Archive for the ‘boys’ Category

h1

Press Here

February 19, 2012

Title: Press Here
Author: Hervè Tullet
Illustrator: Hervè Tullet
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780811879545
Publisher: Chronicle (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $15.99

I have a little bone to pick with the world. And that little bone is that we have become quite an impatient bunch of individuals. Spoiled by our iPhones, iPads, iEverything, we want what we want when we want it. And we want it right now. Delayed gratification is just not an option. And, to be honest, we’re not even that great at simply sitting still anymore.

Thus, it isn’t too surprising that “plain old” picture books are being tossed aside for interactive ebooks; in which, letters glow, pictures move, and characters come to life. But the question must be raised: Is the child even reading anymore at that point?

So for those naysayers out there, who claim that printed books are not nearly as entertaining or interactive as their technological brethren, I present Press Here.

Hervè Tullet’s imaginative and engaging picture book is practically flying off bookshelves everywhere (we can barely keep in it stock at my bookstore because it is in such high demand). Tullet greet’s his eager readers with a single yellow dot in a sea of white, and one word, “Ready?”

Seriously, what child wouldn’t be?

After turning the page you see the same yellow dot, and a simple request, “Press here and turn the page.” When you turn the page you see that the single yellow dot has turned into two yellow dots, and you’re asked to press the same dot again. So you do as you’re told, and you turn the page to find that there are now three yellow dots. Tullet congratulates you on your work so far, and urges you on,  “Perfect. Rub the dot on the left… gently.” You rub the dot on the left, turn the page, and see that the yellow dot on the left is now red.

On and on, Tullet has his readers pressing here, tapping there, shaking the book up and down, tilting it too and fro, blowing on the the pages to move the dots this way and that, and clapping to make the dots grow.

Kids (especially those aged four to six) LOVE this book, because they feel like they are in charge of something magical! Little do they know that they are actually learning how to follow directions, and absorbing important information like knowing right from left.

Tullet’s dots are colorful and imperfect, which gives the reader the feeling that each page has been freshly finger-painted just for them. And to make the book even more kid-friendly, it is published with a hard cardboard cover, which provides the sturdy casing needed to meet the demands of all that pressing, poking, and shaking.

Now, a lot of adults don’t understand this book. You want proof? How about the fact a number of big name publishers actually rejected Tullet’s ingenious proposal. Thankfully, the fabulous, and über creative, Chronicle Books, located in San Francisco, saw Press Here for what it was– a silly, but brilliant, text that children could not only learn from, but actually interact with.

Press Here is an automatic favorite with little ones everywhere!

So, TAKE THAT, ebooks!

h1

One Cool Friend

February 3, 2012

Title: One Cool Friend
Author: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrator: David Small
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780803734135
Publisher: Dial (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $16.99

So… I know it is only February, but I think I may have found my favorite book of the year. Is that even possible?

If One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo (Penelope Popper, Book Doctor) and David Small (Imogene’s Antlers, So You Want to Be President?) is any indication of the quality of picture books that will be published in 2012, then we are in for quite a treat. Clever, silly, and surprising, young readers will love this tale of unlikely friendships and hilarious misunderstandings.

Buzzeo writes that “Elliot was a very proper young man,” which all readers can see from his quiet disposition, elevated language, and a black & white wardrobe (complete with bow-tie) that would make Edgar Allen Poe proud. While visiting the aquarium with his father one day, unruffled Elliot becomes quite taken by the Magellanic Penguins.

“In their tidy black feather tuxedos with their proper posture, they reminded Elliot of himself.”

Elliot identifies with the little dapper dudes so much that he decides to take one home with him… only after first asking his father for permission, of course.

Unfortunately, Elliot’s turtle-obsessed father, distracted by his latest copy National Geographic Magazine misunderstands Elliot’s request, and believes that the boy would simply like to take home a plush penguin from the gift shop. Hilarity ensues, as the young boy turns his room in to an Antarctic wonderland for his new friend, Magellan, and Elliot and his father continue to misinterpret one another. Can Elliot and Magellan successfully evade detection? Readers will be laughing out loud when all comes to light at the end of the story.

I fell in love with David Small’s art at a very young age, when Imogene’s Antlers was my bed-time book of choice (I could, and probably should, write a whole separate post about that one, because it such a personal favorite, so stay tuned). However, his illustrations for One Cool Friend are just as charming. His celebrated mixed-media artwork is full of creative details, interesting snippets of newspapers & maps, and fabulous pops of color. He has also drawn speech and thought bubbles around Elliot & his father’s dialogue, as well as their inside thoughts, which adds a creative, and slightly comic-strip, feel to the text. Readers will find themselves looking back through each page, searching for the small details that hint at the book’s silly conclusion.

One Cool Friend is an absolute joy to read! It is imaginative, hilarious, and adorable. I also find it rather amusing that it is a book about a penguin, and it is published by Dial, which is an imprint of Penguin… is that only funny to me?

Either way, I’m serious folks… this one is a winner…

h1

Stuck

January 14, 2012

Title: Stuck
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780399257377
Publisher: Philomel (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $16.99

 

Oliver Jeffers (The Incredible Book-Eating Boy, The Great Paper Caper, Up and Down) has done it again. The author/illustrator’s latest picture book, Stuck, is just as quirky and hilarious as his other works.

Jeffers is known for his ridiculously silly plot lines, unique writing, and illustrative style. In Stuck, Jeffers’ protagonist, Floyd, finds himself facing a very ordinary problem: his kite has merely gotten stuck in a tree. But the fun begins when Floyd tries to remedy this problem in a very extraordinary way. Floyd attempts to free his kite by throwing whatever he can find up in the tree as well, including his shoes, a cat, the neighbor’s ladder, the milk-man (“who surely had somewhere else to be”), an orangutan, a lighthouse, and “a curious whale” who was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The talented author/illustrator from Northern Ireland takes a simple everyday experience and escalates the situation until it reaches absolute absurdity. Jeffers uses a mix of mediums to depict his outrageous scenes and his own scrawling and imperfect cursive handwriting for the text itself, which greatly adds to the book’s childish and playful tone.

The ending is a bit elusive; however, this may prompt an interesting discussion with children about how they think Floyd got his kite back. Overall, Stuck is a masterpiece of imagination and whimsy that is sure to entertain and elicit fits of belly laughs from young readers.

h1

Holiday Gift Guide: Season’s Readings!

December 14, 2011

Sometimes, I get the sneaky feeling that the majority of book-buyers out there think How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express are the only two Holiday titles in existence…

Don’t get me wrong, I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I actually had it memorized for a few years when I was little because I would listen to the book-on-tape every night before bed. And, well, I think the jury is still out on Polar Express… maybe my parents ingrained “stranger danger” into me too well or something… seriously though, does no one else think it’s weird that the little boy just hops on board a random train that pulls into his yard?

My point is, there are so many fantastic Christmas and Holiday themed picture books out there! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Olivia Helps with Christmas (Hardcover, $18.99): Who doesn’t love Olivia? As equal parts Ramona Quimby, Eloise, and Curious George, dear old Olivia is a wee bit sassy, pretty darn stubborn, remarkably creative and, unfortunately, incessantly “helpful” in all of the wrong ways. Ian Falconer’s witty text and mixed-medium illustrations are entertaining for parents and children alike. And the fold-out page in the middle that display’s Olivia’s method of decorating the dinner table will have you laughing out loud.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas (Hardcover, $16.95 / Board Book, $7.99): You may recall my minor obsession with bears (see prior post on Very Hairy Bear). Well, Karma Wilson has a whole picture book series about an adorable bear and all of his woodland-creature friends. Though Wilson’s simple rhyming narratives are well written, and perfect for reading out loud to little ones, it is Jane Chapman’s illustrations that make this series really stand out. Bear Stays Up for Christmas is just as sweet as the rest of the books in the series, but I think this is my favorite because it really highlights the importance of friendship, and spending time with one another, during the holidays. I’m warning you though… it is dangerously adorable…

Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert (Hardcover, $16.00 / Paperback, $6.99): While often overlooked, Marla Frazee’s silly Santa book is my latest (and greatest) discovery. Though it was published in 2005, I just got my hands on a copy and I don’t ever want to let it go. Readers will love this original, and entertaining, look at all of the hard work Santa puts in before Christmas, as he tries to find the perfect gift for each boy and girl. Frazee’s illustrations are vibrant, playful, and wonderfully detailed! Whether it is the mini file folders where Santa keep all of his post-it notes, the ever-growing mass of cocoa mugs that litter each page, or the back-brace and walkie-talkie that Saint Nick dons in his warehouse, adults and kids will love to look for all of Frazee’s fun details in this hilarious holiday find. *This book is also available as a “Send -A-Story,” a cute little paperback storybook that you can throw a stamp on and mail directly to a friend!

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking to get glamorous, and expand your vocabulary this Christmas, check out Fancy Nancy. A crowd favorite among little girls right now, Nancy loves everything to be fancy, including the way she speaks. Nancy teaches her readers elevated language on the sly, “I love Christmas so much. It is important to find a tree with a wonderful aroma (That’s a fancy word for smell). I think bigger is always better, but my dad says we must compromise. That means we end up with the tree my mom wants.” Author Jane O’Conner presents readers with a great story about how to make any Christmas splendiferous, even when things go wrong. And Robin Preiss Glasser’s intricate and elegant illustrations will have little ones oo-ing and awe-ing for hours.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Sized Holiday Lessons (Hardcover, $12.99): Follow up Fancy Nancy with another sneaky way to introduce new vocabulary. Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s holiday follow-up to her earlier book Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons, teaches little ones the meaning of words like “celebrate,” “tradition,” and “appreciative” through baking. “Tradition means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons.” Jane Dyer’s illustrations of cherubic children and anthropomorphic animals are as sweet as Rosenthal’s words. And the recipe to make your own sugar cookies, located in the back of the book, is also wonderful touch.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking for something slightly sillier, pick up Anna Dewdney’s latest book in her Llama Llama series. Though a bit repetitive, this is a great rhyming book for early readers to practice on this holiday. Kids love Llama Llama, and can relate to his total and complete impatience for Christmas to arrive. But in the end, a cuddle from Mama Llama reminds him that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”

So this holiday season, give that old Grinch a rest and reach for something new! And don’t forget to support your local independent booksellers if you can!

From my bookshelves to yours, Season’s Readings!

h1

Holiday Gift Guide: Out of Print Clothing

December 10, 2011

It is that time of year again folks. Time to make your list, check it twice, and freak out about how on earth you are going to think of gifts for everyone on said list. Well dear friends, I bring good news (of great joy), Out of Print Clothing recently launched their new Children’s Line !

What does this mean? What am I saying? How is this helpful? Let me explain…

Out of Print Clothing is a [really wonderful] company that makes t-shirts, sweatshirts, iphone cases, tote bags, stationary, journals, etc., using the classic cover art from all of your old favorite books. Now, it is every literature geek’s dream to be fully decked out, from head to toe, in their favorite authors, and Out of Print is making that dream a reality. I own the Pride & Prejudice t-shirt (obviously), as well as the ridiculously comfortable Catcher in the Rye fleece. Not to mention that their Great Gatsby tote-bag, and Wonderful Wizard of Oz long-sleeved tee are on my personal Christmas wish-list. And what is even more wonderful is that, for every item you purchase, Out of Print donates one book to a community in need through Books for Africa.

I had the amazing opportunity to speak with the co-founder of this fabulous company last spring, to help their team narrow down the list of Children’s titles for their new and improved Kids’ line. We discussed old classics, new favorites, and everything in between.

And I am so excited to announce that the updated line for little ones has officially launched! I couldn’t be more pleased with Out of Print’s final collection of tees. It is so exciting to see so many familiar titles! I love how they chose a wide variety of old and new favorites; from Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Corduroy, to In the Night Kitchen and Olivia. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that this picture book was banned in parts of the U.S. because the Police are depicted as pigs?

"Miss Binney stood in front of her class and began to read aloud from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a book that was a favorite of Ramona's because, unlike so many books for her age, it was neither quiet and sleepy nor sweet and pretty" - Ramona the Pest

 

So if you are searching for great gifts to give to the little (or big) bookworms in your life, look no further than Out of Print!

Not only will you give them the opportunity to wear their favorite titles, you will also be giving them quality products & comfortable clothes, as well as the satisfaction of donating a book to a community in need!

 

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!)

h1

Me… Jane

May 12, 2011

Title: Me… Jane
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780316045469
Publisher: Little Brown (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $15.99

Buy on Amazon

So… I’m pretty much famous. Why? Well, it is not for my amazing cupcake-baking abilities. Not yet at least. I’m one step closer to fame because I got to write a review for the San Diego Union Tribune (Page F4, Sunday May 22nd)! I reviewed Me…Jane, Patrick McDonnell’s latest picture book about Jane Goodall. Below is the review I wrote for the Union Tribune. It was hard to write a review for a newspaper; because, as I quickly learned, it could only be 150 words or so. Go ahead and look at my previous reviews on this blog, I can guarantee that NONE of them are anywhere near 150 words. I can’t help it. I’m loquacious. And when I love a book, I like to yammer on and on about it. So to make up for the short review, I have a slew of pictures from the book itself. McDonnell’s illustrations are just too lovely not to show off. Enjoy!


“Me…Jane is a charming introduction to the inspiring life of Jane Goodall. This shy little biography, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the comic strip MUTTS), is disguised as a simple and sweet bedtime story, perfect for young readers aged four to eight. McDonnell effortlessly portrays the childhood of a girl named Jane, and the adventures she encounters with her favorite stuffed toy, a chimpanzee by the name of Jubilee. This picture book tenderly depicts Jane’s early appreciation for, and unrelenting curiosity regarding, nature, animals, and Africa. McDonnell’s illustrations are just as heartwarming as his words. Each page presents a combination of his classic cartoon sketches, as well as various ornamental engravings that help evoke Jane’s passion for detailed scientific observations of the natural world. McDonnell also includes a number of Jane Goodall’s own original drawings from her youth. Simple, but deeply inspiring, Me…Jane is a true delight!

Want to check out another McDonnell book that I adore? Take a peek at  Hug Time!