with swiss chard or papaya or artichokes. I didn't know he would love zinnias and tulips and marigolds.

So, in Aaron's love for these books, I have to give Lois Ehlert ALL the credit. Her illustrations are so bold and bright, without any unnecessary detail. Some artists you love for their lifelike depictions, for all the little things they can pack onto a page. Lois Ehlert is the opposite. You love her for all the things she chooses not to include and for her use of bold shapes and solid colors, with limited shading and shadows.

And just as a random fact: we tried swiss chard for the very first time yesterday. It's really not too bad.

6. Good Dog, Carl, Alexandra Day
This has been a family favorite for a long time, but it has recently reclaimed a prominent position in our most-read pile because Max is currently obsessed with dogs. And I think it's his dream to have a dog as his babysitter.

Carl, a Rottweiler I believe, is left in charge of the baby while the mother runs a few errands. Carl is the epitome of a good babysitter: he entertains, feeds, and bathes the baby. Shortly before the mother gets home, Carl cleans up the house and puts everything back in order. The mother finds everything exactly as she left it.

We happen to have a Rottweiler that lives on the other side of our duplex. I'm not thrilled about it. Rottweilers are big, muscular, usually aggressive dogs, and I would never trust one alone with my children. But there's something so lovable and endearing about Carl, so he definitely gives his breed a good face!

1 comment:

  1. Andrew brought seven silly eaters from the school library a whilr back and we all loved it. I thought of you and meant to tell you about it because I knew you would appreciate it. Looks like You beat us to it!


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground