When I saw Junkyard by Mike Austin in the new books bin at the library, I immediately picked it up to take home to read to the DLM. Robots are one of his current passions (thanks, I think, to a Max and Ruby episode), and this book certainly piqued his interest. It’s the story-in-rhyme of a couple of Munching Machines that work in a junkyard. Their job is to clean up the mess, and they do so by eating all the junk:
They crunch boxcars, jelly jars
crooked airplane wings.
And five dirty dump trucks
filled with curly metal springs.
The more they eat, the cleaner the space gets. At the end of the story, they turn the former junkyard into a green space, filled with flowers, a playground, tire swings, tree forts, soccer fields, a lake, and more. Despite the fact that Steady Eddie and I are terribly cynical and don’t usually appreciate at “PC” message tagged onto our children’s picture books (thankyouverymuch), we like this one a lot. Actually, I think it’s the illustrations I like most of all–something about all the junk–so colorful–and the big ol’ crunchy, munchy robots is just so unexpected and fun! It’s a bit Eric Carle-ish. (See it here.) The DLM likes the book a lot, too. (In fact, it’s no longer in front of me as I type. He saw it and took it to his room for rest time. That’s a Highly Recommended.) (Beach Lane Books, 2014)
I picked up Captain Cat because I thought it looked fun, and I was right. I wasn’t many pages into it before I realized that Inga Moore also
wrote illustrated The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbit. (Actually, I thought she wrote it, too, so something about Moore’s style must remind me of Nesbit’s, which is a good thing.) Captain Cat is based on an Italian legend that we’ve read somewhere else (maybe it was a Writing with Ease lesson?). The good captain loves cats so much that he has more cats aboard his ship than sailors. Captain Cat is a trader, though not a very good one, and one day he sets out due west instead of east and discovers a “remote and lonely island.” He meets the island’s Queen and quickly surmises that she has a problem in the Royal Palace–RATS! Of course, he has the answer to this problem–CATS! He trades some his cats for her jewels. However, without his cats, life isn’t much fun for him, so he sails back to his home port. When news of his new riches gets out, other merchants sail to the lonely island to claim their treasure. There, the Queen trades their goods for what is not her most valuable possessions, and the story comes full circle and ends quite happily. Moore‘s illustrations are lovely–soft and very reminiscent of the sea, with little humorous touches here and there. (Candlewick, 2013)