Book review: Up Up Up Down, by Kimberly Gee

Gee, Kimberly. Up Up Up Down. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019. ISBN 9780525517337. Unpaged. P8Q8

A toddler’s day is full of opposites! From waking up, being lifted up out of a crib, to being put down these opposites are illustrated in fun vivid colors. Featuring an African American dad and his toddler son each page captures humorous scenarios. On one side of a double page spread we see Dad helping to get his son dressed: first shorts, then shirt, then shoes; only to find ALL the clothes off on the second page once dad has turned his back for a moment to load the diaper bag! Many parents will be able to relate to the page where Dad is hurrying his son along: hurry to get dressed, hurry to brush teeth, hurry to get out the door only to turn the page and see Dad shout “slow down!” once the toddler exits the door and is on the sidewalk. The book has a satisfying ending when, after a day of fun, fun, fun, Mom walks in the door, sets her briefcase down and scoops up her son, while Dad falls asleep in a chair!

Verdict: Ssweet story for home and the library. Children will enjoy reading this book over and over. ​

June 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: The Fisherman and the Whale, by Jessica Lanan

Lanan, Jessica. The Fisherman & the Whale. Simon & Schuster, 2019. Unp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-1574-4. Ages 4-6. P9Q9

In this wordless story, a father takes a young boy, possibly his son, on a fishing trip where they discover a whale caught in ropes. Lush watercolors and gauche show the adventure above and below water as the man dives in to rescue the whale before the boy throws over a life preserver as the man swims back to the boat. In a superb finish, the whale leaps into the air before the ship heads back to shore in a sunset. An author’s note describes “purse seining” method of catching salmon and the problems of whales, porpoises, and dolphins becoming entangled in commercial fishing nets.

Verdict: The vivid communications between the boy and man are enhanced by the variety of perspectives, including the pair of eyes, one showing the whale in the human pupil and the reverse showing the two protagonists reflected in the whale’s pupil. A book that can be “read” over and over.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: I Need All of It, by Petra Postert, illustrated by Jens Rassmus, translated by Henriette Schroeder

Postert, Petra. I Need All of It. Illustrated by Jens Rassmus. Translated by Henriette Schroeder. Feiwel and Friends, 2018. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781250112712. Ages 4-6. P7Q7

In one of the few picture books I’ve seen where men are depicted doing housework, a father and son discuss the boy’s pocket collection that has ended up in the laundry.  When the father suggests throwing the trash away, the boy comes up with imaginative stories about the origin of each item.  Originally published in Germany under the title, Das brauch ich alles noch!

Verdict:  Though parts of the story are rather text heavy, I see value in this story showing a father and son interacting with one another while doing laundry.  A lot of small children gather small, interesting bits and pieces, just as the son has done.  Unfortunately, when the father attempts a tall tale about a paperclip, it falls flat. Pleasant watercolor and ink illustrations, interspersed with fantasy sequences flesh out the story. Recommended for preschool, elementary and public libraries.

October 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Boy and the Whale, by Mordicai Gerstein

Gerstein, Mordicai. The Boy and the Whale. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781626725058. Ages 5-8. P8Q10

A boy and his father discover a whale tangled in their only fishing net. The father suggests that they wait for the whale to die and then try to salvage the net. The boy, remembering when he almost drowned from being entangled in a net, disobeys his father, taking the family’s fishing boat, freeing the whale, and destroying the net in the process.  Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein created luminous paintings that show warm sunlight bathing a poor village and contrasting dappled light shining through ocean waves, carrying a sense of hope for not only the whale, but for father and son.

Verdict: The traits of courage and empathy shine through this timely story. Be prepared to discuss the issues raised with child readers. Highly recommended for elementary school and public library collections.

September 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Nile Crossing, by Katy Beebe, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Beebe, Katy. Nile Crossing. illus. Sally Wern Comport. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017. unp.  Includes glossary. $18.00. ISBN: 978-0-8028-5425-4. Gr. All. P8 Q9

In ancient Egypt, Khepri is awakened so that he too may start his schooling. The story unfolds in a rhyming text that tells of Khepri’s journey across the Nile in a reed boat with his father on their way to the school in city of Thebes. The author included additional details about writing and school in ancient Egypt at the end of the book. The richly colored illustrations, created digitally along with pastels and acrylic paint, are striking, giving the reader a visual sense of this time period.

Verdict: Up and coming Egyptologists will be impressed with this visually detailed story.

July 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The Courage Test, by James Preller

Preller, James. The Courage Test. Feiwell and Friends, 2016. 212 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-250-09391-2. Gr. 4+. P7 Q8

William Meriweather Miller, what a name–all due to his professor father who loves anything to do with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. William has plans for the summer, playing on the all-star baseball team. His mother and father are divorcing and his mother wants him to spend time with his dad. William, does not want to go on a road trip that follows the Lewis and Clark Trail, he wants to play baseball. Loaded with his essentials, phone, computer and his  iPod they start out. William is on a journey of growing up and coming to terms with himself, his father and a family crisis.

Verdict: This book would be a great read aloud to students who are studying the Lewis and Clark Trail.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Superhero Dad, by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Joe Berger

Knapman, Timothy. Superhero Dad. Illustrated by Joe Berger.  Nosy Crow, 2015., unp. $15.99.                    ISBN:978-0-7636-8657-4. Gr.2+. P8 Q8

knapman-superhero-dadAs a little boy, my son Ryan idealized my husband. Ryan loved the Ghosts Busters and he and his dad would go out at night to look for ectoplasm. He would be excited as he came in as he found oil from our car on the cement and proclaimed it to be ectoplasm. I treasured these moments and the relationship that they had, Superheroddad offers the same experience to me once again as I saw the wonder that a small boy has towards his dad. It is the brightly colored illustrations that help to carry the wonder of the young boy who see his dad as a Superhero. It is the final page that made me cry as the father sees his own child as a superhero. Verdict: this book would be a great read aloud just before Father’s Day or for teachers to use in a unit on families.

November 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.