Archive for the ‘board book’ Category

h1

Dear Hug Time, Will You Be My Valentine?

February 14, 2012

Title: Hug Time
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0316114943
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co. (2007)
List Price: Hardcover, $14.99 / Board Book, $6.99

I know that a lot of people are not too fond of Valentine’s Day. They argue that it is some sort of corporate conspiracy– an evil marketing ploy invented to make us spend money. But don’t you fret, because I am not one of those people. And if you are one of those people… well… you should maybe still read this because it just might melt that cynical little heart of yours…

Homemade Valentine, next to a photo of my actual Valentine. (Please, don't sue me, Maurice Sendak...)

I love February 14th because it combines most* of my favorite things:

  • Chocolate
  • Flowers
  • Snail Mail
  • Super Cute Children’s Books!

The new board book format!

Patrick McDonnell’s Hug Time is the perfect book to read to your little loves this Valentine’s Day. This oh-s0-adorable rhyming picture book, which is also now available as a board book, follows a little kitten named Jules (as seen in McDonnell’s MUTTS comic strip), on his trek around the globe. What is driving this furry feline’s adventure? Why, only his desire to give the whole world a hug, of course!

“There was no one this kitten wanted to miss, so he made (and checked twice) a Hug To-Do List. He hugged his best friends, Mooch, Noodles, and Earl, a butterfly, buttercups, a little gray squirrel. He hugged all the birds he could find in the park. So many to hug before it got dark! Jules jumped on a boat and set out to sail and soon he spotted a big blue tail… attached to a huggable BIG blue whale**”

McDonnell’s writing is simple and sweet. His soft rhymes have a natural flow to them, which make the book perfect for reading out loud (just ask my friends… they’ve all sat patiently to hear it from me at least once). And the story’s soothing message of peace and love is ideal for a cozy bedtime setting. McDonnell introduces his readers to the most lovable, and empathetic, little kitten. And Jules’ genuine care for this world is not only heartwarming, it is also inspiring.

“The boat docked in Africa and Jules kissed the ground– the earth so precious, so fragile, so round. He hugged an elephant and a chimpanzee… a giraffe, a hippo, and a baobab tree. Exploring the rain forest by foot and canoe, Jules discovered a species brand-new. Kneeling, he whispered, ‘We welcome you.'”

Of course, McDonnell’s illustrations are what really make this story a smash. With so few words, each page of colorful drawings is what really carries the reader along Jules’ journey. McDonnell’s strokes may seem simple, but they create so much life. Each of the animals that Jules encounters seems to be more animated than the last. Please pay particular attention to each animal’s facial expression, like the lion’s below. Every animal’s demeanor is different, and yet they are all adorable. With just a few lines, McDonnell can create an exceedingly life-like expression of calm, delight, surprise, or indifference (as with the giraffe, who seems entirely unfazed by the little kitten clutching his nose in a hug). Each animal is beautifully depicted, and each page presents something lovely for little eyes to devour. Honestly, if I could have any of these pages framed for my wall at home, I would do so immediately.

So this Valentine’s Day, instead of those gross conversation hearts, treat the little ones that you care about to Hug Time!

I’m sending love to you all! Thank you for reading!

——————————————————————————————————

Notes:

* If Valentine’s Day somehow included whales and Jane Austen, I would probably die of happiness…

** Ah ha! This Valentine’s Day DOES include a whale! Wait ’til you see the illustration of Jules trying to hug a giant blue whale… le sigh…

——————————————————————————————————

Like Patrick McDonnell? Check out what I have to say about one of his other books, Me… Jane.
 
h1

Very Hairy Bear

November 18, 2011

Title: Very Hairy Bear
Author: Alice Schertle
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Best for Age: 0-4
ISBN: 9780547594071
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011)
List Price: Board Book, $7.99

I’m not going to lie… I kind of have a thing for bears. I mean, not in real life… I’ve actually never encountered a bear in real life but I hear that it is terrifying. No, I have a thing for picture books about bears. They are always adorable. It is like it is some sort of literary rule. If you want to write a cute book that sells well and melts hearts, just add a bear. Case in point: Winnie-the-Pooh.

And Very Hairy Bear, by Alice Schertle, is no exception. This un-bear-ably (sorry… I had to) cute book was originally published in 2007, but the brilliant people over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt decided to reprint it as a more baby-friendly board book. Now don’t get me wrong, older readers (ages 4-6) will definitely still enjoy Very Hairy Bear as well, and you can still get the larger hardcover version. But I couldn’t agree more with HMH’s decision to give this tale a new format. Some picture books are just meant to be printed on sturdy cardboard and held by tiny slobbery hands.

Schertle’s story is part tongue twister, part bed-time book, and 100% pure poetry.

“Deep in the green gorgeous wood lives a boulder-big bear with shaggy, raggy, brownbear hair everywhere… except on his no-hair nose.

Each spring, when the silver salmon leap into the air, fisherbear is there to catch them.

He stands in the river with his brown coat dripping. A very hairy bear doesn’t care that he’s wet.

Kerplunk! He’ll even dunk his no-hair nose. In it goes when he smells fish!”

I love Schertle’s descriptive language, as well as her strategic yet playful use of alliteration and rhyme. Many authors can go overboard when it comes to rhyming, the effect of which is oftentimes abrasive to the ear or impossible to get through. Schertle edited herself well, and thus produced a text that is enjoyable and easy to read because it presents a natural rhythm for its reader.

Matt Phelan’s pastel-and-pencil illustrations are beautifully light and airy. Each page is packed with colors, and scenes from nature, that harken to the four seasons that Schertle’s bear explores. Phelan blithely plays with perspective and point of view. For example, during the Fall when the Very Hairy Bear delights in a squirrel’s stash of acorns, Phelan uses gorgeous hues of yellows, reds, and oranges to complete an illustration of squirrels looking down a tree-trunk at the chubby, acorn-eating, bear below.

I believe that Alice Schertle and Matt Phelan’s Very Hairy Bear is a true classic in the making. And it is the perfect board book to give to new parents, or to a little loved one this holiday season!

Other Bear Books I Adore:

 

A Visitor For Bear, by Bonny Becker

The Bear Who Shared, by Catherine Rayner

Bear Wants More, by Karma Wilson (this is a really great series!)