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Monday, February 20, 2012

A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse) [Hardcover]

A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse)
A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse) [Hardcover
When the impish Mouse comes to spend the night, Bear is in for a rude — and very funny — awakening in this irresistible new story starring the unlikely pair.
Bear must have absolute quiet when he goes to bed. He likes to set out his glass of water, adjust his nightcap, fluff his favorite pillow, and then drift peacefully to sleep. But the effervescent Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed, finds it terribly hard to be as quiet as a . . . well, you know. With masterfully paced slapstick humor, droll repartee, and comic visual details, the curmudgeonly Bear and his irrepressible friend Mouse return in a third wry adventure that will have readers of all ages laughing in recognition.
This review is from: A Visitor for Bear (Bear and Mouse) (Hardcover) Cute is hard. Picture book cute, that is. A lot of people might disagree with that, but I'm going to make a case here. There's a perception out there that if you slap a pair of big brown eyes and a furry tail on something, badda-bing! Instant adorable. Picture books, however, offer the greatest test any author or artist has to face. Because cute isn't just a visual state. It's reliant on a story that can be touching without becoming candy-coated and saccharine. It requires a certain level of restraint on both the author and the illustrator's part. Cute is hard to do and do well. Like I say, anyone can fake it and end up on a line of greeting cards, but very few people can make cute count for something. Bonny Becker can. With her remarkable "A Visitor for Bear," Becker teams with top notch illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton to bring us a book that actually goes on beyond "cute" into something more. This is a book that warms the cold cockles of even the grumpiest heart. People who cringe at the sight of "Bambi" and shudder at baby chicks will be instantly charmed by Becker and Denton's tale of a grump that learns that sometimes the right visitor is worth the vexation that comes with giving up your privacy. Bear's pretty good at keeping people away. No one ever visits him, and just in case one does he has a big sign in front that reads, "NO visitors allowed". Just in case. Everything is fine and dandy until one day a mouse "small and gray and bright-eyed" knocks on the door. Bear says in no uncertain terms that he is not keen on visitors. The mouse seems to understand, but when Bear attempts to get out a bowl for himself, there sits the mouse asking for a spot of tea. After throwing out the unwanted guest Bear tries to open his bread drawer next, and there again is the mouse! To Bear's increasing frustration the mouse is absolutely everywhere, and no amount of stoppering or locking keeps him away. At last, Bear consents to having a bit of tea with the miniscule visitor and soon discovers that the mouse is attentive, easily impressed, and laughs at Bear's jokes. And when it is time for the mouse to go, Bear finds himself unceremoniously ripping down the "NO visitors allowed" sign. After all, he says, that is a sign for salesmen. Not for friends. The book works because in the space of a mere 56 pages it establishes character and personality perfectly. In a way, this is a story of two fastidious creatures, one open to new friends and one not. It makes perfect sense to me that Bear and the mouse would get along. Just look at how they are presented. Bear lays out his single cup and single spoon with a delicacy at odds with his sheer mass. The mouse, similarly, is taken to speaking in polite, clipped tones. "Terribly sorry... Now you see me; now you don't. I am gone." I imagine him being voiced by Basil Rathbone, perhaps. And Bear would be John Houston. My boss read through this book and sighed with relief when he got to the end. "I was worried that at some point we'd see a large group of mice." It actually never occurred to me that the mouse might be pulling off his appearances by being of a number greater than one. And though that would have been a nice enough idea, it's been done before (with frogs, apparently). Also, had the Bear discovered twenty or so mice hiding within the crawl spaces, nooks, and crannies of his home, it would have taken away from his slow realization that maybe having someone over for tea isn't so bad. Bear's change of heart isn't actually all that fast for a picture book. It's only during the course of tea that he comes to see how nice it is to have someone around to laugh at your jokes and listen to your stories. I also loved that the mouse brought along his own teacup. He must have, since it seems unlikely that Bear would have had a mouse-sized cup sitting about is cupboards. And talk about a great readaloud. As the bear gets increasingly vexed his words get more and more delicious. "Vamoose!" he says at one point. "Begone!" he cries at another. "This is impossible! Intolerable! Insufferable!" And as he says these things Bear's face turns the faintest shade of pink as blue lines almost emanate off of him. And what does Bear say when at last he has been outwitted by the mouse's persistence? "I am undone." Picture books that read aloud well are not as common as you might think. The advantage to Becker's story is that her characters are so distinct. The mouse's mode of speaking is definitely different from Bear's, allowing the reader to give them wonderful voices of their own. As for the illustrator's pictures, Kady MacDonald Denton's images telegraph well across a crowded room. The size of the book is ideal for large groups of children and though the colors are soft and natural, that is not to say that they don't pop off of the page with aplomb. I guess I'd never seen a book illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton before. I say this because I think I would remember her style. Denton is like the Bob Fosse of children's illustration. Characters' movements often come down to the most delicate turns of their wrists, or the way their feet stick up in just the right way. The mouse is an adorable and delicate fellow. He is indeed small and gray and bright-eyed but it's really his single-minded attentiveness that makes him such a sterling companion. Bear, on the other hand, really does feel as if he has weight and bulk. His belly sags believably and Denton has been very careful to make his weight fall in such a way that he never looks unbalanced (unless, of course, he is flinging himself to the floor on purpose). The delicate illustrations are done entirely in watercolor, ink, and gouache, which is rather nice. I was particularly taken with the choice of season. This is a distinctly autumnal book. The trees in the background are changing and there's always a spare leaf floating to the ground in one scene or another. It is clear that Denton thought through Becker's story since why else would Bear create a roaring crackling fire in the fireplace unless it was a slightly chilly day outside? And the occasional illustrated word really made the book pop. At the height of his frustration Bear roars a massive "Begone!" that unlike every other word in the book is actually illustrated. It only happens once, but I like seeing an illustrator know how to ratchet up a story's build-up and suspense through carefully chosen moments. On the bookflap of this book Ms. Becker says of herself, "I hesitate to admit how much Bear is in me, but I'm grateful for every lovely mouse in my life." Everyone has a little bit of Bear in them, I think. We've all had those days when we just want to sit and stew in our own solitary juices. When the thought of sharing our space with another human being sounds like way too much work. "A Visitor for Bear" is as much a fabulous picture book as it is a cautionary tale. Sometimes it takes a mouse to get us moving. Consider "A Visitor for Bear" a book with classic-appeal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paperback for : 2 Year

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and Katherine Wilson (Feb 2006)
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Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd (Jan 3, 2006)
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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Book & CD) by Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle and Gwyneth Paltrow (Aug 4, 2009)
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One Snowy Eve (Poky Little Puppy) by Normand Chartier (Aug 17, 1998)
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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Quiet Book [Hardcover]

The Quiet BookAmazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010: Give Goodnight Moon and Goodnight Gorilla  the night off and pick up this new bedtime classic. This pitch-perfect picture book by Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska will quell the pre-bedtime crazies. With the softest of opening salvos--"There are many kinds of quiet"--the story reflects all the different peaceful moments during the day, like "Coloring in the lines quiet," "Hide and seek quiet," and of course "Bedtime kiss quiet." The repetitive pattern of the text paired with softly colored illustrations of adorable stuffed animals is better than a lullaby. --Lauren Nemroff
The Quiet Book [Hardcover]

Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 1—This gentle picture book subtly explores the many different kinds of "quiet." Bears, rabbits, porcupines, mice, owls, moose, and wombats are depicted in situations that effectuate the notion of quiet throughout the daily life of a young child. For example, the "first one awake quiet" shows a rabbit doing his morning stretches. In "Right before you yell, 'SURPRISE!' quiet," three animal friends crouch behind a couch. "Making a wish quiet" presents a contemplative porcupine sitting on a stool wearing a party hat. A bear and a rabbit playing tag with the waves at the beach symbolize, "Best friends don't need to talk quiet." The soft, matte feel of the illustrations, created with pencil, are digitally enhanced, and are priceless. The animals' facial expressions and body language are endearing. White space is used creatively to emphasize the mostly gray or brown palette. All of the scenarios are child-centric and realistic. A delightful and enchanting choice for storytime or sharing one-on-one.—Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This review is from: The Quiet Book (Hardcover)
The Quiet Book is a precious collection of *different kinds of quiet* such as coloring-in-the-lines-quiet and trying-not-to-hiccup-quiet. The illustrations are a soft palate of earthy pastels and the child-animals are absolutely adorable. There are a couple of reasons why I truly love this book and would highly recommend. 1) It's an entertaining way to help children notice when quiet arises naturally. 2) This book encourages children to discover the emotions behind different kinds of quiet - be it contentment or nervousness, excitement or silent awe. It also makes a perfect gift for the friend in your life (no matter how old) who might need a meditation on quiet and where it can be found. In a world of ever-increasing noise and stimulus, this book is a very special one.

This review is from: The Quiet Book (Hardcover)
This is a wondrous book about all the different kinds of quiet there are for kids. Happy quiets and worried quiets, scared quiets and "was I being naughty?" quiets.

I have to declare an interest, since I am Deborah Underwood's brother in law. Which means I have had the privilege of knowing the book for many years in draft form (you have NO idea how long it takes for children's picture books to come out.)

The book has always been brilliant but I didn't imagine how great the pictures would be to go with it.

In short I think this is a great book and I don't think you or your children will be disappointed

Bailey [Hardcover]

Meet Bailey, a dog who surprises and charms his fellow human classmates with his irrepressible antics.
Follow Bailey the dog as he gets ready and goes to school. Should he wear the red or blue collar? Both are so fashionable! Will he be late? That squirrel is a distraction! And what about Bailey's homework? Would you believe he ate it? That is what dogs do, after all.

In this funny new book from the best selling children's illustrator Harry Bliss, school proves to be an unexpected place for Bailey to do all sorts of things he loves: reading, fetching, painting, digging, singing - and making friends!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ogre of Oglefort [Hardcover]

The Ogre of Oglefort
For excitement-hungry orphan Ivo, a mission to save Princess Mirella from the dreaded Ogre of Oglefort is a dream come true. Together with a hag, a wizard, and a troll, Ivo sets out, ready for adventure. But when they get to the ogre's castle, the rescuers are in for a surprise: the princess doesn't need saving, but the depressed ogre does! It's a warmhearted, hilarious romp in the tradition of Roald Dahl, with enough creepy magic, ghosts, and laughs to make even the saddest ogre smile.
This review is from: The Ogre of Oglefort (Hardcover)
The Ogre of Oglefort
Another ripping story from one of my favorite English children authors, this one released in 2010. While copies from England are titled "The Ogre of OGelfoor", it is quite possible that the book will be released in a U.S. printing with a different title. That has happened with many of Ibbbotson's books already, and it gets confusing for fans of her work. From the first Ibbotson book I read, "The Secret of Platform 13" I have enjoyed her eccentric characters and stories.
In this new book, a Hag and her familiar, a troll, a wizard and many other magical creatures are living in the city of London as their natural homes have been lost to development. The magical creatures have a big convention every year to go on a mission to help someone. Right before the mission, the Hag's familiar refuses to go and she agrees to take an orphan boy named Ivo in its place. It appears that an ogre on an island has captured a princess and plans to eat her and the group is ordered to rescue her, but things are not always what they seem. I really enjoyed the way the author linked different small things together that seem minor details at the time, but all click together in bog ways later on. She is hilarious in a rude sort of way (I am not complaining a bit) like Roald Dahl. I highly recommend the author and this book for anyone that books about witches, ghosts, banshees, trolls, ogres, warlocks, and other creatures who turn out to be nice most of the time, while the humans are often the scariest characters in the books.

Best Books of the Month for Children: August 2011

Best Books of the Month
Llama Llama Home with MamaThe Mostly True Story of JackZooZical

Eight KeysBabar's Celesteville GamesRachel Spinelli Punched Me in the FaceBailey

Best Books of the Month for Children: August 2011

Each month our editors select eight of the best books for children--see below for this month's favorites in Picture Books and books for Middle Grade readers.

My Big Animal Book (casebound) (My Big Board Books) [Board book]

My Big Animal Book (casebound) (My Big Board Books)
This is the perfect book for kids who love animals. On the big, sturdy board pages, they’ll discover bright, bold photographs of all different kinds of animals, from pets to farm animals to birds. Each has their name written underneath, so that children can learn what they’re called, build their animal vocabulary, and start to develop word and picture association.
My son received this book for his first birthday and it has quickly become a favorite. He still chooses this book regularly at storytime and he is now 18 months old. Reasons to buy this book include...

1. Great book for language development. The animals are sorted into groups including Baby Animals, Pets, On the Farm, Birds, and At the Zoo. A great book for playing "Where's the..." and "What's that?" pointing games.

2. Clear, beautiful photos. Each animal photograph is also placed against a solid colored background so that the image really stands out.

3. Unlike other animal photography books, the pages are not an animal collage with all the animals mixed in together. Each animal is shown in a square or rectangle with the name of the animals printed in lowercase underneath. Babies and Young toddlers are often confused by jumbled images and prefer the simplicity of how the animals are presented in this book.

4. The book also has a rhyming, interactive text. For example on the zoo page it says, "I'm hard to see when I'm out in the snow. Who am I? (polar bear) I carry a trunk wherever I go. Who am I? (elephant). My toddler, like most, is highly attracted to rhyming text.
My Big Book Of Stickers My Big Animal World Book (Smart Kids) My Big Animal Book (casebound) (My Big Board Books)