Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review #124: The Monstore

Dad:  We have ourselves a copy of The Monstore, by Tara Lazar and James Burks!
Lily (age 10):  The words and pictures are so good together, you’d think they were done by the same person.
Isaac (age 14):  The book is about this kid named Zack.  He goes to the Monstore, which is a store with useful monsters. 
Lily:  The monsters are adorable.  Well, some of them are kind of creepy.  But mostly adorable.
Isaac:  Zack buys a monster in order to keep his little sister in line and keep her out of his room--
Gracie (age 12):  And what is his little sister’s name, hmmm?
Isaac:  Gracie.
Gracie:  Heh, heh, heh…
Isaac:  Where was I?  Gracie messed me up.
Dad:  We need a monster to keep *our* Gracie in line.
Isaac:  Yeah, EXACTLY. 
Gracie:  Zack’s sister might be annoying, but she has an awesome name. 
Isaac:  The monster he buys doesn’t work, so he gets another one.  That one doesn’t work either, so he keeps getting more and more and more monsters. 
Gracie:  The monsters don’t keep Gracie out of his room, instead they help her annoy her brother.  Which is hilarious.  It’s the exact opposite of what he wanted. 
Isaac:  At the Monstore there are no exchanges or refunds, so Zack had to keep them all.  He built up a huge collection of monsters.
Dad:  Zack’s not very bright.  You’d think he’d figure out pretty soon that buying monsters wasn’t working.
Gracie:  He’s not very smart.  Not as smart as his wonderful, beautiful, incredibly-named sister.
Dad & Gracie:  Hah ha ha haah hah!
Dad:  We do actually have it on good authority that this character is kind of named after you, my dear.
Gracie:  She is me.  Tara Lazar said that when she made up these characters, the girl’s name was just always Gracie.  And she thinks unconsciously she named her that because she reads our blog!  And it IS a lovely name.
Lily:  Why wasn’t *I* stuck in her head?
Elijah (age 7):  It would be fun and awesome to draw pictures for a book like this because of the monsters in it.
Dad:  You are our monster-boy.  You love drawing monsters.
Elijah:  Yes, I do.
Dad:  How did these monsters hold up compared to other monsters you’ve seen?  How is James Burks as a monster draw-er?
Elijah:  Better than me.
Dad:  So he gets a thumbs-up?
Elijah:  The monsters are awesome.  Really awesome.  The awesomeness of them is awesome.
Dad:  Would you guys want to have a monster?
Gracie:  It depends on what kind of monster.  I would like to have the kind that eats dinners you don’t like.  And I’d use him every day.
Isaac:  Then you’d starve and die.
Lily:  I’d buy a glow-in-the-dark monster.  That would be the most useful.  For my life it would.  Because I always like to stay up late.
Elijah:  I want that globby monster in the jar.  I’m pretty sure you could transform him into anything.  I’m pretty sure.  You could just shape-him-up and then make him do stuff for you.
Dad:  What do you think the most helpful monster would be, Isaac?
Isaac:  I’ve actually thought about this before.  Yes, I have.  And I’ve decided – at least at this moment I’m still feeling it – that the best monster would assist you with your pet peeves.  So, when someone leaves the faucet on and it’s barely dripping, the monster would turn it off.  Or if someone leaves the front door open and the flies are flying in, the monster would close it.
Dad:  That’s what children are for.  “Hey kid – go turn that off…”  You’ve got plenty of brothers and sisters for that…
Isaac:  Are you kidding.  I’ve asked so many times.
Gracie:  Yeah – he’s always like, “Turn-it-off–Turn-it-off–Turn-it-off…”
Isaac:  It doesn’t work.  That’s why I want a monster.
Lily:  The purple furry balloon monster is the cutest one.  It’s a girl.  I know because it has eyelashes.
Gracie:  Dad has eyelashes.
Elijah:  I have eyelashes.
Gracie:  Elijah’s eyelashes are way, way long.  The longest eyelashes of anyone I’ve ever met.
Dad:  I love the monster in the book that is just a teeny eyeball with legs.
Gracie:  Hey, what does that little eyeball monster even do?  What is he useful for?
Elijah:  He is just useful for awesomeness.

monster line-up, by Isaac

monsters hi, by Elijah

monster party, by Lily

helpful monsters, by Gracie

Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: James Burks
Published, 2013:  Aladdin
Like it?  Here it is

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review #123: "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull"

Dad:  Today we’re celebrating two new books:  “I Love Ewe” and “Hug a Bull”!
Elijah (age 7):  I want to tell everyone something.  These books are written by my dad.
Dad:  Does that seem strange?
Gracie (age 12):  It seems normal to me.
Elijah:  Lots of dads make books.
Dad:  They do?
Gracie:  These books would be good for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Dad:  Thanks, “Marketing Department!”
Gracie:  You’re welcome.
Isaac (age 14):  These are also “learning books.”
Elijah:  They are about Daddy and Mommy animals.  The books tell you their names.
Dad:  So, animal moms and dads have names.
Elijah:  Of course they have names!
Dad:  Names like “Mac” and “Thorin” and “Darleen”?
Elijah:  No those are just the names of my fish.  My fish that died. 
Dad:  You’ve had a lot of fish that have died.
Elijah:  Yeah.  Also my fish Bob.  And Bob 2.  And Bob 3.  And Burp.
Dad:  So what kind of names are in these books then?
Lily (age 10):  I know!  I know!  Boy and girl names.  They teach you lots of animal names you never knew before.  And some of them are fun to say – like “Gobbler.”  And “Peahen.”
Dad:  Let’s all say “Peahen” together.
Elijah:  And a mommy octopus is called a “Hen.”
Gracie:  The little baby octopus on this page is the cutest little thing ever!  He’s adorable.  And I’m falling in love with that little crab.  I love all the little underwater babies!
Lily:  I know another name!  Guess what a mommy cow is called?  A Rhino!  Wait – I mean a mommy rhino is called a Cow.
Dad:  Yeah – it doesn’t work in reverse.
Lily:  Hee hee hee!  A mommy cow is just called a Cow.
Dad:  Simple and confusing at the same time.
Isaac:  Is a girl goat called a “Hootin’ Nanny” or just a “Nanny”?
Dad:  Nanny. 
Isaac:  Because “Hootin’ Nanny” sounds awesome!
Dad:  Well, a hootenanny is like a southern… music… party… thing.  See, I made it into a pun for the book.  There's lots of puns and wordplay.
Gracie:  I hate puns.
Dad:  Oh!  A glowing endorsement for these books!
Gracie:  I do like the puns in these.  I only hate annoying puns.  Like when they are on Valentines cards.
Lily:  I just made up a rhyme: “The Mayor of Horse / is the Mare of course.”
Gracie:  Dad, you had to draw a horse for this book.  You hate drawing horses.  Which do you hate more?  Drawing horses or cows?
Dad:  Cows.
Gracie:  And you had to draw cows twice.  For the Ewe book and the Bull book.
Dad:  I had to do both of them twice.  A cow and a horse for each book.
Gracie:  Actually even more!  Parent cows and baby cows for both books.
Dad:  Four of each.  Wait – and then there are cows on the cover too.  And in the charts in back.  And on the title page.  Even more!
Gracie:  Poor Daddy.
Dad:  Six horses and nine cows all together.
Gracie:  Nine cows!!!
Lily:  I like drawing horses and cows.
Dad:  Well, I’ll have you do it next time!  I paid my horsie due.
Gracie:  Horsie doo?  That sounds disgusting.
Elijah:  I never noticed that it’s called “Hug a Bull” and there’s a Bull on the cover!
Lily:  You just thought it was because cows are huggable?
Elijah:  They hug and snuggle.
Dad:  How do you think cows hug each other?
Gracie:  They just rub together awkwardly.
Dad:  I had wanted to put an elephant Bull on the cover because it could hug with its trunk.  I think cows might just stab each other with their hoofs if they tried.
Lily:  Ouch.
Dad:  I almost put a turkey on the cover and called the book “Wobbly Gobbler.”  That’s what I originally wanted to do first.
Gracie:  That would not have been as good as “Hug a Bull.”
Dad:  But it’s so fun to say!  Imagine… “Here’s my book, “Wobbly Gobbler.”
Gracie:  It does match the title of your “Chuckling Ducklings” book better. 
Lily:  (flipping through the pages)  Kangaroos!  Boinggie – boinggie!  They are so cute!
Gracie:  Oh my word!  I love the little possums.  Every time I see your tiny animals, my heart melts into little possum puddles. 
Lily:  And this page has a baby mole!  We actually saw a little tiny mole once.  He was so cute!  Even though he was dead.  Remember when you ran over one with the car in the driveway?
Gracie:  The little donkey baby is adorable.
Lily:  He’s got Elijah-hair!
Gracie:  He does!  He does!  You made the donkeys look like Elijah!  The little donkeys have his hair and the same expression he gets all the time.
Elijah:  “Ee-honk!  Ee-honk!”
Gracie:  That is NOT a donkey noise!  I don’t know what that was.
Lily:  It’s more like a squeaky rocking chair.
Dad:  So now I’ve done a book about Baby animals, one about Moms, one about Dads…
Elijah:  Next you have to do Grandmas!
Dad:  I’m sure there’s a big list of grandma animal names out there.
Kids:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Well, thanks for the review, guys!
Lily:  (Starts rapping) 
  Pssh -- pssh -- pssh…
  This is a book
  Which is about
  Lots of fuzzy animals
  And they love to shout!
  It tells all the names
  In poems and rhymes
  And I love to read them
  All of the time!
Dad:  Word.
Lily:  It’s about Dads and Moms and such
  And barely any of them…. are… Dutch!
Kids:  Hah ha ha hah…
Dad:  How about:  Cows can’t hug
  But their heads can touch!
Gracie:  Yeah!

"Ee-honk!" by Elijah
 bull and calf, by Isaac

vixen, kit, and tod; by Gracie

vote Mare for Mayor, by Lily

Author/Illustrator:  Aaron Zenz
Published, 2013: Walker Books
Like them?  Here they are!

This week, some wonderful blogs have highlighted "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull."  I'm so very thankful!  I invite you to stop by and leave these folks some thoughtful comments:

Mon May 6:  Bookie Woogie
Tue May 7:  Reading to Know
Wed May 8:  Playing by the Book
Thu May 9:  Sharpread 
Fri May 10: City Book: Hug
and Ewe
Sat May 11:  From the Mixed-up Files

Also very cool news!  "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull" were featured on my favorite NPR program "A Way With Words"!  You can listen to the episode's intro below...

And now time for a Giveaway!  Thanks for your support over the years!  Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win one of three prizes:

Prize Pack #1:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + three other books I've authored/illustrated: The Chimpanseeze, The Hiccupotamus (new in boardbook!), and Chuckling Ducklings (new in boardbook!)

Prize Pack #2:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + three other books I've illustrated:  Nugget on the Flight Deck, Skeleton Meets the Mummy, and Five Little Puppies Jumping on the Bed

Prize Pack #3:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + an original piece of artwork - crafted specially for you - depicting the animal of your choosing!  for example:

To be entered, just leave a comment here!  
The Giveaway will run through the end of the month, May 31, when we'll randomly select three winners.  Best of luck!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review #122: Giant Dance Party

Isaac (age 14):  “Giant Dance Party.”
Lily (age 10):  (singing) Hey, hey, hey, it’s a good book!
Gracie (age 12):  When a book is good, you are just drawn to it for the sake of its awesomeness.
Lily:  It’s by Betsy Bird, and Brandon Dorman is illustrating it.
Elijah (age 7):  I’ve never heard of a book illustrated by a Doormat.
Gracie:  DorMAN.
Lily:  The book is about this girl, and she loved to dance all the day.
Gracie:  Lexy.
Lily:  But every time she had a recital, she froze up on stage like an ice pop. 
Isaac:  She forgot to breathe… THAT’S not a good thing.
Lily:  You should NOT forget how to breathe.
Isaac:  Dangerous.  Breathing is very important.
Lily:  She thought instead of dancing she could teach dance lessons.  But no one came.
Evangeline (age 5):  Then giants showed up.
Elijah:  Big blue furry ones in overalls.
Lily:  I think we should name them.  The… Farggy Hizzard Giants.
Dad:  Ooo… catchy.
Lily:  She taught them to dance, and she got over her fear when the giants got froze-y up too.
Elijah:  Froze-y!  Froze-y.
Lily:  Dancie-dance-dance.
Isaac:  I honestly would not have thought of drawing giants that looked like that.  But it would not have been as awesome if they just looked like giants the way everyone imagines giants.
Gracie:  Most giants just look like normal people but magnified.  With crooked teeth and bad clothes.  But these ones are like cute monsters.  They are adorable!
Lily:  They look like really big bugs.
Gracie:  They’re kind of like furry cucumbers.
Lily:  They look like fuzzy blue pigs.
Gracie:  They do!
Lily:  With antennas.
Evangeline:  I like the girl ones.  They are cute ones.  How many girl giants are there?
Elijah:  My favorite is the giant with bushy eyebrows.  MacDuff.  I especially like when he wears his wig.
Isaac:  What is Scottish Highland Dancing?  I want to learn it.  Because it sounds awesome.
Dad:  I think it’s kind of jiggy.
Gracie:  Jig it up!
Isaac:  Is it like River Dancing?  Because that’s cool.
Dad:  Elijah has awesome dance moves, don’t you.  Do you remember that one time you drank olive juice and went crazy all over like a dancing fool?
Elijah:  In my underwear.
Dad:  You do remember!
Isaac:  We’ve got it on taa-aaape.
Dad:  Gracie used to take dance lessons when she was a little dude.
Gracie:  When I was 4!
Dad:  Do you remember that at all?
Gracie:  Yeah.  I had a special spot where I liked to sit on the floor – the whole floor was flat except for this one notch that bumped up and it looked like someone pooped there.
Dad:  Ha ha ha hah… Wow.  I’m glad you have some fond memories of your dancing days.
Isaac:  I have a question.  Why is there a cupcake on the cover of this book?  It has nothing to do with the book at ALL.  It’s a random cupcake!
Gracie:  Yeah, why on earth?  There’s not one cupcake in the entire book!
Dad:  I think it’s just a bonus cupcake.  For your viewing pleasure.
Gracie:  Why the heck is it there?
Lily:  It’s got to be a really big cupcake.  Giant sized.
Isaac:  It’s as big as the girl’s head!
Elijah:  He’s going to splat it on her.
Gracie:  We are so obsessed with this cupcake.
Dad:  Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Isaac:  I have a theory about why no one came to Lexy’s dance lessons.  She didn’t have her address on the fliers she put out.  That could definitely be the reason.
Dad:  How did the giants find her then?
Isaac:  That’s why it took them all week long.  They found the fliers the first day, and they were looking for her all week.  They had been going door to door.  See, I have reasons for everything.
Gracie:  Then what’s the reason for the cupcake?
Isaac:  I have no reason for that.

a Farggy Hizzard Giant, by Lily

Lexy, by Evangeline

MacDuff, by Elijah
 Lexy's dance lessons for giants, aliens, & unicorns, by Gracie

giant dance moves, by Isaac

Author: Betsy Bird
Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
Published, 2013: Greenwillow Books
Like it?  Here it is