On a streak of picture book review posts lately! I truly cannot help it as I have been the very lucky recipient of so many terrific picture books that need talking about! Thanks to kind friends at Raincoast Books, I have quite a roster of FIVE awesome titles to talk about today: two books featuring discoveries and dinosaur bones, two ‘how to’ guides on very different, fascinating topics, and last but not least, a picture book called No Reading Allowed: The WORST Read-Aloud Book Ever*. Are you curious?!? This should be fun! I hope you read on and enjoy!
Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns is a non-fiction title that details the highlights and discoveries of Briton Mary Anning, one of the greatest and most influential scientists. Opening on a young Mary Anning as she searches for “curiosities” on the beach at Lyme Regis, England, readers then follow Mary as she patiently, determinedly, carefully unearths the complete bones of what will later be coined an Ichthyosaurus– a “fish lizard”. A groundbreaking, science-shifting discovery that is only the start of what Mary Anning accomplishes in her life. Subject matter such as sexism and the patriarchal history of scientific study are all touched upon, though the focus of Dinosaur Lady remains upon Mary Anning’s history-changing discoveries. Complete with back matter including “Bone Bits and Fossil Facts” and a “Mary Anning Timeline”, Linda Skeers and Marta Álvarez Miguéns’s book is all-around excellent (engrossing storytelling and beautiful, bold illustrations)- as well as deeply enlightening. It is also book that may well encourage readers to find even more non-fiction or biographical picture books about women in science. For slightly older readers who would like to read even more, pair Dinosaur Lady with the terrific Mary Anning’s Curiosity written by Monica Kulling, illustrated Melissa Castrillón, for a deeper look into the incredible life of Mary Anning. Written by Hollie Hughes and illustrated Sarah Massini, the softly magical and dreamy The Girl and the Dinosaur is an unusual and sweet rhyming tale, starring a young girl named Marianne who pieces together the bones of a dinosaur and wishes for the “stony bones” of her “beastie” to “come to life”. In her town by the sea, onlookers have watched a “patient” and “clever” Marianne put together the skeleton of a dinosaur at the beach, whilst expressing concerns that Marianne “needs to find some friends…and let those old bones be”. But as night falls, Marianne’s wishes come true and she finds herself along for an incredible adventure along with Bony, her dinosaur, and other fantastical “creatures long forgot”. In a lovely turn towards the book’s end, more nighttime glamour and an island of dreams brings Marianne together with new friends as imaginative and believing in magic as she is. A beautiful and inventive story, perfect for captivating and lulling bedtime reading!
What happens when group of boys- decked out as pirates and aloft in their pirate fort- shout down to a girl named CeCe that she cannot be a pirate? In How to Be a Pirate, author Isaac Fitzgerald and illustrator Brigette Barrager follow (an understandably annoyed and letdown) CeCe as she visits her grandpa about talks about what it takes to become a pirate. CeCe’s grandpa seems to know all about pirates: he has a ship, lots and lot of seaworthy decorations, as well as tattoos that all tell a story. As CeCe lets Grandpa in on what happened with the neighbourhood kids, readers are brought into an awesomely lively and bright dive (or two) as Grandpa shares some of his adventures and traits required of a pirate. Independence, fun, and bravery, along with other key factors, are all part of this fast-paced and fantastically illustrated story starring CeCe and her grandpa (as well as an adorable dog along for some very cool imagined escapades). (Also: the brilliant Roxane Gay has given How to Be a Pirate five out of five stars over on Goodreads if you’re still thinking about it!). Author Kate Messner and illustrator Mark Siegel- what a prolific duo!- are back together again after How to Read a Story to bring readers How to Write a Story. In ten clearly outlined steps (and a few concise notes), accompanied by Siegel’s eye-catching and imaginative artwork, young aspiring writers are given a straightforward breakdown of how they can become a storyteller. The process of writing a story, even thinking about writing a story, can seem overwhelming and maybe even out-of-reach, but with Messner’s fantastically encouraging, practical guide- brought to action so vividly by Siegel’s clean-lined artwork- How to Write a Story makes the process seem totally possible- and exciting.
If you ever had the chance to read the very funny and wacky P Is for Pterodactyl, then you are in for a treat because here is another concoction by the same authors! Authors Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, now teamed up with illustrator Bryce Gladfelter, bring readers another zany and playful look at the English language with No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever* (*A confusing collection of hilarious homonyms and sound-alike sentences). If a boisterous adventure through homophones and homonyms, as well as a look at how punctuation can change so much about a sentence or phrase- WORDPLAY!- tickles you, this is definitely a picture book to check out. From comparing the “pool queue” to the “pool cue” or what “raining cats and dogs” versus “reigning cats and dogs” means, to longer and tricker compare/contrast sentences to pore over, No Reading Allowed has it covered. As with P Is for Pterodactyl, No Reading Allowed is goofy while genuinely offering learning and discoveries along the way. Readers who love picture books by authors/illustrators such as Cece Bell, Keith Baker, Sophie Corrigan or Adam Rex might especially delight in this book.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.