Start the new year with these great books that will have your children laughing and pique their curiosity.
Andrew Drew and Drew / Barney Saltzberg.
“Wordplay of the title aside, Saltzberg’s ode to drawing is fairly earnest and straightforward in its prose. The magic comes from the accompanying artwork, which follows the eponymous boy and his adventures in drawing. His pencil lines sweep across white pages (“Andrew doodled and doodled. Sometimes he noodled”), and his creations take unpredictable shape, revealed bit-by-bit by overlapping gatefolds (a staircase Andrew draws eventually forms a dinosaur’s spiny back, and a cross-hatched night sky turns into a trumpet-nosed winged beast in the final spread). Like a certain boy with a purple crayon, Andrew knows that drawing offers limitless possibilities, and readers will, too. ” (Publisher Weekly)
The three ninja pigs / Corey Rosen Schwartz ; illustrated by Dan Santat.
“For young martial arts fans seeking a lighthearted book about their hobby, Schwartz’s (Hop! Plop!) story should fit the bill. While the idea of three gi-clad pigs fighting the big bad wolf is a winner, the subtle-as-a-karate-chop moral about not quitting puts a bit of a damper on the fun. Pig One signs up for aikido (“He gained some new skills,/ but got bored with the drills”), while Pig Two goes for jujitsu (“The teacher said, `Excellent progress./ But Pig-san, you must study more.’/ Pig Two said, `No way./ Sayonara, Sensei!/ I’m ready to settle a score’ “). Both lack the necessary chops when the wolf comes a’blowing. Santat’s dynamic, comic book-style spreads have a Crouching Wolf, Hidden Pig feel, especially when Pig Three (a persistent girl who has actually honed her skills) terrifies the wolf with a chop that smashes a pile of bricks. Schwartz’s irreverent verse never falters-and any book that rhymes “dojo” with “mojo” is one that’s worth a look. ” (Publisher Weekly)
Dreaming up : a celebration of building / Christy Hale.
“A clever introduction to architecture. Each spread shows children playing on one side and a photograph of a famous building on the other. The children, done with watercolor in a fairly standard illustrative style, are pictured working with toys that mirror the form of the featured buildings. For example, a baby’s stacking rings are shown opposite the Guggenheim Museum, and wooden blocks mirror the shape of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Each spread also contains a short poem, many rhyming, that describes the youngster’s play. ……….” (adapted from School Library Journal)
Penguin’s hidden talent / by Alex Latimer.
“Penguin doesn’t have a talent to hone for the upcoming community talent show, so instead he helps organize the event. As a result of Penguin’s involvement, all goes well at the show, but when each of his friends wins a trophy or a medal, Penguin feels left out. In an attempt to cheer him up, Penguin’s friends try to throw him a party, but it is so poorly planned, it appears to be headed for disaster. Of course, Penguin himself comes to the rescue, making the party fabulous and discovering where his talents lie: as a party planner. I don’t need a medal. I need a telephone, he says before ordering a bevy of ridiculous decorations. The colorful cartoon illustrations perfectly convey the goofiness of Penguin and his friends displaying their quirky talents (such as burping the alphabet and juggling household appliances). This packs in plenty of chuckles, and its supportive and nurturing message makes it worthy of repeat visits” (Booklist)
Good news bad news / Jeff Mack.
“Mack’s clever book may follow the format of Remy Charles’s Fortunately, Unfortunately, but his take on the theme is flat-out hilarious. Apart from the closing line, the text contains only the four words of the title. “Good news!” says a cheerful rabbit, showing a picnic basket to a mouse seen leaning out of its hole. “Bad news,” says the mouse as rain begins to fall. The rabbit is ready with an umbrella (“Good news”), but the mouse blows away after grabbing it (“Bad news”). Mack’s mixed-media illustrations are both slapstick and droll as the duo fights off bees, runs from a rampaging bear, and gets hit by lightning. When the mouse loses its temper in a two-page tantrum, the rabbit’s spirits finally plummet. Mack (Frog and Fly) portrays the rabbit in a puddle of tears, and amusingly depicts the mouse’s epiphany with the sun breaking through the clouds, as if the book were a Cecil B. DeMille movie. This well-executed, rapid-fire book should satisfy even the most resistant readers.” (Publisher Weekly)