Friday, May 31, 2013

No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully, by Sara Marlowe (illustrated by Philip Pascuzzo)

No Ordinary Apple:
A Story About Eating Mindfully
Author: Sara Marlowe
Illustrator: Philip Pascuzzo
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
I had to do an exercise in college similar to the one described in this book. I was studying Buddhism or meditation practices or something and our professor had us all eat raisins slowly. Really slowly. We had to look at them, smell them and talk about them before taking even the smallest bite. I think it took 15 minutes. In the end I was salivating over the deliciousness of the raisin--and I don't even like raisins. I vowed to eat all my food mindfully from then on. I'd take two hour lunches! I'd eat less and appreciate it more! Raisins were awesome! But I forgot about it almost immediately and went back to normal.

This book is pretty much describing that experience, except with an apple. A child is taught to eat an apple mindfully by a neighbour and vows to eat everything slowly from now on. I don't know. Maybe fictional kid in the book will do better than I did with it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas, by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas
Authors: Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
I'm not even going to debate with myself about whether or not I would have loved this comic-book-style biography as a child. I know I would have. I had the Mother Theresa comic book as a child! I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed Primates as an adult though. It was like Persepolis with primates. (I feel like I've made that comparison before. Oh yeah, here. Can you tell I don't read a lot of comics?)

But seriously, y'all. Did you know about "Leaky's Angels"? I thought I knew a little about Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey but obviously I knew nothing because I didn't even realize that their entire careers with primates (chimpanzees for Goodall and gorillas for Fossey--I knew that much at least) started when they were hired by the famous Louis and Mary Leakey to do field work. They've been working on grants set up by the Leakeys all this time! Well, I'm sure Jane Goodall has her own funding now, and Dian Fossey is sadly dead.

And what about Birutė Galdikas? I hadn't even heard about her! Apparently she does the same thing, except with orangutans.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Point Your Face at This: Drawings, by Demetri Martin

Point Your Face at This:
Author: Demetri Martin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
I think the copy I got from Net Galley must have been one of those "uncorrected proofs" that reviewers often get. Usually that just means there may or may not be a typo here or there, or the table of contents is blank or something like that. Rarely does it actually mean that the content of the book is vastly different from what the finished product will look like. But in this case, I can only assume that the final product will be quite different. Many of the drawings were repeated (sometimes more than once), some didn't have captions (and therefore made no sense), some were repeated with different captions. It was odd. But again, I can only assume that this was an uncorrected proof and that the final book won't be like this.

Having said that, the drawings that I did see were a little disappointing. I'm a fan of Demetri Martin (my partner Mike is a HUGE fan) and I've enjoyed his TV specials and his short-running show, "Important Things With Demetri Martin." He often does sketchpad humour, in which he draws simple line drawings and makes jokes, either by changing the sketches slightly or by making funny observations about them. He's a funny guy. That's why I thought I'd like this book.

And I did like it. Mostly. A lot of the jokes seemed a little bitter, like they were coming from someone who had just been through an ugly divorce. So that was weird.

Overall it was okay. But not more than that. Shame.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives, by Veronik Avery

Knitting Classic Style: 
35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives
Author: Veronik Avery
Photographer: Sara Cameron
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
So a few weeks ago I decided to learn to knit. Well, decided might be too strong a word. Mike was learning to knit and I thought I might try it too, since I had done a little knitting as a child and figured I'd pick it right back up. I didn't. It was a disaster. I hated it. But, more importantly, I felt that knitting had defeated me and I couldn't have that (YOU WON'T BE ME, KNITTING!). So I kept at it, almost 100% out of spite. Who was the spite directed at? I dunno...the needles? It didn't matter. Eventually I got better. Sort of.

It didn't take long before spite turned into cockiness. I could knit anything! I was well on my way to being a knitting master! I had knit! I had purled! I had cast on AND bound off (binded off?). What more did I need? I was officially a Beginner Knitter, I assumed.

So when I saw this book that claimed to be "aimed at both beginning and more advanced knitters" I thought, "Aha! I'm totally ready for this!" I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Turns out knitting is like its own language, and reading a knitting pattern is like reading music. You have to know what you're looking at and really understand how it relates to what you're supposed to be doing with your hands. Knowing how to do a purl stitch really isn't enough to be able to follow a "beginner" pattern any more than knowing how to bang your fingers on a piano is enough to be able to read--and play--a piece of sheet music. This book had me feeling in over my head pretty quickly.

As cute as some of the sweaters in this book are (and some are very cute, though others just look dated and old-fashioned, if I'm honest), you really have to think about how you define "beginner" before attempting them. If you're completely fine with using patterns--and by patterns I mean a series of abbreviations and code that knitters use, not step-by-step directions--you might want to try some of these. If, like me, you would like more tutelage, you're probably not ready for this book. All but one of the photos are of the finished products; none of them (save one) are of the process itself. If this book is for beginners, I am clearly nowhere near "beginner" status.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Farmyard Knits, by Fiona Goble

Farmyard Knits
Author: Fiona Goble
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
WOW! Can I do this? Like, right now? Look at all the little farm animals she made! Look at the l'il tractor! OMG! Honestly, I don't think I'm ready to make any of these since I just started knitting, like, a second ago. But I think I'm going to try to get better so I can work towards this!

The book shows you how to make everything shown on the cover (including the tractor!), which you can then use as toys or as set pieces for little farm scenes. There is a warning at the beginning of the book saying that the projects described are not intended to be used as toys for small children, something about small parts and choking and what have you. So maybe technically they're supposed to be used in the latter capacity. (BUT JUST TRY TO STOP ME FROM PLAYING WITH THEM!)

Oh you know what it would be great for? Illustrating a children's book about farm animals! OMG I HAVE TO GET BETTER AT KNITTING RIGHT NOW!!

Keep reading to see more pictures from inside the book, including the knit animals in action.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys: Magical Two-in-One Reversible Projects, by Susan B. Anderson

Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys:
Magical Two-in-One Reversible Projects
Author: Susan B. Anderson
Publisher: Artisan
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
Squeee! I want to make all of these right now, right now, RIGHT NOW!! Unfortunately, I don't think I'm anywhere near ready for these projects, but maybe I will be soon if I learn a little bit more about knitting basics. The projects are so adorable it'll be worth doing a little work to learn how to make them, and the instructions in this book seem pretty accessible. It's not just a book of patterns and abbreviations with no explanations. There are step-by-step instructions and a lot of photos and diagrams of work in progress. So I think I'll be able to figure it out.

And I hope I do because the toys in the book are ah-MAAAAZING! They are all two toys in one (like the title suggests). There's a doghouse that you flip over and it turns into a dog. There's a crocodile that folds into its own egg. There's a bunny that you turn inside out and it becomes a lamb. It's hard to describe.

Here, just hit the jump to watch a video of the reversible toys in action:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Canada's Road: A Journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria, by Mark Richardson

Canada's Road:

A Journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria
Author: Mark Richardson
Publisher: Dundurn
Publication Date: April 1, 2013

It's not often I get to say this about a book, let alone say it and mean it as a compliment, but this book was exactly what I expected. I hoped, based on the cover and description, that this would be a travel memoir about driving across country on the Trans-Canada Highway ("the TCH"),an informative book about the history of the road and the country, with a few pictures and colourful anecdotes thrown in. I hoped it would make me want to travel the TCH myself, or at least feel like I had. I was even hoping it would make me feel more Canadian somehow, and that I would learn a thing or two. Honestly, it was all of those things. Mark Richardson delivered exactly what I was hoping for in this book and the only thing I regret is that I only have the ebook edition instead a coffee table book hardcover (does it come in that? I couldn't tell based on the Amazon product page).

Plus, he's from Cobourg, Ontario, home Alan Bradley, creator of everyone's favourite chemistry-obsessed preteen amateur sleuth, Flavia de Luce. So bonus points for that! 

You can also read more about Mark's journey cross country here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Little Dinos Don't Bite, by Michael Dahl (illustrated by Adam Record)

Little Dinos Don't Bite 
(Hello Genius Series)
Author: Michael Dahl
Illustrator: Adam Record 
Publisher: Picture Window Books 
Publication Date: February 1, 2013

As both a parent and a daycare teacher, I understand the need for resources about biting. BELIEVE ME! I'm not sure this book will be any child's favourite though. It's okay, but not fantastic. The illustrations are cute and colourful and dinosaurs are always a popular choice for children's book characters, but the "no biting" message is clearly aimed at the way adults think more than the way children think. Little Dino is told repeatedly "Don't Bite" (his toys, his friends, his mom) but he's never really told WHY. Small children would respond better to a story in which there was a concrete REASON why the character shouldn't bite (it hurts people, it breaks things, etc.) rather than it just being a rule. It's already a rule! Story books can help reinforce rules and ideas by illustrating "case studies." (You shouldn't bite. Don't believe me? Examine if you will the case of Little Dino.

It may sound like I'm overthinking this, but I believe strongly that children's books should NEVER sacrifice story for message, even board books for toddlers. It has to be a good book first and foremost if children are expected to respond to it. So books with "messages" are much better conveyed by good storytelling than by illustrated rule telling.

As an example of what I mean, I urge you to check out Doodle Bites, by Polly Dunbar (part of the Tilly and Friends series). It's fantastic and much better at getting the message across than this book.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cute & Cuter, by Michael Townsend

Cute & Cuter

Author: Michael Townsend

Publisher: Knopf (Random House)

Publication Date: June 11, 2013

"Janie Jane was an expert on all things cute. And on her birthday she was given the cutest thing she'd ever seen: Sir Yips-a-lot."

So begins Michael Townsend's decidedly cute children's book, Cute & Cuter. Janie Jane is the sort of girl who coos over anything cute. She adores all things adorble. She swoons over sweet.  She prizes precious. She is the sort of girl who will certainly grow up to dot her i's with hearts. She is the sort of girl who would name her puppy "Sir Yips-a-lot" and carry him with her everywhere she goes.

Hit the jump for more illustrations from the book plus Magda's Take!

Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Plants That Shook the World, by Gillian Richardson (illustrated by Kim Rosen)

10 Plants That Shook the World
Author: Gillian Richardson
Illustrator: Kim Rosen
Publisher: Annick Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2013
I thought from the title that I would be able to guess what the "10 plants that shook the world" would be. I figured papyrus, cotton and corn would be on there (they are), and I wasn't surprised by potato, tea, sugarcane and cacao (you know, chocolate). But not coffee? Then there's pepper and rubber, which I wouldn't have thought of, but it made sense. But no wheat? No soy? And what the hell is chinchona??

Turns out I should have been paying more attention to the "shook the world" part of the title. The theme of the book is actually the top plants that changed how international trade and exploration evolved. So the plants that they talk about are ones that not only changed how we eat and live, but also how we communicate (hence the papyrus) or interact with each other. So, for example, tea, sugarcane and cacao became globally traded commodities; sugarcane and cotton sadly contributed to an international slave trade; and potatoes both doubled and halved the population of Ireland and greatly contributed to Irish emigration. 

And chinchona? It's the plant that provides the key ingredient to the malaria vaccine. While that's incredibly important for the people most at risk of malaria, it was also a major factor in the ability of Europeans to explore countries they previously had been unable to explore. See? It's a theme.

But seriously? No tomato? No chick pea? Not even a sweet pea in honour of Gregor Mendel?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Monster Knows Numbers, by Lori Capote (illustrated by Kirby Wallace "Chip" Wass)

Monster Knows Numbers
Author: Lori Capote
Illustrator: Kirby Wallace "Chip" Wass
Publisher: Picture Window Books
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
This book is okay. I mean, the colours are bright and the pictures are cute. A little monster counts various "monstery" things, like bug cookies and goo-covered yoyos. The rhymes are good but not great. There's not a lot else to it, really. In this case you can definitely judge a book by its cover. If the cover appeals to you, it's exactly what you can expect from the board book. If not, I don't know what to tell you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oh, The Things My Mom Will Do...Because She Loves Me Through and Through, by Marianne Richmond

Oh, The Things My Mom Will Do...Because She Loves Me Through and Through
Author: Marianne Richmond
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Let's be clear. This is a book for moms. It's a book for moms to give to other moms, or for husbands to give their wives, or maybe--just maybe--for kids to give their moms for Mother's Day. It's not a book for kids. It's like saying that a book called, "My Wife is Perfect and Makes Me a Better Person and Looks So Thin in Those Jeans" is a book for husbands. 

Oh, the Things My Mom Will Do...Because She Loves Me Through and Through is a fantasy book for moms who do too much (WAYYYY too much, but more on that later). The fantasy is that your kids not only notice, but that they are eternally grateful for your efforts at packing their school lunches and sewing their school play costumes. They are not. They should be, but they're not. Maybe they appreciate it, but NOT ENOUGH, PEOPLE. NOT ENOUGH. Certainly not enough to wax poetic about how amazing mom is for staying up all night tube-feeding their pet hamster.

Sigh. Maybe it's just that my own child is being particularly ungrateful lately (she got WAY too used to those animal shaped sandwiches I was making her!) but the mom in this story is doing wayyyyy too much. Staying up all night to take care of the sick hamster and feed it orange juice? Staying up another night working on the school costume that the child didn't even bother to tell her about? This woman needs some sleep! 

On second thought, it's possible that I'm the one who just needs some sleep...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Women, Sex, Power & Pleasure: Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want, by Evelyn Resh

Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure: 

Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want
Author: Evelyn Resh 
Publisher: Hay House 
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
I don't normally read a lot of self-help books. Well, unless you count celebrity memoirs and cookbooks as "self-help." No? Okay, then I don't read a lot of self-help. So I guess I was expecting something different, like fluffy affirmations to "be your authentic self" or "find your inner sparkly vampire goddess" or something. That last one might have been from Fifty Shades of Grey (which is NOT a self-help book, FYI). But I was surprised by how straight forward, intelligent, relatable and, well, helpful this book was. With chapters like "I'm Too Fat to Have Sex" and "Becoming Your Own Activist" I felt author Evelyn Resh was almost speaking to me personally. How did she know I felt that way? How did she know this was just what I needed to hear? I guess it's partly because she's a smart, feminist professional who knows what she's talking about, and partly because a LOT of women feel just this way. I almost hate to admit it, but I almost cried when I read some parts of this book, they were so familiar.

It's not an easy thing to talk honestly about our sexuality, particularly for women--like me--who are not twenty-five, childless and supremely confident in our sexual expression anymore. There are a lot of reasons why things change as we get older and our lives get more complicated, but that doesn't make it easier to discuss. So I definitely see the value of books that help broach those subjects. I'm just so glad to have found a book that actually discusses women's sexuality in an intelligent and helpful manner, rather than one that condescends, coddles or infantilizes the reader by talking about "the girls," "your flower" or, ugh, "your cookie."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Double Fine Action Comics Vol. 1, by Scott C. (foreword by Tim Schafer)

Double Fine Action Comics Vol. 1

Author: Scott Campbell

Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: April 17, 2013
For this review I enlisted the help of my partner, Mike. He's my resident comic book expert. His assessment? Double Fine Action Comics is just regular fine, not double fine. Just one fine would suffice. Here's the rest of what he had to say:

"Knight guy, Two headed baby, Muscleman, Captain and Thompson, cast of aliens and whatever...
   There’re a lot of comics where people are just talking and filling up the quiet.  Sometimes they are funny.  There’re a lot of comics where crazy impossible and theatre of the absurd sort of things happen.  Sometimes they are funny.  Sluggy Freelance is both.
   This isn’t either.
   The adventures are absurd, but not really funny.  The punchline panels are likewise not really funny.  I read the premise for this.  Someone created this at their job, writing/drawing other things, as a pastime/entertainment for friends and colleagues.  I feel if I was friends with the creator, I would say, “Dude, you should totally write that as a book.”
  I don’t know the writer, though.  This feels like a big “You had to be there” in joke."
So there you have it. I read it. Frankly, I wouldn't have been this generous. Thanks, Mike!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Double Fine Action Comics Vol. 2, by Scott C. (foreward by Erik Wolpaw)

Double Fine Action Comics Vol. 2

Author: Scott Campbell

Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: April 17, 2013
Yesterday I posted a review of Double Fine Action Comics Vol. 1, with the help of my partner Mike. His basic assessment was that the collection would be great if you knew the author personally (as in, "Dude, that's so good. You should totally put that in a book!") but for everyone else...meh. Fine. Just fine, though, not "double fine."

Here's what he had to say about Volume Two:
"Same stuff.  I have not altered my perspective or assertion that this is definitely funny to the author’s friends."
There ya go. If you're not one of Scott Campbell's friends or family members, the appeal of this collection may be limited.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Volume II: Creation Myths, by Brain Froud (with Joshua Dysart, Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John)

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal Volume II: Creation Myths
Authors: Brian Froud, Joshua Dysart, Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment 
Publication Date: March 12, 2013 
Whenever I review a comic or graphic novel, I usually ask the opinion of my partner and resident comic book expert, Mike. I definitely did for this one, which I got mostly for his benefit anyway. Although the art was pretty, I'm not familiar with The Dark Crystal at all (I've never seen the movie) so this comic made no sense to me. So it's not a completely stand-alone book. Mike, on the other hand, is a huge fan of the Jim Henson movie. Here's what he had to say:

"Good stuff, definitely has the feel of the world of the movie, at an earlier time period.  Wouldn’t make sense to a reader who had not a) read the previous volume, or b) like me, watched the movie a bunch of times.  Pretty, and the illustrations of many of the animals and characters give a Henson creature feel of movement.  I liked it."
So if you're a fan of the movie and you like comics (or graphic novels or whatever) you'll probably like this. If not, you might be a little lost (like I was).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stripes of All Types, by Susan Stockdale

Stripes of All Types
Author: Susan Stockdale
Publisher: Peachtree
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
As a daycare teacher, a parent and a book blogger, I often hear parents talk about what age is "too old" for board books, or "too old" for picture books, as though at a certain age children should throw out all their books in favour of "older" ones. But I disagree. Children should be encouraged to keep reading more difficult and challenging books, but that doesn't mean they have to give up their baby or toddler books. Many children have favourite pictures books that they continue to love even after they've moved on to chapter books. 

And books like Stripes of All Types are precisely the reason you shouldn't be too quick to discard your child's "baby books" as they get older. It's exactly the kind of book I can imagine kids loving from the time they are babies until they are well into school aged. 

The illustrations are simple, showing striped patterns of all different types of animals (hence, stripes of all types), from zebra and tiger and skunk to okapi and bongo and tapir. There's even a matching quiz at the end (my three-year-old was much better at it than I was).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Blushful Hippopotamus, by Chris Raschka

 The Blushful Hippopotamus
Author: Chris Raschka
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: March 11, 2013
(Originally published by Scholastic in 1996)
Chris Raschka is the illustrator of Grump Groan Growl and Happy to Be Nappy, and the author/illustrator of Ring! Yo? and Yo! Yes?. His signature style of colourful abstract painting grounded by thick black line drawings brings an emotional energy to his work. His drawings seem to dance, exclaim, mope, crouch, just as his characters do. 

Several of his well-known (and lesser known) titles are being republished as digital downloads by Open Road Integrated Media, allowing his picture books to be viewed on any device. As an ebook, The Blushful Hippopotamus is solid. Although I'm not a big fan of children's ebooks (I just don't see the point. I would always, always prefer to read a print book, especially if it's a picture books for kids) the file worked well and was easy to read. 

Having said all that, I can't say that The Blushful Hippopotamus was my favourite Chris Raschka book. For one thing, it didn't seem clear enough what "blushful" meant (I mean, I know what it means, but I think if a young child was hearing this story they might have trouble picking it up from context) so it wasn't clear (or not clear enough) why Roosevelt the Blushful Hippopotamus was sad to be called that. I'm a big fan of Chris Raschka's work, but this is not the book that would have made me a fan if it were the only one I had read.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten, by Maureen Fergus (illustrated by Mike Lowery)

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten

Author: Maureen Fergus

Illustrator: Mike Lowery
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
I get what this book was going for. It's supposed to be a silly mixed-up day in which a kid's mom comes to kindergarten and then realizes just how difficult it can be to follow all of the rules (no outdoor shoes inside, no talking at storytime, no cutting in line). It could have been cute if the mom's gaffes had either been intentional (because she was being silly) or understandable (because she was excited). But most of these are a stretch. The mom doesn't know how to use glue? She gets frustrated over turn-taking? I guess they're trying to make a kindergartener's frustration seem more understandable and forgivable  but the thing is, the mom is not a kindergartener. The book lacks the humour to make her actions seem reasonable and instead just make it seem like she has a severe intellectual disability (in which case, it feels like we're making fun of her by reading about her foibles). If the book were rewritten as "The Day My Pet Monkey Came to Kindergarten" it might have made a little more sense. Or maybe "The Day My Angry Baby Goat Came to Kindergarten."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Boy Soup, by Loris Lesynski (illustrated by Michael Martchenko)

Boy Soup

Author: Loris Lesynski
Illustrator: Michael Martchenko
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: March 11, 2013
(Originally published September 1, 2008, by Annick Press)
Normally the giant wouldn't try to eat boys. He knows it's wrong. But he has a terrible cold and the only remedy is a nice pot of boy soup! But when he kidnaps six boys--plus Kate--he gets more than he bargained for. The kids outsmart the giant, make a killer pot of soup (well, almost) and discover a new interest in cooking (and giant evading).

The story's great, but what really makes the book is the fantastic artwork by Michael Martchenko. You probably know him as the longtime collaborator with Robert Munsch. He has illustrated some of his most iconic books, including The Paper Bag Princess and Stephanie's Ponytail. My daughter Magda kept saying, "Look! It's Stephanie. Only in this book she's called Kate." I told her that it was the same person who drew the pictures in the other books and she said, "I know. It's like I know all the kids from other books!"

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Mole Sisters and the Blue Egg, by Roslyn Schwartz


The Mole Sisters and the Blue Egg

Author: Roslyn Schwartz
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
(Originally published September 1, 2001, by Annick Press)
I'm not sure how I managed to spend ten years as a daycare teacher (and now three years as a mom) without having any Mole Sisters books. They're lovely! This one, originally published in 2001, has been published as an ebook by Open Road. I'm not sure what kinds of devices people typically read children's picture books on (iPads, I'm assuming?) but I read this on the desktop and it was very nice. But the pages have a lot of white space with just a small illustration in the middle and a little bit of text, which makes them visually appealing as a large paperback but may make them difficult to view on a smaller reader. Personally, I'd stick with the print edition. I mean, I prefer print to ebooks anyway, especially for children's books, but particularly in this case.

But definitely check out the book (in whichever form you choose). If you're not familiar with them, the Mole Sisters are amiable adventurers, unafraid to explore even the highest heights in the interest of "just seeing what they can see." Very adventurous indeed for subterranean creatures!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

100 Animals on Parade! by Masayuki Sebe

100 Animals on Parade!

Author: Masayuki Sebe
Publisher: Kids Can Press 
Publication Date: March 1, 2013 

It's not every day that you find a children's counting book that goes all the way to 100! But these animals on parade do it not once but five times. First there are a hundred bears, followed by 100 pigs, 100 rabbits, 100 carpenter ants and 100 birds, all going to the animal festival. No word if any of the animals gets eaten by bears at the end. It's like a Richard Scarry/I-Spy book full of cartoon animals! I loved all the extra details included in the book, like the beetle, ladybugs and snails on every page and the individual personalities of each of the animals (some of them have crazy hats or props). Plus, counting to 100! Or actually 500! That's pretty cool for a children's picture book.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Congratulations to our contest winner!!

Congratulations to the winner of Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, by Laura Bates!

And the winner is...

Entry #258: Monica

Thank-you so much to everyone who entered and everyone who left such wonderful comments on my blogs. And don't worry--you can still pick up a copy of the book on, or!

And keep checking Cozy Little Book Journal for more upcoming giveaways!

Dylan's Day, by Tim Hutchinson

Dylan's Day

Author: Tim Hutchinson
Publisher: Pinwheel Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2013 
I can't remember the last time I fell in love so instantly with a children's book! Yes I can. It was Lester's Dreadful Sweaters. I can't believe this is Tim Hutchinson's first book! From what I understand, he's been an illustrator for a while, but this is his first children's picture book in which he is both the author and the illustrator. It's impressive because writing children's books is deceptively difficult. Or, I should say, writing GOOD children's books is deceptively difficult. Some people think that once you have the illustrations you're home free, since there aren't that many words in a picture book. While that's true, the words you choose have to be written and edited just as carefully as with any other book. (Unfortunately there are a lot of children's book publishers who don't enforce that rule.)

Dylan's Day follows a dog--Dylan--who has so many important things to do and smell and find today, but the most important thing to do and smell and find is the big fat cat who lives next door. He spends his day searching high and low, inside and out. The words are perfect for reading aloud. They are funny and rhythmic without being trite or reliant on forced rhyme. Again, it sounds like I'm being picky, but that is a really hard thing to get right! 

I love the illustrations as well. There are pages that are lush with details (I think you'd describe them as "painterly"). You could read the book a few dozen times and still see new things on those pages. Then there are other pages that are primarily white space, with just a few simple closeups of Dylan in his search. It's so great to have both in the same book. I think it's the sign of an incredibly smart and versatile illustrator. If every page were entirely filled with colour and detail it may get a little overwhelming to the senses, so it's really nice to have the simpler pages as a counterpoint. Plus the closeups of Dylan are adorable!

I know, I know, it sounds like I'm over thinking this, but it really is a wonderful and rare treat to encounter a children's book that I love THIS much!

Hit the jump to see some illustrations from inside the book!