Monday, November 30

New Picture Books: Falling Out of a Story

I'm back! After a wee maternity leave, I'm trying to get right back on schedule. To make up for some lost time, here's two picture book reviews of recent publications that both play on the same theme: characters falling out of their own story and crashing somebody else's. 

We're in the Wrong Book
Written and illustrated by Richard Byrne

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1627794510
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Date of publication: September 29, 2015
Age: 4 - 8 years

Themes: books, genres, journey, friendship

When a potato sack race goes awry, Bella and Ben find themselves bumped from their familiar page into uncharted territory. It's a brave new world of lollipops and sphinxes―and Bella and Ben are on one page-turning adventure. How will they find their way back into their very own book?

This book is a companion to Byrne's first book, This Book Just Ate My Dog (which I first talked about in this post). Turns out, I liked that one better. This book is good, but not great. On the one hand, I appreciate that Byrne had his characters travel through all different sorts of books (fictional, nonfiction, puzzle, etc) and clearly delineated between them with different illustrative styles. However, on the other hand, this made the story drag a bit. The ending did have a stab at some humor and the friendship between Bella and Ben is pretty cute. Overall, still recommended, perhaps in conjunction with his first book.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Written by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Benji Davies

My rating: ★★½

ISBN: 978-1442463073
Publisher: Aladdin
Date of publication: August 4, 2015
Age: 4 - 8 years

Themes: fractured fairy tale, aliens, books, family relationships

After an unfortunate bookcase collapse, Alien suddenly finds himself jolted out of his story and into a very strange world, complete with talking bears. Desperate to return to his book, Alien asks the Bear family for help so he can get back to his story and save his beloved Planet Zero from total destruction before it's too late. Mama Bear and Papa Bear try all kinds of zany contraptions (with some help from their nemesis, Goldilocks) without much luck. Baby Bear might have the perfect solution to get the Alien out of the woods and back to his planet...but will anyone listen to the littlest voice in the story?

While the concept behind the story is good, I don't think it was executed all that well. Alien falls into a different book, but Alien has the same illustrative style, so it's lacking clear delineation (this being especially evident to me since it's in direct contrast to We're in the Wrong Book). The text was a little hard for me to follow, as well, because it's mostly random speech bubbles. And it seemed too long of a story. It wouldn't make for a great readaloud. The ending was pretty adorable, though, and I appreciated some spots of humor. So though it is not exceptional, it makes sense to include with a fractured fairy tale collection or as a readalike to something like The Three Pigs, by David Weisner.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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