Posts tagged Nick Bruel

A TurtleAndRobot Book List: 15 Picture Books featuring Birds

It is not uncommon for a child to latch onto a specific subject and then focus intensely on that one thing for a time. When such obsessions begin, the book purchaser’s job suddenly becomes easier and imbued with a new sense of fun—any book containing that subject will be an instant winner. But once the obvious choices pertaining to that topic have been exhausted, choosing books can become a painful, and fruitless, process. Buyer beware- that T.V. tie-in title that pertains to your child’s interest may be tempting but I assure you there are always higher quality choices still undiscovered.

I compiled this list of fiction picture books for people with a bird-loving child in their lives. Angelo by David Macaulay, a phenomenal and underappreciated book, is about a pigeon that brightens the life of an elderly stone worker. Bob Staake’s Bluebird spotlights an attentive bird that befriends a boy who is being bullied by his classmates. Whether the cobalt-hued hero of Bluebird is an actual bluebird or just a bird that is blue isn’t made clear, but that won’t matter to those who choose this remarkable wordless picture book. The remaining titles feature generalized, i.e. not necessarily naturalistic birds of a recognizable breed, as their main characters.

 

Inch by InchInchByInch

Ages 3-7

By Leo Lionni

32 pages

Knopf

1960

1961 Caldecott Honor Book

 

Time FliesTimeFlies

Ages 3-7

By Eric Rohman

32 pages

Crown Publishers

1994

1995 Caldecott Honor Book

 

A Home for BirdHomeforBird

Ages 3-7

By Phil C. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2012

 

See TurtleAndRobot’s full review here.

 

Hello, My Name is RubyRuby

Ages 3-7

By Philip C. Stead

36 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2013

 

Flap Your WingsFlapYourWings

Ages 3-8

By P.D. Eastman

48 pages

Random House

1969

(Also by P.D. Eastman, Are You My Mother? and The Best Nest)

 

The BirdwatchersTheBirdwatchers

Ages 3-8

By Simon James

32 pages

Candlewick

2002

Out of print

 

Little Red BirdLittleRedBird

Ages 3-8

By Nick Bruel

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2008

 

Poppy and EllaPoppy&Ella

Ages 3-9

By Jef Kaminsky

48 pages

Disney-Hyperion

2000

Out of print

 

Franny B. Kranny, There’s a Bird in Your HairFrannyBKranny

Ages 3-9

Written by Harriet Lerner and Susan Goldhor

Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

40 pages

HarperCollins

2001

Out of print

 

13 Words13Words

Ages 4-7

Written by Lemony Snickett

Illustrated by Maira Kalman

40 pages

HarperCollins

2010

 

See TurtleAndRobot’s full review here.

 

Bluebird

Ages 4-8

By Bob Staake

40 pages

Schwartz & Wade

2013

 

A Funny Little Bird

Ages 4-8

By Jennifer Yerkes

48 pages

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

2013

 

Feathers for LunchFeathersForLunch

Ages 4-9

By Lois Ehlert

36 pages

HMH Books for Young Readers

1996

 

AngeloAngelo

Ages 4-9

By David Macaulay

48 pages

HMH Books for Young Readers

2006

 

The Life of BirdsLifeofBirds

Ages 5 and up

By Quentin Blake

80 pages

Doubleday UK

2005

Out of print

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Who Is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel: Fun with point of view.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? cover

Who is Melvin Bubble?

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Nick Bruel

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2006

 

 

Nick Bruel is the creator of the enormously popular Bad Kitty series, which features a feisty and mischievous cat. His writing is funny and clever, his exaggerated characters have vast appeal and his art is brightly colored and engaging.

 

Who Is Melvin Bubble? opens with a letter from a boy named Jimmy, imploring the author to write a book about his best friend Melvin Bubble. What follows is both an excellent lesson in perspective and a well-crafted picture book.

The author asks several people the same question, who is Melvin Bubble? Each response generates a different perspective on this young boy, and gives a bit of insight on the responder as well. The caricature-like characters are vibrantly colored and their responses are encapsulated in giant word bubbles and coupled with visualizations.

 

Melvin Bubble’s dad calls Melvin a chip off the old block; his mom says he may be the messiest boy in the world.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? interior

 

Melvin Bubble’s teddy bear tells readers how much Melvin likes hugs.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? interior

 

His best friend says “Melvin’s the coolest kid I know! He can whistle “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider through his nose!”

 

Santa Claus has only good things to say about the boy who always makes his nice list, but the Tooth Fairy had an unfortunate experience having to do with the boy’s very large head.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? interior

 

Taking some hilarious turns and building comic momentum, the author also solicits responses from a big, ugly monster with three eyes, a beautiful princess and a magic rock (a wonderful homage to Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig). The rock turns out not to magic after all so the author turns to a talking zebra instead. The zebra’s response, a nod to the humor of Looney Tunes, is my favorite.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? interior

 

Finally, the author asks Melvin Bubble himself to describe who he is, and all the pieces fall neatly into place.

Who Is Melvin Bubble? interior

 

Through its layered perspectives, Who is Melvin Bubble? offers children an opportunity to recognize alternate points of view. It may also prompt them to think more about the concept of identity and how one person can be different things to many people. This hilarious and energetic picture book is sure to be a read-aloud favorite.

 

View the Book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

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Bob and Otto: Friends are important.

Bob1

Bob and Otto

 

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Robert O. Bruel

Pictures by Nick Bruel

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2007

 

 

Nick Bruel is a Books of Wonder alum, and the author and illustrator of the wildly popular Bad Kitty books. He’s also written and illustrated many other books and has a clear knack for speaking directly to his audience. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Nick’s work. His latest book, Bad Kitty School Daze, was just recently released and I have it on good authority that another Bad Kitty book is in the works.

Nick’s father, Robert O. Bruel, wrote this story. Discovered shortly after his father’s passing, Nick adapted it for the picture book audience and created the art to accompany his father’s beautiful tale.

Bruel’s illustrations have a cartoon-ey feel; he uses rich, saturated colors with bright accents and bold edges. He has interspersed double page spreads with pages of panel art—similar to those in a comic strip—an unusual tactic in a picture book that works perfectly here. Four double page spreads are divided horizontally, depicting the divergent activities of our main characters—the top features preparations for a transformative snooze, while the bottom focuses on a subterranean tour.

Bob, a caterpillar, and Otto, a worm, are completely adorable and surprisingly expressive, considering their faces have only little black dots for eyes. (They also have no mouths except in the final spread when little smiles suddenly appear.)

DSC01666

Bob and Otto are good friends. They both like to play in the grass and eat leaves, but when Bob says he needs to climb a tree Otto doesn’t understand and asks why.

DSC01665

‘“Because it’s important.” said Bob.”’

Otto wants to dig into the ground. “It’s important down here too.”

So the two friends part ways. Bob climbs and climbs, Otto digs and digs. Bob eats the fresh green leaves off the tree. Otto dines on leaf litter underground. Bob gets sleepy and wraps himself in a cocoon. Otto digs, until he gets quite sleepy, then he digs some more.

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After many days and nights, Bob awakens as a beautiful, yellow butterfly. He flies all around the tree, testing out his new wings. Soon Bob misses Otto and flies down to the ground to find his old friend. Meanwhile, underneath the tree, Otto misses his friend Bob and starts digging his way to the surface.

The friends’ reunion is awkward. Bob has changed. He has wings, and has gained the astonishing gift of flight! Otto thinks maybe he should have climbed that tree too; maybe he would have also grown wings. But instead he’s still a worm, whose only mode of locomotion is crawling.

DSC01672

Bob knows how very important Otto is and explains that it was Otto’s digging that loosened the soil, allowing the rain to reach the tree’s roots, which helped the tree to grow tall and strong, and made it a perfect home for Bob to eat, sleep, and grow wings.

DSC01669

‘“I owe it all to you, Otto,” said Bob. “You’re not just a worm. You’re my best friend.”’

“And friends are important.”

 

View on Powell’s

View on Amazon

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