Picture Book Reviews: Liz Wong’s Quackers & Brianne Farley’s Secret Tree Fort
Cheers to more terrific picture book discoveries!
Quackers by Liz Wong
Publication: March 22, 2016 by Knopf
Verdict: Very Good
Quackers is a duck. Sure, he may have paws and whiskers. And his quacks might sound more like…well, meows, but he lives among ducks, everyone he knows is a duck, and he’s happy.
Then Quackers meets another duck who looks like him (& talks like him, too!)—but he calls himself a cat. So silly!
Quackers loves being among his new friends the cats, but he also misses his duck friends, and so he finds a way to combine the best of both worlds. Part cat, part duck, all Quackers!
A gentle and funny story about an adorable orange cat named Quackers who believes he is a duck, Liz Wong’s debut is solidly loveable all around.
With speech bubble style text, (think of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie series or Bob Shea’s Ballet Cat series), Quackers makes for a great read aloud amongst a pair or group- but of course will entertain as a quiet read. Quackers has overarching themes about belonging and acceptance of difference- themes you regularly see in picture books- and I really appreciate that Wong presents it in a refreshingly unassuming and fun way. Quackers is a solid pick for readers who love stories about finding family, what home is, making friends, and, of course, readers who adore cats!
Side note/personal back story here: I have had the pleasure of reading Liz Wong’s clever and charming picture book debut Quackers aloud at a preschool storytime: it went over wonderfully, and one child commented that it was not only funny but also cute, and would I please bring it for my next storytime? WIN.
Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
Publication: April 12th 2016 by Candlewick Press
Verdict: Very Good/Excellent
I have a secret tree fort, and YOU’RE NOT INVITED!
When two sisters are ushered outside to play, one sits under a tree with a book while the other regales her with descriptions of a cool fort in a tree that grows ever more fantastical in the telling. What will it take to get the older sister to look up? The promise of a water-balloon launcher in case of attack? A trapdoor to stargaze through? A crow’s nest from which to see how many whales pass by or to watch for pirates? Or the best part of all, which can’t be revealed, because it’s a secret?
A gorgeous picture book about the magic of imagination and a relationship between two sisters Brianne Farley’s sophomore picture book is a stunner. With exciting and vibrant illustrations that accompany the younger sister’s increasingly larger-than-life tales about the incredible happenings in her secret tree fort, I found so much to love in this one. Secret Tree Fort could make for a fun read aloud option to a slightly older preschool crowd, or perfectly enjoyed and savoured as a quiet read on one’s own or shared with another.
Readers who like picture books along the lines of Nicola O’Byrne’s Use Your Imagination, Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed Up Story, Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s Open This Little Book or the illustrative work of Kelly Light, Aaron Becker, or Pamela Zagarenski might especially love this. I must confess that I have not yet read Farley’s debut, Ike’s Incredible Ink, and I will have to rectify this soon! I really look forward to see what the author/illustrator publishes next!