Picture Book Reviews: Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess & Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation
Two picture books totally perfect for summer (and holiday!) time on the review docket today, courtesy of my friends at Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada! Read on for my thoughts on Janet Hill’s Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess and Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation from Ted Staunton and Mika Song. Happy reading!
You may recognize the work of author and illustrator (and esteemed Canadian artist) Janet Hill from her latest picture book title published this year, Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess or from her glorious cards and prints. Hill’s picture book debut though, is the title on review today: the beautiful and wonderfully fanciful Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess. Flame-haired and elegant Miss Wilhemina Moon lives off the coast of France with “her French bulldog, Petunia, and her monkey, Mitford”, and takes care of sixty-seven dogs of all kinds. In this dreamy picture book “volume”, Miss Moon “wishes to share her knowledge” of what she has deemed to be “twenty most important lessons for raising happy, healthy, well-mannered pooches- and people”. Here is a sample of just a few of the lessons that Miss Moon shared with her readers: to “make the most of any weather”; to “respect the property of others”; and that “a good book will chase away the dark”. For every succinct lesson, there is an accompanying page of illustration (always featuring Miss Moon and an assortment of canine friends) exemplifying or highlighting the lesson at hand. While some of the points that Miss Moon makes are perhaps of the more sensible and/or tried-and-true variety, there are a number which are slightly unusual if not much welcome in their off-the-cuff nature. Hill’s oil on canvas artwork (which is truly exceptional and singular) needs to be seen and pored over- the level of detailing on the dogs, the backgrounds, and on the expressions of Miss Moon and her pups is amazing. The lighthearted instructional presentation in tandem with Hill’s marvelous artwork make Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess a simultaneously eccentric, sophisticated and utterly charming read. Note: Be sure to check out the “Class Photo” at the end of the book! You can spot Hill’s own dog, Finnegan Elliot Woodward, in the mix!
On Monday of vacation it rained. Harry and his sister Clare stayed in and went to Mars. Mars looked a lot like the the family room, except for the volcanoes. Harry carried the luggage. Clare, being older, carried the snacks.
Acclaimed Canadian author Ted Staunton (Who I’m Not, Jump Cut) and illustrator Mika Song (A Friend for Henry with author Jenn Bailey) team up for the delightful, funny and imaginative Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation. Harry and his older sister Clare are staying at home for vacation and while it might be considered less-than-exciting staying around your home rather than out traveling via plane or train to a new destination, Harry and Clare prove that there is almost too much excitement and danger- and good snacks- to be had during a staycation. On their first day of staycation, Harry and Clare go to Mars, and it’s quite a journey, but unfortunately, Harry is in charge of carrying the suitcases misses out on snacks. On Tuesday, a trip to the supermarket leads to a racing car rally that unfortunately, once again, leads to Harry missing out on snacks. It seems that Harry keeps missing out on snacks while his big sister Clare makes up the rules of their games! So what is Harry to do? As Harry considers some plans and ideas, he decides to tuck away some snacks and manages to hang onto his shiny idea until an opportune moment arises. Well…actually, Harry and Clare are riding on “Kimono dragons” while “looking for a sunken ship guarded by a monster octopus”, but don’t worry, it really is an opportune moment! So, will the week of Harry and Clare’s staycation end in a blowout over snacks? Or will Harry finally get to share his great big new idea and lead the way? A fabulous and riotous read (with super storytelling from Staunton matched by bright and fantastical art from Song) that sings to the awesome power in children’s imaginative play, Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation is a terrifically fun and playful story.