Archive for ‘Humor’

August 14, 2013

Chick-O-Saurus Rex

Chick-o-Saurus RexTitle: Chick-O-Saurus Rex
Author: Lenore Jennewein
Illustrator: Daniel Jennewein
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-6
Themes: Bravery, Bullying

Excerpt:

But first he had to face the bullies who guarded the entrance.

Little Chick clucked, “Can I come in?”

The bullies blocked his way. “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

A bullied little chicken discovers his inner strength along with some surprising dinosaur ancestry in this farmyard tale with huge heart.

Why I Like This Book:

A book with heart and comical, colorful illustrations sure to delight any child who thinks he isn’t big enough to be strong and brave.

Little Chick wants to play in the tree house with the meanie farm animals – Little Pig, Little Sheep, Little Donkey. But they say no because he is a chicken and not “brave and mighty”. Little Chick goes on a search to find out how he can be brave and mighty. Frustrated that no one in the coop can teach him, he begins to wonder if anyone in his family was every brave and mighty. Good old dad cracks out the family album showing past accomplishments – chicken dance, crossing the road, archaeology? Little Chick is intrigued and starts digging with his dad. To their surprise they find they are descendants of the T-REX!

chick-o-saurus-bone

Chick-O-Saurus Rex, armed with this new knowledge, has courage and is able to scare off the hungry wolf at the tree house, thereby gaining respect and admission to the tree house.

I enjoyed this book for the animated, funny illustrations. I first noticed Mr. Jennewein’s work in the widely popular Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten. I love the message of this book that anyone can have inner strength. This book is rooted in scientific fact, see Author’s Note at the end, the chicken and T-Rex really are related. The favorite parts for my 5&7yr-old girls and I were the family album and Little Chick’s transformation. I particularly liked the name change from Little Chick –> Chick-O-Saurus Rex and his mighty battle cry (that was fun to read-aloud)!

The text was a little wordy in some areas and sparse in others. Also with regards to characterization of the bullies, I understood why they let Chick-O-Saurus play in the tree house. But I didn’t think the text showed the transformation of the bullies to make it believable that they were accepting of all the other small animals as well. Most kids won’t care about these points, but as a picture book writer I noticed.

This book is good for young kids, especially those who love dinosaurs or chickens.

tlc tour hostI received my copy of this book from the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book. To see other tour stops, click on the TLC icon.

June 18, 2013

The Monstore

The MonstoreTitle: The Monstore
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: James Burks
Publisher: Aladdin Books, 2013
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Monsters, Siblings

Opening Lines:

“At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gum balls, there’s a trapdoor.

Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside … THE MONSTORE.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website): 

The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her.

But when Zack’s monsters don’t exactly work as planned, he soon finds out that the Monstore has a few rules: No Refunds. No exchanges. No exceptions.

Why I Like this Book:

When you have read as many picture books as I have, after a while they start to seem the same. This book is TRULY original, the only thing this book reminded me is one of my favorite movies Monsters, Inc and that is just because of the colorful, diverse, wacky monsters (not to worry, the stories are completely different). Look at monsters aren’t they amazing!

monstoreinteriorstore

Debut author Tara Lazar has written a FUN, FUN, FUN read. The only way a kid won’t love this book is if they hate monsters, actually nope maybe not even that. What is this book about? – a trapdoor, monsters for sale, a horrible return policy, and a simple story about a brother and a sister that will make you smile.

I love the characters. They are exceptional from Zack who keeps claiming his monsters are broken, to brave, playful Gracie who loves her new friends, and lastly the manager with poor customer service. I love the humor it is off the charts as the text and illustrations play together perfectly. In this scene below the text starts with “So Zack kept buying .. and trying .. and buying …” which is just heightened with this artwork of a colossal party in Zack’s room. Plus who doesn’t love a monster with underwear on his head.

monstore_1

monstoregirlreading

So grab this book and maybe this “glow in the dark” monster and settle in for a monsterly cooky ride.

For a chance to win a signed copy of this awesome book. Leave a comment by June 25th 9pm PST stating what type of monster you could use. And remember the rules: No monster comment, No entry, No exceptions. 

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Aladdin Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

If you would like to hear from author Tara Lazar, check this interview where she discusses how parents and picture book authors can use Storybird, a digital platform for creating stories.

November 23, 2012

Good News Bad News

Title: Good News Bad News

Author & Illustrator: Jeff Mack

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-4
Themes: Moods, Attitude, Friendship

Only Lines:

“Good News  …….  Bad News”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Good news, Rabbit and Mouse are going on a picnic. Bad news, it is starting to rain. Good news, Rabbit has an umbrella. Bad news, the stormy winds blow the umbrella (and Mouse!) into a tree.

So begins this clever story about two friends with very different dispositions. Using just four words, Jeff Mack has created a text with remarkable flair that is both funny and touching, and pairs perfectly with his energetic, and hilarious, illustrations.

Activities:

Checkout the companion activity kit at Chronicle’s website. Includes printable maze, connect-the-dots, and more.

Create your own good news/bad news story. Start off with a story starter like “a porcupine wins a balloon” which could be the good news. What is the bad news then does the balloon pop, does the porcupine fly away, or something else? The possibilities are endless. This could be a fun way to challenge kids to think creatively and see the upside to any situation.

Why I Like This Book:

A book that appears simple and comical at first, but has a deeper theme on attitude and friendship.

Rabbit is an optimistic, attentive friend, who is always pointing out the bright side to any bad situation. Mouse is a pessimistic, though in some case expected as he is getting the raw end of the deal (like the worm in the apple or getting splattered with icing). The book has a simple book design where each half spread shows a “bad news” scene (like mouse being grumpy about the rain) followed by a “good news” scene (rabbit offering an umbrella).  This back and forth between good and bad continues, with the situations ever-increasing until mouse has a double-paged spread where he screams “BAD NEWS” because he just can’t take it anymore. Here is where the emotion hits home as mouse for the first time notices his effect on his friend rabbit, who has begun to cry and wail “Bad News” too. The story ends on a satisfying note with a hug between mouse and rabbit and the line “very good news”.

This book is a visual story with a simple format that kids can easily follow. The bad news scene always correlates to the good news scene, hence the good news scene is used before the page turn. Because of this format kids will enjoy guessing what the bad news scene that is to come. This nearly wordless book with colorful, cartoon-styled artwork tells a visual story that will be attractive for kids just learning to read. Parents and teachers will appreciate the theme of optimism/pessimism. A great book to use for storytime.

See pages spreads from the book at The Children’s Book Review.

Bad News: This book will not be added to Perfect Picture Book Friday as it was already reviewed in September.

Good News: You get to read a great review by Erik at This Kid Reviews Books. Also check-out Carter’s review at Design of the Picture Book where she discusses the book design.

Creativity Time: Let’s create a good news bad news story of our own. I’ll provide the starter sentence. You provide a Good News or Bad News comment depending on the last comment made.

Good News – Porcupine and Skunk go to the circus! (first person to comment gets to pick which character is optimistic/pessimistic)

This book was nominated by Katherine Sokolowski for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Fiction Picture Book category. I am a second-round judge in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!

October 4, 2012

Creepy Carrots!

Title: Creepy Carrots!

Authors: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Peter Brown

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Humor

Opening Lines:

Jasper Rabbit had a passion for carrots. And the carrots that grew in Crackenhopper Field were the best. Fat. Crisp. And free for the taking.

Synopsis (from Amazon):

The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him.Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.He eats them on the way to school.He eats them going to Little League.
He eats them walking home.
Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?

Celebrated artist Peter Brown’s stylish illustrations pair perfectly with Aaron Reynold’s text in this hilarious picture book that shows it’s all fun and games…until you get too greedy.

Activities:

In elementary classrooms have students come up with their on creepy vegetable stories. Check out the following post by a teacher, scroll to the bottom.

In keeping with the spooky theme, create a shadow puppet theater at home!

Why I Like This Book:

This book just cracked me up. Just looking at the spooky illustrations caused the twilight zone music to run through my head. The premise of the story was crazy, but the three-color themed illustrations and lighting effects just took the craziness to a whole new level. Seriously, you may never look at carrots the same again or anything else that is your “favorite”. My girls enjoyed being in the know that there really are creepy carrots, seeing how Jasper came up with the solution to the creepy carrots problem, and the twist at the end.

This is a perfect book to spook your kids with for Halloween.

Check-out  Peter Brown’s video about the illustration process, it’s amazing.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

NOTE ADDED 10/16/12: This book was nominated by Danielle Smith for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Fiction Picture Book category. I am a second-round judge in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!

September 6, 2012

Lunchtime

Title: Lunchtime

Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb

Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-5
Themes: Food, Childhood Experiences, Imagination

Opening Lines:

At lunchtime Mum said, “Eat up.”
I said, “No thanks, I’m a bit too busy.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

It’s lunchtime for one little girl, but she’s just not hungry. A visiting crocodile, bear and wolf, however, are starving. It’s just as well that children taste revolting! A beautifully illustrated tale of food, friendship and fun.

Activities:

  • Check-out Playing by the Book’s review, that contains activity suggestions such as making watercolor rainbow rings (see endpapers), creating shadow puppets (see title page of book), or having a tea party.
  • Have kids draw out a picture of what is on their lunchtime plate, and ask which animal would come to eat the food.

Why I Like This Book:

A perfect picture book – simple, imaginative, colorful, and relate-able by every young child who would rather be doing something else than eating.

The little girl is drawing and painting pictures of animals and does not want to pause for lunch. But she must and so she sits and sits at the dining table, until a colorful crocodile appears under the table asking for her untouched food. Soon a bear and a wolf appear. Not to worry these are friendly animals, after all she created them (hint, hint). The animals eat her food and her mother allows her to go play upon seeing the clean plate. There are consequence to not eating as the little girl finds out. Parents will enjoy the message of why not to skip a meal. Don’t forget to check-out the back cover of the book for a special scene on friendship.

The illustrations are the gem of this book. The art is simple and colorful, a mixture of detailed illustrations and child-like drawings. I like the little girl’s hair that appears as if it were colored with a felt tip pen. I also enjoyed the crayon scribbles on the bear and burst of rainbow colors on the crocodile. Checkout the endpapers for more rainbow circles. The author has done an accurate, beautiful job with the expressions of the characters and well as the movements of the young girl. Some of my favorites are the little girl’s bored expressions at the table as well as her movements of trying to get off the chair and later rushing to dinner. To see more art from the book check out Rebecca Cobb’s site.

There is so much detail in the illustrations which helps to keep the text at a minimum. This would make a good book for PB writers to study and do a page-by-page analysis of what is conveyed in the text vs the art.

This book was published in the UK in spring 2012 and may not be readily available in the US. You can check WorldCat. I was able to get this book through the Interlibrary Loan system.

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,550 other followers

%d bloggers like this: