May 29, 2017

Subscribe to SLJ

Enchanting Offerings from Helen Ward, Sara O’Leary, and Rowboat Watkins | Elementary Picture Books

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

SLJ1504-Fic-ElementaryredstarBeaton, Kate. The Princess and the Pony. illus. by Kate Beaton. 40p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545637084; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545637091.

K-Gr 2 –Rambunctious Princess Pinecone is the smallest warrior in her kingdom, but what she lacks in size, she makes up for in enthusiasm. Tired of receiving novelty sweaters for her birthday, Pinecone asks her parents for a big, strong battle horse—and receives a chubby little pony with a vacant expression, and incurable flatulence, instead. Though he doesn’t fit the standard requirements of the typical trusty steed—“It’s too small! It’s too round! And I think its eyes are looking in different directions…(This was true, but only sometimes.)”—the little pony proves to be a surprising asset on the day of her great battle. Chunky, colorful digital illustrations provide plenty of detail to keep readers entertained; older children will enjoy exploring all of the different posters marking Pinecone’s walls, or some of the sillier warriors in the battle fray, including one sneakily eating a hot dog. The text contains a healthy dose of alliteration and buzzwords that will boost vocabulary (“Pinecone was flabbergasted, flummoxed, floored!”) while making for a fun read-aloud. VERDICT A highly recommended, charmingly illustrated tale of teamwork and tenderness.–Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal

redstarO’Leary, Sara. This Is Sadie. illus. by Julie Morstad. 32p. (Sadie Mac). Tundra. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781770495326.

PreS-Gr 2 –Sadie is a young girl with a flourishing imagination that can transform a boring old box into an enormous boat on the high seas. She has loads of friends, some real and some she’s met in the pages of a good book. In fact, it is Sadie’s relationship with her books that form the basis for this charming tale. Every new scene demonstrates to young readers how books can be the gateway to fantastical worlds. There are clever nods to such children’s classics as Alice in Wonderland and The Jungle Book, and Sadie’s enthusiasm and joy in making the everyday extraordinary is a worthy message. This award-winning duo beautifully convey the magic that is to be found in reading or listening to a story. The appealing text is accompanied by lush drawings rendered in gouache, ink, and Photoshop that lend it a fanciful feel in the best way possible. With its leisurely pace and verdant illustrations, this book is a delight for bedtime as well as an excellent storytime choice paired with Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon and Peter Bently’s King Jack and the Dragon (Dial, 2011). VERDICT A wonderful purchase for all collections.–Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI

redstarWard, Helen. Spots in a Box. illus. by Helen Ward. 40p. Candlewick. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763675974.

PreS-Gr 2 –A die-cut cover ushers readers into the company of a guinea fowl “without any spots,/which [makes] him feel odd/‘cause the others had lots.” So he writes a letter requesting some. When boxes of spots of all kinds start arriving, however, they are all wrong. Some are too tall and long, others too small. There are “inky-font dots” and dots made from “splats, drips, and blots.” Die-cuts reveal spots that “turn[ed] out to be no spots at all,” and foil spots are too “sparkly and bright.” There are even spots more suitable for other kinds of creatures. Finally, though, a box arrives with multicolored, textured spots that, while not usual guinea fowl attire, put a smile on this bird’s beak, and he dons them “the very next day.” There is so much to enjoy here. Large, humorous watercolor illustrations depict the guinea fowl in profile with an empty box on his head as tiny spots spill across the pages,becoming entangled in ribbons unraveling from a “box of not-spots,” or connecting “connect-the-dots spots” (which children might be tempted to imitate) with pencil in beak. The brief, well-rhymed text invites readers to chime in, and there are interesting spots to see and even feel as well. An important message about having the courage to be different is an added bonus. VERDICT A first purchase for every library.–Marianne Saccardi, Children’s Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT

redstarWatkins, Rowboat. Rude Cakes. illus. by Rowboat Watkins. 40p. Chronicle. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452138510.
PreS-Gr 1 –In this amusing and downright bizarre tale, readers learn about cakes whose dispositions aren’t nearly as sweet as their flavoring. One bratty confection, who never waits his turn and refuses to obey his parents, finally gets his comeuppance when a cyclops reaches into his bedroom window one night and eagerly scoops him up. Slyly subverting expectations, the author explains that cyclops don’t eat cakes—they enjoy wearing them as hats. But cyclops are far more considerate, and the one-eyed creature quickly returns the dessert to his home, resulting in a kinder, gentler cake. Children learning to say, “Please” and “Thank you” will delight in the over-the-top rude behavior here, such as the cake exploding with anger at a tiny marshmallow and chocolate muffin. The use of dynamic, large fonts for emphasis, hilarious dialogue conveyed through speech bubbles, and the exaggerated expressions and responses of characters add further to the zany flavor of this story. Digitally created, with pencil and ink, the cartoonlike illustrations match the tone of the text, quirk for quirk. The strange creations depicted here have an adorably grotesque feel: the cakes are multilayered concoctions perched precariously on tiny peglike legs, while the monsters are toothy, big-eyed, hairy ovals. Watkins has whipped up a truly surreal story, crammed with hilarious details and gently laced with an important lesson; pair this one with Steve Antony’s Please Mr. Panda (Scholastic, 2015) for a fun primer on manners. VERDICT This entertaining offering will make for a riotous storytime.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Alperin, Mara, retel. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. illus. by Kate Daubney. ISBN 9781589254589; ISBN 9781589251809.

––––. The Three Billy Goats Gruff. illus. by Kate Pankhurst. ISBN 9781589254596; ISBN 9781589251816.

ea vol: 32p. (My First Fairy Tale). Tiger Tales. 2015. Tr. $7.99. lib. ed. $23.99.

Ashburn, Boni. I Had a Favorite Hat. illus by Robyn Ng. 32p. Abrams. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419714627; ebk. $15.54. ISBN 9781613127469. LC 2014015762.

Auch, Mary Jane. The Buk Buk Buk Festival. illus. by Herm Auch & Mary Jane Auch. 32p. Holiday House. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823432011; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823433568. LC 2014017137.

Averbeck, Jim. One Word from Sophia. illus. by Yasmeen Ismail. 32p. S. & S./ Atheneum. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481405140.

Beaumont, Karen. Wild About Us! illus. by Janet Stevens. 40p. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780152062941.

Bowman, Patty. The Amazing Hamweenie Escapes! illus. by Patty Bowman. 32p. (Amazing Hamweenie: Bk. 2). Philomel. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399256899; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698149083. LC 2013018196.

Bright, Rachel. Side by Side. illus. by Debi Gliori. 32p. Scholastic. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545813266.

Budde, Nadia. Bristly Hair and I Don’t Care! tr. from German by Jeremy Frazkee. illus. by Nadia Budde. 40p. NorthSouth. May 2015. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9780735842052.

Catrow, David. Fun in the Sun. illus. by David Catrow. 32p. Holiday House. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823429455. LC 2013019679.

Clanton, Ben. Something Extraordinary. illus. by Ben Clanton. 40p. S. & S. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481403580; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781481403597.

Clark, Emma Chichester. Bears Don’t Read! illus. by Emma Chichester Clark. 32p. Kane Miller. 2015. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781610673662. LC 2014946662.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Freedom’s School. illus. by James E. Ransome. 32p. Disney/Jump at the Sun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423161035.

Cohen, Deborah Bodin. Engineer Ari and the Passover Rush. illus. by Shahar Kober. 32p. (Engineer Ari). ebook available. Kar-Ben. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467734707; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781467734714; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9781467762014.

Daly, Niki. Thank You, Jackson: How One Little Boy Makes a BIG Difference. illus. by Jude Daly. 32p. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781847804846.

Delaunois, Angèle. Magic Little Words. illus. by Manon Gauthier. 24p. Owlkids. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771471060. LC 2014950140.

Dreams of Freedom: In Words and Pictures. 48p. Frances Lincoln. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781847804532.

Dubuc, Marianne. The Bus Ride. tr. from French by Yvette Ghione. illus. by Marianne Dubuc. 40p. Kids Can. 2015. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781771382090; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781771384377.

Edwards, Gareth & Guy Parker-Rees. Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner. 32p. Scholastic. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545812962.

Elliot, David. Henry’s Stars. illus. by David Elliot. 40p. Philomel. May 2015. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780399171161; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698175402. LC 2014033929.

Federle, Tim. Tommy Can’t Stop. illus. by Mark Fearing. 32p. Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423169178. LC 2014015781.

Gore, Emily. And Nick. illus. by Leonid Gore. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781416955061; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781481426237. LC 2014021971.

Griswell, Kim T. Rufus Goes to Sea. illus. by Valeri Gorbachev. 32p. Sterling. Apr. 2015. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781454910527.

Harris, Robie H. Turtle and Me. illus. by Tor Freeman. 40p. little bee. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781499800463. LC 2014943631.

Idle, Molly. Sea Rex. illus. by Molly Idle. 40p. Viking. May 2015. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780670785742. LC 2014028637.

Joyce, William. Billy’s Booger: A Memoir (Sorta). illus. by William Joyce. 40p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442473515; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781442473522. LC 2014034955.

Judd, Jennifer Cole. Circus Train. illus. by Melanie Matthews. 24p. Amazon/Two Lions. 2015. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781477826348.

Kent, Derek Taylor. El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale. tr. from English by Gabriella Revilla Lugo. illus. by Jed Henry. 40p. Holt. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099898. BL

Kerley, Barbara. With a Friend by Your Side. 48p. maps. photos. National Geographic. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781426319051.

Kirk, Daniel. The Thing About Spring. illus. by Daniel Kirk. 32p. Abrams. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419714924.

Klepeis, Alicia Z. Francisco’s Kites/ Las cometa de Francisco. tr. from English by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. illus. by Gary Undercuffler. Bilingual ed. 32p. Piñata Books. May 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858046. LC 2014037599. BL

Kono, Erin Eitter. Caterina and the Best Beach Day. illus. by Erin Eitter Kono. 32p. Dial. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803741317; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101993804. LC 2014019182.

Kulling, Monica. The Tweedles Go Online. illus. by Marie Lafrance. 32p. Groundwood. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554983537; ebk. $14.95. ISBN 9781554983544.

Lambert, Megan Dowd. A Crow of His Own. illus. by David Hyde Costello. 32p. Charlesbridge. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781580894470.

London, Jonathan. Little Puffin’s First Flight. illus. by Jon Van Zyle. 32p. Alaska Northwest. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781941821404; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9781941821565. LC 2014034763.

Molk, Laurel. Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo, and Flo! illus. by Laurel Molk. 32p. Viking. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670015382.

Nelson, Kadir. If You Plant a Seed. illus. by Kadir Nelson. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062298898.

Ode, Eric & John Skewes. Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea. illus. by John Skewes. 32p. Sasquatch. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781570619250.

OHora, Zachariah. My Cousin Momo. illus. by Zachariah OHora. 32p. Dial. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803740112.

Ortiz, Raquel M. Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural/Sofi y el mágico mural musical. tr. from English by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. illus. by Maria Dominguez. Bilingual ed. 32p. glossary. Piñata. May 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858039. BL

Palatini, Margie. Under a Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit (A Mixed-Up Book). illus. by Chuck Groenink. 40p. Abrams. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419714887. LC 2014019616.

Pallotta, Jerry. Butterfly Counting. illus. by Shennen Bersani. 32p. Charlesbridge. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781570914140; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781570914157. LC 2013049018.

Petz, Moritz. The Day Everything Went Wrong. tr. from German by David Henry Wilson. illus. by Amélie Jackowski. 32p. NorthSouth. May 2015. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780735842090.

RodriGuez, Ed. Kiki Koki: La Leyenda Encantada del Coqui. illus. by Ed Rodriguez. Spanish ed. 40p. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721043; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781626721326.

Roussen, Jean. Beautiful Birds. illus. by Emmanuelle Walker. 56p. Flying Eye Bks. 2015. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781909263291.

Schiffer, Miriam B. Stella Brings the Family. illus. by Holly Clifton-Brown. 36p. Chronicle. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452111902. LC 2013033259.

Sheth, Kashmira. Sona and the Wedding Game. illus. by Yoshiko Jaeggi. 32p. Peachtree. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781561457359. LC 2014006501.

Silver, Gail. Peace, Bugs, and Understanding. illus. by Youme Nguyen Ly. 48p. Parallax. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781937006631; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9781937006648. LC 2014009438.

Smallman, Steve. Blow Your Nose, Big Bad Wolf. illus. by Bruno Merz. ISBN 9781609927080.

––––. Eat Your Veggies, Goldilocks. illus. by Bruno Robert. ISBN 9781609927073.

ea vol: 24p. (Fairytales Gone Wrong). Quarto/QEB. 2014. Tr. $15.95.

Tarpley, Todd. My Grandma’s a Ninja. illus. by Danny Chatzikonstantinou. 40p. NorthSouth. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735841994.

Teague, Mark. The Sky Is Falling! illus. by Mark Teague. 32p. Orchard. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545632171.

Teckentrup, Britta. Where’s the Pair? illus. by Britta Teckentrup. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2015. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763677725.

Torres, Jennifer. Finding the Music: En pos de la musica. illus. by Renato Alarcao. 40p. glossary. Lee & Low. Apr. 2015. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780892392919. BL

Underwood, Deborah. Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. illus. by Claudia Rueda. 96p. Dial. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525427742. LC 2014025759.

Urban, Linda. Little Red Henry. illus. by Madeline Valentine. 40p. Candlewick. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763661762. LC 2014939355.

VAN Slyke, Rebecca. Mom School. illus. by Priscilla Burris. 32p. Doubleday. 2015. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385388931; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385388924; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385388948. LC 2014012962.

Wagner, Anke. Help, I Don’t Want a Babysitter! illus. by Anne-Kathrin Behl. 32p. NorthSouth Bks. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735842144.

Wan, Joyce. The Whale in My Swimming Pool. illus. by Joyce Wan. 40p. Farrar. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300371.

Watson, Stephanie. Behold!: A Baby. illus. by Joy Ang. 32p. Bloomsbury. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619634527.

Watts, Bernadette. The Golden Plate. illus. by Bernadette Watts. 32p. NorthSouth Bks. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735841758.

Willis, Jeanne. The Cow Tripped over the Moon: A Nursery Rhyme Emergency. illus. by Joel Stewart. 32p. Candlewick. May 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763674021. LC 2014945704.

Willis, Jeanne. The First Slodge. illus. by Jenni Desmond. 32p. Tiger Tales. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781589251694.

Wolf, Gita. Visit the Bhil Carnival. illus. by Subhash Amaliyar. 24p. Tara. Apr. 2015. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9789383145119.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Share
Register for the SLJ Day of Dialog Livestream!
For the first time in Day of Dialog history, we’re offering livestream access for those unable to attend in person! Tune in on May 31 to watch a full-day of author presentations and panels, as well as the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards announcement. You’ll also receive access to the event archive for two months.