Monday, March 20

Reviews of the Week 3/20: Picture Book Edition

There's a lot of great picture books being published of late--it's hard to keep up! But here are another three that were pretty impressive in their illustrations and ideas, even though each of them are very different. See for yourself!

I Am (Not) Scared
Written by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1503937451
Publisher: Two Lions
Date of publication: March 21, 2017
Age: 4 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: fears, amusement parks, friendship, emotions

"Two fuzzy friends go to an amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as 'scary' as they thought."

This is the third in a collection starring these "fuzzy friends," all of which carry a consistent theme about opposites. Here we learn about "scared" and "brave" with a basic plot about going on a roller coaster. The simple text, while not creating the most exciting of stories, does allow for easy understanding and even some beginning reader practice for young kids. The illustrations are key; they convey the real fear these characters are facing. What really impressed me, though, were the scenes on the roller coaster—very action-packed and fun.

In the end, it's easy to recommend, especially for fans of the first two books. I particularly like them for early readers. There is a healthy dose of scary things in this book, so be prepared to discuss fears and such with your kids. Check it out—it's publishing date is tomorrow! (Happy book birthday!)

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Mama, Look!
Written by Patricia J. Murphy, illustrated by David Diaz

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1499800807
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Date of publication: February 14, 2017
Age: 2 - 6 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: nature, animals, insects, mother/child relationship

"When a child notices a grasshopper on a plant while outside with his mother, he exclaims, 'Mama, Look!' and sets off a series of curious baby creatures noticing other curious baby creatures and pointing them out to their mothers. The human child spots a grasshopper, the grasshopper spots ants, an ant spots butterflies, a butterfly spots frogs, and so on. What will you see when you explore?"

I feel like this one could be a board book—the text is very basic with the repeated refrain of "Mama, Look!" and the identification of various creatures. The illustrations are very bold, colorful, and beautiful—sure to capture the attention of even the youngest of readers. It really is a great read for toddlers and preschoolers. They would catch on quick. My small "however" is: while it is exciting to try and guess which animal or insect will be spotted next, I still got a little bored. Definitely would be good to pair with an actual field trip outdoors to do your own exploring (or something exciting like that).

Find it at your library or on Amazon

All Ears, All Eyes
Written by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson

My rating: ★★

ISBN: 978-1481415712
Publisher: Atheneum
Date of publication: March 7, 2017
Age: 3 - 8 years
Format: library book

Themes: animals, forests, bedtime, rhyming, poetry

"Shh…look…listen…to the sounds of the dark say Goodnight!

"What sails? What flies? Those…these, Down low, nearby, far off, up high.
Who listens? Who looks? Who hears? Who sees?

"An homage to the melodies of nighttime, where if you look and listen, you might spy an owl, a deer, a chipmunk—or—what else?—before falling asleep."

This book is definitely not my normal cup of tea when I look for a picture book--too whimsical and abstract. So while my personal bias may be reflected in my rating, it did get a couple of starred reviews from the big-wigs for a good reason. The poetic nature of the text, while sometimes a tad hard to follow, is melodic and hypnotic in its telling. The colorful illustrations themselves really mimic those same ideas with flowing colors and soft lines; the creatures (like the understanding of the text) take some concentration to find amid the forest scenes. So yes, it is very beautiful. I would struggle with it, personally, in a storytime, but can appreciate recommending it as a one-on-one bedtime story.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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