Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: Picture book (Page 1 of 2)

Book Review: Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire

Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire – Beatrice Blue – Clarion Books – Published 2 March 2021

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Synopsis

How did dragons get their fire? It all began once upon a magical kingdom, where a fearsome dragon stalked the land. The dragon was mean and scary and evil, or so the stories said. One day, two brave children set out to stop him for good. But when they finally met the monster, he wasn’t quite what they expected . . .

Find out how two kids’ determination to save their village led to a friendship that will warm the hearts of dragon lovers everywhere in this gorgeously illustrated celebration of the magic of kindness.

My thoughts

A beautiful picture book about bravery and friendship, about the power of story and how changing the stories can change how we see and accept others.

Two children live in a cold village. Everyone in their town knows that the evil dragon is the reason for the cold. All the books tell the same story. When a particularly bad storm starts to build, Freya and Sylas set off to find the dragon and save their village. What they find is a surprise and their kindness and bravery might be what really saves their town.

This book has such a beautiful underpinning story of acceptance, but also of rewriting the story of acceptance and friendship. It points to the way so many of our stories and book spread the stories of evil, difference and strangeness. The two children in this book show that through kindness, bravery and being open to new stories, that we can learn the truth about others and become a far more accepting world.

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Book Review: What We’ll Build

What We’ll Build: Plans for our Together Future – Oliver Jeffers – Philomel Books – Published 6 October 2020

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Synopsis

What shall we build, you and I?
We’ll build a watch to keep our time.
I’ll build your future
and you’ll build mine.

Inspired by the birth of his daughter, and in the same vein as Here We Are, What We’ll Build is a rhythmic and heartwarming father and daughter story from the beloved Oliver Jeffers. Told in rhyming text with Oliver’s signature art, What We’ll Build is the perfect story to cherish together.

My thoughts

Oliver Jeffers can do no wrong when it comes to beautiful picture books. His latest offering is a companion book to Here We Are. Here We Are was written for his son, while What We’ll Build has been written for his daughter. She is the main character alongside Jeffers himself in the story.

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Book Review: Sandcastle

Sandcastle – Einat Tsarfati – Candlewick Press – Published 5 May 2020

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Synopsis

A young girl loves building sandcastles. But not just any sandcastles. She builds one so big and grand and lovely that all the royals of the world come to visit. There are banquets and balls and tournaments, a greenhouse for cacti, a staircase for skateboarding, and ice cream around the clock. Everyone seems to be having fun, until they discover sand in the royal almond strudel . . . and the fig milk bath . . . and everywhere! With a keen eye for the absurd, author-illustrator Einat Tsarfati invites readers beyond the crocodile moat to explore the intricately detailed, increasingly wild festivities that echo the arc of a day at the beach, from euphoria to gritty discomfort. The diverse cast of regal guests, from a Rapunzel-esque princess in pj’s and unicorn slippers to a pair of knights playing badminton, is just as inspired.

My thoughts

Sandcastle is a feast for the imagination. Our main character is a young girl, who while at the beach, builds a sandcastle. But it is not just any sandcastle. Her sandcastle is a castle, with hundreds of rooms and a kitchen that serves ice cream all the time. Kings and queens from around the world come to visit. But there are some problems with living in a castle made of sand, as the guests soon discover.

I love the cover of this book. Bright and colourful, the sandcastle has a rough texture that stands out from the rest of the smooth cover. It will be a shame to cover this library book.

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Book Review: The Crayons’ Christmas

The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (illustrator) – Penguin Workshop – Published 15 October 2019

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Synopsis

‘Tis the season for all of us to write our holiday wishlists. But everyone–even the crayons–know the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers get to see how Duncan, the crayons, and their families celebrate the holidays.

My thoughts

If you have read The Day The Crayons Quit and The Return of the Crayons you will know how utterly delightful these books are. The colours are bright, the illustrations fun and the stories lots of fun. There is now a whole collection of Crayon books, including a Valentines Day special, a book of colours and a book of numbers.

This book is perfect as a gift, but it also works as a library book – you’ll just have to keep an eye on the special things in the book pockets. If you or your little readers enjoy the Jolly Postman books, you’ll love this book. Each page has a pocket with something special inside. The pockets are very clever – some made to look like letters or parcels that have arrived and others with a very realistic photo of a box that some clever page design seems to pop from the page.

The format of letters to and from the crayons continues, with a few extra special surprises. There are old character who return, familiar reader favourites and some new characters to meet.

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Book Review: The Worrying Worries

The Worrying Worries – Rachel Rooney and Zehra Hicks (illustrator) – Affirm Press – Published September 2020

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Synopsis

Do you ever worry about your Worries?
They can be awful pests, and they hate to see you happy.
But if you follow some simple steps you can banish those worries for good!

My thoughts

The Worrying Worries is a wonderful story about what to do about those worries that seem to follow you around, the ones you just can’t shake.

The Worrying Worries is Rachel Rooney’s second similar picture book, following The Problem with Problems. Both are brightly illustrated by Zehra Hicks. I love how the illustrations resemble a child’s colourful drawings, especially the crayon circle worry creatures. This would be a great book to follow up with a craft and drawing activity, where students try to create their own similar illustrations.

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Book Review: We’re Stuck

We’re Stuck – Sue deGennaro – Scholastic Australia – Published 1 April 2019

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Synopsis

When Turtle races into the lift of Building 24, there is a nod and a blink and a step to the side. A grunt and a sigh and a lean to the right. But what happens when the lift stops moving?

Crocodile has a meeting to get to. And Giraffe has a doctors appointment. And Turtle really, really needs to get to the shop.

My thoughts

A beautiful story about community and connections in a busy, moving world. We’re Stuck forces its characters to stop and connect. Together, they must work through their problems and they discover they actually have everything they need. They also join forces to brighten someone else’s day.


Werestuck

Do you know your neighbours? Many of us, especially those living in crowded cities and multi-storey apartment buildings pass one another each day without stopping to say hello or share names or stories.

In We’re Stuck, one day, Turtle is racing to the lift. He has a very important list and he needs to get to the shops and back to his mum. In Building 24, the residents often meet in the lift. They shuffle and move over to let in Crocodile, who needs to get to a meeting, Giraffe who is on the way to the doctors, Lion is due for a haircut and Hippo needs to get the cafe open. But then, suddenly the lift stops. The residents of Building of 24 are STUCK! Much commotion ensues. They are busy and important people with important places to go to and people to meet. But Turtle sits quietly and sadly says it’s his birthday. The others in the lift quickly rally. Balloons made from rubber gloves and fishing line are stung and paper hats are made. But the group also discover that, if they work together, they can solve the others’ problems. Doctor Crocodile takes a look at Giraffe, and whale offers to cut Lion’s hair.

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Book Review: What Grew In Larry’s Garden

What Grew in Larry’s Garden – Laura Alary and Kass Reich (ill) – Hachette Book Group – Published 7 April 2020

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Synopsis

Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him – watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem – like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce – Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.

My thoughts

In this story about a little girl and a man with a garden sits a message about community and helping people to grow and flourish. Inspired by a true story, What Grew in Larry’s Garden is a book that shares a love of nature, problem solving and kindness.

Bright but soft illustrations bring the story to life in greens, browns and splashes of bright red watercolour.

There is much to cherish about this book. Initially it seems a simple story about a young girl who enjoys gardening with her older neighbour. I love the cross-generational friendship and the way the pair work together to creatively and kindly solve the problems they come across in their garden from bugs to squirrels. The tomato plants they grow together have a big future, though, and that’s where the true story comes into the book. Larry is a teacher and he grows tomato plants to share with his students. He then shares with Grace the letters they write to others as they give their tomato plants away. From overcoming broken friendships, sharing small acts of kindness, or giving thanks for service. The author shares a note at the back of the book explaining the inspiration of the book and how Larry’s work with his students and the giving away of tomato plants helped to grow a community and possibility within those students.

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Book Review: Love From the Crayons

Love From The Crayons – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (ill.) – Penguin Workshop – Published 24 December 2019

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Synopsis

Love is yellow and orange. Because love is sunny and warm. Love is purple. Because it’s okay to love outside the lines.

My thoughts

From the creators of The Day The Crayons Quit and The Day The Crayons Came Home, comes a new title that features the same band of loveable crayons with a simple story about love.

Love From The Crayons is not as detailed or complex a story as the first two books. Rather, it is a simple book, with one or two lines of text per page that follows the same pattern “Love is brown…because sometimes love stinks”, starring the ironic crayons and matching crayon drawings.

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Book Review: If I Built A School

If I Built A School – Chris Van Dusen – If I Built #3 – Dial Books – Published 13 August 2019

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Synopsis

If Jack built a school, there would be hover desks and pop-up textbooks, skydiving wind tunnels and a trampoline basketball court in the gym, a robo-chef to serve lunch in the cafeteria, field trips to Mars, and a whole lot more. The inventive boy who described his ideal car and house in previous books is dreaming even bigger this time.

My thoughts

If I Built A School is Chris Van Dusen’s third If I Built… picture book. Brilliantly coloured spreads full of wonderful imaginings provide the perfect leaping off point to spark children’s own creativity. If I Built A School is more like If I Built a fun park. From glass tube travel ports and spaceships to holograms and water slides, Jack’s school design is wild and heaps of fun.

While the inclusions in Jack’s school are perhaps not exactly surprising, it is the leap of creativity and the passing of design over to the child that I really like. As Jack tours his teacher around the school, introducing her to his plans and reasoning behind them, even sometimes admitting that he doesn’t yet have all the details on how something might actually work, it is the creativity that is passed into his hands and his teacher’s looks of wonder that I most appreciate (especially her considered look at the existing brick school box at the close of the book).

There is so much that one could do with children after reading this book. Having children design their own school is just one simple activity. Working with DIY holograms is an easy tech-related activity, while in-depth discussion, for example, about Jack’s decision to have animals sequestered into small enclosures just inside the entrance of his school could spark much-needed conversation about the relationship between animals and humans.

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Book Review: Leaf

Leaf – Sandra Dieckmann – Flying Eye Books – Published 3 October 2017

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Synopsis

When a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, the animals fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous—and his habit of collecting leaves only adds to their distrust. Then one day, they watch as he attempts to fly over the water with wings made of colorful leaves, just trying to go home.

Maybe he needs some help?

My thoughts

Is it just me or are pictures books becoming more and more beautiful these days. I’ve noticed it with a lot of the books we have coming into the library, and now this book, Leaf, is absolutely, strikingly gorgeous. And not just the illustrations but the story and message, too.

Set in the wild wood, the animals who call this rugged land their home are surprised and a little wary when a new animal arrives. He is big, white, and has lots of teeth. But stranger still is his habit of collecting leaves. So they name him Leaf. But as the animals watch Leaf they finally become brave enough to ask him his story.

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