We are definitely in a downpour of picture books lately. We have found so many good ones that I'm sure I'll never be able to write about all of them. But from the stacks and piles and mountains of books, here are three we liked well enough to read more than twice:
1. It's a Tiger!, David LaRochelle, illus. Jeremy TankardWhen you were a kid, did you ever sing the song, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt"? You know, the one where you go through the grass, swim through the water, climb the mountain, etc. until you get to the dark cave with the bear lurking inside? Well, this story reminds me of the second half of that old classic, where the bear gives chase and you have to hurry back through the grass, water, etc.
The story begins in the jungle "where the tall trees grow and the monkeys swing from vine to vine." Suddenly, you realize that one of the monkey's tails is not a monkey's tail. It's a TIGER! RUN!
Thus begins a crazy chase with the tiger hiding and imitating something else each time (even the captain of a ship at one point). It uses a lot of action words and commands to engage the reader ("If we're very quiet (shhh!) we can tiptoe past."), which is why it reminds me of the bear hunt song.
The illustrations are bright and bold, with many of the features being over-simplified. But the thing I love the most about this story is the ending. Just when you think everything has resolved nicely, the reader is sent on another crazy chase. This circular dimension encourages the fun to go on and on and on...
2. That's How!, Christoph NiemannThis was one of those books where I picked it up at the library and thought I would get it. Then I flipped it open and decided I wouldn't get it. Then I turned just a couple more pages and decided I would get it. And obviously, I'm glad I did.
This story celebrates the wild imaginations of children. The text is limited with a little girl asking her (I'm assuming) wiser, older brother how things work. For example, "How does a train work?" The boy thinks for a bit, then comes up with a crazy explanation: A monkey is cooking a pot of soup (which creates steam), and three other monkeys are on a treadmill trying to get to the soup (and that is what engages the wheels). Confusing? Well, kids' imaginations are confusing sometimes.
One thing that I really like about the illustrations is how a certain color is featured with every invention. The train page, for example, is almost entirely red, the steamroller page orange, etc.
I love watching Aaron (my four-year-old) with this one. Even though, he knows none of these answers are real, I can see in his eyes he wishes that they were.
3. For Just One Day, Laura Leuck, illus. Marc BoutavantOn a recent trip to the bookstore, I saw this one displayed. I always seem to make it into the bookstore without pen and paper, which is a shame because I always see books I want to remember so I can get them from the library. But it's rather hard to remember 25 different titles. Luckily, I remembered this one.
If you've been around a child for any length of time, you know how intrigued he/she is with the idea of being an animal. Aaron loves to pretend to be a grizzly bear. This book follows the imaginations of nine different children, as each one wishes to be a different animal "for just one day."
It was a book my boys liked immediately, in part because it resonated with their own ideas (a grizzly bear is even featured), but also because it gave them new ideas.
But for me, it was the illustrations that made me not just like, but adore, this book. Even though it's fairly new (2009, I believe), the pictures are done in an old school style: kind of a pen and ink approach with soft, retro colors. The bunny page is my favorite.
So if you're already feeling a little burned out with Halloween stories, take a break with these three books!