Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Favorite Picture Books Of the Year ... So Far

I am quite a fan of the picture book.  They are like little vignettes of humanity, told in twenty pages, with gorgeous illustrations and thoughtful life lessons.  Little kids are soooo lucky.

But I have to admit that in my house, my eight, ten and thirteen year old (yes you got that right, thirteen) still pick up picture books regularly and enjoy them.  Recently I brought home the new offering from Ole Konnecke, one of my favorite picture book authors ever, and my fifth grader just connected with the humor so thoroughly that he kept taking it around to his siblings asking if they had read this book.

The other picture book I am so excited about this year is This Is Not My Hat by J. Klassen, a companion book to his widely successful story I Want My Hat Back from last year.  It is not out until October, but I had a chance to read an advanced copy and it is just as delightful as its predecessor!  Look out for that one in the coming months.

I know, I say it over and over, but picture books are a wonderful thing.  Let your kids enjoy them for as long as possible!  Here are a few our family have recently enjoyed!

Title:       Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Author:   Eric Litwin and James Dean

Target:    Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about:
Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt which has four groovy buttons on it.  As each button proceeds to pop off, Pete counts down until he has no buttons left, but perhaps there is another button hiding in there somewhere!

What I love about this book:
Everything!  First it is a wonderful counting book as Pete counts down his lost buttons, and the illustrator includes the math equations on each page.  There is also an increadibly groovy song incorporated into the story that my daughter and I could not get out of our heads and have been signing for a week now.  You can hear the song on the website and the tune is easy enough, even for the musically challenged (yes that means me!)  

I also love the tone of the book.  As Pete loses his buttons, the author asks if Pete is upset, and the message is that all is good!  Buttons come and buttons go.  A nice reminder for both kids and adults.  Lastly the repetition in the book is delightful for kids as they can participate throughout the story, calling out the next line.

Who this book is for:
All kids should really enjoy the interactive nature and positive messages in this story, along with learning some early counting skills.

Final thoughts:
Pete the Cat is one groovy feline!  I dare you not to be singing his song throughout the day!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Title:       Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit

Author:   Chris Van Dusen

Target:     Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about:
Randy has two loves, baseball and science.  However, his talent does not lie in the former, but the later.  When he figures out that a fireball will be hitting earth and the adults dismiss him, he decides he will take care of this problem himself.  The solution - a giant robot who can hit that fireball with a bat and send it back to outer space.   Randy’s first home run!

Why I love this book:
First off I am a sucker for anything by Chris Van Dusen, so I have to admit that I was already predisposed to like this book.  His illustrations always feel like a thoroughly modern version of something vintage, which I believes leads to their charm.  Those small touches, like the math equation above Randy’s head as he is at bat, calculating the velocity and angle of the ball for the perfect hit, are just right on point.

The book is written in rhyme so it reads nicely and the message is just lovely.  He plays baseball just because he loves the sport, even if he isn’t very good at it, and that leads to even more success in the thing he is good at - science.

Who this book is for:
Nice book for all kids, but baseball and robot lovers should be particularly drawn to the story.

Final thoughts:
Another Home Run for Chris Van Dusen.  Please check out my review of If I Built a Car, another one of his inspired picture books.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Randy Riley's Really Big Hit  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Huff & Puff

Author:   Claudia Rueda

Target:    Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about:
This is an interactive story of the Three Little Pigs, where the reader gets to play the part of the big bad wolf, with a surprising twist at the end.  Each pig builds their house and invites the reader to huff and puff to blow that house down.  What the reader doesn’t know is that all that huffing and puffing at the house made of bricks serves a delightful purpose at the end of the story.

Why I love this book:
First off I love stories that really engage readers at a young age, and this story has them blowing and blasting that house with all their might.  Secondly, the illustrations are just wonderful.  The drawings are simple, but the look of that first pig after his house of straw goes down is just priceless.

I like stories that provide a fun twist on the original, which this story does.  Additionally, the story is not scary in the least, so if you have a child who might be slightly disturbed by the original version, this one will serve them quite well.

Who this book is for:
Great for all young kids, especially those who like to participate in the story.

Final thoughts:
A great retelling of a classic picture book.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click her to connect to Amazon: Huff & Puff: Can You Blow Down the Houses of the Three Little Pigs?  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Chloe, Instead

Author:   Micah Player

Target:    Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about:
Molly was hoping for a little sister just like her, but what she got instead was Chloe.  Chloe is nothing like her, which can be extremely irritating at times, but in the end maybe it’s ok.  Sometimes a sister to love is special enough.

Why I love this book:
First off the illustrations are absolutely inspired.  Player’s use of color just makes this book sing and draws you right into the story.  It also has a lovely message about appreciating your siblings for who they are and finding ways to enjoy being together.

Who this book is for:
Fun story for all kids, but those with younger siblings will especially appreciate this book.

Final thoughts:
A visual stunner!  I have included the book trailer for this one below!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click her to connect to Amazon: Chloe, Instead  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Anton Can Do Magic

Author:   Ole Konnecke

Target:    Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about:
Anton has a magic hat, which he is convinced has given him magical abilities.  His first attempt at making a tree disappear is a bit too ambitious, but when he decides to go smaller (think bird) low and behold he is successful.  Obviously the reader is in on to the fact that the bird simply flew away, but Anton is convinced of his magical prowess.  As he tries to convince his friends of his abilities, things get even more challenging (and funny.)

Why I love this book:
There are very few books that can do a deadpan style of humor at the picture book level, and Konnecke is masterful at it.  The other book, in recent memory, that nailed it as well is I Want My Hat Back.  

The illustrations are charming, with little touches that just made me laugh.  And the real humor in the story lies with Anton’s utter and complete belief in his ability to do magic.

Who this book is for:
Kids who likes I Want My Hat Back will be fans of Konnecke.  The humor is a little sophisticated so kids on the young end may not fully appreciate the book.

Final thoughts:
Houdini watch out, Anton is in town!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Anton Can Do Magic  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment