Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Picture Book Round Up

The boxes of books keep on coming here at SCLS-YS, and my "to read" pile keeps on growing. Here are four picture books; three just published, one due this September, that recently caught my eye:

Booklist and Publishers Weekly both gave a star to this quietly important picture book that deals with change. When you are moving far away, a "good bye" can feel like a "bad bye" instead. Told with just 80 words, Bad Bye, Good Bye chronicles the feelings of sadness, madness,  unpredictability, and ultimately hopefulness, that accompany change for a little boy when he leaves his home and friends to move with his family. Jonathan Bean's expressive illustrations do justice to the phrase " a picture is worth a 1,000 words."

The prolific paper ripper and author Steve Jenkins is back with another informational picture book for older readers. Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World details for readers the different types of eyes found in nature (eyespot, eyecup, pinhole, primitive lens, camera) and gives stunning examples of what they look like, using his signature torn paper collages. Big words and academic vocabulary (hello, common core!) abound  - but with such interesting pictures and information to pore through, readers will jump right into this title. Animal facts and a bibliography round this title out on the final two pages.

Also receiving two starred reviews recently is the title A Boy and A Jaguar, which details the true life story of Alan Rabinowitz - president and CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting the world's 36 wildcat species.

As a young child, Alan stuttered horribly - unless he was singing (which he did poorly) or talking to animals. Each night, he would shut himself in his room to talk and share his dreams with his various pets. And, his father would take him often to the Bronx Zoo to visit the great cat house, where Alan would whisper to the Jaguar... promising the big cat that he would work to create a jaguar preserve.
Successful at doing so, Alan returns to the jungle, where he spots the largest jaguar that he has ever seen. "I know I should feel frightened, but I squat down and look into the jaguar's eyes...we are both whole. We are both at home."

Acrylic and charcoal pencil drawings are haunting and evocative, breathing life into this empowering story that shows how Alan overcame his stuttering to share his thoughts with the world.

And finally, the last picture book of today's round up, coming in September 2014. My Pet Book is filled with Bob Staake's quirky and original artwork of bold graphics in eye popping colors. This infectious rhyming story tells how a little boy chooses his pet. He doesn't want a dog or cat - oh no! Instead, he asks his parents for a pet book. So off to the book store they go, where the boy chooses a frisky red hardcover.

"It never ate. It never drank.
It couldn't do a trick.
It never shed. It had no fleas.
It couldn't fetch a stick.
It never needed bathing,
and its ears would never droop.
But best of all, that little pet...
It didn't even poop!"

Young listeners will enjoy the breezy rhymes, and can even guess the ending words as you read the text, based on the predictability of the rhyme. A cute surprise throw in to pet themed storytimes everywhere... plus what better take home activity than for each child to check out their own pet book to foster at home for a few weeks? Happy Reading!

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