Friday, April 21, 2023

Picture Book Review Rundown: Nature Books, Spring 2023

Today's rundown is a list of recently published books about nature, appropriate for Earth Day or any day. 

How Old is a Whale? Animal Life Spans from the Mayfly to the Immortal Jellyfish by Lily Murray, illustrated by Jesse Hodgson 

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press 

Writing: Though this book is in picture book format, the text is at the middle grade level. Each section describes the life cycle of a specific species, including details of when in their lives they begin to move, mate, hibernate, etc. The book begins with the shortest lifespan (5 minutes to 24 hours for the adult mayfly) and continues through progessively longer lifespans, ending with the ocean quahog (400 years), the glass sponge (11,000 years), and the immortal jellyfish which regenerates and never dies. It's a fascinating way to organize animals, and it puts the natural world into perspective in a way I hadn't even considered before. Though the table of contents does make it pretty easy to look up a specific animal, I think this is more of a book to read for fun than a resource for research. 
Illustration: The detailed colored pencil drawings fill every page and they capture the various phases of life for each creature, as well as the habitats in which they live and how they move and eat. The drawings are realistic scientific drawings, but they feel like pieces of art, not just diagrams. The book is very visually appealing and will draw in animal lovers easily. 
Content: I appreciate that this book keeps the emphasis on non-human animals, and leaves the discussion of human mortality out of it. I think it's more comfortable for kids to contemplate the often-short lifespans of animals when they're not also thinking about the fact that the people they love will die someday. I also like the detached tone of the writing; animal deaths are treated as facts of science and nature (which is what they are) and not as sad events requiring an emotional response. 
Overall: This is an excellent informational book for elementary readers that would pair well with other titles about interesting animal facts, such as Actual Size.

This is the Planet Where I Live by K.L. Going and Debra Frasier 

*Review copy courtesy of Beach Lane Books. 

Writing: This celebration of planet Earth is written in the style and format of The House that Jack Built. It begins with us, human beings, then our homes and fields, followed by the creatures and plants that make our life on Earth possible. There is a gentle rhyme scheme that makes the repetition feel very pleasant and begs for the text to be read aloud. It's deceptively simple, but it's clear the author was very deliberate in her word choice.
Illustration: The abstract illustrations incorporate silhouettes of people and animals, actual blooms and stems and insects from nature, and beautiful swirling lines to suggest the cyclical nature of life on Earth. The pictures are bright and engaging, filled with details to reward the careful observer, but also large and bold enough to translate well to a story time audience. The pictures embody the joyful, celebratory tone of the text.
Content: This is a love letter to the planet that does not preach. It emphasizes the inter-connectedness of all life on Earth, but steers clear of agenda-driven rhetoric that sometimes creeps into children's books about nature. It's a beautifully-designed age-appropriate book to help young children learn to love our Earth. (It does not mention a Creator, but it would be easy for religious readers to extrapolate to a religious discussion of who made all these things.)
Overall: I am a picture book skeptic most days, but this is a real gem. I really enjoyed it, and I think my kids will too. 

What Do You See When You Look at a Tree? by Emma Carlisle 

*Review copy courtesy of Templar. 

Writing: Rhyming text invites the reader to observe trees, then consider their feelings. Non-rhyming back matter then encourages the reader to think about ways to be more like trees.
Illustration: The color scheme of the pictures creates an earthy, naturalistic feel. The trees are artistic renderings rather than scientific diagrams, and the figures are fairly cartoonish. There are several sweet pictures of a family enjoying time together under a tree. 
Content: This is the kind of nature book I actively avoid. Ascribing human emotions to trees and encouraging kids to think of trees as their friends is confusing and it romanticizes conservation in a way that feels manipulative. We need to care for Creation because it's good for us, and it's good for our planet, not because trees' feelings might be hurt. 
Overall: This is an attempt to make kids care about the enviroment by appealing to feelings of guilt instead of feelings of responsibility. It's a weird take on the subject matter and will not be staying in our home. 

The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Writing: This is a wordless book, but the jacket copy tells us we are in either an alternate past or a potential future The story follows the same scene over a period of many years, showing a timelapse of the development of civilization and the changes industrialization brings to the natural world.
Illustration: The pictures are very interesting because they portray the exact same scene, making major leaps forward in time with each turn of the page. The tree and river mentioned in the title remain in place throughout the book, and the changes they undergo represent the impact on the natural world of the human technological advances depicted by the surrounding scene. There is a lot of detail in each picture, and the scenes invite the reader to think about what is happening in each new epoch and how this is impacting nature. 
Content: I was afraid this was going to be a doom-and-gloom book, and I'm relieved to say it isn't. Because there are no words, there is no room for the author to guide the reader's thoughts. Rather, the reader can observe and draw his/her own conclusions. The final images of the book also portray a hopeful message, that if we go too far in our development of technologies, all is not lost and we can correct our course and start again. It also hints at the cyclical nature of all things on Earth. 
Overall: This is a beautifully illustrated book and it invites kids to think without telling them how to do it. I appreciate that, and I really enjoyed paging through this one. 

Amazing Insects Around the World by DGPH Studio
Amazing Animals Around the World by DGPH Studio

*Review copies courtesy of Penguin Workshop. 

Writing: These are informational books, and they are written similarly to a textbooks in that unfamiliar words are bolded and the author uses a straightforward, just-the-facts style. I wouldn't say the writing is dry per se, but it's direct and informative. There are sidebars and informational boxes in the margins of the pages, as well as labels identifying the different creatures that appear in the pictures.
Illustrations: The pictures are highly stylized digital drawings that are both useful as scientific diagrams and appealing to look at just as artwork. The images are organized well on the page so that even where this a lot of visual information it isn't overwhelming to the eye. Bold, capitalized headlines help the text stand out amidst the illustrations, which makes the amount of reading on each spread feel manageable too. 
Content: These are good resources for a first research project, as there is a table of contents and glossary in each, and the information presented is of the type typically requested by an early elementary school science report. The insect volume is a bit more general, and the animal one puts more of an emphasis on unusual animal characteristics, but both are solid general biology titles.
Overall: I requested these with my 3-year-old son in mind, as he loves nonfiction and especially enjoys books with a lot of pictures. I don't think he will be disappointed. We probably have enough biology titles to last all of our homeschooling days, but if you are building up a collection, these aren't bad at all. 

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Jenni Desmond

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Writing: Like many books have done before, this one follows animal activity on Earth over the course of one day to emphasize biodiversity. I only requested it because the author is Nicola Davies and her science books tend to be a notch above the rest. She takes a conversational kid-friendly tone in this one, inviting the reader to observe various things in the different places the book visits. Each page's blurb is short, but well-written and engaging to read. She does, however, emphasize negativity, as she cautions about all the ways humans may be destroying the Earth and suggests that certain solutions are simple without getting into the nuance of those solutions.
Illustrations: The illustrator portrays a pair of children in each scene who act as the readers' guides through the book. Since these human characters travel to places that are uninhabitable, this adds a whimsical fantasy element to the book that makes the journey feel fun and magical. The illustrations do a beautiful job of emphasizing the beauty of various aspects of nature and of helping the reader imagine the weather conditions of each climate.
Content: The problem with simplifying a topic for a children's book is that it can make the problem look simple. In at least a few places, the author indicates that a plan exists for fixing a certain problem, if only we would just follow that plan, as though there are no disagreements or politics standing in the way. We did kids a disservice when we introduce them to topics they aren't ready to handle in full and try to win them over to a certain way of thinking by leaving out some of the facts. I wouldn't quite put this in the propaganda category, but I would definitely instruct my kids to consider bias if they read this one. 
Overall: I think there are books that handle this topic better and with less problematic content, but this one is mostly an admirable addition to this genre. 

Shall We Dance? by Robin Page

*Review copy courtesy of Beach Lane Books. 

Writing: This picture book explores animal dances, not just for courtship but also for communication and transportation. Each page describes a different creature's dance moves and their purpose. Large, bold text in various colors gives a one-sentence description of the animal's movement, and then a blurb in smaller text expands upon that information in a child-appropriate style.
Illustration: Each page shows an oversized animal or pair of animals against either a white background (for land animals) or an ocean backdrop (for sea animals.) The creatures and their movements are the main focus of each page, and even the text is made small to accomodate them. The artist does a beautiful job of portraying animals as they would look in real life, and of capturing their signature moves. (Page is the wife of Steve Jenkins, and readers who know What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? will recognize her style from their collaboration on that book.)
Content: This is an appealing look at an interesting aspect of nature. It can be read to a preschooler using just the simplified sentence on each page, or it can be a more detailed exploration for an early elementary reader. It's definitely a book to read for fun, not so much a reference source.
Overall: This is a visually appealing title on an engaging topic that young nature lovers will really enjoy.

Rain by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lisa Congdon

*Review copy courtesy of Beach Lane Books. 

Writing: This book is an extended description of the reactions of various animals and people before, during, and after a rainstorm. The text reminds me of certain books by Margaret Wise Brown, in that it feels a bit disjointed and I can't always tells where it's going next. It's not as poetic or distinctive as I would expect this author's writing to be.
Illustration: The pictures are digital illustrations that zoom in and out on various scenes inside and outside of a home. Colors fill every page, which is very appealing, and the raindrops really capture the feel of a rainy day.
Content: This is a story celebrating the need for rain. It's not particularly memorable, but it's fine. There is no hidden agenda in this book, and it's not about anything other than enjoying rain for the gifts it brings us.
Overall: Other books about rain are more interesting than this one, so this would be an additional purchase for most people, whether for home libraries or public ones. 

Eric Loves Animals (Just Like You) by Eric Carle

*Review copy courtesy of Penguin Young Readers.

Writing: This book is essentially a visual dictionary of animals using the artwork of Eric Carle. The only real text in the book is the names of the animals depicted in the illustrations, which are organized alphabetically. A handful of times there are quotations from Eric Carle himself, but no other commentary at all.
Illustration: This is very much an art book, for fans of Eric Carle. My 5-year-old daughter is a huge Carle lover and she has spent hours poring over each page. It was thrilling for her to see a new book after his death. I think she likes having all this artwork to look back on even though he is no longer with us to produce anymore. It's fun to see the different ways he portrayed various animals using his signature technique.
Overall: This is a lovely tribute to a long career. It's a fun book for kids, but would also be a great coffee table book for a children's literature enthusiast of any age. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Garden Friends by Eric Carle

*Review copy courtesy of Penguin Young Readers.

Writing: This is a gently written board book that invites babies and toddlers to observe what's happening in a garden. My three-year-old twins ask me to read it multiple times a day.
Illustration: The pictures incorporate touch-and-feel elements that are very appealing to the youngest readers. The familiar caterpillar guiding the reader through the book also really engages them.
Overall: This book is the perfect choice for a young Eric Carle lover in your life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Picture Book Review Rundown: Easter 2023

Here are four Easter titles just in time for the upcoming holiday! 

Pick a Perfect Egg by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis  

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press 

Writing: Like previous titles by this pair, this is a rhyming book. It celebrates the secular, spring-centric version of Easter. with the dyeing, hiding, and hunting down of colored eggs. As in the previous titles about Halloween and Christmas, this one has some awkward moments in the rhyme and rhythm but is overall very enjoyable to read.
Illustration: The bright, colorful illustrations are the strongest aspect of this book. As in the other holiday titles by Toht and Jarvis, these really evoke the seasonal details, both in terms of weather and the activities the characters participate in. It's a very visually attractive book and stands out on the shelf.
Content: Obviously, there is no religious content in this book so the meaning of Easter is lost. Still, my family dyes eggs and we are not opposed to egg hunts, so we will happily read this book with the understanding that this is something we do for fun on a day of celebration that is about much more than eggs. 
Overall: This is a worthy follow-up to the authors' other books and a beautiful depiction of springtime fun in community with others. 

The Easter Surprise adapted by Tina Gallo

*Review copy courtesy of  Simon Spotlight  

This is a Cocomelon board book, so I'm not going to give it a full review. It borrows the text and images of a song from the Cocomelon show and reproduces them poorly in board book format. It's disappointing how garish the pictures are, and how poorly these screenshots translate to the print format. My toddlers will probably look at this but it will be donated after Easter.

I'm a Little Bunny by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Liz Brizzi

*Review copy courtesy of Little Simon  

Writing: This is yet another I'm a Little Teapot rendition from Hannah Eliot. It is very, very similar to I'm a Little Pumpkin and I'm a Little Snowman, to the point that it reuses some of the lines from those previous titles. The rhymes are pretty obvious, but the rhythm of the text fits the original song the best of the adaptations I've read by this author.
Illustrations: The pictures in this book feel like they belong in an anime cartoon. There is a lot of movement suggested in each one, and it feels like the entire story could be animated. They include all the typical spring details you find in generic holiday board books.
Overall: This formula is beginning to get old, and I don't think this will be a permanent addition to our holiday collection, especially since we're trying not to add more board books now that the twins are three.

Hope is a Hop by Karina Moore, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

*Review copy courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers 

Writing: This rhyming reflection on hope for new life in gardens and families has only a very tangential connection to Easter, but it is very pleasant to read aloud. Bunnies and flowers are the only remote connections to the holiday, and yet the theme of hope does somehow feel appropriate. I think the argument could be made that this book sets the right tone for Laetare Sunday, when the Church rejoices in anticipation of the coming Resurrection.
Illustrations: The pictures are charming. They depict a biracial family, their home and garden, and their new baby as well as an adorable family of rabbits. They are warm and sweet and bring the warmth, scents, and sunshine of the spring to life.
Content: This is a book about waiting for good things and celebrating when they arrive. It acknowledges pain and difficulty, such as when the main character can't get her garden to grow, but it also emphasizes that giving up is not the answer.
Overall: This was a pleasant surprise for me. I chose to review it because I enjoy Melissa Iwai's illustrations in Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Wiley and wanted to see another book illustrated by her. I'm very glad I requested it because it has a nice message and portrays strong family relationships. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Picture Book Review Rundown: Winter 2023

Today's rundown features several great titles that were sent to me for review in January and February.

Welcome to the World by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury 

*Review copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Writing: In rhyming text, the author welcomes a new baby to all the new experiences of life. The rhythm and rhyme are as delightful as in any of this author's beloved books. 
Illustration: Helen Oxenbury's illustrations are as charming as ever, filled with little babies from all backgrounds and their parents, animal friends, and siblings. They are very reminiscent of her pictures in books like Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, but with even more sweet little details to love.
Content: This book features a variety of caregivers, including moms and dads, grandparents, and what appears to be a daycare worker. It includes an image of breastfeeding and one picture where there is a bottle in a diaper bag, which I appreciate, and it's an all-around gentle celebration of babyhood.
Overall: This feels like a book from a bygone era of children's classic picture books, in a good way. It feels contemporary in terms of the characters' dress and the cultural diversity of the people in the pictures but also timeless in its carefully crafted text. We don't need a book about babies, but we're keeping this one anyway.

Peek-a-Boo Haiku by Danna Smith, illustrated by Teagan White 

*Review copy courtesy of Little Simon 

Writing: Each spread features a haiku that describes the behavior of a particular woodland animal, whose identity is revealed behind each of a few flaps.  Each haiku is a perfect fit for the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern, and the words are very carefully chosen to evoke just the right feel for each animal.
Illustration: The pictures are cozy and warm, with animals that are softened but not anthropomorphized. The flaps add an element of suspense and excitement, and they are large enough to be manipulated by clumsy little fingers without ripping the first time through.
Overall: This is such a clever concept for a board book, and the whole thing is designed beautifully. My three-year-old daughter loved it, and immediately added the word "haiku" to her vocabulary. My poetry-loving seven-year-old daughter was drawn to it as well. This is one of the few five-star board books I've seen in the past five years or more. 

Good Morning, Good Night by Anita Lobel

*Review copy courtesy of Paula Wiseman Books

Writing: A child wakes up in the morning, and after waiting what seems like forever for the grown-ups to be ready, goes on a walk through the city describing everything in terms of opposites. The opposites are not the usual pairs found in typical concept books, but different choices, including fresh vs. painted flowers, and calm vs. fierce cats. The book brings us from morning to night, describing city life as well as teaching vocabulary.
Illustrations: The pictures are done in this author's beloved style, which in this particular book is especially reminiscent of On Market Street and One Lighthouse, One Moon. They perfectly evoke the feeling of a walk in a city, and they add some urban flavor to a topic that is often either not set anywhere, or set in a rural setting.
Content: There is lots of cultural diversity among the figures in the pictures, as well as a heavy emphasis on architecture and flowers, as well as textures of all types.
Overall: It's lovely to see a new book from an old favorite. Night and day is one my go-to story time themes, and this book will be a great addition to my repertoire on that subject, as well as to our homeschool library bookshelves. 

The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault 

*Review copy courtesy of Little Simon 

Writing: This rhyming book describes the behavior, habitat and daily life of a honeybee. It uses lots of great vocabulary in its descriptions and the way the text is formatted contributes to the reader's immersion in the world of bees.
Illustration: The bees are a bit cartoonish which is jarring when I compare them with the very naturalistic backgrounds in the pictures. But the nature drawing is lovely, and the bees' appearance gives them a bit of personality that gives the young reader characters to engage with as they learn the scientific information presented in the book.
Content: This is a science lesson about bees packaged in an age-appropriate format for little ones. It's the board book version of a previously published picture book, and it does seem to be abridged. I was vaguely annoyed by the back matter where the author urges readers to tell Congress they love bees. Toddlers don't write to Congress, and I don't like having political messages to parents stuck into my children's books.
Overall: While I'm not ready to label this a classic board book the way the publisher has, I think it's a solid book on an interesting topic. My three-year-old son who loves nonfiction will be the next one in our household to look at this book. 

One Tiny Treefrog: A Countdown to Survival by Tony Piedra and Mackenzie Joy

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press 

Writing: This is a counting book in which ten treefrog eggs slowly meet their demise until just one is left to grow to adulthood. The text only mentions the remaining number of frogs on each page and their action and leaves out explicit mention of the way the young creatures are killed. It ends up being less morbid than it sounds.
Illustrations: The pictures depict very well the atmosphere of the jungle, and they subtly show the fate of each treefrog as it falls victim to a predator. The pictures also show a variety of other animals that share the treefrog's habitat.
Content: This book is appropriate for kids as young as 2. My son became obsessed with a small plastic treefrog we happened to have and he loved this book despite the fact that most of the treefrogs don't survive. For older readers, there is some good back matter describing what actually happens at each point in the story.
Overall: This is a solid nonfiction title for learning about the life cycle and the food chain.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Picture Book Review Rundown: October - December 2022

In today's rundown, I'm catching up on picture books I received for review that were published at the end of 2022.

Concrete by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Steve Light

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press

Writing: This informational book discusses the history and scientific properties of concrete. The text is substantial enough to convey some solid knowledge about the development and uses of concrete, but it's also not overwhelmingly wordy or complicated.
Illustration: Steve Light's illustrations elucidate the processes and historical events covered by the text. Speech bubbles incorporated into the pictures also give context and vocabulary help when needed. The detailed illustrations provide lots to pore over for science-minded kids.
Content: This is a good combination of history and science, without any agenda or politics. It will be useful when we come around to materials and building again in our science curriculum.
Overall: This isn't quite a story time book, but I would read it aloud to a preschooler or leave it with an early elementary schooler to read independently. It's a well-written, well-illustrated nonfiction title.

Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Priscilla Tey

*Review copy courtesy of Candlewick Press

Writing: Poems showcase the role of math in the home and at school, during summer, and in our own minds. The poems mostly rhyme, and they are filled with allusions to mathematical concepts.
Illustration: The pictures are cartoonish and wacky, and they create an appropriately light-hearted atmosphere for these clever and funny poems. I don't especially like them, but they do suit the mood of the book.
Content: These are mostly poems for people who already know a little bit of math, rather than poems for teaching math. I could see a math teacher using them for a poem of the day type activity, especially since so many of them are about life at school. I didn't find anything objectionable in the book at all.
Overall: This is a fun title for math lovers that can also be enjoyed by poetry lovers. My kids enjoyed hearing it read aloud.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra: How Philadelphia Collected Sounds to Save Music by Amy Ignatow, illustrated by Gwen Millward

*Review copy courtesy of Walker Books US

Writing: In simple prose sprinkled with onomatopoetic expressions of the sounds made by musical instruments this book relates the true story of how Philadelphia musicians of all ages put on a concert performed by broken instruments that led to the repairs of hundreds of instruments that the Philadelphia schools had not been able to afford.
Illustrations: The pictures are cartoonish and abstract, which means the portrayal of the instruments is also slapdash and not true to the way they are really held or played.The font used for the speech bubbles within the pictures looks very messy and unpolished, and in general the illustrations feel very busy and incohesive. The pictures do portray a diverse group of city people.
Content: This is a pretty obscure topic to write a picture book about. It will definitely appeal to kids in Philadelphia, and I think it has some interest for kids who like music in general, but it's not the kind of incident people are clamoring to read about. I also have some qualms about the "everything that's broken is beautiful" message. Beauty can sometimes grow out of brokenness but music played on a broken instrument is inferior music. I also just feel weird about a book for kids that is essentially one long ad for supporting a specific non-profit, and which doesn't hold public schools responsible for their failings.
Overall: I didn't even let my kids look at this one. I found it forgettable and I will be donating my copy.

Henry's Pizzas by Robert Quackenbush 

*Review copy courtesy of Aladdin

Writing: In understated prose, this story relates what happens when Henry the Duck has a birthday and everyone he knows sends him pizza. The writing is very straightforward and not at all flowery, but this works well to balance the humor depicted in the pictures. 
Illustrations: Bold colors and classic-looking figures characterize this illustrator's style. Facial expressions and other physical movements carry the comedy of the story, especially when too many pizzas makes for a household disaster.
Content: Pizza is a big favorite in my house, and there are never enough picture books about it! This book is a pleasant throwback to days when picture books weren't burdened with grown-up messages.
Overall: This reminds me of The Doorbell Rang. It would also pair up nicely with Hi, Pizza Man. It's a keeper. I think I might give it to my son as a gift for his upcoming third birthday.

Dark on Light by Dianne White, illustrated by Felicita Sala

*Review copy courtesy of Beach Lane Books

Writing: This is the third book White has written in this loosely connected series, which started with Blue on Blue (illustrated by Beth Krommes) and continued in Green on Green (illustrated by Felicita Sala). Rhyming poetic text describes the setting of the sun and the way the natural world looks by moonlight and flashlight after the sun goes down. The text gets a 5-star rating from me.
Illustrations: Blue on Blue is one of my favorite picture books, and I really missed that art style in this book. The figures' faces in Dark on Light strike me as odd and awkward. I did like the use of color and shadow to depict the nighttime atmosphere.
Content: This is a family story starring three kids and their mom and dad. It reminds me a little of The Moon Jumpers, but without that classic feel. It would be a cozy bedtime story.
Overall: The writing is great as always, but I would have preferred another illustrator. 

All Through the Night: Important Jobs That Get Done at Night by Polly Faber, illustrated by Harriet Hobday

*Review copy courtesy of Nosy Crow 

Writing: This story, narrated by a child whose mother works nights, lists all the many jobs that are done while most of us are sleeping. Each page provides the name of a worker and a quick, easy-to-understand description of his or her job.
Illustrations: Most of the detail in this book is in the pictures. The illustrator depicts a variety of workplaces, from an office building and a store, to a theater and a hospital. Lots of shades of blue keep the reader grounded in the nighttime setting, and contrasting colors highlight the work being done by each character. There are also some small stories told in the pictures that are not mentioned in the text, which will reward eagle-eye readers who notice particular vehicles pages before they come into the story.
Content: This is a fun twist on the community helpers theme.  Each job's importance is made clear, and there are a variety of jobs as well as a variety of people.
Overall: I prefer this over Night Job, which my kids have loved much more than I do. It's really an additional purchase for most libraries and probably most homeschools, but the novelty of the topic is perfect for preschoolers. 

Hush, Little Hero by Annie Bailey, illustrated by Dawn Lo

*Review copy courtesy of Little Simon 

Writing: Rhyming text lulls a little superhero to sleep at the end of a long, busy day. The rhythm is fine, but the rhymes are predictable, and there is no figurative language or artistry that really stands out. It feels very generic, and not even that specific to the superhero theme.
Illustration: The cover suggested a sweetness to the pictures, but inside the book they are much more chaotic, with bright blinding colors and sloppy lines. There isn't much superhero imagery to entertain kids who are here for the heroics.
Overall: This was pretty forgettable, and it doesn't really have the calming effect of the kind of book I normally think of as a good bedtime story. In a library, I might add it to the rotation for pajama story time, but I don't think it will become a favorite in our home.

Fuzzy Furry Ouch by Cree Lane + Amanda Jane Jones

*Review copy courtesy of Little Simon 

Writing: This book follows a pattern throughout, where there are three pages in a row with only a single word or phrase on them, followed by one page with a single sentence. The individual words are adjectives like squishy, slick, scaly, etc. and they describe a particular scene, such as eating pancakes or picking flowers, and they caution against touching things like hot stoves and cacti, as well as rain water without the proper clothing on.
Illustrations: Some of the pages include touch-and-feel elements and others do not. I think it's confusing for little children to have a peach described as fuzzy that actually feels fuzzy and then a caterpillar described as furry that just feels like smooth paper. Same with rough and rocky, and squishy and sticky.
Content: This book is strange and disorganized. The cover say it's a "do not touch" book but it wasn't readily apparent what that means. Not having touch-and-feel elements for every picture only added to the confusion. It's a visually appealing book for babies and toddlers, but it doesn't have a clear purpose.
Overall: I feel like this book needed more editing or maybe even a note to parents about how to use it. As it stands, it's confusing and odd and I stuck it in the donation pile. 

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