Posts tagged picture book reviews

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

Advertisements

Comments (3) »

The Monsters’ Monster and Frankenstein: Two wickedly fun picture books for Halloween.

Monster's Monster

The Monsters’ Monster

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Patrick McDonnell

32 pages

Little, Brown

2012

 

Patrick McDonnell’s picture book, Me…Jane, was a 2012 Caldecott Honor book. Taking anecdotes from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, he tells the story of Goodall’s childhood, her beloved toy chimpanzee and her early fascination with the natural world. It is a splendid and captivating book and one I highly recommend.  The Monsters’ Monster is charmingly sweet and another must have from this creator. His art is luscious, and his storytelling is pitch perfect.

Three (rather small) monsters—Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom—lived together in a dark castle high atop a monster-y mountain. Every day the three brutish beasts would argue over which of them was the loudest complainer, or the most miserable.

DSC02127

They decided the best way to settle their argument was to build the biggest, baddest monster ever. The three fiends gathered tape and staples, gunk and goo, bolts and wires and assembled a monster Monster and brought him to life with a great bolt of lightening. (The diminutive size of the comic and adorable monsters is spotlighted by the humongous size of their Frankenstein-y creation.)

The three giddy monsters could barely contain their excitement as the growling giant stumbled toward them.

DSC02128

“And then in a deep, booming voice, he said his first words . . . ‘Dank you!’”

The monster’s Monster, built to be a big, bad menace, was anything but. He was so happy to be alive he threw open a window and giggled. Next he greeted every bat, rat, spider and snake in the castle. When he crashed straight through the castle wall and went down to the village below, Monster’s architects followed in amazement.

DSC02129

Anticipating the monster’s first terrible act, the trio watched as Monster lumbered into the bakery, and awaited the screams and howls that would certainly follow. But after some silence, all they heard was, “Dank you!”

Then Monster clomped out carrying a paper bag and headed toward the beach; Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom followed after him. When Monster arrived at the beach he sat down in the cool sand. Shortly after, the three perplexed and tired monsters collapsed around him. Then Monster gently patted them on their heads and gave them each a warm, powdered jelly doughnut from his bag.

DSC02130

At first the three brutes were stunned into silence but then they repeated what they’d learned from Monster. “Thank you!” they said, and the four friends sat and quietly watched the sunrise and none of them thought about how monstrous they could be.

DSC02131

 

View the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

 

 

Frankenstein: A Monstrous ParodyFrankenstein

Based on Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Ludworst Bemonster

(By Rick Walton & Nathan Hale)

48 pages

Feiwel and Friends

2012

 

For readers not familiar with the picture book Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans—which was published in 1939 and received a Caldecott Honor—it features a fearless young girl that lives under the tutelage of Miss Clavel, a concerned and doting nun, with eleven other girls. “The smallest one was Madeline.”

DSC02126

One night Miss Clavel senses a disturbance in the house and soon discovers Madeline in distress. The wee girl is rushed to the hospital and promptly has her appendix removed.

Some days later, Miss Clavel and the girls go to visit Madeline in the hospital. The girls covet the toys and candy that fill Madeline’s room but when they see her scar from the surgery they are beside themselves with envy.

DSC02142

That night after Miss Clavel turned out the light, she, once again, knew something was not right. As she entered the room all the little girls cried, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!”

In this delightful parody, the completely adorable main character lives in a creepy old castle with eleven other equally cute monsters. “The ugliest one was Frankenstein.” In the spirit of all things Halloween, the artist uses a variety of orange hues (the illustrations in Madeline were awash in yellow).

DSC02132

“One bleak and dark and dismal night, Miss Devel turned on her light and whispered, ‘Something is not right.’”

DSC02135

She soon discovers that Frankenstein has lost his head! He’s quickly taken to the laboratory. Upon awakening, the formerly decapitated monster finds he’s been given a brand new head, bolted on with two shiny, metal screws. Without delay Frankenstein eats most of the hospital staff, the ceiling fan and a pizza man.

DSC02136

Days later, Miss Devel and her motley pack of monsters visit Frankenstein at the lab. Though they’re jealous of all of his yucky treats, it’s the neck bolts that prompt them to beg to stay. “But Miss Devel replied, ‘No way!’”

Later that night, back at the castle, Miss Devel knows something is amiss once more. Rushing to the monsters’ room she hopes for no more disasters. She opens the gate to discover that all of the monsters have lost their heads!

DSC02137

“Good night, monsters! Now you cannot whine and yell! I’m going back to sleep.”

DSC02143

Most parody picture books don’t deliver on their promise to entertain. They either fall flat or are entertaining for one reading only—but Frankenstein is a wonderful exception to that rule. Fans of Madeline, monsters or Halloween will giggle with glee at this hysterical and thorough parody.

 

View the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

Comments (5) »

Courage by Bernard Waber: Sometimes even the smallest act requires bravery.

Courage Courage

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Bernard Waber

32 pages

Houghton Mifflin

2002

 

 

Bernard Waber (1921-2013) wrote and illustrated over thirty books for children and is best known for his series of books featuring Lyle the Crocodile.

The first book to introduce the world to the lovable and talented crocodile was The House on East 88th Street (1962). It tells the story of Primm family, who has just moved into their new home when they discover Lyle living in their bathtub. In no time at all, the talented and helpful Lyle is a loved and cherished member of the family! Several more books featuring Lyle followed.

Waber’s straightforward and often humorous text coupled with his approachable and cheerful art results in entertaining stories with enormous appeal. Though his characters are rarely human, their troubles are familiar and are gratifyingly resolved in an encouraging manner.

Waber departs from his customary animal characters in Courage; his quivery-lined, active art depicts human children carrying out every day acts of courage. It’s easy to spot courage in a firefighter or a police officer or an ordinary citizen performing a brave act, but sometimes very small endeavors also require boldness.

 

The opening illustration features a female ice-skater executing a mid-air split.

Courage1

“There are many kinds of courage.”

 

In the following pages, Waber expounds on the many varieties of courage; some are awesome, like performing in a trapeze act or climbing a mountain—others are small, such as having two candy bars and saving one for tomorrow.

Courage2

 

Courage is riding your bicycle for the first time, going to bed without a nightlight, jumping off the high dive, or getting a haircut. Courage can also be checking out the noises in the dark or keeping the secret you promised not to tell. Courage is telling the truth, exploring new places or holding onto your dream.

 

“Still, courage is courage–whatever kind.”

Courage3

 

More a guide than a story, Courage offers parents an opportunity to teach their children an invaluable life lesson: experiencing fear is a universal trait and overcoming that fear, large or small, is an act of bravery. Furthermore, once we find that bravery within ourselves it can be shared with and fostered in those around us.

 

“Courage is what we give to each other.”

Courage4

 

View the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

Comments (3) »

TurtleAndRobot’s 15 Favorite Picture Books about Spring

I am a BunnyBunnyCover

Board

Birth-3 years old

By Olé Risom

Illustrated by Richard Scarry

26 pages

Golden Books

Reprint edition: 2004

(Originally published in 1963)

 

Richard Scarry is a pillar in the hall of children’s books. His Busytown books should be in every home library. The illustrations in I am a Bunny are richer than his usual style, though they evoke the same joyous feelings that all his books share.

“I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.”

Thus begins the perfectly simple story, which follows Nicholas the bunny through each of the four seasons; Scarry’s palette changes to match the seasons but is consistently luminous.

In the winter Nicholas curls up in his hollow tree and dreams of spring. And when spring arrives he likes to pick flowers and chase butterflies.

 

 

Spring is Herespring-is-here-board-book-by-taro-gomi

Board Book

Ages Birth-4

By Taro Gomi

34 pages

Chronicle

1999

 

Taro Gomi has created many wonderful books for children; I especially love his activity books, including Scribbles and Doodles. (Some readers may know him for his wildly popular book, Everyone Poops.) 

Using bright, simple illustrations and minimal text, this book focuses on all four seasons.

It opens in the spring, with a bold illustration of a fresh young calf; the bright white baby cow is set against a hot pink background.

Soon the calf’s black spots begin to appear, and the background becomes a warm, mellow orange. The seasons change, the calf grows, and soon it is spring again!

 

 

It’s Springits-spring

Board Book

Ages 2-5

By Samantha Berger & Pamela Chanko

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

32 pages

Cartwheel

2001

 

Just looking at the cover of this book makes me want to skip through an open field.

All the animals are excited about the impending arrival of spring! Word spreads through the community from bird, to rabbit, to deer and to duck, and they all welcome the lovely new season.

 

 

The PuddleThePuddle

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By David McPhail

32 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1998

Out of print

 

David McPhail has had a lengthy career in children’s books and he continues to create wonderful stories and pleasing illustrations.

On a rainy day, a young boy asks his mother if he can go outside and play in the puddles.

“Okay, but you stay out of the puddles.”

The boy dons his coat and boots, grabs his toy sailboat and heads outside in search of the largest puddle. Once he’s found it, he sets his boat to sail.

Soon a frog comes by and jumps on the boy’s boat. Then a turtle happens by for teatime. More and more animals join the fun creating a wild and unbelievable adventure.

Eventually the sun dries up the puddle and the animals and the boy return to their respective homes.

 

 

The Happy DayHappyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Ruth Krauss

Illustrated by Marc Simont

36 pages

HarperCollins

1949

1950 Caldecott Honor Book

 

This book made TurtleAndRobot’s Top 20 Books about Snow as well, but it’s also about spring and it’s a really wonderful book.

It begins under the cover of snow with all the animals sleeping. Soon they are waking up and sniffing. What is it they smell?

They emerge from their burrows and start running and sniffing. They stop, and laugh, and dance! There, in the midst of all the snow and white and cold, a burst of color appears in the form of a beautiful yellow flower.

The delicious, buttery yellow of the flower is the only bit of color in this otherwise black and white picture book.

 

 

Rabbit’s Good Newsrabbitgood

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Ruth Lercher Bornstein

32 pages

Clarion

1995

Out of print

 

Ruth Bornstein is the author and illustrator of Little Gorilla, which is an adorable picture book. She uses warm pastel colors in her luminescent art.

A baby rabbit and her family are snuggled in a burrow deep underground. Everyone else is asleep but Rabbit is awake, so she peeks outside. There’s something in the air, something calling to Rabbit, something with a “soft green sound.”

Rabbit leaves the hole to investigate and experience some of the amazing events of spring: green grass, a blooming flower and a bird hatching from an egg.

She returns home to share the good news with her family, “Spring is here.”

 

 

Little White RabbitLittleWhiteRabbit-hc-c

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Kevin Henkes

40 pages

Greenwillow

2011

 

Kevin Henkes has published dozens of books for children, from board books to novels. His stories are funny, compassionate, relevant and timeless. His artistic style ranges from soft and subtle to vibrant and active and is always impressive and enticing.

Little White Rabbit is not technically about spring but the soft art and verdant palette embody the feelings of spring.

The little white rabbit hops through grass and wonders what it’s like to be green; soon his whole world is bathed in emerald. He hops past trees and wonders what it’s like to be tall; soon he is peeking out over the tops of the tallest pine. He hops over a rock and tries to imagine staying perfectly still and slowly turning to stone.

In the end, he hops all the way back home to rejoin his loving family.

 

Countdown to Spring: An Animal Counting BookCountdown-to-spring

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

By Janet Schulman

Illustrated by Meilo So

32 pages

Knopf

2002

Out of print

 

Meilo So’s spare, deft watercolors are luscious. Wildflowers bloom in the background as playful animals flutter, crawl, scurry and frolic across the page.

This counting book celebrates spring, starting with one bountiful Easter basket and ending with ten ladybugs crawling; there are also chicks, ducks, squirrels and foxes along the way. 

 

 

And Then It’s SpringAndThenItsSpring

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2012

 

And Then It’s Spring, Julie Fogliano’s first book, won her the Ezra Jack Keat’s New Writer Award. This was Erin E. Stead’s second book to be published; her first, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, won her the Caldecott Medal.

“First you have brown, all around you have brown.”

The book opens on a vast, brown landscape. A young boy, with his dog close behind, plants some seeds. And then he must wait. And wait. While he’s waiting he must also keep those seeds safe from birds and careless bears.

Soon the brown starts to whisper and hum about the coming green. And then it’s spring.

Fogliano’s spare and poetic text, coupled with Stead’s finely detailed, delicate, beguiling art produce a book that perfectly portrays both the long wait between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and all the joy that comes with spotting those first green shoots of the season of renewal.

This pair has another spectacular book, If You Want to See a Whale, due out in May.

 

 

Bear Wants MoreBearWantsMore

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Karma Wilson

Illustrated by Jane Chapman

40 pages

Margaret K. McElderry Books

2003

 

This author and illustrator have created several books together about the downright adorable Bear and his friends. The simple, rhyming text flows smoothly and Chapman’s bright art has a fresh, velvety appearance.

At the end of a long winter, Bear wakes up from his hibernation and he is very hungry. He nibbles on some grass, but Bear wants more. He meets up with his friend Mouse and they visit a strawberry patch. Bear eats and eats, but still wants more.

After eating his way through the day, Bear arrives home. His friends have arranged a party for him but he can’t fit through his own door! All of Bear’s friends must work together to dislodge him from the entrance to his den.

When he’s finally freed, Bear eats a little more and goes back to sleep.

 

 

Planting a Rainbowplanting rainbow

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Lois Ehlert

40 pages

Sandpiper

1992

 

Ehlert’s vibrant, bold collage art and simple, informative text make this a great book for aspiring gardeners and flower lovers. From planting bulbs in the fall, to ordering seeds in the winter, to waiting for sprouts in the spring until finally a rainbow of colors and a mélange of shapes all come together to form a beautiful garden.

With clear labels and color-coding, it’s easy to follow the steps and teach children about colors, shapes, planting, flowers, gardening and seasons, all with this one beautifully simple book.

 

The Gardenergardener

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Sarah Stewart

Illustrated by David Small

40 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1997

1998 Caldecott Honor Book

 

Young Lydia Grace is moving to the city to help her uncle, who owns a bakery. Lydia Grace does not know anything about baking but she knows everything about gardening and her happy, generous spirit is just what her grumpy uncle needs (even if he doesn’t know it yet).

She immediately sets to work planting everything she can in anything she can, including broken teacups and bent cake pans. One day she finds a secret place and makes great plans for it. Meanwhile, the world around her is blooming and brightening from all her planting.

In a perfect and grand reveal, readers discover that the secret place is a rooftop, now gloriously transformed into a majestic garden by Lydia Grace—who now goes by “The Gardener.”

Told in a series of increasingly jubilant letters from Lydia Grace to her family back home and paired with exquisite art that radiates life, The Gardener possesses all the beauty that comes with spring.

 

 

The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Springboy who didn't believe in spring

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Lucille Clifton

Illustrated by Brinton Turkle

32 Pages

Puffin

Reprint edition: 1992

 

This book was originally published in 1973 (the cover sort of gives that away) and is a distinctly urban-centric story.

King Shabazz doesn’t understand what everyone means when they say spring is just around the corner. He’s never seen this “spring” and he’s sick of everyone talking about it. He wants to find spring for himself, and enlists his friend Tony Polito to help. The two boys explore outside their usual neighborhood to investigate new sounds and smells; they’ve never been past the end of their street before.

Eventually they come across an abandoned car, emitting unfamiliar noises, in an empty lot. As the boys are approaching the car they see a patch of yellow flowers growing amidst the litter in the lot. Once they reach the vehicle they learn that the unfamiliar noise is a mama bird protecting her nest of eggs, prompting the boys to declare, “Man, it’s spring!”

 

 

Home for a BunnyHomeforBunny

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Garth Williams

32 pages

Golden Books

Reprint edition: 2003

(Originally published in 1956)

 

Margaret Wise Brown is best known for penning Goodnight Moon. Her simple text in this story is rhythmic and lyrical.

Garth Williams has illustrated some of the world’s most beloved books, including Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, Bedtime for Frances and The Gingerbread Rabbit. His detailed, lush and comforting art is absolutely exquisite.

Bunny is in search of a home. During his search, he encounters many other animals and learns about the kinds of homes they live in.

When he meets a mother robin and learns about nests, Bunny declares, “Not for me, I would fall out of a nest. I would fall on the ground.”

‘”Where is your home?” he asked the frog. “Wog, wog, wog,” sang the frog. “Wog, wog, wog, Under the water, Down in the bog.”’

Under the water would not be a good place for a bunny to make his home either.

Before long Bunny meets a lovely white rabbit whose home is under a rock and she invites Bunny to stay. It’s a perfect home.

 

 

Bently and Eggbently

Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By William Joyce

32 pages

HarperCollins

1992

Out of print

 

William Joyce’s career spans children’s books, animated films (Rise of the Guardians) and television (Rolie Polie Olie). His intricate and detailed illustrations are stylistically unique and incredibly beautiful.

Bently Hopperton is a young, artistic frog. When his duck friend Kack Kack needs someone to watch over her egg while she visits her sister’s new ducklings, Bently is left to watch over the precious package.

Bently doesn’t like the egg even though all the other animals are quite excited about the joyous turn of events in the recently widowed duck’s life. He decides to spruce up the dull shell by painting it, but a young boy wanders by and takes it, certain it’s been left by the Easter Bunny.

Bently must find the boy who took the egg and shepherd it to safety without it coming to harm, and without his beloved friend discovering. Thus begins a wild adventure. Happily, Bently recovers the egg and gets it back to its mother just in time for the beautiful baby duck to hatch. Kack Kack decides to name her new son Ben, after her hero Bently.

Comments (9) »

I love kids books

Children's books. My kids, Max and Calvin. Random thoughts connected to books and my kids.

The Belugas are Watching

...as we write, draw, and blog.

Children's Books Heal

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. -- Margaret Mead

Pretty Books

Fiction, Young Adult and Children's Books & Reviews

Design of the Picture Book

the intersection of graphic design + picture books

David Gaughran

Let's Get Digital

bookpeopleblog.wordpress.com/

Howdy! We're the largest independent bookstore in Texas. This is our blog.

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

The Book Wars

💕📚💕

This Kid Reviews Books

A Place for Kids and Grown-Ups to Discover Books

Kid Lit Reviews

Honest, Thoughtful Reviews

Loren Long

children’s book illustrator and author

Creative Grove Artist & Designer Market

artist and community festivals in the public space held from 2009 - 2014

Delightful Children's Books

Find a book to delight a child.

Book Blogger Directory

The Big Blog of Book Blogs

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Sommer Reading

A Blog About Books

educating alice

monica edinger, teacher and reader of children's literature

Bobs Books Blog

Childrens and Young Adult Book Reviews by Bob Docherty

Random Acts of Reading

reviews, raves and a random assortment of book buzz

children's books for grown-ups

Natasha Worswick's blog

Watch. Connect. Read.

Children's Book Reviews

Book-A-Day Almanac

Children's Book Reviews

100 Scope Notes

Children's Lit

%d bloggers like this: