Monday, April 19, 2010

Review #66: Bunny Days

Gracie (age 9):  Bunny Days!  Ha hah ha!
Dad:  And Gracie is already laughing...  just thinking about the book makes her laugh...
Lily (age 7):  It was hilarious.  It was Bunny-Funny.
Gracie:  The person who made it is Tao Nyeu.
Isaac (age 11):  There are three stories in this book.
Lily:  Each story is about bunnies.  And "Bear."  And a goat.
Dad:  We've got three stories and three Z-Kids.  How about you each tell me about one of the stories.
Lily:  Okay.
Dad:  The first one is called "Muddy Bunnies."
Gracie:  Nnnnah ha haa!
Dad:  And there she goes again.  Why are you laughing already?
Gracie:  The bunnies are so cute!
Dad:  What happens in this one, Lily?
Lily:  Mr. Goat was driving his tractor, and he splatters a whole bunch of mud all over the bunnies.
Dad:  Is there a way to fix the bunnies up?
Isaac:  Yes.  A funny way.
Lily:  They went to Bear and he stuck them in a washing machine!!!
Isaac:  Look at that bunny's face - he's covered in suds.  I think they are happy in there.
Lily:  Then Bear hangs them on a wire to dry for a day and a night.
Gracie:  He snapped them up by their foreheads.
Dad:  So who is going to tell me about story number 2: "Dusty Bunnies?"
Gracie:  Me.  There's this goat-lady -- Mrs. Goat.
Lily:  See - another goat!
Gracie:  She's vacuuming the grass.  And the bunnies are all sleeping in their holes.  And then she sucks them right out of the ground!  And you can see their little heads getting clunked together!  Ha ha ha!  They are so cute!
Isaac:  Look at that bunny's head - it's getting pulled!
Gracie:  He's got his little bunny buns hanging out.
Isaac:  Their eyes are huge and their heads are stretched extremely long.
Dad:  And who knows how to fix everything?
Isaac:  Bear.
Gracie:  He has a gi-normous fan.  Just so happens to have a gi-norous fan right then.  And he dusts them off.
Dad:  And Isaac, tell me about story 3, "Bunny Tails."
Isaac:  The bunnies are playing Hide and Go Seek.  They are hiding in the bushes and their tails look like flowers.  Mr. Goat is trimming the bushes, and he doesn't realize it but he -- snip, snip -- cuts off all their little tails!  Then they are all really sad...  just looking at their tails.
Gracie:  You snipped our buns off!
Isaac:  So they walk over to Bear who is sitting on a log with some tea and a sewing machine.
Dad:  Good news!
Gracie:  Ha ha!
Isaac:  Bear just sews them back on.
Gracie:  That bunny looks horrified!
Isaac:  He does!
Dad:  So, what is so funny about this book?
Gracie:  The bunnies!  Their feelings!  Their expressions are hilarious.
Lily:  And the bear put them in a washing machine!
Gracie:  And where would a bear even get a washing machine?
Isaac:  I know - it's so convenient.
Gracie:  A convenient comedy.
Dad:  So if we took our neighbor Gina's pet bunny and put it in a washing machine, would it be funny?
Isaac:  No way!
Dad:  So why is the book funny?  Why isn't it a horrible book?
Gracie:  Because the bunnies are so cute!
Isaac:  The bunnies are funny.  They don't talk and their expressions are funny.
Gracie:  You just know that the bunnies don't talk.  Here in the picture when the goat is snipping off their buns, this one bunny is looking at him really freaked out, and you KNOW that if he could talk, he would scream for him to stop.
Lily:  But the bunnies don't have any mouths.
Isaac:  And it is also funny because Bear always happens to have some big machine - sitting right next to him - and it's the one thing they need.
Gracie:  What are the chances!
Lily:  It's funny.
Gracie:  It's awesome!  A washing machine!  Where would he even plug it in?  It's part of the funny.
Isaac:  Maybe he has millions and millions of extension cords.
Gracie:  Something horrible always happens to the poor little innocent bunnies.
Dad:  Now, you guys each have your own sewing machines.
Gracie:  Me and Isaac.
Dad:  Would you know how to sew a tail back onto a bunny?
Isaac:  No - but I could figure it out.
Dad:  Tell me a little bit about what Tao Nyeu's illustrations look like.
Gracie:  Simple shapes.
Isaac:  But she has to have everything filled with all these lines and designs.  The hills are not just green hills -- they look like big green quilts.
Gracie:  And she makes stinkin' awesome trees.
Isaac:  Is this book made with watercolor?  I can't tell...
Gracie:  What is it done with, Dad?
Dad:  Let's see if the book tells us...  Oh, it's silkscreen.  I don't know much about how silkscreen works.  We'll have look later to see if she has any information on her website.  I think you print each color one at a time.
Isaac:  Yeah -- Remember when we looked at the video of that guy who was making CD covers...
Dad:  Oh yeah - Michael Wertz!  From when we reviewed "A Curious Collection of Cats."  Good memory.
Isaac:  I saw a whole video clip about silkscreen.
Dad:  That's one reason why these pages have a limited palette.  She had to make a different layer for each color.
Isaac:  That must have taken a long time.
Dad:  Can you imagine any more mishaps for the bunnies?  What do you think happens next?
Lily:  Look on the back cover!  A goat with a lawn mower!  Be careful!  Be careful when you are mowing the lawn!
Dad:  Ooo...  I envision another episode coming along...  "Bunny Slices..."
Gracie:  Oh!  I just hope Bear has super glue.
Dad:  Would bunnies find this story funny?
Gracie:  No!
Isaac:  Danger!  Bunnies, do not look at this book!

Mrs. Goat has a lawnmower!  Bunnies lose some ears!  Good thing Bear has some glue...  - by Lily

Mr. Goat's carrot picker picks up bunnies too...  - by Isaac

Mrs. Goat's freezer accidentally turns bunnies into cubes of ice.  It's a good thing Bear has a microwave to thaw them out...  - by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Tao Nyeu
Published, 2010: Dial Books
Like it?  Find it

(or watch Michael Wertz silkscreen)


Hull.Margaret said...

You "guys" are so hilarious. I look forward to reading your blog posts.

ElizT said...

Have to believe you that it's funny; seems full of bad ideas to [spoilsport] me.

morninglight mama said...

Hmmm. I was just wondering, though. Is this book funny at all?


I haven't seen this one, but it sounds hilarious!

Carrie said...

I get the feeling that Gracie REALLY likes this one! =D

Playing by the book said...

Again you all made me smile!
On a slightly more serious topic, can you recommend me a book or a website where I can learn more about illustration styles and techniques - I've not got any art background and when I'm reviewing books I often have no idea what technique the illustrator has used and it would be so useful and interesting to learn about this. (your comment about how silkscreen works made me think of asking you this). There must be a zillion books out there that could help, but perhaps you could point me to a great starting place?

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for the question!

Quite often (though not always) a picture book will contain information on what medium the illustrator used. If you hunt through the page with all the small-type copyright, catalog, and publisher info, sometimes you'll see a line that tells how the illustrations were made. That's where we often start.

A few good illustration websites:

A few good books on illustration:
"Show and Tell" by Dilys Evans
"Artist to Artist" put together by the Eric Carle Museum
"Illustrating Children's Books" by Marin Salisbury
"Myth, Magic, and Mystery" by (among others) Michael Patrick Hearn
"Wings of an Artist" by 20+ illustrators

These are all more "grownup" resources however. I'm sure there are also kid-friendly materials out there too. These were the first that came to my mind. If anyone else has additional suggestions, feel free to chime in!


Playing by the book said...

Thanks Z-Dad for this great response. I've added the blogs to my feed so I'll get a daily dose of learning and I think I shall treat myself to the Martin Salisbury book as it's on a good deal on Amazon uk. Thanks again :-)