Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

Picture Books That Can Reach and Teach All

Books can teach young and old.  And these picture books are also most enjoyable.

The Day Ray Got Away, by Angela Johnson, and illustrated by Luke LaMarca, is a creatively picturesque book about a bright, yellow balloon as he and other large balloons get ready for a balloon parade.  But he states at the beginning that “This is the day”. He is ready to break free of his ropes as the parade gets underway. The brilliant acrylic paintings fill the pages and Ray’s gleaming smile will likely become the reader’s smile as well.

Animal House, by Candace Ryan, and brightly painted by Nathan Hale, is a fun word play about a boy who is told by his teacher, Mrs. Nuddles, that he belongs in a zoo due to his wild imagination.  He states that he lives in a “gorvilla” and that he has a “vulchair” “drooling ever since Mrs. Nuddles came into the room.” The pictures, ingenious illustrations and word usage may spark some ingenuity on your own – which continues on both inside covers.

The Gentleman Bug, by Julian Hector, celebrates the love of reading as Hector, a bookworm,  enjoys reading everywhere he goes. He’s about to meet another bug, the librarian, who also loves reading. The wonderful detailed pictures give the ambiance of yesteryear.

Mr. Elephanter, by Lark Pien, is elephant-chanting and a most delightful and wistful story about a smiling Mr. Elephanter who goes to the “elephantery” where he takes care of the cutest tiny elephants. He makes, bakes and plays with these adorable little critters and when they need discipline, he does so with a gentle hand. The pencil and watercolors are a perfect fit, and don’t forget to check out the inside covers where the story begins and ends.

Disappearing Desmond, by Anna Alter, has young Desmond, a cat, who doesn’t like to be noticed ever:  not in school, not at recess, not even while on a field trip. But it’s all about to change when an insightful rabbit notices him reading her favorite book and asks to join him.  Now he likes being noticed and he sets out to find other disappearing students. The message is clear here with the importance of helping others feel part of a group. The vibrant acrylic pictures fill each page.

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, by Michael Ian Black, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, will have you pondering how these paltry pigs parade when in reality they eat their uniforms, stomp on their horns and much, much more. Hawkes’ hilarious renderings of these pinkish pigs doing all sorts of unwilling things will have you pontificate what would be better. I especially like the cover showing a large drum with a pig’s snout breaking through!

Clever Jack Takes the Cake, by Candace Fleming, and illustrated by G. Brian Kars, will surely inspire a tale or two of your own after reading this invigorating story.  Jack is too poor to take the young princess a present so he decides to bake her a cake.  He cleverly trades ingredients that he needs to make a most succulent cake.  But as he travels along the way, animals and a troll eat it almost completely.  He sadly tells the princess what became of her cake and how she responds will have all who read or listen adoring this story. The gouache and pencil drawings adeptly add imagination to each page.

Don’t Slam the Door!, by Dori Chaconas, and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, has a puppy running through a door setting off pandemonium. This action sets off a cumulative reaction as it wakes up the cat that unravels Ma’s knitting yarn and on and on. Will the house ever be the same? This fun rhyming tale begs to be read aloud. The expressions of each person or animal affected are most comical.

Too Pickley!, by Jean Reidy, and illustrated by Genevieve LeLoup, is a simple story about simply being too picky. The fun rhyming text has a variety of two word phrases that describes how a fussy little boy feels about his food. “Too crunchy, too licky, too stringy, too sticky!” Each vibrantly colored page has a different background color making items discussed pop-out at you.

Little Gorilla, by Ruth Bornstein, is a reissue that was first published back in 1976.  Young Gorilla is loved by all, but as he grows and changes he wonders if he’ll still be loved. This cherished classic is loved by all, especially the colored pencil drawings of the animals in the jungle.

And lastly, Speckle the Spider, by Emma Dodson, is filled with maps, flaps and pull-outs for tiny hands to enjoy while reading about a spider who is ready for an adventure.  The more he travels, the more he receives attention, but is this what he wants?  The acrylic and ink illustrations, along with the interactive flaps, make Speckle’s adventure a great one.

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