Monday, September 11

Top Picture Books of the Month (Sept 2017)

Edit: Originally published without my review stars--oops! Fixed on 9/13.

I feel like there's a bit of a back to school theme here. Or maybe it's just because all I've been thinking about is getting back in the swing of things now that I'm working at a school again. Summer gone? Yep. Lessons planned? Well...no. But books! So here's the books that topped my charts this month...

Small
Written and illustrated by Gina Perry

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1499804010
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Date of publication: August 1, 2017
Age: 4 - 8 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: size, empowerment, city life, imagination

While spending the day with her mom and baby sibling, one little girl feels overwhelmed by the big world that surrounds her. Tall buildings, noisy cars, and hungry ducks who want to eat her lunch all make her feel like she is small. Until . . . she dreams big by being an artist, plays big and makes the winning shot, and swings big because she is brave. Soon she realizes she IS big, and nothing can stand in her way!

This one struck a chord with me. See, I feel small when I think of all the students coming through my library. I feel big when they look to me for a good book, though. It's all about perspective! This book is a great way to start off the school year—it's empowering, encouraging, and endearing all at once. The little illustrations are sweet, and fit the story well. This would make for a great readaloud; after reading, have your students write what makes them feel small vs. big (or talk to your kids about it). It's simple, cute, and to the point—check it out.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Duck and Hippo: Lost and Found
Written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1542045629
Publisher: Two Lions
Date of publication: August 15, 2017
Age: 4 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: friendship, searching, picnics

Duck and Hippo invite their friends, Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to a picnic at their favorite pond. Yippee! It’s time to dance and sing, swim and eat. Everyone brings goodies to share…except Hippo. He didn’t bring ANYTHING. So Hippo sets off into the forest to find some berries. But he is gone a long time, and Duck begins to worry that Hippo is lost. What should his friends do to find him? Join Duck and Hippo on another fun adventure!

It's an end-of-summer picnic, so it still fits my theme, see? Anyway, the first Duck and Hippo adventure now has a sequel—one that is much more of a story than a series of little adventures. Still, though, the pacing feels off at times. And there's a lot of exclamation points. It makes for a lot of shouting. In any case, it's a fun little story and I still love the illustrations—their cartoonish quality encourage the humor, action, and emotion of the story. If you liked the first, this is a fun followup.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Crocodali
Written and illustrated by Lucy Volpin

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1499806335
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Date of publication: August 29, 2017
Age: 3 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: art, painting, reader interaction, crocodiles,

In this interactive picture book, children can follow Crocodali the painter's instructions to help him create a masterpiece that will spark children's curiosity! Crocodali tells readers to tilt the book to straighten the canvas, shake the book to spread the paint, blow on the book (but not too hard!) to help the painting dry, and much more. As they help Crocodali paint his masterpiece, children will be able to express their creative sides and learn to appreciate art.

Brilliant! Much along the lines of Herve Tullet's books, this interactive story is a lot of fun. I appreciated it especially for having this adorable little crocodile guiding the read through the actions—it helps to have a character for young readers to focus on. Plus, it allows for discussion of the name Dali and famous artists. The illustrations are beautifully done, with the watercolor allowing for lots of fun actions. Overall, I did think it was a tad short, but the ending does encourage it to be read over and over. I'm sure that kids will have a lot of fun with this one; a favorite of mine, for sure.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

How to Get Your Teacher Ready
Written by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-0553538250
Publisher: Knopf Books
Date of publication: July 4, 2017
Age: Grades K - 3
Format: library book

Themes: teaching, elementary school, first day of school, behavior

You're ready for the first day of school...but what about your teacher? It's up to you to make sure she feels welcome (give her an extra-big smile!) and prepared for the exciting year ahead. Within the pages of this book, you'll find expert advice on getting your teacher ready for picture day, the holiday concert, the 100th day of school, field day, and all the busy days in between. You and your teacher have lots to look forward to, and she'll be depending on you to help keep things running smoothly. So crack open this book! And enjoy a wonderful year together.

It's cute. Let's just say it now. This book is a great way to help kids feel empowered and responsible at school, and it cleverly encourages good behavior. The illustrations have a lot going on, which just adds to the entertainment value. My favorite part? It addresses that things don't always go well, and that in those scenarios, it's perfectly acceptable to turn to books. Read and know that things will get better. So read this book, and be a better you tomorrow!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Nothing Rhymes with Orange
Written and illustrated by Adam Rex

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1452154435
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of publication: August 1, 2017
Age: 4 - 8 years
Format: library book

Themes: fruit, loneliness & inclusion, friendship, rhymes

We all know nothing rhymes with orange. But how does that make Orange feel? Well, left out! When a parade of fruit gets together to sing a song about how wonderful they are—and the song happens to rhyme—Orange can't help but feel like it's impossible for him to ever fit in. But when one particularly intuitive Apple notices how Orange is feeling, the entire English language begins to become a bit more inclusive.

Ah, Mr. Rex. Your clever humor has swooped in once again, topped with a healthy dose of friendly encouragement about including others. See how this is a great start-of-school year read? Talk to your kids about times they've felt left out. Ask about times where they may have noticed others being left out. While Orange's experience is thoroughly unique, the overall message is the same: be a friend! The illustrations are also clever; they consist of actual photos of fruit, overlaid with brilliantly drawn facial expressions. The rhyming is quite impressive, sure to please kids and adults alike (I mean, when he brings in and rhymes "Friedrich Nietzsche"...). A crowd-pleaser, good lesson, and fun readaloud (once you've mastered saying "Friedrich Nietzche"), so check it out.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

5 comments:

  1. They all have 0 stars on my computer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man. Thank you for pointing out that error! It's now fixed!

      Delete
  2. Great article, love your sharing so much, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for including my book, HOW TO GET YOUR TEACHER READY, in your round-up. Your post put a smile on my face. :-)

    ReplyDelete