Friday, November 10, 2017

Paging Through Picture Books: 18 Quick Reviews

This Fall, I have really fallen behind on the Picture Book Reading Challenge, mostly because I saved the more difficult (and in some cases, less desirable) categories on the checklist for the end and I have been having trouble finding books to fit them. Finally, though, with the help of Open Library, I've made a dent in the list of remaining books, and I'm still hopeful that I might cross of the entire checklist before the end of the year. Here are quick reviews of 18 picture books I've read recently.


As I Was Crossing Boston Common by Norma Farber, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1982)
(#1 an alphabet book)
This is a unique alphabet book which names, in alphabetical order, 26 unusual animals that the turtle narrator sees as he crosses Boston Common. Miss Muffet and Little Bo Peep both loved repeating the animal names, and we all enjoyed Arnold Lobel's drawings of each one. 

We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo! by Linda Walvoord Gerard, illustrated by Linda Shute (1989)
(#21 a book about adoption)
This is not really a story, but rather a guidebook, from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin Koo, for kids who are adopted. It was a perfectly fine book on the topic, but a bit dry and not likely to interest kids who do not share Benjamin's experiences.

What Does It Do and How Does It Work? by Russell Hoban (1959)
(#31 a book about cars or trucks)
This is an informative and kid-friendly look at the way different construction vehicles work by the author of the Frances the Badger books. The illustrations were the appeal for me - lots of great detail that truck-obsessed kids love.


Who Said Boo?: Halloween Poems for the Very Young by Nancy White Carlstrom, illustrated by R.W. Alley (1995)
(#37 a book about a holiday)
I read this to Little Bo Peep and found many of the poems awkward to read aloud. (I have found Nancy White Carlstrom's writing to be very hit or miss in general.) The illustrations were appropriately festive in mood, but I returned the book to Open Library without bothering to share it with Little Miss Muffet.

Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland (2015)
(#38 a new-to-you author)
I was not impressed by this book at all. The message is heavy-handed, and though it seemed like the story was meant to be funny, it just wasn't.

Going to the Doctor by Fred Rogers (1986)
(#40. a book about new experiences)
There is no one better to guide a child through a new experience than Fred Rogers. We have loved his books about welcoming a new baby and using the potty, and this one, about visiting the doctor, is just as good. I wish I'd thought to share it with my two-year-old before her recent check-up.



Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (1991)
(#48 a book published in the 1990s)
I've had this book since childhood, but I don't think I'd ever read it until I shared it with Miss Muffet this past week. It's an alphabet book explaining the inspiration behind 26 different quilting patterns. It wasa perfect way to introduce little tidbits of history to a preschooler.

A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas (2008)
(#54 a book by Jan Thomas)
Rhyming Dust Bunnies is the only book by this author that I have ever really enjoyed. This book is silly in a way that I find obnoxious, and I didn't bother sharing it with my kids.

Phoebe Dexter Has Harriet Peterson's Sniffles by Laura Numeroff (1977)
(#56 a book by Laura Numeroff )
I found this old book of Laura Numeroff's on Open Library. There's not much to the story, but I always find it interesting to discover well-known authors' more obscure works.


Something About Hensley's by Patricia Polacco (2006)
(#57 a book by Patricia Polacco)
This is an "inspirational" picture book typical of Patricia Polacco. I liked the artwork, but I don't particularly care for Polacco's writing and slogged through the story.

The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle by Beatrix Potter (1905)
(#59 a book by Beatrix Potter)
I read this aloud to Miss Muffet, and we both loved it. For some reason, I never got that into Beatrix Potter's books as a kid, but I'm enjoying them a lot now and I'm glad to see my daughter enjoying them too.

Charlie the Tramp by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1966)
(#67 a book you discovered as an adult)
This story about a young beaver who decides he'd rather be a tramp than a beaver has the same tone and sense of humor as the Frances books. In particular, it reminded me of Bread and Jam for Frances, in which Frances wants to eat nothing but bread and jam and her parents indulge her, knowing that Frances will eventually realize the error of her ways.


Deadline! From News to Newspaper by Gail Gibbons (1987)
(#68 a book celebrating writing, being an author or illustrator)
At thirty years old, this book is fairly outdated now, but it's still a decent introduction to journalism for preschoolers and early elementary kids.

The Beaver Pond by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin (1970)
(#72 nonfiction book about animals)
This was a great book to read along with Alice Goudey's more detailed chapter book, Here Come the Beavers! I usually enjoy Tresselt's nature picture books, and this was no exception.

A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban (1968)
(#74 a book that makes you laugh)
Frances is one of the best picture book characters ever. This book in particular holds up well to multiple re-readings, and it is especially funny to anyone who is - or has - a sister.


Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Charlotte Voake (2008)
(#89 a book published in the UK)
This is a beautiful story about fairies, jumping rope, and growing old. It's long, but Miss Muffet loved hearing it read aloud as much as I loved reading. The artwork also perfectly suits the story, which is equal parts wistful and humorous. 

Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer (1995)
(#92 a book about sports)
The poetic main text of this picture book biography is very spare, but it is supplemented by baseball cards on each page which provide additional facts about Babe Ruth. The real appeal of the book, though, comes from the illustrations by Mike Wimmer, which feel nostalgic in a Norman Rockwell way and realistic in a Wendell Minor way.

Pancakes by Lotta Nieminen (2016)
(#97 a pop-up book, or, a book with cut-outs or flaps or fold-outs)
This is a fabulous interactive board book that walks young readers through a recipe and allows them to participate in making pancakes by turning dials, pulling tabs, and opening flaps. My two-year-old loves it! 

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