MaryAnne Locher reviews FARMER DALE’S RED PICKUP TRUCK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $7.99, Ages 2 and up) .
Are you ready to take a ride in Farmer Dale’s Red Pickup Truck? (Author Lisa Wheeler has the reader chugging along down a country road in her rhyming board book. Wheeler’s words and Ivan Bates’ illustrations give personality to the farm animals that fill the pages and Farmer Dale’s truck. Until…
Farmer Dale’s Red Pickup Truck by Lisa Wheeler with illustrations by Ivan Bates, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014.
The truck bounced up. The springs all popped.
The bumper bumped. The pickup stopped.
With the truck broken down on the side of the road, tempers flare. Then, cow, pig, goat, sheep, rooster, and Farmer Dale, work as a team to try to figure out how to get the over-loaded truck moving again. Until…
The pickup bounced and shimmied.
It groaned and squeaked and wheezed.
It spit a thankful cloud of smoke
and started with a sneeze.
The rhyme in this book moved along perfectly, even when the pickup truck didn’t. The illustrations of the anthropomorphized animals were full of life. My favorite part of the book is the ending. Not because I want the book to be over, this is one I’ll read many times over, but because there are even more animals to see and Bates’s illustrations paint a picture worthy of another story.
Bad Bye, Good Bye written by Deborah Underwood with illustrations by Jonathan Bean, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Bad Bye, Good Bye (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, $16.99, Ages 4-8) is such a great title. Even my almost 13-year-old who hasn’t read picture books for quite some time remarked about how clever the title was and how he instantly knew what the book would be about.
Families move. It happens all the time. Moms or Dads get new jobs and whammo, it’s time to pack up, head to another city (or country as it was in our case) and start all over again. It’s never easy to move and leave behind all we know and love, but having a picture book like Bad Bye, Good Bye to share with kids when relocating can really help parents broach the topic gently and also help kids open up about their hopes and fears.
As I mentioned earlier, Bad Bye, Good Bye is such a terrific title that I’m surprised no one thought of it sooner. Having moved three times with my children because of my husband’s job, I know firsthand how unsettling and sad it can be for youngsters. If the change is hard and stressful for an adult, imagine how overwhelming it is for little ones who don’t have all the coping skills yet in place for dealing with these kinds of major life events. Underwood wastes no time in setting the scene by beginning the picture book with moving men loading a family’s belongings onto a moving van while two red-faced children cry. In fact the little boy even clings to a mover’s leg in an attempt to stop him. Everything is rotten.
Bad day, Bad box, Bad mop, Bad blocks.
What can go right for this brother and sister who do not want to leave their home and their friends? Even their car journey to their new home is filled with anxiety. The sparse rhyming text manages to convey the reluctance of the kids even as the artwork begins to show more positive parts of moving.
As the jacket flap copy reads: “Bad Bye, Good Bye is perfect for moving day or any of life’s tough transitions.” What parents can do is have this book on hand to read when there are no big moves planned so children can see that not all aspects of a move or a change are sad. For example, one of the two child characters in the story meets a neighborhood boy he spies from upstairs while he’s checking out his new bedroom and soon they’re watching fireflies light up the night together.
New kid, Good throw, New Bugs, Good glow.
Bean’s illustrations work beautifully with the text. His paintings combine both the deep darker colors of the mood everyone is feeling as well as less prominent sketches on the same page to indicate movement and progression of time. I cannot picture this book with anything but these illustrations because they’re so full of the emotion and local color that Underwood’s story has set up so well. As someone who has experienced the sadness and apprehension of moving multiple times with my young children, I would not hesitate to recommend reading Bad Bye, Good Bye as a way tomake any move or change acceptable and perhaps even looked forward to!
And for a bonus – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s provided a page of moving tips for families you can find by clicking here.
“I work in the magic industry. I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty glamorous: a life of spells, potions, and whispered enchantments…if only. No, magic these days is simply useful…” –Jennifer Strange
The second in the Last of the Dragonslayer series finds us once again at Kazam, an employment agency/living quarters for wizards. Our hero, Jennifer, is once again back home at Kazam, filling in for the mysteriously missing Great Zambini. Her job is to find employment for the strange, but strangely loveable group of wizards under her care. At sixteen, she’s more than competent at dealing with wizards in the fictional setting of the “Ununited Kingdom” who need work, but are not all that well acquainted with a watch. She finds them jobs, but not in “Big Magic” as it was called in the good old days. Although in the last book there was a surge of magic, since then magic or “crackle” as it is referred to in the book is again in short supply. A real energy crisis is taking place, and wizards have been reduced to using magic for very prosaic reasons. Finding jobs for wizards in pizza delivery, bridge building, finding lost things, and so on are what fill Jennifer’s day. Then there is always the official government paper work to fill out after each use of magic. Practical Jennifer and her replacement-in-training, Tiger, are back at Kazam after a particular incident that involved a Dragon, a Quarkbeast, and really, you should read the first book, The Last of the Dragonslayers for more on that adventure! It was a great read!
While life at Kazam is seeming a bit humdrum, suddenly a mysterious woman appears with an offer of a great deal of money in return for a favor. She’s looking for a ring, and not just any ring, but one that doesn’t want to be found. Full of negative magic, the ring resists those who would pursue it, but Lady Mawgon, one of the better and scarier wizards at Kazam, insists on finding it. Kazam is in needs of funds, and no one at Kazam can argue with that.
We Go Together!: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $9.99; ages 6 and up) is reviewed today by word lover Rita Zobayan.
Calef Brown mixes pithy diction with fantastical imagery in We Go Together!: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse. This 18 poem collection celebrates the quirks and intimacies of friendship, whether it is between boys, girls, animals, or even aliens! Fun words—scallywags, mirth makers, chorkle, concoct—are sprinkled throughout, making each poem a new adventure in language. Some poems use simple rhyme schemes that are easy for young readers to follow and read aloud.
Throughout the poems there is a kindness and hopefulness for the type of friendships we want for our children. “Because of You” captures the sentiment precisely:
I was once/a half-emptyer./Now I’m a half-fuller./Because of you—the together-puller./So if I should smile/and say something sunny,/don’t look at me funny/or act surprised./Because of you,/I’m optimized.
Simple and sweet. The sweetness of the poems is matched by the artistry of the illustrations. In Calef’s world, green aliens take tea, a dog in a hat rings doorbells, a kiwi floats high above the cityscape, and panda faces appear in the rain. Slightly odd and intriguing, the illustrations will draw in the reader and bring the words to life.
Perfect as a gift for a good friend, We Go Together!: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse is a pint-sized package (the books measures just about 6” on each side) that packs a lot of love.
Bizzy Bear: Let’s Get to Work!by Benji Davies ($6.99, Nosy Crow, ages 1-3) and Tons of Truckswritten by Sue Fliess and illustrated Betsy Snyder ($13.99, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, ages 1-4) are reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
The world of a toddler is filled with fascination and discovery. Almost everything is viewed with new eyes. This is true for large vehicles, such as trucks and scoopers —they’re big, loud, and powerful –and a source of wonder for toddlers. The two books featured in this review provide fun, hands-on reading for toddlers to learn more about large vehicles.
Bizzy Bear: Let’s Get to Work!written by Benji Davies (Nosy Crow, 2012; $6.99) is a cute introduction to the goings-on of a construction site. We see Bizzy Bear start his work day by picking up his hard hat and then follow him as he performs different job duties. He operates a number of construction vehicles and uses hand tools, too. This 9-page board book has a kinesthetic activity on every other page that engages young readers (ideal for ages 1-3). Little fingers can help Bizzy scoop a hole and then tip out sand. Presented in a simple rhyme scheme, the text has a sing-song feel that toddlers enjoy hearing over and over again: Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, lending a hand. Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, push that sand! The illustrations are simple and charming with just enough details to keep a toddler’s attention without overwhelming the young one. Of course, a cast of animal characters adds to the fun. And, lest a parent be concerned that a girl won’t want to read about construction sites and large vehicles, rest assured that my three-year-old daughter enjoys this book immensely.
Have you ever noticed just how many different types of trucks there are? I never had, but Sue Fliess and Betsy Snyder sure have! Their book Tons of Trucks(written by Fliess and illustrated Snyder) explores the variety of trucks and the specific jobs those trucks perform. This fun read provides plenty of hands-on opportunities for young readers to lift, open, fold-out, move and turn flaps to reveal aspects of trucks. See what an army crew truck transports, help a sweep truck clean the streets, and look out for the sticky tar truck! The muted colors and whimsical representations of the trucks and their animal operators are pleasing to the eye. The text is simple and straight to the point. The opening line–Tons of trucks before our eyes, in every color, shape and size—is followed by a naming of the trucks: Milk trucks, fruit trucks, on-the-move trucks! Each page is a discovery into the world of trucks and ends with the trucks and their operators drifting off to sleep, which is an ideal angle to read this book as a bedtime story, too.