Friday, July 12, 2013

friday's five

A weekend library trip got our bookshelves and baskets all filled back up, which is lovely, yet still shocking to me to discover that I've missed so many picture books published in the last year or so. I'm trying my best this summer to rectify that situation as much as possible. I admit to always falling prey to judging a book by its cover, but with picture books, the illustrations are so key to the storytelling that I have to be drawn in by the pictures to even want to give the book a shot. I think I'll have to continue to surround myself with young children even after mine have all grown up so that I can legitimately still indulge my picture book obsession!

While I still have kids who love to be entertained by the joy that is a picture book, let me share five books that they (and I!) have enjoyed this week:

1. My Grandpa by Marta Altés -- Let's start with the heaviest one of the bunch. This book attracted me because of the simple illustrative style on the cover, and the apparent love between grandchild (non gender specific!) and grandfather. I didn't realize until I opened it up that it would touch upon the subject of aging and the challenges that often presents. I have to say, though, that this book very, very gently and not too specifically shows a grandpa who is sometimes confused, sometimes hearty, sometimes active, sometimes not, all in a language and style that can be understood at a very basic level by a young child. I appreciate that this book doesn't go into specifics, because it makes it accessible to small kids and generalizes enough to be applicable to many people's situations. I haven't actually read this one aloud to my kids, but I'm pretty sure Red has already read it on her own. I'm looking forward to reading it to them and getting their take, though they have two wonderfully able and fabulous grandfathers who don't fit this mold, thankfully!

2. Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd -- Here's definitely a case of the cover illustrations drawing me in, and how happy am I that I pulled this one off the shelf?! If you've never experienced a wordless book, please get this one in your and your child's hands right away, for this is done so well and can be enjoyed through the many, many details in the illustrations. The child (again, boy/girl isn't quite specified-- love the ambiguity!) in this book has some lovely nature-connected adventures throughout the year, always connecting the outside world to the inside space of his home, through artifacts, artwork, and even living creatures. The cutouts on each page give a little glimpse into the opposite environment-- when he's inside, you can see outside, and vice versa-- and kids always have fun watching how the illustration can mean different things on the different pages when viewed through the cutouts. I adore this book, and I look forward to Boyd's future work!

3. Building Our House by Jonathan Bean -- The kids absolutely loved this one when we read it together, and I've encouraged my hubby to read it with the kids too, since I think he'd love the whole thing what with his love for building things. If we continue to focus on the illustrations, let me say that these are just super cool-- kinda cartoony, kinda realistic, filled with little details that the kids liked tracking. (Look for the cat!) The process of building a house from scratch, with the brunt of the work done by the family members themselves makes for an interesting story, especially from a child's perspective. Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end for the real life inspiration for this book, along with photos from the construction. So cool!

4. I Dare You Not to Yawn by Élène Boudreau and illustrated by Serge Bloch -- The title alone-- how could you not pull this one off the shelf? This is just what you'd expect, and I am not lying when I say that I could not read this aloud with the kids without yawning. Multiple times. We all giggled our way through this little boy's attempts at avoiding bedtime, steering clear of all things that could make him yawn, like soft cozy pjs, bedtime stories about sleepy baby animals, and anything related to sheep. But every time that word yawn left my lips, I seriously could not stop myself from yawning, and once I did, the kids did, and we laughed even more. Quite a fun book!

5. This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers -- "Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn't always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW that it was meant to be his." So begins this delightful tale of a moose that is unknowingly beloved by many, as he just goes about his moose way. Wilfred has lots of rules for the moose, and he loves him even if he doesn't remember to follow them. Jeffers' work is so eclectic, but always carries a certain whimsy, and this one is no exception. It was only a couple years since I was first introduced to his stuff, and we've all liked every book of his that we've brought home from the library. Just a week or so ago, a book loving friend shared this super fun video with me, and I realized that I had to add another name to my picture book author/illustrator crush list. (Jeffers, meet Willems and Barnett, though something tells me you already know each other.)

Get thee - and thy kids!- to a library,