KidPages: Three Recent Favorites
Aug 6, 2014
On the agenda for today: the library. And sadly, it's time to take back several of our recent favorites. So I'm writing about them here so I don't forget about them. Hopefully someday, we can make them permanent members of our collection.
1. Ninja!, Arree Chung
After a little boy puts on his ninja costume, he sneaks and creeps so skillfully he catches his dad completely by surprise. All is going well until he nabs his sister's milk and cookies . . .
My boys are typical boys: they love superheroes. But I . . . do not. Thus, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and all their friends and associates are banned from our house. (We won't talk about Aaron's Spiderman sheets that Mike bought when I wasn't with them. It may or may not still be a point of contention between us.) I know, I'm a controlling mother, and it will probably come back to bite me, but if you can't make the rules when you're the mom, well then, what can you do?
However, this is the kind of superhero book I can handle. For one thing, there's nothing commercial about it. For another, it's about a little boy using his imagination in wild and crazy ways. And for a third, in the end he decides to teach his little sister "the way of the ninja." Nice big brothers are my weakness.
The illustrations are awesome--the perfect blend between reality and fantasy. We see the dramatic light and fire of the boy's imagination alongside ordinary items like a bookcase or kitchen counter. Most of the pages are done in a sort of comic strip style with several images dividing the space. After all the action, the dark page with the mother's pointing finger and the little boy hanging his head in shame is even more dramatic.
My boys love this book. Even before reading it, Bradley was obsessed with pretending to be a ninja (he has the best stance and intense glare). And now, it's like all of their games have been brought to life. Plus, it turns out, the little boy's name is Maxwell. Instant plus.
2. Falling for Rapunzel, Leah Wilcox, illus. Lydia Monks
From ninjas to princesses, this is another recent favorite.
On a bad hair day, Rapunzel lets out a cry of frustration from her tower. A prince who happens to be passing by mistakes it as a cry for help. He calls the familiar line, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair." Unfortunately, Rapunzel is a little hard of hearing and the things she throws down grow more and more ridiculous. However, it all works out in the end, but not in the way you might think.
My boys are not usually fans of anything with pink or frills, but this book is hilarious enough to make up for it. The rhymes are catchy and of course perfect for the continual misunderstandings. For example, when the prince asks for twine or a ladder, there are any number of rhyming possibilities. In this case, twine translates to swine, ladder to pancake batter, and the prince's resulting frustration is just too funny.
The art in this book is a mix of paint and paper montage (or something like that . . . I'm not an artist). So, for example, the trees' trunks are drawn while their tops are cutouts of photographs. This is not always my favorite medium, but in this case, it's done very tastefully, and I actually love it.
3. Gaston, Kelly DiPucchio, illus. Christian Robinson
From the beginning, it is obvious that Gaston is not exactly like his sisters. He is bigger, louder, and faster, but he tries his best to be a good poodle. Then one day in the park, they run into a family of bulldogs, and the mothers can tell right away there's been a terrible mistake. Somehow Gaston (a bulldog) ended up in a family of poodles and Antoinette (a poodle) ended up in a family of bulldogs. They switch them back, but the results are disastrous. It seems Gaston and Antoinette were already exactly where they were supposed to be.
I love this book because it is equal parts funny and heartwarming. Having two adopted siblings of my own, I think it is a great reminder that family members don't always have to look exactly like each other in order to belong together.
My favorite part of the book is when we get introduced to the poodle family: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. And then the reader is asked, "Would you like to see them again?" just in case he missed the noticeable difference between Gaston and his sisters the first time. Later we're introduced to the bulldog family: Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette. Then, we're asked, "Would you like to see them again?" First of all, I love it when a story reaches across the divide and interacts with the reader. And second, I just love saying those names. They are so perfect.
And I'm not the only one who loved the names. A couple days ago, I heard Bradley saying, "Ooh-La-La" (in a prissy voice) "and Gaston" (in a tough voice) over and over and over again. He cracks me up.
Have you found any great picture books lately?