Hello readers! Two absolutely lovely children’s books on the review docket today, courtesy of the kind folks at Raincoast Books. I will be talking about the picture book Shy Willow by Cat Min, as well as the early chapter book Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes. Happy reading!
The picture book debut by author-illustrator (and animator!) Cat Min, Shy Willow is a gorgeous story about a one very shy rabbit and her very brave and poignant adventure. Willow the rabbit lives in an out-of-use mailbox, much preferring the close, cozy quiet of her tiny home- away from the noise and potential dangers of the outside. While it seems that everyone knows her mailbox is no longer active, “a blue envelope” happens to fly and float into the mail slot of her home one day. Upon opening the letter, Willow discovers a thoughtful and sweet letter written by a child named Theo, addressed to the moon and asking for a bright and special favour for someone’s birthday. But…is there anything that Willow can do to help? As much as she wishes to help out, Willow knows that she has always been much too shy and nervous to take big leaps or travel far…it’s surely impossible…isn’t it? But as Willow gathers her courage and forms a plan, letter in hand, she takes the bravest of brave steps to try and best fulfill Theo’s wishes. A sensitively told adventure takes readers along with Willow as she jumps, climbs, and even flies her way to a perfect ending- for herself and for Theo. A standout picture book that is remarkable in its luminous, gleaming multi-media illustrations, Shy Willow is a richly detailed, tranquil tale, taking on a big subject like shyness and presenting its main character’s journey in an otherworldly yet hopeful and connective way. Readers who have enjoyed picture books by authors and illustrators and creators such as the Fan Brothers, Brendan Wenzel, Julie Fogliano, Julie Morstad, or titles such as In A Jar, Swashby and the Sea, or Outside In, might be particularly captivated by Cat Min’s moving and stunningly illustrated tale.
The third entry in the immensely adorable and kindhearted Charlie & Mouse series by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes, Charlie & Mouse Even Better focuses four short tales on the tufty-haired young siblings as they prepare for their mom’s birthday. Starting with a culinary adventure involving pancakes, Charlie (with Mouse’s shouting encouragement to his mom!) tests his mom’s patience and pancake finesse with increasingly tricky shapes to make. Mouse and Charlie, along with their dad, then take a turn at gift selection (tape!), wrapping (more tape!), and decorating (be careful!), all of which culminates in some smoke, a diversion, and a surprise for mom. Moments of genuine laughs await readers, along with giggles and sweetness (with Charlie and Mouse so perfectly captured in the artwork). Author Laurel Snyder and illustrator Emily Hughes have captured something pretty special in this series; a kind of Frog & Toad-like magic in its bantering, sincere characters, in its moments of surprise, of laughter, and profound discoveries. Readers who are fans of this series can already enjoy book four in the series- Charlie & Mouse Outdoors– which was published in 2020. Fans of early chapter books or readers by authors such as Tina Kügler, Juana Medina, Mo Willems, or Salina Yoon might especially enjoy this wonderfully written and joyfully illustrated series.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Shy Willow is set to publish on February 16, 2021 by Levine Querido. Charlie & Mouse Even Better has been published and is currently available.