Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reviews #131-135: mid-year Favorites of 2014

A few months ago we shared some of our early favorite 2014 picture books.  The year continues on!  Many more delightful titles have crossed our paths.  Here's a look at the 2014 favorites that we discovered in the middle of the year.  Out of hundreds of books we've read, each kid is going to choose and highlight a personal favorite here, all in one post.  And to kick things off, for the first time we've got our youngest reviewer ever, joining in with a book she adores:

Dad:  Alright Maggie!  Tell me about your book.  
(pointing) Who is this little guy?  Up at the top, the book says “Jonny Duddle.”  Is that little guy’s name Jonny Duddle? 
Magdalena (age 3):  No! 
Dad:  At the bottom it says “Gigantosaurus.”  Is that little guy’s name Gigantosaurs?
Magdalena:  No!!
Dad:  Then who is it? 
Magdalena:  Bonehead!!!
Dad:  You love Bonehead!  What kind of creature is he?
Magdalena:  He’s Bonehead!!!!
Dad:  But what kind of animals is he?
Magdalena:  I don’t know these guys.
Dad:  Are they squirrels?  Raccoons?
Magdalena:  Noooo! 
Dad:  Dinosaurs?
Magdalena:  Yeah!  Little dinosaurs.  Kid dinosaurs. 
Dad:  Is Bonehead good or naughty?
Magdalena:  Naughty.  There’s his mom.  The mommy is sooooo long.  But Bonehead is littler.
Dad:  What does the mama say?  “Watch out for…
Magdalena: ...Gigantosaurus!”  He eats guys!  Ahhhhh!
Dad:  Is Bonehead scared of Gigantosaurus? 
Magdalena:  He’s not.  Bonehead says “Gigantosaurus is coming!  Watch out!  Run!”
Dad:  He was playing tricks on his friends.  And are they scared? 
Magdalena:  Yeah.  That’s not nice. 
Dad:  Then what does Bonehead say?
Magdalena:  “There was no Gigantosaurus, you guys!”  There was no stomp.  There was no crunch.  Heeheehee…
Dad:  But at the end of the book, who did finally come? 
Magdalena:  Gigantosaurus.  Uh-oh!  Footprints, footprints, he’s right there.  There’s his tail...
Dad:  Do you like Gigantosaurus?
Magdalena:  No.  He has a big head.  He is grumpy.  I like Bonehead!  I like his name. 
Dad:  What would you do if Gigantosaurus was coming? 
Magdalena:  Hide.  Behind the couch.
Dad:  Do you think Dad would keep you safe?
Magdalena:  I think you would play a trick on me.
Dad:  So, what’s the best thing about this book?
Magdalena:  Bonehead!
Dad:  And why do you like this book?
Magdalena:  It’s funny.
Dad:  What is funny about it?
Magdalena:  Bonehead!!!

Dad:  Okay Evie, what is your book called? 
Evangeline (age 6):  “SHH! We have a plan”
Dad:  Are you shushing me?
Evangeline: (whispering)  I’m telling you the name of the book. 
Dad:  (whispering)  Oh… do we have to whisper while we review this book?
Evangeline:  Yes.
Dad:  Why do you like this book?
Evangeline:  I like the little person.  The big persons are trying to grab a bird with a net and stick it in a cage.  But it doesn’t work.  The big ones don’t ever catch it.  They fall.  And splash.  They are like, “Aahhhhhh!”  It’s kind of fun.  “Aahhhhhhg!”  They scare the bird away.
Dad:  But the little one says, “Hi Birdie!”
Evangeline:  The little one always talks.  And the big ones tell her “SHH!”   But she knows better than the big ones.  The little one gives the bird some bread.  Definitely the bread works better.  She is the one who gets all the birds.  She got a BUNCH -- like “lavishing.”
Dad:  Ohhhh!  You are trying out a new a word!
Evangeline:  “Lavishing.”
Dad:  What does that mean?
Evangeline:  Lavishing means “a bunch.”
Dad:  The little one is lavished with birds.
Evangeline:  Yeah.
Dad:  So, who had the smartest plan? 
Evangeline:  The little one, the little one, the little one.
Dad:  It’s almost like the little one wants to be a friend to the bird instead.
Evangeline:  The big ones want to be friends too, but in a different way. 
Dad:  Oh you think so?
Evangeline:  Yeah.  The little one is trying to make a friend the nice way.  And the big ones are trying to make a friend a mean way.  They are trying to catch it with a net.
Dad:  If you go out to the playground and want to make a friend, it’s probably not the best idea to bring a net.
Evangeline:  No. 
Dad:  Will you be my friend? 
Evangeline:  Yes.
Dad:  Do I have to use a net, or can I just use bread?
Evangeline:  You don’t have to use any of that stuff. 
Dad:  But isn’t that the lesson?  If you want to make a friend… use food!  You want fat friends!
Evangeline:  No.
Dad:  Find hungry friends!
Evangeline:  No.  Kindness.
Dad:  Oh – so kindness is a good idea?
Evangeline:  Yes.  And the little one shares.
Dad:  Kindness and sharing.  No sneaking.  No nets.  Anything else?
Evangeline:  You could say “Hi” to the new friend.  I would probably do this: If you were just sitting here, I would ask you if you want to play with me.  And then we would start playing together.
Dad:  So communication is best.  And that’s what the little one had been trying!  He was trying to use words all along.
Evangeline:  Sometimes you can learn stuff from little ones.
Dad:  So, Evie... out of all the books in the whooooole world, what is your favorite book?
Evangeline:  The owl one.  The one where the owl gets lost from his mommy.
Dad:  Right, “Little Owl Lost.”   And guess what.  The same guy made this book!  Chris Haughton.  Out of all the new 2014 books you had to choose from, you picked a book by the same guy who wrote your favorite book.  And you didn’t even know it. 
Evangeline:  I can see it now. 
Dad:  You must like his books, huh?
Evangeline:  If I could meet him, I would tell him I love all his books.

Dad:  Elijah, what books are you going to tell me about?
Elijah (age 8):  Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot.  There’s this mouse named Ricky Ricotta.  He’s just a normal kid who goes to school.
Dad:  A normal kid?
Elijah:  Well, just a normal mouse kid.  He gets bullied every day.  There is a bad rat named Dr. Stinky who built a robot, but the robot turns nice.  Dr. Stinky was like, “Destroy those squirrels!” but they looked too cute for him... too harmless… I don’t know.  The robot just didn’t want to do it.
Dad:  So Ricky becomes the robot’s new master.  But he didn’t create the robot – he’s not an inventor.
Elijah:  No.  Just a normal mouse kid.
Dad:  I think the amount of art in these books is amazing.  Really well done, and there are over 100 pages of it per book.
Elijah:  There are two versions of these books.
Dad:  Okay, tell us about that…
Elijah:  In the first version that was made along time ago, the pictures are just like circles and squares.  But the new versions that just came out are more detailed and have color – a LOT of color, on every page.  The art shows a lot of action.
Dad:  So you like the full-color illustrations.
Elijah:  Yeah, the illustrator also did that book “Oh No.”
Dad:  Dan Santat.  And he did “Sidekicks.” 
Elijah:  Oh yeah!  I can see that now.  I like Sidekicks also.
Dad:  Dav Pilkey wrote these books.
Elijah:  And I know that he also did Captain Underpants.  At school we had to tell our favorite book, and I did Ricky Ricotta - of course.  We had to write the author’s name, and my friend Ethan said “That’s the guy who did Captain Underpants!”
Dad:  So how would you describe this series? 
Elijah:  It’s exciting.  Ricky and his robot are always going on adventures, fighting a different villain in every book.
Dad:  These aren’t like the books that we have to make you read for school.
Elijah:  These ones are fun - I want to read them.  I can’t WAIT until the next four come out.
Dad:  You and I have been reading lots of different books together for a while…
Elijah:  I really like that.
Dad:  But it’s been hard to get you to read on your own.  UNTIL we discovered these books.
Elijah:  Yep!
Dad:  Then you went crazy.  You don’t even wait for me!  You raced on without me.  These are the books that turned you into a “Reader.”
Elijah:  I’ve been like, “When are the next ones coming out?  When are the next ones coming out?  They look so cool!”  I can’t wait until the new ones come out.
Dad:  So who would these be good books for? 
Elijah:  Me.
Dad:  Haa ha hah ha… And?
Elijah:  Other kids that are like me.
Dad:  Kids that…
Elijah: adventures and fighting and this kind of art.  It looks like it’s animated.  I can’t believe he drew this.  He’s a really good artist.
Dad:  The covers look like movie posters.
Elijah:  I would DEFINITELY watch if they turned this into a tv show.

Lily (age 11):  I like this book.
Dad:  You’ve picked “Toucan Can.”
Lily:  I put the words in this book to a tune.
Dad:  So the poem must have really good rhythm to do that.
Lily:  Yeah, it’s like snapping.  (starts singing) “Toucan can do lots of things! Toucan dances! Toucan sings! Toucan bangs a frying pan! Can YOU do what Toucan can?”
Dad:  What would you say is the point of the story? 
Lily:  It’s just playing with words.
Dad:  Just a fun romp.  Fun for your tongue.
Lily: (singing again) “Toucan can do lots of things!  Toucan dances!  Toucan sings!”  Or we could make it into a Rap.  Ready, Dad, you give a beat.
Dad: (makes beat noises)
Lily: (rapping) “Toucan - can do - lots of things… Toucan dances - Toucan sings”
Dad:  Or you could do it like Opera…
Lily:  Oh gosh.  Let’s do it… “Toucan can dooooOOOOO… Lots of thiiiiiiIIIINGS…”
Dad:  What else?  Can you sing it Country?
Lily: (twangy) “Tou-can can do-oo lots of thaings…  Tou-can dances and tou- can- saings…”  There we go.  What else?  Rock?  You’d basically just scream it.
Dad:  What is your favorite part?
Lily:  The best part is close to the end.  The words gets REALLY confusing, and I just like it.
Dad:  Would you call it a tongue twister?
Lily:  The end part, yeah.  It’s the best: “Aunty Anne and Candy can, and Aunty Candy’s panda can, with Aunt Amanda’s salamander, Sandy’s goose and Andy’s gander…”  I’ve read this book a couple times, and I’m really bad at it. (tries saying it again)
Dad:  Woo!  Now you’re getting it.
Lily:  But I can’t do it fast. (tries again faster)
Dad:  Now you’re flying!  Does it remind you of Dr. Seuss?
Lily:  I like this better than Dr. Seuss.  I’m not saying Dr. Seuss is bad.  I just like this better.
Dad:  And the characters have a lot of personality to them.
Lily:  Yeah!  I like the aunts.  Ha ha ha… The aunts and uncles are, like – what the heck?  They are so weird.  And look at his face!  Ha ha ha…
Dad:  And the book is so colorful.
Lily:  Yeah, it has very fun pictures.  I really love all of the flowers and branches and leaves.  They got a good artist for this book.  Let’s see who the artist is…
Dad:  Sarah Davis.  And Juliette MacIver wrote it.  Two girls.
Lily:  I could tell.
Dad:  You could?
Lily:  The words sound like a girl’s words.  And the flowers look like a girl painted them.
Dad:  Really?  How would a boy paint flowers?
Lily:  A lot different.
Dad:  Some of the most famous pictures of flowers have been painted by dudes. 
Lily:  I know. 
Dad:  Van Gogh’s sunflowers… Monet’s gardens…
Lily:  But when you look a picture of a boy who did a flower and a girl who did a flower, you can tell the difference.
Dad:  Maybe you can.
Lily:  You can’t, but I can.
Dad:  BUT “can Toucan do what YOU can do?”
Lily:  Ha ha ha…

Dad:  Gracie, you’ve got “Fox’s Garden.”  What attracted you to this book?
Gracie (age 14):  The storyline is sweet.  The art is epic.  The pictures are made out of cut paper, and WOAH.  It must have taken forever to cut out.  I made a shadow box a couple weeks ago -- it took me hours and hours, and it wasn’t even detailed.  So this must have been crazy hard to do.
Dad:  I love cut paper.  I’ve been wanting to try making a cut paper book for years.
Gracie: (pointing)  Look at that!  Look at how detailed she cuts out the tiny little things!  Oh man!
Dad:  Do you like the images too, or are you mostly impressed by the materials? 
Gracie:  If the exact same pictures were painted instead, it would still be cool -- but not AS cool.  She does a lot of things with light and shadow that you couldn’t do otherwise.  She illuminates the town so you can see there is life there.  And she casts shadows in the forest so it looks dark and deserted.  So you know the fox wants to go where there is warmth and life to give birth and raise her babies.  See, I’m getting all insightful and junk.  Ha ha…
Dad:  So when she gets to the town, does it turn out to be warm and inviting?
Gracie:  No, there’s a mean dude.  And a mean woman.  They are kicking her.  Poor fox.  Then a boy brings her something in a basket?  I’m assuming food.
Dad:  What does the fox say?
Gracie:  DON'T.  YOU.  Don’t you even bring that song up. 
Dad:  Well, we’re safe because the fox doesn’t say anything in this book.
Gracie:  It’s a wordless book, which is cool.  I feel like words could have ruined the book.  I like wordless books - they are like silent movies.
Dad:  And the book is almost black and white like a silent movie.
Gracie:  Almost.  The only things in color in the book are the fox and the child.  And the kid is red just like the fox.
Dad:  I think it shows their connection.
Gracie:  It wasn’t a very realistic book though.  That kid is going into a room with a mother fox.  That’s not a good idea.  He’s not very smart.  If I was the fox, I would attack the child.
Dad:  Would this have been better if it was realistic?
Gracie: Ha hah heh ha…  No, because then there would be kid limbs everywhere.
Dad:  Do you think it would have been fun or torture to make this book? 
Gracie:  I feel like it could be fun at the beginning… “Aw this could be awesome, look what I made, yeah!”  But I feel like after cutting out one tree I’d be like, “okay, I’m done with this.”
Dad:  I love the fact that this little constructed scene actually exists somewhere in the world.  If I was able, I could go and look around this 3D paper room.
Gracie:  It’s like a tiny world.  If I spent that much time making little worlds this intricate, I wouldn’t pitch them.  I’d build another room onto my house just to display them all.
Dad:  Anything else you like about this book?
Gracie:  I also love it because I think foxes are the coolest creature in the whole world.  They are elegant.  And powerful.  It’s an elegant creature that can still fend for itself.
Dad:  And they say “ring-ding-ding-ding…” 
Gracie:  STOP IT.  I said we are NOT going to bring up that song.
Dad:  Did you see the name of the person who made this book?
Gracie: (reading)  Princesse Camcam?  That’s awesome!  Oh my gosh.  That’s the best name in the whole world.

Bonehead and the Gigantosaurus, by Magdalena

little one and bird, by Evangeline

Dr. Stinky and Ricky Ricotta, by Elijah

Toucan and friends, by Lily

child and foxes, by Gracie

And bonus!  Here are 5 more favorite 2014 titles:

Julia's House for Lost Creatures
by Ben Hatke

by Matt Faulkner

Hannah's Night
by Komako Sakai

How to Wash a Wooly Mammoth
by Michelle Robinson and Kate Hindley 

Lost for Words
by Natalie Russell 

Author/Illustrator: Jonny Duddle
Published, 2014: Templar Books 
Like it?  Here it is 

Shh! We have a Plan
Author/Illustrator Chris Haughton
Published, 2014: Candlewick Press
Like it?  Here it is

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot
Author: Dav Pilkey
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Published, 2014: Scholastic
Like it?  Here they are

Toucan Can
Author: Juliette MacIver
Illustrator: Sarah Davis
Published, 2014: Gecko Press
Like it?  Here it is's Garden
Author/Illustrator:  Princesse Camcam
Published, 2014: Enchanted Lion
Like it?  Here it is 


Indrani said...

Lovely illustrations!

Agnès said...

It's great !! really really great to read this original review !

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I think my son and I would enjoy reading each of these books!

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for highlighting the picture books. I am fond of colourful children 's books with lovely illustrations. We always bought a lot of books for the children and read them before bedtime. Now they still like reading and their children too. I don't buy any children's books any more for they don't read nor understand Dutch, moreover my daughter works in a library and can borrow as many books as she wants.
Have a great week!
Wil, ABCW Team

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Thanks for the great list! Got some ideas for my grandkids...

Roger Owen Green said...

lots of precious books!

Splendid Little Stars said...

Oh what fun reviews! and wonderful artwork!