Picture Book Reviews: Not Your Nest! & Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish
I love it when I am (metaphorically) tickled by a book: when that perfect blend of bonkers humour, charming storytelling and illustration meet and *TA-DAH* you are tickled to your funny bone! This was recently the case with the two wonderful and FUN picture books on review today, courtesy of the lovely folks at Penguin Random House Canada: Not Your Nest! by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, and Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish, According to Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld.
“This is my nest. I designed it. I searched for its sticks. I hope it will be as comfy as planned. All this work has made me sleepy. Just one last piece and…”
Let’s start with Gideon Sterer and Andrea Tsurumi‘s Not Your Nest!. Take a look at the cover and you see a zebra sitting in a nest as a little yellow bird looks on in surprise…it sure seems like something is not quite right! In Not Your Nest!, readers are taken along a busy, sometimes dramatic journey with hardworking Bird as her terrifically put-together nests keep getting taken over- stolen, actually!- from under her beak. As an increasingly tired Bird has to deal with a plethora of animals (from the cute to the potentially dangerous to the frustratingly selfish) taking over her beautifully made nests, we wonder how Bird will manage it all. In a surprising move (that also cleverly illustrates the pull of symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom), Bird startles the animals while paving the way for repair(s) to be made. Told entirely in speech bubbles, Gideon Sterer’s writing is witty, quick-moving, and gives room to big, unexpected moments; Andrea Tsurumi’s illustrations eye-catching, bright, finely detailed pencil work is perfect here as a match to the fast clip of dialogue! Tsurumi’s picture books have been featured here before (Accident, Crab Cake), and the author-illustrator has quickly risen to my must-read list. Reminding me in spirit of Daniel Miyares’ Bring Me a Rock! and Travis Foster and Ethan Long’s Give Me Back My Book, Not Your Nest! is a very funny and fresh story about sharing and industriousness. Readers who enjoy the sometimes subversive and always clever stories by authors such as Ame Dyckman, Ariel Bernstein, Jan Thomas, Mo Willems, or Ryan T. Higgins, might especially delight in the zaniness and fantastic ending of Not Your Nest!.
“There are, there most definitely are, 10 very specific, tried and true, and absolutely essential Rules For The Making of the Birthday Wish.”
Up next is Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish According to Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. You may recognize Beth Ferry as the children’s author behind titles such as Land Shark and Stick and Stone (also with Tom Lichtenheld!); while Tom Lichtenheld is an author-illustrator behind popular titles such as Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (written by Sherri Duskey Rinker), and I Wish You More (written by Amy Krouse Rosental). In Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish, readers are taken through the ten specific rules, with each of the rules containing important side notes and some major caveats that are essential to making a perfect birthday wish. Readers may be delighted to find that they have been following some if not all of the rules; but perhaps the most surprising and giggle-inducing component of the rules are the notes, digressions and accompanying illustrations. For example, if you are a pufferfish celebrating a birthday, you cannot follow rule number seven of taking a deep breath because, well, “then you will puff out and all your guests will be concerned”! Overall, what a wonderful treat of a picture book this is; laugh out loud funny and super charming. Lichtenheld’s immediately recognizable art style is, as ever, appealingly bold and exuberant, matching Ferry’s wonderfully smooth, supremely engaging and energetic storytelling. Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish is a fun, easy-to-enjoy ride, making it a good read aloud pick for smaller storytime or school groups (probably late preschool, or Kindergarten and up). Readers who are looking for and/or simply love a great book about birthdays or parties, or stories along the lines of When’s My Birthday?, Hooray for Hat!, Xander’s Panda Party, or A Piece of Cake, Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish is a splendidly funny, sweet and witty story- for birthday time, for any time…and for any age!
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.