Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog Tour: Max at night

Reviews in Chalk is hosting today the Max at Night Blog Tour. I reviewed this book by Ed Vere for the first time nearly 5 months ago, and it is still a favorite bedtime story. It is so calming! I hope you give it a try and enjoy it too!

text and illustrations by Ed Vere
age range: 3 and up
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Max is just a sweet, little cat who wants to say good night to Moon before going to sleep. But Moon is nowhere to be seen. Max goes outside, climbs trees, buildings, and more. He asks the night, the hill and the rooftops where Moon is. Finally the wind blows the clouds away, and the night turns bright and beautiful with a big, wonderful moon. And Max is so sleepy...

This story is really cute, and Max is an adorable character. The slow pace, and the repetitiveness of the text makes it an ideal bedtime story. The illustrations are simple, but lovely, colorful enough without being bright, as I think a bedtime story needs to be.
Although the book is recommended for kids 3 years old and up, I would say younger readers will enjoy it too. My 19 months old son loved it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Author's faves: Helen and Thomas Docherty

I am honored to hosting today The Storybook Knight Blog Tour. So I asked author Helen Docherty, and illustrator Thomas Docherty about their favorite picture books. Here you have the complete list with their comments. Enjoy!

Helen's favorites:

The Sneetches by 
Dr. Seuss

Of course, there are not one but four brilliantly clever and entertaining stories in this book. Wise, humane and very, very funny, each of these stories comes with a clear moral (e.g., if you have 23 sons, don’t call them all Dave).

Leon and Bob 
by Simon James

Perfectly paced, the story of Leon (who misses his Dad) and his imaginary friend Bob is incredibly poignant, but in an understated way. The illustrations capture every subtle emotion, and the ending is a joy every time you read it.

Out and About 
by Shirley Hughes

Not a conventional narrative, this collection of short poems takes us through the year’s cycle from a child’s perspective, capturing many small moments lived. The illustrations are full of carefully observed detail and the verse is lyrical, fresh and always true.

The Bear’s Winter House 
by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

A favourite from my own childhood, this story of a bear trying to hibernate (but being constantly thwarted by his friends) is perfectly crafted and full of of humour, both in the text and in Quentin Blake’s vibrant illustrations.

The Paper Dolls 
by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

A sweet, playful story that becomes something much more profound, this book explores the theme of loss with a beautiful lightness of touch. Warning: this book will probably make you cry!

And Thomas' favorites:

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen 
by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake

My dad used to read this to me and my brothers because he loved it so much himself, and now I’m doing the same with our daughters… Vintage shenanigans from two of the greats of children’s literature. 

The Tiger-Skin Rug 
by Gerald Rose

Sumptuous illustrations and a touching fairytale of a story transport you to an ancient eastern kingdom where a skinny, old, tiger wants nothing more than to find a quiet home and a family to belong to. 

The Pirate Cruncher 
by Jonny Duddle

A band of salty pirates, a treasure map and the promise of riches beyond their wildest dreams - what could possibly go wrong? A visual delight of a picture book with a hilarious and perilous twist!

The Gardening Pirates 
by Ruth Morgan and Chris Glynn

When Gwen the cabin girl discovers an unusual treasure in the form of vegetable seeds, it might just be what the crew of the Ych-A-Fi (Welsh for “Gross!”) need to get rid of the mean Captain Cranc… An original story with a resourceful heroine and LOTS of vegetables, what’s not to love! 

The Hundred Decker Bus 
by Mike Smith

An ordinary bus with ordinary passengers head off on an extraordinary journey, following their hearts and dreams as they build a community that just keeps on growing and growing. Quirky, fun and (literally) uplifting.

Thank you Helen and Thomas!

You can read more reviews by Helen here. And visit Thomas' website here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I'll hug you more

by Laura Duksta
illustrations by Melissa Iwai
age range: 2 to 5 years old
Sourcebooks / Jabberwocky

There are so many opportunities during the day for a good hug! When the days starts, when we read a book, to say hello and to say goodbye, to say thank you and good night. And tomorrow we can find ever more opportunities for more hugs.

Flip sided book full of beautiful illustrations you feel like touching, and calming rhymed text. Ideal for a bedtime story, right before a huge hug. 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dojo surprise

text and illustrations by Chris Tougas
age range: 2 to 5 years old
Owlkids Books

How do you prepare a surprise birthday party for a Master Ninja? He is SO aware, using his ears and eyes! The little ninja girls and boys tiptoe, hide, scurry, until everything is ready. Nothing is missing: cake, candles, music and the gift. 

This is not a quite story, on the contrary, it is very interactive. Kids have along the book many opportunities to scream "Aaah!" when the Master Ninja gets scared. Funny, noisy, and with lovable characters. Be prepared to read it lots of times. 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Author's faves: Susan Hughes

Take a look at Susan Hughes's favorite picture books! She is the author of the wonderful Maggie McGillicuddy's eye for trouble. I commented on the books I have read, and added the book blurb for the one I didn't. Enjoy!

Grant and Tillie go walking
by Monica Kulling, illustrations by Sydney Smith

"Grant Wood believed that to be a real artist, he had to live in Paris. But ones he got there, he realized that to be a great painter he needed to return to the people and places, and even animals, that the knew and loved the best. Inspired by the life or artist Grant Wood, this is the sensitively imagined story of the great American painter and a cow named Tillie".
-From the GoodReads blurb-

Anansi and the moss-covered rock
retold by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Janet Stevens

Anansi and the moss-covered rock is an old African folktale about a ... spider who uses a magic rock to trick other animals and get their food. But Little Bush Deer finds out what Anansi is doing and decided to teach him a lesson. The interesting thing about the tale is that although all the animals recover their food, Anansi doesn't really learns any lesson, and goes on playing tricks, as is his nature as a spider. 
Janet Stevens illustrations are very good, with the animals humanized at the point of walking in two legs, and many "modern" details in the illustrations. 
-Comment by Sandra-

Red is best
by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis

Kelly's favorite color is red, and there is a good explanation for that. Everybody knows you can jump higher with red stockings, make better snowballs with red mittens, keep away monsters in the red pajamas, and take bigger steps with the red boots. A cute story about a kid's logical reasons for loving a color.
-Comment by Sandra-

by JiHyeon Lee

Pool is a beautifully illustrated wordless story about two kids who meet each other in a terribly crowded pool. At the beginning they look reluctant to interact, but sooner than later they dare to share a journey full of imagination, strange creatures, and fun. The deeper they dive, the deeper their friendship becomes.
Beautiful story by a incredible talented author and illustrator. 
-Comment by Sandra-

This is Sadie
by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie has been a mermaid who lived under the sea, and she also has been a boy raised by wolves. She has visited Wonderland, and sailed a big box through the wide sea. She has been a hero in a fairy tale, and talked to the birds in the top of a tall tree. Sadie is a happy and imaginative girl whose days are never long enough for all the adventures waiting for her. This is the kind of book that makes you want to be a kid again...
-Comment by Sandra-

Thank you, Susan!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Maxwell the monkey barber

by Cale Atkinson
age range: 3 to 6 years old
Owlkids Books

Maxwell the monkey barber is ready to give you a trim or a chop, or even to help you solve your baldness problem. And he is always gentle and says "your hair's the best I've seen today".

Rhymed text and colorful pictures tell the funny story of a bunch of lovable characters and their curls, manes and mustaches. Great option for a read aloud time

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The bear who wasn't there

And the fabulous forest.
by Oren Lavie
illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch
age range: 5 to 10 years old
Black Sheep/ Akashic Books

What a fantastic read! It all starts with a medium size Itch that scratches itself against a tree, and the more it scratches the more it grows, and it is covered with fur until it looks like a bear. A bear who wasn't there, but now it is. The bear was all alone and wondered if he was the first or the last one, he wanted to know if he was he. And so starts Bear's journey to discover if he is he, Some other characters will join the adventure, like Convenience Cow and Lazy Lizard, and of course Penultimate Penguin and Taxi Turtle.

The story is deep and philosophical in a disguised way. Bear looks to answer questions like who we are, how we recognize ourselves, and how happy we are with who we truly are. The dialogues, as funny as absurd, reminded me of my beloved Alice in Wonderland. Erlbruch is a talented artist, and this is so far my favorite work by him. When I knew this ARC was coming my way, for some reason I thought it was an e-copy, hence my surprise when I received this beautiful high quality hard copy, full of amazing illustrations. 5 stars.

I received this book from the publisher via LibraryThing in exchange of an honest review.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Author's faves: Lisa Bakos

These are the five picture books Lisa Bakos, author or the beautiful rhymed story Too many Moose! chose for us. Three of them I read, and for them I added my own comments. I included the blurb in GoodReads for the other two. Enjoy!

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Miss Suzy's pleasant life in her house at the top of a oak tree is disrupted by six mean red squirrels who chase her away. She finds shelter in an old doll house, where she meets a group of tin soldiers, and this is the story of their friendship. Miss Suzy takes care of the soldiers during the winter, and they help her recover her house. This is beloved fifty years old classic, illustrated by the talented Arnold Lobel, and I am glad Lisa reminded me of it.
-Comment by Sandra-

Peggy by Anna Walker

Peggy has a very quite life in the farm. But one day the is flew away by the wind and ends in a big city. At first is nice to visit and learn about new things, but at some point she misses home... Will she know how to find her way back to it? Peggy discovers all the hints are in what she already knows. This is a cute story, and the illustrations done in ink are soft and beautiful.
-Comment by Sandra-

What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada
illustrations by Mae Besom

What do you do with an idea? That's a very good question. One day you have an idea. You don't know exactly where it came from. At first you act as if it didn't exist, but if follows you. You worry about what other would think of it, and even give up on it. But then you realize you feel happy when you spend time with your idea, so you decide to feed it, and it grows, and grows, until it is part of everything. This is one of the best picture books I have read recently. Highly recommended for every one.
-Comment by Sandra-

Be nice to spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham

"When Billy left his pet spider, Helen, at the Zoo, the animals suddenly became happy and contented. The lions snoozed all day long, the elephants enjoyed their baths, and the zebras ate their hay in peace, all because Helen was spinning webs and catching flies.
But one day Helen's webs were swept away. The Keeper had the cages cleaned for the Mayor's inspection tour. Soon the flies were back again and the animals were miserable once more. But not for long...
Children will be fascinated and amused by the way Helen solved the problem and won a permanent place of honor for herself in the Zoo".
-From the GoodReads blurb-

How Joe the Bear and Sam the Mouse get together
by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

"The friendship of Joe the Bear and Sam the Mouse blossoms when they find something they both like to do"
-From the GoodReads blurb-

Thank you, Lisa!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bathroom Science

70 Fun and Wacky Science Experiments
by Christine Taylor-Butler
age range: 8 years old and up
Portable Press

From the blurb: "Create exploding toilet volcanoes, oozing sink slime, and bubbling bathtub cauldrons…all in the name of science! Each step-by-step experiment uses household and other easy-to-find materials so the young scientist’s lab can be equipped quickly, inexpensively, and—for those who might worry—safely. Bathroom Science highlights the materials, the method, and the scientific “why” behind every experiment. It's spiral bound to stay open while young scientists-in-training measure and mix. And, best of all, Bathroom Science makes science as simple (and occasionally explosive) as going to the bathroom".

This book is amazing. What could be better than have a lab in the bathroom? The experiments are easy to follow, and the "why it happens" is explained in an uncomplicated manner. Many Physics and Chemistry concepts are covered in the activities, but always in an easy and entertaining way. The book is actually very funny and includes puns like "It's snot much trouble. Why would you want to make artificial snots? Who nose why?". The experiment have different level of difficulty, but you can easily see which ones need adult supervision, since those are in red in the table of contents. I guess that now all I have to do is take the plunge and try some experiments with my kids. 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Author's faves: Liza Stevens

We asked Liza Stevens, author of the fabulous Not today, Celeste!, to name five favorite picture books, and here what she told us:

"Here are 5 of my favourite picture books! Notice it’s only 5 OF them…I could probably manage a top 100! Anyway, in no particular order, here they are, and my reasons for choosing them."

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

"This is such a stunning book. The little girl is someone we can all identify with when feeling isolated or depressed. I have shared it with children, teenagers and adults and it resonated with them all – it offers great scope for discussions. It’s just beautiful - I never get tired of looking at it."

Burglar Bill by Janet & Allen Ahlberg

"I think Janet Ahlberg was one of the reasons I became an illustrator. I just love her work – it’s so warm and gently humorous, and the details are wonderful. This lovely story about a burglar going straight is my favourite of theirs – I used to read it to my children. (Also, parents note - a very easy
costume for World Book Day!)"

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

"This is so hilarious…I stood in a bookshop laughing aloud and just had to buy it. Poor George wants to be good, and tries so hard to resist temptation. He reminds me of my dog, Poppy, who would feel very guilty if she did something wrong. (My other dog is far naughtier but wouldn’t feel guilty at all!) It’s a lovely way to show that we ALL make mistakes!"

Mary Howlitt's The Spider and the Fly by Tony DiTerlizzi

"This is the original 1829 poem by Mary Howlitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. There are so many things to love about this…I hardly know where to start. The illustrations are inspired by 1920s -30s black and white horror films, with the text just like the captions in silent movies. I love this era and the details are gorgeous, from the cloche hat on the hapless fly, to the spider’s spooky gothic abode. Also I love Halloween and always do a window display for the local children – this book goes in every year!"

Rabbityness by Jo Empson

"I did my MA in children’s book illustration with Jo, so I was lucky enough to see this wonderful book develop right from the early sketches. It deals with the difficult subject of loss - the much-loved Rabbit suddenly disappears from the forest – but it is ultimately positive, because at the bottom of the deep dark hole, the other rabbits discover all the wonderful unrabbity things dear Rabbit left behind. It’s such an uplifting book, so full of colour and movement – I just love it."

The comments on each book are by Liza Stevens.

Thank you, Liza!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rafi's red racing car

Explaining suicide and grief to young children.
by Louise Moir
age range: up to 8 years old
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

It is impossible for Rafi to understand why his dad became so ill in his head, and his thoughts so sad that he decided to end his life. His dad used to be so happy, and loved to play racing cars with Rafi. The red car was always the winner. Red was daddy and Rafi's favorite color. Rafi is angry, and he wants to break his toys, and sometimes he is mean with his friends. He is also scared. Is mom also going to get ill? 
One day Rafi starts visiting Ellie in a special room at school. Ellie helps him feel better. She understands how Rafi feels, and explains to him that what happened is not his fault. Slowly Rafi starts to enjoy playing with his friends again, and also going to school. He loves his mom, and understands that although it is normal to be sad sometimes, everything is starting to feel right again. 

Wonderful book to help young kids to understand something it is so hard to understand, even for us adults. It is a sad story, but at the same time is hopeful and wishful. The illustrations tell the story as much as the text. Rafi feelings are so well shown in them! At the end of the book there is a guide to "Help Children heal" rich in information and suggestions to know how to support young kids who are going through this devastating situation.
As I have mentioned before, it is great to see more picture books concerned with mental health topics, such as Not Today, Celeste! and Everywhere and all around

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.