November 17, 2017

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Perfect Picnic Picture Books | SLJ Spotlight

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No matter how idyllic the spot or how savory the treats, no picnic is complete without some terrific picture books to share. Consider tucking these titles into your baskets or totes for a delightful outdoor storytime, satisfaction guaranteed.

Brett, Jan. The Mermaid. illus. by Jan Brett. 32p. Putnam. Aug. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399170720.

PreS-Gr 2 –In an aquatic version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Kiniro, the beautiful mermaid, is intrigued by the mystique and beauty of the little seashell house she swims by. Curious, she enters the home and sees breakfast set on the table. Unable to resist, Kiniro tastes the marine delicacies. The delicious morsel in the smallest bowl is her favorite, and she eats it up completely. The mermaid then floats to the living room and sits in three chairs. The smallest chair is the prettiest, but she breaks it to bits as she tries to wiggle in. Finally, Kiniro feels the three beds and discovers that she loves the little clamshell swing bed the most. This is where the octopus family finds her when they return to their watery abode. Not only is this fractured fairy tale a delight to read, there is also an adorable side story skillfully told in the border art as only Brett can. Set in the waters off of the coast of Okinawa, this colorful picture book is exquisite. The full-page illustrations are gorgeous in shades of turquoise, pink, green, and blue. The border art is detailed, and readers could spend hours diving into all there is to explore. VERDICT A one-on-one treat for folktale aficionados and, of course, for Brett’s many fans.–Amy Shepherd, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

Cronin, Brian B. The Lost Picnic. illus. by Brian B. Cronin. 40p. Viking. Sept. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781101999226. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –It’s easy to get lost in this seek-and-find book, a perfect follow-up to Cronin’s The Lost House. This installment follows Grandad and the children as they make their way through a park, towns, and villages, across a river, and by a gas station on their way to a picnic, all while dreaming of the many treats they will enjoy when they get there. Each page offers something new to discover, including many of their picnic basket items that have been left along the way. The bright, saturated illustrations and enchanting spreads completely suck readers in. Cronin’s recognizable style is reminiscent of that of classic picture books but has a modern feel and a vibrant neon palette. Like any good seek-and-find book, this one ends with a callout to readers: “Can you go back to the start of their journey and find all the items, so Grandad and the kids can have their picnic?” VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of The Lost House and anyone who loves to seek and find. A wonderful addition to any library, and an irresistible escape for both young and old.–Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library

Doi, Kaya. Chirri & Chirra: In the Tall Grass. tr from Japanese by Yuki Kaneko. illus. by Kaya Doi. 40p. Enchanted Lion. Jun. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781592702251.

PreS-Gr 2 –Take a fantastical voyage through a luscious green meadow with rosy-red cheeked Chirri and Chirra. In this second book about the twins, the girls are yet again only distinguishable because one has blue buttons on her dress and the other has red. It is in these tiny details that Doi excels. The use of color pencils to masterfully guide readers on a leisurely paced tour is reminiscent of days gone by. “Dring-dring, dring-dring!” goes the bicycles, and magically the twins become tiny. They follow a bee to eat a delicious honey cake, flower chafers to drink juice made of “yumberry fruit and raspberry pulp,” a lizard to eat fluorite candies, and finally fireflies back to their own house. Doi creates an enchanted world that harkens back to a quieter time. There is never any sense of danger or anxiety, either in the artwork or in the spare poetic text. Through pacing and a soft-focus lens, pale cream-colored pages in a small rectangular format, and the bleed over onto the next page, Doi sets the tone of a gentle read. Nature is celebrated in a bucolic setting. In this dollhouse come to life, children will enjoy picking hidden surprises out from the illustratons. This book is best enjoyed one-on-one, so readers can luxuriate in the artistic nuances. Careful observers will notice that the endpapers serve as a map for the twins’ journey. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for any size collection where readers will delight in the whimsical nostalgic artwork.–Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Glencoe Public Library, IL

Going, K.L. Bumpety, Dunkety, Thumpety-Thump! illus. by Simone Shin. 48p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442434141.

PreS –A young girl and her little brother take their bright red wagon and search for blueberries, which end up in a pie for the family to savor. From berry picking to bedtime, the account of a busy, fun day is full of amusingthumps,” “clunks,” “lumps,” and “glunks.” Each line in the stanzas varies between nine and 12 syllables, but children won’t mind the slight unevenness, as the chorus is consistent in length and a somewhat tongue-twisting joy to read. Youngsters will focus on the energetic thumpety thump–type repetition that ends each activity and creates an entertaining experience. Large, colorful digital illustrations are filled with energy and movement and have plenty of white space to show off the loving coziness of this family of four. VERDICT This onomatopoeic book is a lively read-aloud that will be requested often for storytime or bedtime.–Maryann H. Owen, Children’s Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI

Paul, Miranda. The Great Pasta Escape. illus. by Javier Joaquin. 40p. little bee. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781499804805. POP

K-Gr 2 –What would happen if the pasta at the factory suddenly realized that instead of going to a super (market) place they were going to be dinner instead? Disbelief. Discovery of evidence (it’s right on the packages!). Fear. A poorly conceived plan (“But it means sacrificing the Ravioli. It’s the only way.”). Anger. A miracle (Angel Hair to the rescue.). And, finally, a good plan involving teamwork, in which they are all shipped to Super Awesome Island, a very super place indeed. And of course, the whole story is all wrapped up with noodle puns galore. The amusing text gives each type of pasta its own personality, and Joaquin’s cartoony illustrations give those delightful personalities life. Intellectual bow tie pasta wears glasses, laid back Mac(aroni) has a bandana and shades, and Wagon Wheel Rotelle sports a cowboy hat and boots. All of the noodles have arms, legs, and extremely expressive faces, which, despite what you might be thinking, totally works. Add in picture thought bubbles, great colors, excellent detail (the pasta have shadows!), and plenty of action for a winning combination of text and illustrations. VERDICT A fun read-aloud selection and an introduction to the multitudes of pasta types. Includes a visual glossary of pasta shapes.–Catherine Callegari, Reston Regional Library, VA

Valentine, Madeline. I Want That Nut! illus. by Madeline Valentine. 40p. Knopf. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101940372. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –Friendship can be wonderful, but it is not always predictable. When a very large, beautiful nut unexpectedly lands in their play space, Mouse and Chipmunk secretly covet it, and the result threatens their close relationship. Back and forth, each steals the treasure from the other and spends individual playtime with the nut, until the rightful owner makes his claim. Illustrations of digitalized watercolor and pencil portray Mouse and Chipmunk each participating in a variety of activity with the nut, such as reading, playing in the grass, sitting down to tea, having a game of tic-tac-toe, napping, and taking part in a private dance party. Images that vary in size from full-page illustrations to small cells accentuate the cartoon action, expertly drawn and designed to keep the action moving as tails fly off the page with each snatch. Speech bubbles highlight humorous text—a running conversation about possession of Nut, ending with an eventual admission of guilt on both sides as a shared substitute treasure brings Chipmunk and Mouse back together. Young children may identify with Mouse and Chipmunk and how their yearning to possess something can overshadow what is truly important. VERDICT A first buy for all libraries, especially schools emphasizing social-emotional relationships, this book quietly introduces the topics of sharing and friendship by example, echoing the voice of young children.–Mary Elam, Learning ­Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

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This article was published in School Library Journal's August 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth (ltoth@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.

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