Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Picture Book Review: At the Pond by David Elliott, illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford (5/24/2022)


Quick Booktalk

Short poetic descriptions of pond life accompany beautiful mixed media depictions of animals and plants. 


About the Illustrations

The cool, lush pictures in this book are the perfect complement to the precise and evocative poems. Each page brings to life an aspect of the ecosystem of a pond in a way that immerses the reader in that environment and captures the behavior of the animals. Each illustration expands across a two-page spread leaving not an inch of white space anywhere, not even in the back matter. 


Story Time Possibilities

The nice thing about this book is that you could read the whole thing, or you could just read a few excerpts. There is no singular overarching plot connecting one poem to the next so it would be easy to share only as much of the book as your age group can handle. The poetry definitely begs to be read aloud and would be pleasing the ear of most children, including babies.


Reader's Advisory 

This is the fifth book by David Elliott to explore an ecosystem. The other titles are: In the Sea, In the Wild, On the Farm, and In the Woods. It would make a nice read-alike for Kate Messner's books with Christopher Silas Neal, especially Over and Under the Pond. Another excellent read-alike would be Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman. 


Disclosure 

I received a review copy of At the Pond from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Picture Book Review: Lily Leads the Way by Margi Preus, illustrated by Matt Myers (5/17/2022)

Quick Booktalk 

Lily the little sailboat is excited that a fleet of old ships is coming for a visit to her lake, but she worries what will happen if the bridge doesn't lift up for them in time. 


About the Illustrations 

In the style of characters like Mike Mulligan's Mary Anne and Little Toot, Lily is drawn as an anthropomorphized boat, with eyes in her front windows. The rest of each scene presents a realistic portrayal of the lake, its bridges, and the movements of the boats through the water. The sky and the movement of the water are painted exceptionally well, capturing perfectly the feeling of being out on the water. I also love the way the story incorporates a bit of education about different types of boats with drawings of a sloop, schooner, brig, etc.


Story Time Possibilities

There are some sounds that Lily and the bridge make  to each other ("Meee-me. Meee-me" and "Ooohhh--kay") that makes the idea of reading this aloud a little bit intimidating. I'd want to practice well first and maybe hear what those are actually supposed to sound like before attempting any performances with this book. Aside from that potential challenge, this would be an enjoyable book for preschoolers, especially those who are really interested in transportation. Other good themes for this book would be water, sailing, bridges, and adventure. 


Reader's Advisory 

This book is the boat equivalent of Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. It also reminded me of Little Tug by Stephen Savage. It also pairs nicely with another new picture book, Old Wood Boat by Nikki McClure.


Disclosure

I received a review copy of Lily Leads the Way from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

Picture Book Review: Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers (5/3/2022)


Quick Booktalk 

Lizzy purchases a cloud from the Cloud Seller at the park, and she takes excellent care of it until finally, it's time to let it go free. 


About the Illustrations 

The pictures in this book are mostly gray, or at least have muted colors, with hints of yellow here and there. Lizzy's yellow rainboots and the other yellow items in the pictures keep the reader constantly thinking of rain and moisture, which creates the perfect atmosphere for a story about a cloud. The details of the architecture are also really impressive, and I enjoyed the subtle details of store fronts and cars that suggest a mid-20th-century setting rather than the present day. 


Story Time Possibilities

Because of the tiny details on some pages, I might skip over this for a group story time, but it will still be a delight to read aloud to curious preschoolers. There is so much happening in the pictures that is left unsaid in the text that kids will be desperate to study each detail and tell themselves the stories happening in the illustrations. 


Readers Advisory

There are a lot of stories about having to let go of rescued animals, beloved pets, lost balloons, etc., and this one isn't that different except that the loss in question involves a cloud. Still, the Fan brothers' whimsical illustrations transport the reader to another time and place (and reality) so effectively that this book lingered in my imagination for a bit after I finished reading it. It feels magical in a way that young readers will find very appealing and very comforting. 


Disclosure 

I received a review copy of Lizzy and the Cloud from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. 

Board Book Review: Into the Sand Castle by Cindy Jin, illustrated by Allison Black (5/17/22)

Quick Booktalk

A series of sea creatures take the reader on a tour of their sand castle by means of a lift-the-flap guessing game. 


About the Illustrations 

Rounded edges and big black eyes are the main features of the figures in the illustrations, giving them strong appeal to very young readers. Each spread has many little fish and other details for kids to pore over, and three doors to open. One reveals the inhabitant of that part of the house that is suggested by the clues in the text. The others conceal other surprises. Each page is shaped like a different part of the castle which gives the front of the book a 3-D effect when it's closed. 


Reader's Advisory 

Because of its size and the number of flaps, this one is strictly a lap book. The rhyming feels a bit awkward to me, so it's not the best read aloud, but novelty books like this aren't really about the text as much as they are about the format, and that aspect is perfect for the intended age group. My two-year-olds destroy flap books in about ten seconds flat, so I'm probably only going to let them enjoy this book with supervision for now, but I think the content is still interesting enough for a three or four-year-old that maybe in a year or two they could handle it independently.


Disclosure

I received a review copy of Into the Sand Castle from Little Simon in exchange for an honest review.

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