Category Archives: picture books
Lisa Tharpe and Ali Bahrampour’s P is for Please: A Bestiary of Manners features twenty six lessons on etiquette, with the help of a large menagerie. Starting from A, with “A is for asking permission,” each page offers a reminder starting with a letter of the alphabet, and a silly alliteration of the importance of manners.
What follows is a zany breakdown of all the things one should always do, whether it’s using table manners or saying “excuse me.”
“Excuse me!” whispers Xavier Xolo when he accidentally bumps into an extra large xenopus.”
Ali Bahrampour’s illustrations are simple but effective. The gentle nature of the animals depicted reminded me of Richard Scarry’s early work from his Golden Book titles. A wide range of species, from the common to the exotic, are shown here. P is for Please is great for kids, because they’re learning lessons on politeness, while being entertained and the illustrations add to the whimsy of the text.
The cover design features a raised illustration. Such tactile touches are rare these days in picture books, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Copy for review provided by the author. To purchase your own copy, visit PisforPlease.com!
Author: Lisa Tharpe (Illus. by Ali Bahrampour)
Date: November 2009
Publisher: Blueberry Ink Press
Princess Hyacinth isn’t your normal princess. She floats. And that’s not a metaphor for her delicate manner of walking lady-like, she literally floats in the air. The only solution is for the king and queen to weigh her down with a heavy crown and jewels. But she wants to fly, and a new friendship will help do so.
A collaboration of two big names in the children’s literature world, Princess Hyacinth is a visual delight. Lane Smith’s illustrations are usually bright and loud, all over the page. Here they’re watercolors, more restrained and delicate. The story’s words are art themselves, when Princess Hyacinth floats up, so do they. The visual play with words continues as the princess careens across the sky.
The ending is great. I love when a children’s book steps outside of the realm of neatly tying up things, it sparks imagination in children and in this dreamy fairy tale, it’s perfect.
Title: Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated)
Author: Florence Parry Heide (Illus. by Lane Smith)
Date: September 2009
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade (Random House)
It’s almost Halloween, and one of my favorite things about working at a bookstore is seeing all the new Halloween titles come in! There’s always quite a few, and so once I learned about The 13 Days of Halloween, I accepted the invitation to the blog tour.
Carol Greene’s 13 Days of Halloween is a picture book written in verse about a persistent (and peculiarly green-skinned) suitor and his object of affection. It’s a parody of the classic “12 Days of Christmas” song but these gifts are much, much more macabre. Also more fun.
The first day brings not a partridge, but a vulture in a dead tree. The second, two hissing cats. The third, three fat toads. All throughout the strange courting, the female ignores her would-be suitor, until the thirteenth day when she gives him a present. The ending of 13 Days of Halloween takes you by surprise. Judging by this, the title could easily become a crowd favorite, with scary voices, and a dramatic flourish at the clever ending. I think kids will ask for this story over and over, because of its catchy verse and ghoulish content.
The illustrations by Tim Raglin (The Wolf Who Cried Boy) add the perfect element of creepiness to the story: things are definitely not living in his haunted world, but they’re not too terrifying for a toddler either. Flipping through the book, the little touches Raglin makes stand out – the skeleton of a pink poodle, with little tufts of fur still remaining, or the angry toads dressed in bonnets a few pages later, and sipping magic potion. My favorite: the spider who weaves a web next to the opening words, and as the story progresses, she winds her way up and down the pages. It’s little touches such as this and the fun sing-song rhyming that make 13 Days of Halloween a treat.
Thanks go to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for sending me a copy for review and for the blog tour invitation.
Author: Carol Greene (Illus. by Tim Raglin)
Date: September 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Imogene Tripp loves history so much that her first words as a baby were “Four score and seven years ago.” She helps restore the Liddleville Historical Society, but to her disappointment, nobody visits. Then she learns the Mayor has ordered the building torn down and plans to put a shoelace factory in its place. Taking to the streets, Imogene launches a one woman campaign, blanketing the town with flyers and crying ala Paul Revere “the bulldozers are coming!” but nobody listens. “The shoelace factory will put Liddleville on the map,” they say in reply. But Imogene is determined to win the fight – her last stand.
I was utterly charmed by this book. Candace Fleming’s Imogene is plucky and adorable. Illustrator Nancy Carpenter depicts a girl who runs around town astride a stick horse as she quotes Paul Revere, and in flight goggles when she educates children during show and tell about notable heroines. Imogene’s habit of quoting great men of history fits perfectly in this story, especially her reference to Martin Luther King’s utterance “We are made by history,” as she cleans the Historical Society.
The book’s ending is a little predictable to adults, but children will likely like it. Imogene’s Last Stand is a great introduction to history for little ones with a sweet but determined girl.
Title: Imogene’s Last Stand
Author: Candace Fleming (Illus. by Nancy Carpenter)
Date: October 2009
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade (Random House)
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Title: The Clever Stick
“There is a terrible stillness in the air as the tale unfolds.With growing disbelief, men, women, and children listen.Buildings so tall they can touch the skyFires so hot they can melt iron?
Smoke and dust so thick they can block out the sun?”
– 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy with Wilson Kemeli Naiyomah (Illus. by Thomas Gonzalez)
Date: August 2009
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers