Mar 17, 2015

A Gumbo of Goodies...

In the nearly four-week lull since I last posted here, I've read quite a few picture books, each of which deserved enough attention for its own post. Since I haven't managed to find the time for that, despite my best intentions, I decided to share a patchwork of reflections in a single post.

(Don't bother looking for a central theme or brilliant concluding comment. Just know that  I wouldn't be pushing the pause button on my life to post these titles if they weren't worth your attention. Come on, folks, if I can make time to share these with you, you can find the time to check them out, right? And the sooner the better!)

So, here goes, in no particular order, rhyme, or reason...

Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. 
Stereotyping and gender expectations result in bullying and changing a happy, school-loving kid into one with school avoidance and stomach aches. 
This is a strong story that emphasizes the sensory/creative impulses of a very young boy rather than gender identity. When Becky snipped, "Boys don't wear dresses," Morris confidently replies "This boy does." It's really about an unconventional thinker in a a rigidly conforming culture. This will pair well with Fleischman's WESLANDIA for older readers.

Wolfie the Bunny, by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHoro.
The synopsis on Goodreads says:
"Families of all kinds will delight in this sweet tale of new babies, sibling rivalry, bravery, unconditional love...and veggies!
The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day?"
I looked forward to reading this, but I'll admit I'd made some predictions about how the story would play out, based on the many and glowing reviews I read before its release. Once I was able to get my hands on a copy and read it for myself (several times through) I was delighted to find it held surprises of the happiest kind. It is going to delight young readers/listeners, and the adults who read t them as well. What's more, it serves as a shining example to would-be writers of the very best that picture books have to offer. 
What may seem like a simplistic or predictable premise instead plays out on multiple levels of meaning and JUST PLAIN FUN!!

Right in step with "JUST PLAIN FUN" comes 
I'm My Own Dog, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stone. 
Goodreads offer this synopsis:
"Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion."

I say it's outright entertaining, but also a master class in irony/word play, voice, point-of-view, subtext, and characterization. Kids will love it, and so will everyone else.

So, that's it for now, but I'll continue reading and making notes and return with more, sooner rather than later. That's a promise.

Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.