I’m sharing some more new 2011 picture books today. I can’t really express how gleeful I am over reading so many great new titles with my girls. 🙂
One of the children who lives at the House of Hope is very frightened of animals, dogs in particular. The other one, however, would love to have a pet. We’ve almost brought home a kitten from one of my mother’s outside cat’s litters a few times, but so far we’ve avoided the whole pet scenario (except for some fish and the hermit crabs and frogs we’ve had on occasion). I think I’ve been able to avoid commitment in this arena mainly because of the DLM–“I don’t want something else I have to feed right now.” 🙂 That’s a good excuse, right? I think all of this is why Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly appeals to all of us here: poor Prudence wants a pet, but because her parents offer her nothing but excuses (“Pets cost too much to keep” and “Pets make noise”), Prudence resorts to the
next best thing–a nonliving pet! She tries a branch, a twig, a shoe, and a car tire. The story ends happily, with Prudence finally getting her real, live pet, but what happens in between is childhood imagination, fortitude, and ingenuity at their best. Prudence is a quirky character drawn to perfection by Stephen Michael King (see his artwork here). I think children, especially those ever denied the joy of pet ownership, will really like this book. Highly Recommended! (Roaring Press, 2011)
I can’t say that I would’ve ever predicted getting excited about a book about. . . vegetables, but I am. Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant isn’t so much a story as it is a tribute to all that’s glorious, colorful, and beautiful about vegetables. April Pulley Sayre has created an extremely fun book that just begs its reader to grab a megaphone and do a few cartwheels. The first few pages go like this:
Rah, rah, radishes!
Red and white.
Carrots are calling.
Take a bite!
Oh boy, bok choy!
Each two lines has its own page and its own large, extremely colorful illustrative photograph. Really, it’s the photographs that make this book so great—that, and the sheer improbability of cheering for vegetables. This would make a great addition to a study of nutrition–who knew there were so many kinds of vegetables, and that they are so gorgeous? Another Highly Recommended title. You can learn more about the author/illustrator on her website. (Beach Lane, 2011)
King Hugo’s Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen is one of those books I would’ve most likely passed right over were it not for the new book sticker affixed to its front. I had my fill of books-with-a-behavioral-message back when I used such books for lessons as a drug and alcohol abuse prevention specialist, a job I held while in library school. A few things saved this one for me, though. First, it’s written well in rhyme:
Yes, Hugo was a cocky king–
as boastful as could be.
To him, no other person was
as wonderful as he.
Reading in sing-song verse isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes it enhances the story, as it does in this case. It’s fun, and it provides that element of predictability that’s important for young listeners. The second thing that makes this book appealing is the colorful and hilarious illustrations. Done in gouache, they are very cartoonish, which I think will appeal to most children. (I admit that sometimes I’m not too much in favor of cartoonish illustrations, especially if they look computer-generated; I prefer everything to look hand-drawn myself. However, I recognize that this art probably appeals to children.) King Hugo looks like he has a huge ego, which I attribute to the particular up-tilt of his rather pinched nose. Van Dusen got him just right. The third thing that elevates this to something more than a cautionary tale is the fact that it is a great and entertaining story, from King Hugo’s stringent requirements of his subjects to the revenge of a put-upon peasantish (is that a word?) sorceress to the happy ending that ensues, this is a rollicking tale. The fourth reason I like this book is because Louise loves it and requests it again and again. 🙂 If you need more reasons to read this book, read Read Aloud Dad’s review for more enthusiasm about this unexpectedly wonderful title. (Candlewick, 2011)