Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath

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Hopping Good Fun! Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny (Schwartz & Wade, trade paperback, $8.99, Ages 8-12), Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Sophie Blackall and reviewed by Hilary Taber.

Madeline has had a very rough time lately. Her hippie parents have been kidnapped! The only lead Madeline has is a note left on the refrigerator written in code. She’s also been the witness of a most amazing thing. She thinks she saw a car full of foxes, with a fox for a driver, leaving her small hometown around the time that her parents went missing. With only these leads to go on, Madeline meets Mr. and Mrs. Bunny who are just as astonished as Madeline to learn that she can understand Rabbit. Madeline, amazingly enough, understands every word Mr. and Mrs. Bunny say!

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Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! By Mrs. Bunny. Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath with illustrations by Sophie Blackall, Schwartz & Wade.

The story takes many amusing detours, and Madeline learns something wonderful about her parents. For all their annoying candle making, jewelry making, and general hippie ways, she loves them dearly. Madeline misses her parents so much that she is willing to trust two sometimes muddled, always adorable (and even occasionally correct) fedora-wearing rabbits in order to get them back.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have their own story, of course, as to why they are interested in solving crimes. One day Mrs. Bunny said to Mr. Bunny, “I think we should be detectives!” Mr. Bunny, she firmly believes, should give up his job, they should immediately go buy fedoras, and therefore be detectives. Mr. Bunny does bring up a sore point though, which is that they have no license to prove that they are, in fact, detectives. To that bit of logic Mrs. Bunny replies, “I think fedoras are enough. Anyone who sees a bunny in a fedora will not feel the need to see a license.”

At this point in the story I was more than amused. I was laughing and reading parts of it aloud to my family. Although it is extremely funny, this book delves down deeper. It seeks to answer the eternal question, “Why do I put up with my crazy family? Why do I love them so much that I would do anything for them?” while adding detective bunnies on the side. You just can’t ask much more than that from a book. There is a sequel out now titled Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-Almost Royalty, which I am looking forward to reading very much! Well done, Polly Horvath!

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Lord and Lady Bunny – Almost Royalty! By Mr. & Mrs. Bunny. Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, Schwartz & Wade, 2014.

This book would unquestionably make an adorable gift to fans of Mr. Roald Dahl’s or even Mr. Lemony Snicket’s books. Horvath is just as clever, but infinitely sweeter. Additionally, her characters are just as much fun. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-Detectives Extraordinaire! won a Parent’s Choice Gold Award, and got starred reviews from The Horn Book Review, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. As if that were not enough, there is a bonus to these books because Mrs. Bunny has her very own blog! It’s not a mystery why your children should be reading these books now, is it? No, it’s more a mystery why we aren’t all reading these books because they are so much fun! Case closed!


Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian

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Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian is reviewed today by the newest member of the GRWR team, Dornel Cerro.

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian and iIlustrated by Jeremy Holmes (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014. $17.99, Ages 4-8) is a collaboration by two accomplished and prolific children’s poets whose imagination, word crafting skills, and humor know no bounds. Lewis, author of over eighty children’s books and winner of the National Council of Teachers of English 2011 Poetry award, was the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. Florian, who has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books, won Parent Magazine Best Book of the Year award in 2003 for Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs.

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Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes, Schwartz & Wade, 2014.

The two poets have combined their prodigious writing talents to create a collection of poems about cars. Oh, I’m not talking about the boring kind we adults drive, but really wild, weird, and wacky cars. You know, the ones children would like to drive. Like “Balloon Car” (p. 20):  “My daddy drives a car that floats/an inch above the street a hundred colorful balloons/tied to a bucket seat.” Along with some luscious vocabulary (fiery, sudsy, plop, fragrant), the poets use a variety of signature techniques such as rhyme, alliteration, and word plays that tickle a child’s fancy and delight the ear:   …”I’m a battery-powered/ automobeeeeeeeeeel!” (“Electric Eel”, p. 11).  “…The cars behind our school/ Are big Tyrannosaurus wrecks …” (“Jurassic Park(ing”), p. 12).

Holmes’s digitally colored, pencil and watercolor illustrations are set against a pale background dotted with inventive, mechanical looking elements that enliven the words and increase the zaniness of the poems. Children will want to pour over the illustrations to discover all the neat objects Holmes has inserted into his illustrations.  The collection received great reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. I read this collection to my K-1 classes who laughed out loud with delight (their favorite poem was “The Banana Split Car,” of course) and found both the poems and the illustrations humorous and imaginative. Adults will enjoy sharing this with their young children (ages 4-8) and, with the intriguing selection of vocabulary and word plays, creativity, teachers will find that any poem in this collection would make a wonderful creative writing or arts and craft project.

dcParisMeet our newest reviewer, Dornel: Dornel Cerro has been a children’s librarian for 17 years and has spent the last 10 years as librarian at Sequoyah School in Pasadena.


Girls Get Stitching! & Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends

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FSS_logo_lgToday Mary Brown reviews Girls Get Stitching! by Shirley McLauchlan & Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe.

The recent surge in DIY crafts can be seen in the number of bright, attractive books that are available to aspiring crafters who want to explore new, creative endeavors. Young people (okay, girls) are encouraged to learn the basics of sewing, embroidery and related crafts – that maybe skipped their moms’ generation. We’re looking at two of these books today, both of which seek to teach tween girls how to do basic embroidery and hand sewing. They each have their own charms.

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Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch With Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe, C&T Publishing.

BE CHIC & UNIQUE! Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10-13) by Kristen Sutcliffe provides instruction for the basic skills needed to complete the fun projects that are featured. The emphasis is on hand-embroidery and hand-stitching, with some felting, leather, and glue gun action. No machine sewing is included. This book’s best attribute is its modern, spare aesthetic. It’s clear that Ms. Sutcliffe loves the look of the Anthropologie store chain; think of this book as the tween-craft harbinger of Anthropologie taste. The designs feature dainty graphics in a hipster palette. There is little variety amongst the images; if you go for the general look, you’ll like the book. If this isn’t your style, try a different C&T book. The introductory material does a good job of presenting the materials and skills that will be needed to create the projects.  The basic five embroidery stitches are fully explained in both picture and text. However, not all aspects of the projects are fully taught, and the kid creator might well get confused. For instance, the ‘Easy Wrapped Bracelet’ tells you to use needle-nose pliers to crimp the clasping hardware, but there are no illustrations or even detailed instructions to help the crafter execute the task. Depending on the age of the crafter, this might present a challenging obstacle, especially as the items in question require real manual dexterity. Some of the projects lack appeal for the target age group. The ‘Arrows Wallhanging’ is a head-scratcher – neither the task nor the finished product are tempting, and good luck finding that driftwood. There is a slight disconnect in the book, between the age and experience required to make the crafts, and the appeal of the end results for a tween girl.

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Girls Get Stitching! by Shirley McLauchlan, C&T Publishing.

GO FROM DRAB TO FAB! Girls Get Stitching! (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10 and up) by Shirley McLauchlan does a better job of wrangling the interests of the tween craftgirl. Like the previous book, this one fully describes the basic skills and materials needed to start out. However, the emphasis in this book is on cute embroidery designs to embellish items the crafter already owns. T-shirts are enhanced with a darling graphic of a fawn, utilizing both embroidery and simple applique. The design is modern and pleasing, and the tween can use a shirt she already owns. The same is true for many of the other projects in the book, like embellishing an existing pillow, hat or apron. There is also more variety amongst the graphics, along with encouragement to use one’s own imagination in creating the designs. http://youtu.be/nKM5EqCakRw While the aesthetic of Fabric Paper Thread is attractively hip, the actual instructional information of Girls Get Stitching! is more appropriate to the targeted reader. The projects are more doable, both in terms of difficulty and availability of materials. Fabric Paper Thread might be good for a self-starting tween girl who already has some crafting under her homemade belt. Girls Get Stitching! is a better choice for the tween just starting out in the crafting world. This book and a little packet of needles and embroidery floss would make an awesome springtime gift, as well as a worthwhile summer activity.