Thursday, June 18, 2015

PICTURES OF HOME by Colin Thompson

Title: Pictures of Home
Author: Colin Thompson
Publisher: Random House Australia
Date: 1992

A young reader will spend five minutes on every single page. This, I know, because I spent ten. With every children's quote about what 'home' means to them, Mr. Thompson created an incredible depiction of a domestic structure intertwined with nature.

Every child, at some point, plays with toys that allow them to 'set up' a scene. Whether it's a farmyard, a doll house, a city complete with street lamps and fire hydrants or a mountain scene.  As an adult reader, this brought me back to those days of my childhood.

Favorite Part of the Book: Everything, but my favorite children's quote is by Tony, 11: "My dream home would be where I live now."

The Art: The illustrations in this book are rich with earthy color and detailed enough to grab any readers imagination. Outstanding.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Title: The Girl and the Bicycle
Author: Mark Pett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date: 2014

Did I say I love that Brown Paper Bag (BPB) art? I love when artists use colors and techniques that look like they doodled on old brown or beige construction paper - or even an old paper grocery bag. It's nostalgic, organic and warm.  I love it.

This is a WPB (Wordless Picture Book).

A young girl and her little brother were walking down the street.  She spied a green bicycle in a store window and fell in love. She decided right then and there she would do whatever it took to earn the money to buy that particular green bike. The girl was on a mission. After checking the pockets of pants in the laundry (it's where I always looked when I needed extra cash to buy a Slurpee) and digging under the couch cushions, the young entrepreneur sold lemonade and held a yard sale - with her little brother by her side the entire time. This girl was on fire, but, it wasn't enough. After being rejected by neighbors on offers to do odd jobs, one kind lady (possibly even her mother?) who recognized her plight, offered to pay her to do odd jobs around her house. After an entire year, the girl finally earned enough to purchase the bike but in a totally unexpected twist of fate, it wasn't the green bike that she ended up buying...

"Little girls with dreams become women with vision." - Unknown

Favorite part of the book: The message of persistence, kindness and reward. Oh yeah, and the dog barking at the vacuum.

The Art: BPB (See above) Rendered in pencil and watercolor. Cozy.

Note: Did you see the red airplane in the box in the garage?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

EDDIE GETS READY For School by David Milgrim

Title: Eddie Gets Ready
Author: David Milgrim
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 2011

From cover to cover, this book is LOL hilarious!

Little Eddie has a number of  'To Do Lists' ready for his first day of school.  You'd think it would be the simple, everyday tasks of waking up, eating a healthy breakfast, getting dressed and picking an item to take for Show-and-Tell.  Not in Eddie's house.

Eddie's List includes: Sneak cookie, Put cookie back, Sneak brownie and Get dressed, Watch Cartoons and Drink root beer.  This kid is awesome. 

Eventually, Eddie makes it out the door and onto the school bus with a snack (Yes, a full-sized watermelon) and his underwear (I'm assuming he's not actually wearing any) in his hand.  Happy book, happy ending.

BBP (Bare Bum Pic): Partial.

The Art:  Bright, bold and cartoonish!  Compliments the humor. Excellent for prepping kids for school.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Title: Into the Outdoors
Author: Susan Gal
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date: 2011

If you went camping as a kid, the illustrations in this wonderful book will bring back memories of those endearing days of old.  The inner title page features a scene depicting a family of four packing up an old station wagon (ours was blue, sans wood paneling) complete with a strapped down, tarp covered load on the roof.   

In Into the Outdoors, once the happy family has traveled to their camping destination and set up camp, they embark on a adventurous hike around a lake, over a stream and up a mountain.  They are secretly escorted on their hike by a very gentle and curious pack of local wildlife. Of course, in my own real life experience, me and my five siblings would be scared sh*tless if we were ever to know that a fox and bear were stalking us along the trail.

But not to worry, my Dad was excellent at keeping us close.  He would throw a stick or rock into the bush along the trail just ahead of us and cry out, "What was that? Was that a bear?" in an innocent and merciful attempt to remind us to be aware of our surroundings.   

Besides, we kids knew that if we were too far out front in line on the trail, it only drew the ire of our father because, apparently, he "couldn't see us" and we were quickly expelled to the back of the line behind Mom - which was a terrible place to be for a competitive, adventure seeking, energetic young kid - never mind being stalked by a hungry old bear. 

For some reason, my Dad loved to hike.

Into the Outdoors is also a concept book.  It highlights the use of prepositions (around, over, through..etc) by accentuating those particular words throughout the story. Brilliant.

Great for one-on-one story time.

The Art: Charcoal on paper and digital collage.  An earthy, warm and scenic composite.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Worth a Second Look: Children's Book Edition - THE BEST NEST by P.D. Eastman

Title: The Best Nest
Author: P.D. Eastman
Publisher: Random House, Beginner Books
Date: 1968

Romance.  A tragic tale of love and loss and finding the strength to overcome the odds for the one you love.

While searching for a better life, Mr. and Mrs. Bird eventually come to learn that the grass isn't always greener on the other side and secrets are best kept being told. 

If only Mr. Bird would have known the reason for Mrs. Bird's overly high expectations in their search for a new home, maybe Mr. Bird wouldn't have considered an old boot as a viable option.  Poor Mr. Bird, he tried.

BBP (Bare Bum Pic): Birds don't wear clothes, so, Yes.

The Art: Classic and easily recognizable P.D. Eastman.  Bright colors and small town landscaping give the book a cozy, hometown feel; definitely worth a second look.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Title: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Author: Julia Sarcone-Roach
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date: 2015

An eaten sandwich,
A dog who witnessed it all.

There once was a sandwich sitting in a red lunchbox on a park bench.

Apparently, a goofy black bear hitched a ride on the back of a pickup truck hauling berries into the city.  After exploring his new surroundings, the black bear spied a sandwich on a park bench and decided to eat it.  At least that's what the dog told the little girl of whom owned the red lunchbox.

Likely story.  You be the judge.
Great book for afternoon storytime, bedtime or anytime.

The Art: Bright, bold and beautiful.  The black bear character is soft, warm and loveable. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

ONCE UPON A TIME, THE END (asleep in 60 seconds) by Geoffrey Kloske

Title: Once upon a time, the End (asleep in 60 seconds)
Author: Geoffrey Kloske
Illustrator: Barry Blitt
Publisher: Altheneum Books for Young Readers; An imprint of Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division
Date: 2005

If this book was meant to be a quiet bedtime book with the goal to get your child to sleep in 60 seconds - then it is a bust. Well, sort of.

It is a bust only because I'm sure every single parent who has attempted to read this book to their child before bed ended up busting out laughing way too many times to support any gentle, descending flow that eventually leads to sleepiness in children.

Now, if this book was meant to be a fun, bedtime bonding book, then I must say, this book is a masterpiece.

Once upon a time, the End is a book that boasts many stories within a story. Once upon a time there was a little person who was dealing with a father of whom did not want to read a bedtime story to his child.  It seemed that Daddy had a hard day at the office. Every story, nursery rhyme or riddle he recited was cut, razed, pulverized and annihilated into a morsel of its original form and then completed with an accusation of incompetence in regards to the child's ability to fall asleep.  Brilliant.

"Then what's your excuse?
 Go to bed." 

"The end.
 Why are you still awake?"

This book will make you and your child laugh and giggle and it just may become their favorite go-to bedtime book of all time.   

Tip: If you are reading this book to your child before they go to sleep, allow a little extra time for your child to settle down after the book is done.  Sixty seconds will not be enough time.

The Art:  Beautiful shades of beige, peach and teal with some pops of red.  Light lines and fun cartoon characters.