Book review: Sister Day!, by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

Mantchev, Lisa. Sister Day! Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481437950. Ages 3-7. P6 Q7

Lizzie has always admired her older sister and the stories she tells; but as her sister grows older and has more responsibilities, Lizzie begins to feel abandoned. This feeling inspires Lizzie to show her appreciation for her sister in a grand gesture of sisterly love. As siblings grow up it is common for them to pursue different interests and spend more time apart. This book celebrates imagination and storytelling through the special relationship sisters share. The cheerful illustrations have rough lines that add texture. Sometimes they are like a child’s sketches with twirling lines and smudges of color—a style that fits nicely with the storyline.

Verdict: This is book will be popular with sisters, especially those with a large age difference. It has a place in the public library and for personal use.

October 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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Book review: The Lost Picnic, by B.B. Cronin

Cronin, B.B. The Lost Picnic. Viking, 2017. $18.99.  ISBN 9781101999226. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Grandad and the kids are on their way to the picnic grounds with their basket. They traverse psychedelic landscapes, cross meadows, and navigate through towns and parks. Upon reaching the picnic grounds, they notice the picnic is lost! Now, each elaborately illustrated spread harbors lost picnic items that we must find. The main complaints surrounding this book, and B.B. Cronin’s style in general, is that the pictures are convoluted to a fault. The search is too challenging, especially for young readers. I disagree. To purchase a seek and find book only to locate each sought item immediately seems unsatisfying to me. Young readers will learn persistence and will appreciate the illustrations more for studying them.

Verdict: I would recommend this book, and Cronin’s related publication The Lost House to determined young readers who like a challenge.

October 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Splat!, by Jon Bergerman

Burgerman, Jon. Splat! Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780735228764.UNP. Ages 3-7. P8 Q7

Splat! is a spirited play on textural cause and effect. Each page presents a new layer of a one-sided, animated food fight. The illustrations are colorful, creative, and, often, unexpected. Young readers will be delighted. Fans of Burgerman will recognize his characteristic self-referential irreverence.

Verdict: This is a fun book for young children. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of lessons or vocabulary, it is a goofy treat with an emphasis on visuals.

October 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Come with Me, by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaître

McGhee, Holly M. Come With Me. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781524739058. UNP. Ages 4-10. P8 Q8

A young girl is frightened by the daily news. She is disheartened by the hatred and violence she sees taking place all over the world. After divulging her fears to her parents, they give her, and readers, a set of simple tools to make the world a better place. Come With Me is a lesson on the often overlooked perceptiveness of young children. It reiterates the importance of teaching peace and acceptance by example. Parenting is the main focus of this book, but it empowers all adults to take a more thoughtful approach to certain behaviors. It also emphasizes the importance of mindfulness in children and that “your part matters, too” in terms of impact on the world as a whole. While the call to action of this book may be a tad simplistic, it is a good start to a necessary conversation.

Verdict: This book is a successful conversation starter for parents and teachers who are willing to take on certain discussions in the classroom. I highly recommend it.

October 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Bulldozer Helps Out, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Fleming, Candace. Bulldozer Helps Out. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481458948. UNP. Ages 4-7. P8 Q8

Bulldozer wants to help, but is smaller and younger than all the other construction equipment at the worksite. After being told that he isn’t strong enough to be helpful, Bulldozer finds an important job that he is perfectly suited for. This truck tale is traditional in its use of action words (lifting, stirring, scooping..) and sound effects; but the ending of this story about anthropomorphic construction equipment questions conventional understandings of strength and what it means to be tough. The book is illustrated by Caldecott Award winning artist Eric Rohmann in his easily recognizable block print style with full page artwork and bold black lines.

Verdict: This book will be a popular addition to public libraries and is a great read-aloud book for the classroom. Books about trucks and heavy equipment are well-liked by young children and this book’s take on traditionally male-associated values gives it a modern edge. I highly recommend it.

October 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid, by Jeanette Winter

Winter, Jeanette. The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid. Beach Lane Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481446693. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P7Q7

Picture book author and artist Jeanette Winter approaches the life of award winning architect Zaha Hadid by illustrating the scenes of her native Iraq—marshes, desert, ruins—and showing how Hadid used the curves and lines of nature in her building designs.  Beginning with her childhood in Iraq and her architectural studies in London, Winter shows the difficulty of early years as Hadid sets up an office with friends “making drawings and plans.” Her winning designs are not built in England.  Eventually, through determination and hard work, Zaha Hadid makes her visions become reality. Double page spreads show the relationships between nature—swaying marsh grasses, stones in a stream, sand dunes, a sea shell—and the buildings Hadid designed.  Includes a biographical note, author’s note and bibliographic sources.

Verdict: This is a well-executed picture book biography of a woman who changed the field of architecture.  Recommended for school and public library collections.

Note: Both Kirkus and Booklist gave starred reviews to this title.

October 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by the Fan Brothers, Terry and Eric Fan

Slater, Dashka. The Antlered Ship. Illustrated by the Fan Brothers, Terry Fan and Eric Fan. Beach Lane Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481451604. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P8Q9

A philosophical young fox joins three hungry deer and a flock of pigeons on a boat with an antlered figurehead, battling storms and pirates on an epic voyage to reach a land of succulent grasses and sweet trees.  Along the way, the animals learn to cooperate in the difficult tasks of sailing a ship. Digitally colored, delicate graphite and ballpoint pen drawings perfectly illustrate this story of derring-do and soul searching, bracketed by maps of the imaginary world on the end papers.

Verdict: I truly enjoyed the adventure story and the realistic portrayal of the animals, even though they were acting in what would usually be human roles.  For instance, to avoid eating his shipmates, the fox cooked everyone a meal.  Highly recommended for preschool, elementary, and public library collections. 

October 2017 review by Jane Cothron.