Little White Rabbit is yet another example of why Kevin Henkes is such a wonderful children's author and illustrator. Henkes has said that he's been interested in creating books for younger children with "very direct, succinct stories." and he's done just that. This is a sweet little book with softly colored illustrations. Younger children will enjoy little white rabbit's explorations and the full page illustrations of his wanderings and wonderings will definitely engage younger ones. My kindergarten students were quite enthusiastic in their discussions over what it would be like if they were green or could fly like butterflies. I especially like Little White Rabbit because it's very easy to get children to talk about the story itself as well as apply their own thoughts and imagination to it (useful for both teachers and parents).
Verdict: Little White Rabbit is a quiet and sweet book that will capture children's interest and is perfect for a younger audience. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed but simple at the same time, and use delicious pastel colors. (Seriously, this book made me want a cupcake so badly). This one could easily find a place in your home library. On a side note - Little White Rabbit would be a good baby shower gift. (The color scheme is perfect and any mother-to-be will easily be able to imagine herself sharing this book with her child.)
This book is so stinkin' CUTE! I can't believe it, it's adorable. Now, it's not like the world needs yet another version of the Little Red Hen, but this is a sweet Christmas version of the story and definitely worth the read. McGrath has integrated the holiday them nicely into her version of the tale. The little red elf is a really hard worker and she has some of the laziest friends in the North Pole.
Once upon a time, there was a reindeer, a penguin, a hare, and a little red elf. They all lived together in a comfy, cozy workshop. The reindeer liked to snooze in the straw. The penguin liked to relax in the bathtub. The hare liked to hibernate by the hearth. That left the little red elf to get all the workshop work done.
She was filling some bird feeders, by herself, when she found a pinecone. Since none of her friends would help her plant it, she decided to do the job herself. When the time came to water it or bring it in to the workshop once it had grown, she was on her own.
By the time she had strung the lights, decorated the tree, and baked cookies for Santa without any help, she had gotten a bit frustrated but tried to keep her holiday cheer. Of course, when she needed help to open all of those presents her friends came running.
"I will!" said the reindeer. "I will!" yelled the penguin. "I want the big one!" screamed the hare.
This is the point where the little red elf loses it and yells that she is going to open the presents by herself. Of course her friends are shocked and begin to cry. The little red elf feels terrible, apologizes, and lets the open the gifts. Boy did they dive right in. Inside every box from Santa was a Little Red Hen doll. The reindeer, penguin, and hare are confused (as are some younger readers) but the little red elf understands and thinks they've gotten the perfect gifts.
It's a cute story but I had two tiny issues. I wish there had been a bit more discussion regarding the reindeer, penguin, and hare's horrible and selfish behavior. Even my younger kids were aghast; we just talk about it a bit in class, so it's not really a big deal. (If you're looking for a version where the animal's realize how rude they've been, pick up Philemon Sturges's The Little Red Hen (Makes a pizza). ) My other issue is the ending - younger kids don't get it. I think the ending's humor is a little bit too sophisticated for the little ones.
The real star of this book, the entire reason you want to check it out and pour over it with your kid (or by yourself), is Bonnet's absolutely scrumptious and adorable illustrations. She uses a style of drawing that I tend to associate with Japan (but it's not manga or chibi style) and she throws in fantastically funny little details. I just want to hug this book.
Verdict: I will say it again, this book is so stinkin' cute!! Bonnet's illustrations are just wonderful and really make this Christmas version of The Little Red Hen worth the read. The Little Red Elf is a sweet holiday book that you should pick up from the library.
It's strange that the story of Irena Sendler and the Zegota (the Polish Council to Aid Jews) is not widely known. Under 29 year old Irena's direction, the Zegota's children's section saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish children. Irena and others would enter the ghetto under the health department's auspices saying that they were keeping track of a typhoid breakout. They would pick up infants and children and hide them in ambulances and trucks. Sometimes they had to disguise the children as packages, hide them under fake floorboards or in tool chests. A network of convents, churches, everyday citizens, and various underground resistance movements would then hide the children. Of course it would be hard for any parent to give up their children to strangers. Irena couldn't promise that their children would survive, but she was honest with the parents that they would surely die in the ghetto or in the Treblinka camp. Zegota and other organizations promised that the children would be reunited with their families after the war. Irena kept track of the children's original names and new identities on lists that were hidden in jars buried under a tree. She was eventually arrested by the Nazis, tortured for information on the children, and when she kept her silence for three months she was finally scheduled for execution. Members of Zegota were able to bribe guards to release her during her transfer. They cut it so close that Irena's name was still listed on posters as one of the rebels executed. She spent the rest of the war in hiding, helping Zegota when she could.
When the war ended in 1945, Irena returned to Warsaw to dig up the jars. The lists had remained safe and undiscovered the entire time. She handed all of her information over to the Jewish National Committee so that they could begin reuniting families. While almost all of the 2,500 rescued children had survived the war, most of their families had died at Treblinka. The Committee reunited families or relatives when they could, but many children decided to stay with their host families or leave the country. What was probably the saddest part of the story was never stated outright: everyone expected the bulk of the families to survive, nobody could imagine how bad things were going to be. Those who smuggled the children out and hid them never expected that the large majority of the children would have no one to return to.
Irena's Jars of Secrets was a well told and engaging story with warm illustrations that communicated the seriousness of the subject quite well while keeping the target age group in mind. Vaughan has included a more detailed history in the back of the book along with photographs of Irena as well as additional resources.
Verdict: A bittersweet story, but an important one. Irena's Jars of Secrets shows people of every age that extraordinary circumstances can bring out the hero in the most ordinary of people. I think this book would be a valuable addition to any public or school library. While it's definitely worth the time to read, this is a better one to pick up from the library.
Witches is a very short rhyming story about a group of kids on Halloween. At first they're making a magic potion (filled with candy and anything else they could pull out of the refrigerator). Then the "witches" get ready for Trick-or-Treating and we watch them make their way through the neighborhood picking up all kinds of goodies. In the end the witches are revealed to be kids, but I don't think anyone (including little kids) will be surprised by this.
The text itself isn't terribly original or surprising. The real attraction of Witches are the illustrations. They're wonderfully colored and filled with lots of details for kids to pour over and enjoy. The pictures, like the text, focus on the fun of Halloween.
A sweet book that will be enjoyed by the I Spy crowd and is a good one to share with younger children, especially those who scare easily. It's best to pick this one up at the library.
Poor Little Owl fell out of his nest while sleeping. A squirrel sees him bounce along the forest floor and stops to check on him. Little Owl says that he's lost and asks where his mommy is. Filled with the best intentions the squirrel confidently states that he can find Little Owl's mommy, he simply needs to know what she looks like.
The super adorable owl holds his wings as far apart as possible and declares his mother "VERY BIG. Like THIS!" Clever squirrel knows just who his mother is and takes him directly to… a giant blue bear.
Little Owl says that not his mommy, his mommy has pointy ears on top of her head. The squirrel quickly takes him to… a very surprised rabbit. Little Owl keeps adding more descriptions but the squirrel never manages to find the right animal.
Oh my gosh! This book is so stinkin' cute! Kids will enjoy Squirrel's attempts to find the right mommy and will appreciate Little Owl's fear and relief. I've read this to several classes but it wasn't until the upteenth reading that I noticed a silhouette of Mommy owl hidden in the backgrounds. Once squirrel starts running around looking for the right mommy, have the kids start looking for mommy.
Kids and parents will enjoy the lovable Little Owl and Squirrel, the unflattering descriptions of his mother, and the funny little ending. Little Owl Lost would also make a great gift for younger children or mothers-to-be.
I had to think about this book for a bit. When I first saw it I was immediately captured by the colors and the illustration style and thought it would be a nice compliment to Little White Rabbit. My initial reading of Bunny Days went something like this:
"Oh look at these colors, the bunnies are so cute! Eeee!" (That's my weird happy/excited noise)
"Hrm, we might have to remind classes that you can't really put people or animals in the washing machine. Some of our kids might try it. It's a cute picture… maybe a little disturbing… The clothes line looks uncomfortable and bunnies in the basket look dead. Oh look, they snuggle… it's still disturbing."
"Clever titles and those bunnies look so cute in their burrow. OH MY GOD, ALL OF THE BUNNIES ARE BEING SUCKED OUT OF THEIR HOME!... What is the deal with hanging these guys on clothes lines?"
"The goat has trimming shears, I don't even have to turn the page to know this ends badly. AAAAHHH! HE CUT OFF THEIR TAILS!! THERE ARE SAD LITTLE BUNNIES RUNNING AROUND WITH NO TAILS!" (At this point I'm completely traumatized and quite possibly over caffeinated.)
I really was saying this out loud and I'm pretty sure our new teachers all think I'm insane. I showed Bunny Days to a few teachers who all thought it was hysterical but that it should come with warnings for little ones and might even make some kids cry. The colors and the pictures are wonderful and the episodic stories are pretty cute and filled with visual jokes. Really, if you think about it, it's no more violent then some children's classics.
I don't know, I just can't get past my first reaction. This is out of character for me since I like picture books were people get eaten. I have students who enjoyed this book but I really think this one depends on the audience and how it's interpreted. (And how much caffeine you may have had that morning.)
Verdict: Um, it's really pretty? Seriously, the illustrations are great and just about everybody who's read the book has enjoyed it. I think this is one for each reader to look at and decide.
I am absolutely in love with Il Sung Na's illustrations. The rabbit is so cute, I just want to squeeze his cheeks! The layers, textures, and whimsical animals are just delightful. Na's spare text is well paced and descriptive, but really it's the illustrations that make the book. This is a great one for kindergarten teachers introducing winter to their students. I would also recommend this one to high school art teachers because it could be used to teach printing/stamping, texture, ink or watercolor painting, loads of stuff.
Verdict: This is a beautiful book to look at and a pleasant story to read. If I had to pick an Il Sung Na book for the home library, I'd go with The Book of Sleep or The Thingamabob. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit makes a nice additional resource for the classroom, but is a better library checkout for families.
I don't know how I missed this book but I'm so glad my coworker found it and added it to the library order. Swim! Swim! is funny and engaging picture book that kids of all ages will enjoy. Our lonely hero Lerch is simply looking for a friend. He asked the pebbles, the sunken diver, and the bubbles from the water filter to be his friend, but they just ignored him. (He even tried talking in bubble, but to no avail.)
Just when Lerch thought it was official that nobody liked him, someone popped up that really seemed to like him. The cat. It's ok that the cat thinks his name is "Lunch" instead of Lerch, he could work with that. The exchange between Lerch and the cat was really cute and is bound to have younger readers yelling warnings at the page. Just when it looks like Lerch is about to be eaten, the cat drops him and says "Meet dinner!". It seems our hero has been dropped into a new fish bowl containing Dinah. It's love and friendship at first sight (even the cat says "Awww.") and they swim around happily ever after while holding each other's fin.
Proimos' simple but energetic illustrations and exuberant story are reminiscent of Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie series. Plus this is my type of story - a great read aloud that lets you throw in all types of sniffling and assorted dramatics. The text is simple enough that younger readers can read to their family (some words might require prompting). I would also recommend it to some of my older elementary students to read to their younger siblings.
I have finally found a bug book for everybody. Yes, that's right, a bug book for boys and girls who like bugs as well as those who don't. It's about something every kid as wondered at least once in their life - Where do bugs go when it snows?
Zollars' wonderful illustrations cover a double page spread and show both what children do in winter as well as the 12 insects covered in the book. I particularly liked the pages that showed what was happening below ground or in the frozen pond. Glaser's rhyming narrative is perfect for teaching about bugs to a variety of early elementary ages. Since the she was very specific about the types of bugs mentioned (like Mourning Cloak Butterflies or Common Pondhawk Dragonfly) I was happy to see that Glaser had included a section at the end to talk more about each insect mentioned. Both the illustrations and the author's story work well together. The whole book feels warm and snuggly, even though it's about bugs sleeping outside.
Verdict: I'm pretty sure this is the sweetest non fiction book about bugs that I've ever seen. It covers butterflies and ladybugs to hornets and ants. This is a great one for teachers but it can be fun at home too. Even if your child isn't super interested in bugs or science, it's a cool topic to talk about and get them thinking. I recommend picking this one up at the library and trying it out one night with your kids.
You might not have noticed, but I love Oliver Jeffers. So it should come as no surprise that I actually squeed out loud when I saw Up and Down on sale at my local book store. Even funnier was that family shopping in the isle next to the new arrivals display contained not one but three of my students. The oldest girl was one of my first graders and when she saw me bouncing and squee-ing she said, "It's a new penguin book!". That's not normally how I like to meet parents for the first time, but the kids understood, and we both walked out with copies of Up and Down.
The boy and the penguin return in this vibrantly hued watercolor picture book. The boy and the penguin are best friends and the always do everything together. But one day penguin realizes that there's something he would like to do and it's really important and he needs to do it by himself. Penguin wants to fly. Penguin tries and tries, with varying degrees of failure, and every step of the way is the boy trying to help him.
Finally the boy offered to fly penguin around in his airplane. But first of all, the planes engine hadn't recover from the last flight (The Way Back Home) and secondly, penguin really felt that flying was something he had to do by himself. The boy continues to assist and after doing some reading (in a book titled "Penguins Can't Fly") they decide it's time to ask for help. While the boy is asking various birds how they fly the penguin is distracted by a poster looking for someone who is short, fat and dreaming of flying to become the next Living Cannon Ball. The Penguin is thrilled and rushes off, forgetting to tell the boy were he'd gone.
I'm a big fan of the penguin, more so than the boy, because the he is so cute and squashy and expressive. I loved that the boy was supportive of his friend even though penguin was eventually going to fly by himself. I think this is a great reminder for younger children that it's ok if their friend wants to do something by themselves - they will still be friends. (We have lots of tears over this particular argument with our kindergarten kids.) The illustrations, as usual, are fantabulous and I love the bright warm colors that Jeffers' uses. this is quite simply a lovely and sweet book - a great addition to any family library.
Jeffers uses mixed media (but still features the watercolor paintings that I love) to bring the boy's imagination to life in this new book. One day the boy was putting things back in his closet and he found a life sized airplane. (I never found stuff like this in my closet... granted I never really put my things away either.)
He takes it out for a spin and of course it's a perfect lift off. The boy soars as high as he can before his place runs out of fuel. "Now the boy was stuck on the moon. What was he to do?"
He was alone and afraid, but he didn't know that high above him somebody else was in trouble too. Martian's engine had broken and he crash landed his flying saucer on the moon. "The boy heard noises. The Martian heard noises. They both feared the worst."
Eventually their eyes got used to the dark and both the boy and the Martian realized that not only had the met someone else in trouble, but they weren't alone anymore. They worked out a plan to fix their machines and get back to their respective homes.
The boy dropped down into the sea (because the Earth was closest) and he swam home. By the time he got home he was tired, so he rested a bit. And then his favorite TV show came on, so he rested a bit more. All this time the poor Martian is waiting alone in the dark. In the middle of his favorite show the boy remembered what he was supposed to be doing. He ran off and got what he needed and climbed to higher ground. He called out to the Martian and a rope was lowered.
They fixed each other's ships, said good-bye and thank you, and wondered if they'd ever meet again. A little while later the boy receives a walkie talkie in the mail.
The Way Back Home is another lovely and whimsical picture book from Oliver Jeffers. This one though is a bit sadder in my opinion. I'm with the story the whole way and then at the very end the walkie talkie confuses the boy and he leaves it. The last image on the page is the Martian calling "hello" through the walkie talkie. It just seems sad to me, but other than that the book is fun.
Way Back Home is a lovely book to read and to look at. Humor, adventure, loneliness, and friendship are wrapped up into one glowing picture book package. I give it 4 stars.
The boy from How To Catch a Star is back in Oliver Jeffers' second book, Lost and Found. The boy discovers a penguin at his door one day. The penguin follows him around looking sad. Deciding that he must be lost, the boy endeavors to help the him find his way home. He asked at the lost and found office, he asked some birds, he even asked his rubber duck - nobody seemed to know where the penguin belonged.
Finally the boy discovers that penguins come from the South Pole. The next challenge was getting there. Eventually the boy and the penguin build a row boat and row for many days and nights. After floating through seas filled with varying degrees of calm and danger the finally arrive at the South Pole.
"The boy was delighted, but the penguin said nothing. Suddenly it looked sad again as the boy helped it out of the boat."
As the boy rows home he feels strange to be alone again. He eventually realizes that he made a big mistake - the penguin had not been lost, it had been lonely. He begins to row back as quickly as possible, unfortunately missing that the penguin had chased after him using an umbrella as a boat. Once back at the South Pole the boy looks everywhere but cannot find his friend. He sadly sets off for home once more. Ahead of him he sees something in the water and is reunited with his friend.
"And so the boy and his friend went home together, talking of wonderful things all the way."
My love for Oliver Jeffers' books and illustrations cannot be verbalized, but I will try. The story is simple, sweet, and even my 4 year olds become emotionally invested in the book. The illustrations are spare and humorous but use beautiful colors and a water color technique that gives depth and movement to each painting. I love the expressiveness of the characters, the ridiculousness of the boy's stick legs holding up a solid body, the wonderful lollipop trees that have square shapes overlaid, and the fantastically pudgy penguin! Oh, how I love the penguin.
I LOVE THIS BOOK and everybody would have a copy. Well, if you like picture books or have kids, then you should have a copy. The watercolor illustrations and story are lovely and the penguin is so cute readers lose the power of speech and can only make squeaking sounds. (When I say "readers" I mean me and most of my first graders.) I give it 6 stars because I think is fantastic!
Once upon a time in the forest things were not as they should be. Branches were disappearing , and everyone agreed, "branches should not disappear from trees like that." At first neighbors accused each other of making off with the branches, but they all had alibis. So they banded together to investigate. They assigned jobs, the dusted for prints, they looked in every nook and cranny. "But no matter how hard they investigated, no clues could be found." (Somehow the animals keep missing the bear with an axe and the paper airplanes left scattered around the forest, but your children won't.) Eventually a witness stepped forward and the investigators had found their man, er, bear.
It turns out that there was a paper airplane competition that he desperately wanted to win in order to keep the family tradition going. "...he wanted to win, and he knew he wasn't very good, and he had run out of paper and he had no one to ask for help. He was so sorry for taking their trees. He hadn't meant any harm."
Well, this was something for the court to think about. The trees needed to be replaced and that paper airplane competition sounded very interesting. They decided that bear would replace the trees (and he did) while the other animals would gather up his old paper airplanes that littered the forest. Together they helped bear build the perfect prize winning paper plane.
The Great Paper Caper is a delightful book that teaches an important lesson about conservation without being corny or leaving the reader feeling like they've been pummeled with the message. Jeffers' gouache and collage illustrations allow young readers to follow the clues while the story itself adds another layer of humor and mystery. Along with clues Jeffers has added visual jokes and references to his previous books. My students love that the deer is playing a video game featuring the boy and penguin from Lost and Found, a few were amused and confused by the pig cooking bacon, and I really liked that everyone's "solid alibis" weren't so solid - each character was alone in his home.
This is a fun mystery with a timely message and the kind of illustrations that kids love to look at over and over again (all of those little details are great for the I Spy crowd).
Verdict: The Great Paper Caper is another lighthearted romp through Oliver Jeffers' imagination. Readers of all ages will appreciate the humors illustrations with visual jokes scattered throughout. The story is a funny mystery with TV police drama references but none of the seriousness. Especially nice is that children can figure out the lesson about waste and nature conservation on their own without loudly declaring that "waste is bad!". Jeffers' respects children's imagination and intelligence and lets them find their own way through the story.
There are two basic arguments regarding It's a Book:
If you buy this book for your children you're a bad parent and your kids will be the scourge of society by growing up to be bank robbing druggies. If you don't buy this book for your children you're a bad parent and your kids will rebel against your totalitarian rule by becoming bank robbing druggies.
In reality, it's a fun book, but parents and gift givers might want to consider the recipient before purchasing. While I liked it and found it both timely and amusing, it's not a book I'll read over and over so I give it 3 stars - this is a good one to pick up from the library.
This is a laugh out loud story that kids are bound to love. The poor innocent Wolf who's only guilty of not letting food go to waste, was wrongfully accused and it's time his side of the story was told! I love Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith and if you haven't read this story you should definitely share it with your family (but in moderation). This is also a good way to get younger kids (6-7 year olds) thinking about stories, comparing them, and sharing their opinions.
Young Achilles wakes up one day and decides that he would really like to eat a child. His mother only has bananas for him and points out that "children don't grow on banana trees". Achilles refuses the bananas in hopes for a child for breakfast. Later on his father brings him a giant sausage. Achilles refuses this meal also, even though his father tells him that "there's no such thing as a sausage made from children".
His parents decide to appeal to their son's sweet tooth and hope that a chocolate cake will help him forget his silly idea. And even though his parents made a magnificent and huge chocolate cake, Achilles just wasn't interested. He had his heart set on a child to snack on. His parents were very distressed - Achilles hadn't eaten all day! Achilles himself was "beginning to feel strange and week all over" and he decides a swim will fix him up. Down at the river he sees a girl playing. Despite his excitement he creeps up slowly on the child and gave his best, but very tiny, roar. The girl that that the teeny-tiny crocodile was the cutest thing ever (though too scrawny, he needed to eat more) so she picked him up and played with him. Little Achilles did not like being manhandled, tickled, and finally thrown into the river when the girl was tired of playing. He climbed out of the river, hungrier than ever.
"Darn! I blew it! he said. And he ran all the way home shouting, "Daddy, Mommy! Quick, give me some bananas! I have to grow bigger... Big enough to eat a child!"
Of course I originally bought this book for my school library because of the title - it's awesome! I enjoy I'd Really Like to Eat a Child despite it's clumsy message to eat healthy and not to skip meals. My students love the little bitty crocodile who wants to eat a child. They laugh at the idea of children growing on trees and sausages made of children. I've read it to our 3 year olds in Pre-K and they love the ridiculousness of it. It never occurred to me that this might be a scary book. Imagine my surprise when I read some reviews that thought this was a horrible and disturbing story. Maybe it depends on how you read it and it is always important to keep your audience in mind. If your child, or the child you're buying for, is easily scared then maybe this isn't the book for them.
Great concept but it gets tripped up by the healthy eating message. Some consider it a scary book, but I, and my youngest students, think it's lots of fun. Pick I'd Really Like to Eat a Child up from your local library.
The story was sweet, and short, with bits of French sprinkled throughout. I especially liked the pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book, it's wonderful for people like me who didn't take French in school. (I, the eternal nerd, took Latin.) I found the amount of French included in the story tended to trip me up, but I don't think everyone will have the same issue. (Fans of the Fancy Nancy books might get a kick out of this one.) I did enjoy Petit Michelle dancing gracefully through the story fixing things while her brothers panicked and bumbled about.
Verdict: While the story is cute, I loved the illustrations more. Fun for kids learning French or for families you just like an excuse to speak with a French accent! (Come on, you know you want to.) You should be able to find this one at your local library.
A fun picture book that kids will enjoy, especially when Maddie is acting like a dog. Personally, I look forward to read the part where she eats a bug to the class - they'll love it. It's a fast read, and while I will definitely order it for our school library, I think this is a better one to check out rather than purchase.
This is the book just begs for you to cuddle up with your child and whisper the story quietly while looking at all of the sleeping animals and trying and find the Owl in every illustration. I've added this and a few other Il Sung Na books to my son's book wish list for the grandparents. This is a lovely book and one you definitely need to try out, I give it 5 stars.