Picture Book Look: Mo and Beau by Vanya Nastanlieva

moandbeau22809122Mo and Beau by Vanya Nastanlieva
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Simply Read Books. Thank you!
Publication: February 20, 2015 by Simply Read Books
Verdict: Very Good

Book Description:

Little mouse Mo wants to play. But big bear Beau is tired, and getting ready for sleep. Luckily Mo finds the perfect way to have fun: by copying Beau! Stretching, yawning, bristling his fur–Mo copies it all, until he too is ready for a nap. Meet these two adorable characters in this perfect bedtime book.

In a recent review of Jory John’s Goodnight Already! I noted that the ‘can’t go to sleep’ theme in picture books has been done multiple times as it makes for fun storytelling. Here, in Nastanlieva’s beautiful Mo and Beau, a similarly-themed story is told in a fresh voice to great success.

The pared-down nature of the story- with just a few words per page of little Mo mimicking big sleepy Beau’s actions- really allows for the author’s wonderful illustrations to shine. What I adore each time I read through this picture book is the juxtaposition of the coarse, bristly, wild nature of Beau the bear with the lighter, fluid- almost precarious- depiction of tiny Mo the mouse. The contrast in actions of the two characters is done wonderfully here- which makes their final (adorable) sleeping pose all the sweeter. Mo is drawn with such verve and expressiveness: this little mouse, along with Mini Grey’s Hermelin, may be one of the most winsome mice I have had the pleasure of meeting in a picture book.

Overall, this is a lovely picture book. It would work well for a younger storytime audience- perhaps for a toddler one- to read aloud and have fun with acting out all of Mo’s little-big actions. It would also work, as per the book description, as a quiet-down or ‘get ready for bed’ story, if read in a gradually hushing voice. I found Nastanlieva’s illustrations endearing and am keen to go back and read her picture book debut, The New Arrival. Do take a perusal of author/illustrators Nastanlieva’s online portfolio if you can; it’s well worth the look!

Mo and Beau is published by Canadian (Vancouver-based) publishing house Simply Read Books. I have read many titles from this publisher (titles I have reviewed, titles I have come across during my years of work at the library and titles I have personally purchased), and they seem to have a wonderful knack for putting forward distinct, innovative and exceptionally illustrated titles.

*Hardcopy was provided courtesy of Simply Read Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own*

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