I know it’s February. I started this challenge in February. But, I can’t wrap my mind around starting something “almost at the beginning of the year.” So, we’re celebrating January retrograde. And come December I’ll be able to look back at all the picture books I enjoyed this year (The full year. All 12 months.)
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire – A large spotted animal desperately wants the high life of zoo living. Two small children ask “What can you do?” And so begins a display of colorful and creative series of spot tricks. The conclusion is that he does not belong in the zoo, but the children find him a much better place for his talents.
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold – A family awakes and one-by-one to look out the window and discover a larger-than-large black dog. His one eyeball fills the window of an upper-story room. He is huge. But the littlest of the family is undaunted. She teases the dog to chase her, and as it plays it shrinks. The little one shows the big ones that what they think is big is actually little. How’s that for a philosophical way to get a pet. The writing is tense in this one – kids can laugh at the scared adults and older siblings, but they will feel the anticipation and expectation of “what will happen” through the confrontation. Well-balanced.
This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary – Sadie dreams, escapes, imagines. She loves her books and she loves pretending. And all of that comes together in the beautiful writing of this book. A tribute to book-loving children. I do sometimes find these types of texts “preachy,” but O’Leary does a great job of pulling out the character of Sadie so that readers meet the child fully and not as a prop to the message. I love some of her descriptions, too- very appropriate for a child. I don’t have the direct quote (shame one me!), but at one point Sadie is awake early and playing quietly by herself because adults need a lot of sleep.
Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty – The rhymes, the situations, the confrontation with disappointment and then resolve. Perfect. Love it. Can’t wait to read the others in this series.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Rosie loves to build and create and invent. Rosie does not like to fail. She does not like when people laugh at something she makes. Her aunt pulls her through and shows her that failure is part of the process if you learn from it. Brilliant.
The Boy and the Moon by James Christopher Carroll – My youngest pulled this book arbitrarily into our library stack. This isn’t usually my type of book, but it was quietly amusing. The boy goes out to play at night. The moon gets stuck in a tree. The boy decides to feed apples to the moon until it becomes a full moon and rolls right out. The images are soft colors, but the playfulness is still apparent. A surprising find.
If It’s Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws! by Kim Norman – We had some snow in January and this book was a fun companion. Each spread shows animals playing in the snow and includes a verse of “If it’s snowy and you know it, clap your paws” (to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”). A bit tricky to read/sing (I mean that as a good thing – makes it funny when parents get tongue-tied), and great rhymes, fun illustrations with lots of funny details to point out to children.
Little Things by Anne Laurin – This is an one from my childhood. I love the little old couple in this story though. Mrs. B. decides its getting cold and she’s going to knit a blanket. Mr. B. runs the farm, makes the meals, and chats with the neighbors while Mrs. B. knits on. She knits through the days and nights. Her blanket creeps through all their rooms and out the door of their house. But little things never bother Mr. B. The pencil drawings bring out the feeling of cold, starkness that is setting in, but the growing blanket, Mrs. B.’s oblivion and Mr. B’s casual attitude will delight little imaginations. What a blanket! Eventually, Mr. B. thinks not seeing his wife is more than just a little thing, and he asks her to stop. She is surprised at how big it is, and they find a solution to benefit everyone.
Underpants Dance by Marlena Zapf – Lily McBloom is over-the-top in love with her frilly underpants. She wants to show everyone, everywhere. This just absolutely annoys her older sister who, in true older sister fashion, is trying to maintain a superior image with her sister and her own friends, and who continues to tell Lily all the reasons why she shouldn’t hike up her skirt to show everyone her bloomers. Maybe pants are the answer? Lily, initially disgruntled by the pants, finds a solution that makes everyone giggle -whether they want to or not. This was one of the only books my 4-yo has ever brought to me over and over again to read. I loved doing voices and inflections for the conversations and screaming “Underpants dance!”
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk – Ah! The shenanigans that go on behind the closed door of the refrigerator! All is well and good until Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast hear that there’s only one drop of maple syrup left. Onward they run through leftovers, fruits, vegetables and anything else you might put in your refrigerator. Expect food antics, creative rhymes, and a crammed-pack refrigerator of illustrations in this one. But will Baron Von Waffle get there first? Who will get the syrup? In the end, the two breakfast foods reconsider their selfish contest and renew their friendship as top priority.
On to February!