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Book Review: The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

14 Oct

It’s been QUITE A WHILE since I posted a book review. Perhaps that’s because I’ve not felt inspired to do so in a while? Maybe, maybe not. At any rate, I felt VERY inspired to write about Patrick McDonnell’s (he’s the creator of the Mutts comic and several other lovely picture books) new story, The Monsters’ Monster.

Grump, Groan and Gloom ‘n Doom are monsters. At least, they THINK so. The like to SMASH, BASH and CRASH, and they live in a gloomy castle on a hill above a monster-fearing town. However, they can’t decide which of them is the MOST monsterly. All of their debates on the subject end in a brawl (these are two of the glorious vocabulary words used in the book: debate and brawl). So, Grump, Groan and Gloom ‘n Doom decide to solve the problem by making the BIGGEST, BADDEST monster EVER. They gather supplies (like gunk, glue, and a smelly old shoe) and, in true Frankenstein fashion, raise their monster up to the heavens for a jolt of lightning. When their monster is lowered to the ground and begins to tear off his bandages, they cheer “It’s alive!”

And then the monster utters his first words: “DANK YOU.”

Wait, what? Who is this BIG, BAD monster saying thank you? Monsters don’t say  that! But Monster finally plows through a wall and heads toward the village to the bakery. Grump, Groan and Gloom ‘n Doom  cheer and follow closely behind, hoping to hear the “howls and yowls” of the bakery’s inhabitants. But when Monster emerges, having NOT smashed up the bakery, with a small white paper bag, what will they do?

This is JUST the right kind of not-so-scary story that’s right for young kids. It’s a bit long for toddlers, and introduces lots of great new words to add to a preschooler’s vocabulary. And the message of happiness at simply being alive? LOVELY. McDonnell’s illustrations are silly and filled with detail, but the muted shades of green, orange and grey are just right for the slightly-eerie tone. Add this to your Halloween or Monster storytime ASAP. You WON’T regret it – and neither will the kids who get to enjoy it!

DANK YOU! 

Caldecott Challenge Book Review: Nothing At All by Wanda Gág

3 Jan

“He was not very tall
Nor yet very small;
He looked like nothing,
Like nothing at all.”

Nothing-at-all is perfectly contented to be invisible as long as he can do all of the same things his visible brothers can do. Until, one day, the brothers are adopted by a boy and a girl, who don’t take Nothing-at-all because they cannot see him. Nothing-at-all follows but soon loses them. A friendly Jackdaw, whose task it is to “carry home everything I see,” has helpfully found a Book of Magic which contains a spell to make something that is Nothingy into Somethingy. Needless to say, it works, and Nothing-at-all is able to rejoin his brothers.

Wanda Gag’s illustrations have an undulating quality. The soft pastels (?) seem to move. I loved this book – and if it weren’t so long I would surely share it with the preschoolers! They’d have such fun with the “I’m busy/Getting dizzy” part!

Nothing At All won the Caldecott Honor in 1942.

The Caldecott Challenge 2012: Nerdcott!

2 Jan

The end of last week I saw some kids’ librarian folks on twitter talking about “#nerdcott” and decided to check it out. I followed the twitter trail to this post by LibLaura5, describing a challenge she was setting to read ALL of the Caldecott winners (not just the medalists, but honors too!). Well, I love a good (do-able) challenge, so I decided that I’m in! I’m pretty knowledgeable about winners and honors from the last 15-or-so years (or at least the last 12 years that I’ve been working as a librarian), but the early years? Not so much. Did you know that the Caldecott Medal was first awarded in 1938? And that there are over 300 Caldecott medalists and honor books?

I’d better get crackin’. The best thing about Laura’s challenge is that THERE ARE NO RULES. You don’t have to read the books in any particular order (which is good because some of them we have in the library, and some I will have to request from other libraries or ILL). You don’t have to set a time limit, if you don’t want to. So, my personal goal is to simply READ THEM ALL. Preferrably this year.

I’ve already started from the bottom up; again, not in order, but that’s how I’m keeping track: I’m ordering the books from the earlier years first and reading them as they come in. I read Andy and the Lion and Barkis this morning, and have Wee Gillis, Abraham Lincoln, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on my desk. I probably won’t review all of them here as I really only like to write reviews of books that a) I love and b) feel inspired to write about.

Wanna challenge yourself? Get the full list of Caldecott Medal and Honor books. If you have a blog and want to indicate your participation, Laura has made an icon available.  And remember, if you tweet, don’t forget to add the hashtag #nerdcott so we can all enjoy each other’s company!

 

 

Trailer Tuesday: A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan

31 Oct

A Dog is a Dog…unless it’s not. This looks to be a fun rhyming book about opposites and animals with a silly surprise that young kids will LOVE! They’ll have a great opportunity to chime in during storytime, like the kids do in the trailer. The illustrations look whimsical and fun. Can’t wait to get my hands on this title by Stephen Shaskan!

Drama Bear: The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker

19 Oct

What a drama bear! Bear is convinced he is dying, when he only has a cold. He convinces mouse, who has come over to nurse him, to help him up to bed:

Photo of the illustration taken with Instagram

Filled with more great vocabulary and phrases (“I fear you do not appreciate the gravity of my situation!”), priceless illustrations filled with expression (by Kady MacDonald Denton), and a lovely story of true friendship, this is another Bear story worth checking out. A bit long and with conversations that may require discussion between reader and listener, this may not be the best for storytime, but perfect for one-on-one sharing between a caregiver and older preschool or young elementary school child.

Books to look forward to: Ollie the Purple Elephant by Jarrett J. Krosoczka!

13 Aug

I adore Jarrett J. Krosozcka’s books – especially Punk Farm, which allows me to release my inner Ramone – so it’s a foregone conclusion that I would be excited for the release of Ollie the Purple Elephant. And after watching this video, where Jarrett describes how Ollie was imagined, and a bit of the story, I’m even more excited to read it!

Bonus: learn how to properly pronounce “Krosoczka.” I am pleased to hear that I’ve not been mangling it all these years.

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Books I saw at ALA that’s I’m REALLY REALLY looking forward to getting

6 Jul

At ALA Annual last week in New Orleans, I spent a little time in the exhibits hall strolling through the publishers’ booths, checking out the upcoming books (and scoring a little swag. But just a little. I was being very restrained). Since there was no possible way I could read all the upcoming titles that looked interesting, and since I’m too lazy to write them down (plus had my hands full with the aforementioned swag), I took pictures of the covers to remind myself to find those books again. I hereforth (is that a word?) share my most anticipated* titles with you. The pictures link to Amazon or Indiebound, if I could find the titles:

*I know some of these are already out. But I haven’t actually seen them yet, so they’re all new to me!

EVERYTHING Jan Thomas produces is GOLD.

Dogs. Donuts. Numeroff. 'Nuff said.

Looks like it will be fun for storytime!

(and I’m not just including April Pulley Sayre because she said on twitter that she liked one of my Flannel Friday posts.)

Eric Carle! What more do you want?

Adored the first one. Can't wait for the second!

Hot Rod Hamster's having a birthday!

No, not a picturebook. BUT STILL.

Eve Bunting!

I know nothing about this book other than that the cover is very, very cute. Yes, I'm judging it by its cover.

Wonderful illustrations by Deborah Freedman

More llama drama from Anna Dewdney!

I love Erica Perl, and not just because she gave me a bunch of Chicken Butt temporary tattoos. You know what?

Neat idea! By Cheryl Bardoe

It's a new Antoinette Portis book! Yay!

You had me at "Giant Fold Out Book" (and Simms Taback)

Pardon my finger in the picture. I am a HUGE Jarrett Krosoczka fan, and I love Lauren Thompson too! This should be great!

Poor Bear! Good thing he allows Mouse to visit now.

Katie Davis!

I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on each of these titles. What are your most-anticipated new books?

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