Saturday, August 12

Top Picture Books of the Month (August 2017)

There were a lot of great picture books published this summer, but here are some of my favorites. You'll notice most of them are based on humor... (what can I say, I love to laugh)

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective
Written by Jason Gallaher, illustrated by Jess Pauwels

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1481462716
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date of publication: July 18, 2017
Age: 4 - 9 years
Genre: Mystery
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: forest animals, detectives, mystery, humor

"Help Whobert Whover, Owl Detective, keep his woods safe in this hilarious who-who-dun-it. What happened to Perry the Possum? Whobert Whover, Owl Detective, is on the case! Did Debbie the Duck whack Perry with her wicked wings? Or did Freddie the Frog soak Perry in his sickening slime? And what if the culprit is closer to home than Whobert expects?"

Whobert is adorable. Yes, I'm TOTALLY biased because—hello—I run a book review blog called Literary Hoots. But, sadly, he's not quite as wise as you might expect for an owl... (*giggle*). Okay, sorry, let's keep going. Really, the book, overall, is just awesome—but it takes a couple of read-throughs to really appreciate it. The writing has great flow, with a repetitive pattern of Whobert looking for clues, making an accusation, being totally wrong and starting again. Then the ending exploits that nicely and wraps up quite humorously—perfect for a readaloud or storytime.

The illustrations support the text beautifully because this is where the real humor comes in. Look closely at the clues illustrated—what is Whobert missing that the intrepid reader could discover? It's brilliant and demands to be looked at repeatedly, encouraging the reader to be their own detective. In storytime or with a child on your lap, this is a fantastic picture book to try out. I really hope more Whobert adventures are in the works.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Monster's New Undies
Written by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Tad Carpenter

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-0545879736
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date of publication: June 27, 2017
Age: 3 - 5 years
Genre: Humor
Format: library book

Themes: monsters, underwear, rhyming, humor

"These are my undies! / A sweet work of art! / Uh-oh! My undies! / They just fell apart. Monster is JUST FINE with his old undies, thank you very much. But when his undies fall apart, what's a monster to do? His mommy takes him shopping, of course! But finding the perfect pair of undies is not going to be easy..."

Rhyming text all about underwear? I would never NOT use this in storytime. Fun to read aloud and content kids love (I'm sorry, kids will never NOT laugh at underwear books—trust me, I did a whole underwear storytime). My only complaint is that it might be a tad too long; I honestly didn't know you could poeticize about underpants for so many pages. And the ending felt a bit abrupt. Still, with appealing illustrations and the chance to repeatedly rhyme words like "buns" and "rump," I know kids would have a lot of fun with it. See for yourself!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
Written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-0062438898
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Date of publication: April 4, 2017
Age: 5 - 10 years
Genre: humor
Format: library book

Themes: games, battles, legends, humor

"You've played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began...Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK. Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom's Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER. At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, lived a third warrior. They called her SCISSORS. These three were the strongest, smartest, and fastest in all the land. Time and again they beat the most fearsome opponents they could find: an apricot, a computer printer—even frozen, breaded, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets! But when the warriors finally meet each other, the most epic round of battles begins...and never ends. That is why, to this day, children around the world honor these worthy adversaries by playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS!"

There's been a lot of buzz about this one—and for good reason. The writing is just so clever and the illustrations so totally epic. And of course, the two together make for a hilarious homage to a rather simple game. Who knew you could make Rock, Paper, Scissors so totally awesome? Gosh, even the publisher-provided summary is rather glorious. The length of this book, though, does lead me to say it'd be better for an older audience—grade-schoolers will love it. I think it'd make for a great classroom study, in addition to it being just an all around fun read.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Blue Sky, White Stars
Written by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0803737006
Publisher: Dial Books
Date of publication: June 13, 2017
Age: 4 and up
Genre: Poetry
Format: library book

Themes: The United States of America, the flag, patriotism,

"An inspiring and patriotic tribute to the beauty of the American flag, a symbol of America’s history, landscape, and people. It depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off. This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea."

Man, I missed the ball on this one—what a perfect read for the 4th of July! I only missed it by a month or so. While the writing is poetic and evocative, it's Nelson's illustrations that make this book so successful. I'm a huge fan of his skill; the detail and realism in his paintings are awe-inspiring. Naberhaus outlines, while Nelson fills in the details. So, really, his work was perfect for Naberhaus' writing. Definitely take the time to really pore over the art in this book. This is one that can be appreciated by people of all ages.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Be Quiet!
Ryan T. Higgins

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1484731628
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: April 4, 2017
Age: 4 - 9 years
Genre: Humor
Format: library book

Themes: forest animals, humor, book writing

All Rupert the mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picturebook. One that's visually stimulating! With scenic pictures! And style! He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his friends just WON'T. STOP. TALKING.

Genius, really. Pure comedic genius. Higgins has delivered a story that not only makes you laugh out loud, but even explores aspects of the book writing and illustrating process. It's so meta; it breaks the fourth wall before the book even starts. The illustrations, with their comic-like word bubbles and action contributes to the humor even further. This would be such a great readaloud—the more dramatically read, the better (and it allows for a lot of drama!). Give this one a try!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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