Archive for ‘Humor’

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!

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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.

June 29, 2012

Cows to the Rescue

Title: Cows to the Rescue

Author & Illustrator: John Himmelman

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2011
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-5
Themes: Farm Animals, Helping Out, Humor, Family

Opening Lines:

It was the day of the county fair! At seven o’clock, Farmer Greenstalk could not start the car.

Cows to the rescue!

Synopsis (from MacMillan website):

It’s the day of the county fair!

Three-legged races, a “Smartest Pig” contest, the Ferris wheel—what could be more fun? But the Greenstalks’ car won’t start, so they’ll need some help getting there. . . .

Cows to the Rescue is the fabulous new book in John Himmelman’s hilarious barnyard saga. It follows Chickens to the Rescue and Pigs to the Rescue, bringing back the fun with brand new mishaps and brand moo—er, new—problem-solvers.

Activities:

A visit to the local farm or petting zoo, or better yet your County Fair!

Why I Like this Book:

This book is hilarious. The text drives the story for the illustrations to shine. Farmer Greenstalk and the animals are beset with problems to solve during the day, not a problem as Cows to the Rescue! Whenever I read the refrain I wanted to shout it out like I was  super-hero. The illustrations are colorful and simple, and the cows have a lot of personality. One of my favorites is the cows on the ferris wheel, where you have the calm one, the biting nails one, the I must cover my eyes one, and the oh look how small everything looks down there one. I wonder if Mr. Himmelman has names for each of the cows, that is how well he has portrayed them. Grab this book and a child for storytime.

If you like this book do check out the predecessors in this series, Chickens to the Rescue and Pigs to the Rescue. I especially love Pigs to the Rescue, as the pigs never get it quite right and the Greenstalks in the end are hoping that the pigs don’t come to the rescue.

Picture Book Details:

As an aspiring PB writer, I often analyze a book for its text and illustrations to learn from it. Here are some of the details I liked from this book:

– Repetitive Structure of the text. There are 6 stanzas of three lines each.

  • First line: Time of day, Problem
  • Second line: “Cows to the rescue!”
  • Third line: Expression of thanks

– Illustrations show how the problem is solved by the cows in the most humorous, quirky, silly way. The animal characters have a unique personalities.

– Underlying theme — Family.
I only realized this as I was typing the text out for my own analysis, it is subtle but lovely.  The cows were helping out their farm family which consisted of the Greenstalks and the other animals. This is apparent as it is Emily was “scared” of going on the Ferris wheel, or the pigs who needed tutoring, or Jeffrey who needed a partner for the three-legged race.

April 26, 2012

Another Brother

Title: Another Brother

Author & Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Check out the interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-8
Themes: Siblings, Humor

Excerpt:

“Soon, whenever Davy would do something, all twelve of his little brothers would do the exact same thing.

Davy ate Toot Loops for breakfast. Petey, Mike, Stu, Mickey, Carl, Pip, Ralph, Tate, Lenny, Gil, Ned, and Bob ate Toot Loops, too.”

Synopsis (from MacMillan website):

Life for Davy was glorious as long as he had his mother and father to himself. But then he got a brother, Petey. When Davy sang, Petey cried. When Davy created a masterpiece, Petey spat up on it.
And then he got another brother, Mike! And another, Stu! And another, Gil! Until he had TWELVE LITTLE BROTHERS! And that was only the beginning!

Activities:

Storytime at Home:

Have the older sibling read it to the younger one(s). Use the book to jump-start a discussion about similarities between the sheep in the book and their own sibling relationship.

Craft:

Why I Like This Book:

This is a hilarious, funny tale of how Davy’s life was turned upside down with the addition of one, then two, and eventually 12 little brothers. What do little siblings do best … why copy their older sibling of course. And boy do they copy Davy while he is eating, walking, biking, burping, etc. Davy is naturally VERY annoyed. But as we parents know this phase does pass, and soon Davy finds himself missing his 12 little shadows. One can be lonely. Lucky for Davy there is a happy ending.

This is a book every parent, older sibling, younger sibling can relate too. I must admit when I was a kid I was a bit like Davy. I didn’t want my tag-along little sister back then, though I do treasure her now.

My favorite aspect of the book are the silly, heartfelt illustrations. Cordell uses a variety of illustration sizes, spots, full scenes and wordless two-page spreads. A visually engaging book. The sheep are just sooo cute. Check out the trailer below.

This review is part of Susana 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 Jessalynn Gale 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!

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