Picture Books – Masterpiece Mix; Bizzy Mizz Lizzie; Bob, Not Bob!; La La La

Munro, Roxie.  Masterpiece Mix.  Holiday House, 2017. 978-0-8234-3699-6. $16.95. Unpaged. Gr. K-3.

The first person narrator gets ready to make a new painting but is at a loss as to what kind of painting to make:  still-life, portrait, landscape? The gorgeously illustrated pages show examples of each type of painting, introducing youngsters to well-known paintings by famous artists. Our artist’s resultant painting, a double-page spread at the end of the story, is a Where’s Waldo type cityscape, cleverly incorporating all the paintings in the story. The afterward pages provide a key to the 37 paintings used in the book, as well as a brief introduction to the artists responsible.  THOUGHTS: The simple, sparse text of the book is geared to a young reader, but the key at the back of the book is written for a much older reader. This is a lovely book and fine introduction to art, best used as a shared journey between adult and child.   

Picture Book        Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

 

Shannon, David.  Bizzy Mizz Lizzie. Blue Sky Press, 2017.  978-0-545-61943-1. $16.99. Unpaged. PreK – 2.

Little Lizzie is one busy bee. She studies hard, plays hard, and crams her life full of activities, at which she strives to excel. Her best friend, Lazy Mizz Daizy, encourages Lizzy to slow down and smell the flowers, but Lizzie just can’t relax. However, Lizzie finally takes on one task too many. Striving to win the spelling bee and meet the Queen Bee, she studies and studies without break, until she falls asleep during the bee. Waking up three days later, Lizzie finally goes to the garden with Daizy, where the two little bees meet the queen, who teaches Lizzie that taking time to do nothing makes one a better bee. THOUGHTS:  A gentle tale with a message that is always good to hear, but without the rollicking humor, one expects from Shannon’s books.   

Picture Book     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

 

Vernick, Audrey, Elizabeth Scanlon, and Matthew Cordell. Bob, not Bob! Disney-Hyperion, 2017. 978-148472302-9. $17.99. Unpaged. Gr. K-2.

When the subtitle states, “To be read as though you have the worst cold ever,” the readers should know they are in for a humorous sick day. Indeed, Little Louie is feeling lousy, and all he wants is his mother. Alas, yelling for mom sounds a lot like a call to the faithful pet, a dog named Bob! The confusion continues until Louie is able to find the cure he needs and include Bob and Bob (Mom!). While the text is clever and quick, the illustrations by Matthew Cordell prove to be the perfect ink and watercolor compliment. The frustration of Louie mixed with the confusion of Bob and the exhaustion of Mom leads to plenty of real entertainment. The endpapers and the font choice (with a heart in the Bob for Mom) show details that encourage repeated reading and enjoyment for the ill and healthy alike.  THOUGHTS: Would work to compare well with Martha Speaks books, and the illustrations of William Steig or Quentin Blake. Also allows readers to practice reading with meaning, with expression, and with humor!

Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

 

DiCamillo, Kate. La La La. Candlewick Press, 2017: ISBN 978-0-7636-5833-5. 72pp. $17.99. Gr K-3.

This nearly wordless picture book begins with a small girl standing in a spotlight. She sings a single note: La. She continues singing for a bit, until she realizes she’s singing all alone. Some falling autumn leaves catch her attention and draw her outside where she continues her song. She sings to the leaves, but there is no response. She also tries singing to the pond, the plants, and the trees but still receives no answer. Feeling discouraged and alone, she goes inside, but when the moon rises, she tries singing to it too. Even though she waves her arms and climbs a ladder to be closer to the moon, it doesn’t respond. The lonely girl falls asleep but is awakened by a resounding La: the moon’s triumphant answer. Under a sky full of stars, the girl and the moon call back and forth, each savoring the sense of connection with another. This simple story is brought to life through Jaime Kim’s gorgeous digitally rendered watercolor and ink illustrations. The full bleed spreads – especially the nighttime ones – are saturated with color and fully capture the joy that a sense of belonging brings.  THOUGHTS: Even the youngest readers will pick up on the idea of needing to be heard, so this book will be good for sparking discussions about self-expression. It may also work well with guidance units about loneliness and forming connections with others. Classroom teachers could also ask students to think about ways they express themselves. This could lead to discussions about singing, dancing, drawing, writing, or many other outlets.  

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Picture Books – Big Cat, Little Cat; Leaf; Baawaa & Wooliam; Olivia the Spy

Cooper, Elisha. Big Cat, Little Cat. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 9781626723719. Unpaged.  $16.99. Gr. 2-5.

Using simple drawings with lots of white space and spare text, author-illustrator Elisha Cooper has written a quiet gem of a book that tells the story of a friendship between two cats. We first meet a single household cat who keeps busy exploring, playing, and eating.  His life changes when a kitten joins the family, and the two cats quickly becomes friends.  The older cat serves as a mentor to the kitten and shows him how to eat, rest, and play.  Time passes and the kitten grows into a cat.  The two animals continue to have fun together, until the older cat gets sick.  Using poignant text, the author tells us about the passing of the cat in a way that is accessible to young children; “He had to go…and he didn’t come back. And that was hard.”  Coming full circle, a new kitten once again appears in the house soon after, and the cycle continues of mentor and friend. The illustrations are an important part of the story.  Cooper uses a black and white color palette and artistically juxtaposes the color of the fur of the three cats. This creates a striking image as the pairs sit next to each other, white cat next to black cat.  The drawings are simply without much detail, and the human family appears on only one page, which is right after the death of the older cat. We see them as shadows on a gray page as the younger cat sits off to the side.  This double page spread paints a strong visual image of grief.  THOUGHTS:  This understated book is a real winner and will be savored by children who love cats. They will enjoy listening and reading it again and again.  Parents may wish to read this book to their children who have experienced the loss of a pet.  After reading this book aloud, it can also lead to a discussion about friendship.   Cooper’s text is a great addition to elementary collections

Picture book                Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

 

Dieckmann, Sandra. Leaf. Flying Eye, 2017. 978-1-911171-31-7. Unpaged. $17.95. Gr. K-1.
In Leaf, debut author/illustrator Sandra Dieckmann tells the story of an unnamed polar bear who washes ashore on the edge of the woods. The other animal residents of the woods are quite scared; they have never encountered a polar bear before! They are also confused by the bear’s habit of collecting leaves. As the days go by, the woodland creatures debate about how they should handle their new neighbor. The situation comes to a head when they witness the polar bear cover himself in leaves and jump off a hill and a cliff before crashing back to ground. Spurred to conversation, the other animals learn that the bear drifted across the sea due to the melting of the ice. He was using the leaves in an attempt fly back home. As the story draws to a close, the animals have banded together to help the polar bear return home. THOUGHTS: This is a lovely story about the importance of friendship and inclusion that also incorporates the concept of climate change and it’s impact on animals. The color of the illustrations spring from the page and draw readers into the world of the animals. A great choice for collections serving younger readers.
Picture Book     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

 

Elliott, David. Baabwaa & Wooliam. Candlewick, 2017. 978-0-7636-6074-1. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Baabwaa & Wooliam are best friends (and sheep!). Wooliam loves to read while Baabwaa enjoys knitting. One day, they decide to go on an adventure and set off through the surrounding fields. As they are finishing lunch,  a third sheep approaches. But, as the sheep gets closer, they realize it is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing! Wooliam shouts that it must be the wolf he has read about, and he and Baabwaa take off running. They are quite surprised when the wolf stops chasing them and wants to talk about the wolf story Wooliam had mentioned. They soon quickly realize that the wolf is unfamiliar with wolf stories because he cannot read. Wooliam decides to teach the wolf to read (while Baabwaa knits him a new sweater). As the story draws to a close, a unique friendship has developed between three animals. THOUGHTS: This humorous tale of unexpected friendship would make a great read-aloud for any classroom or library. Sweet (a past Caldecott Honor honoree) enhances the text with her watercolor, gouache and mixed media illustrations that bring the personalities of sheep and wolf to life. Highly recommended for picture book collections.
Picture Book      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

 

Falconer, Ian. Olivia the Spy. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-1-4814-5795-8. 36pp. $17.99. Gr K-3.

Olivia usually does her best to stand out from the crowd, but in her latest title, she has a new mission: blending in whenever possible. After overhearing her mother’s phone conversation detailing Olivia’s mishaps with the blender (blueberry smoothie all over the kitchen) and the laundry (two red socks dying all her father’s shirts pink), Olivia decides to go undercover to determine what else her family really thinks about her. While eavesdropping, she hears her father mention an ‘institution,’ and Olivia is sure he is planning on sending her to prison. The comical reality of her father’s words play out against a stark white background, allowing Falconer’s trademark pencil and charcoal illustrations to shine. Bright pops of color, including a brightly lit cityscape and an illuminated ballet theatre, add to the story’s drama.  THOUGHTS:  Olivia fans will not be disappointed with this latest addition to the series. During her eavesdropping, Olivia overhears some information and incorrectly interprets it, opening the door for teachers to discuss the ethics of listening in on other people’s conversations.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD