Picture Book Reviews: The Big House and the Little House & Let’s Get Sleepy!

Let’s dive into some lovely picture books! Courtesy of friends at Raincoast Books, I have two wonderful picture books on the review docket today! We’ll be taking a look at: The Big House and the Little House by Yoshi Ueno and Emiko Fujishima and Let’s Get Sleepy! by Tony Cliff. Happy reading, everyone!

A tender hearted story with an idiosyncratic and serene style, The Big House and the Little House by Yoshi Ueno, with pictures by Emiko Fujishima, is a tale of friendship, caring, and courage. Let’s begin with the opening: “On a gentle slope rose a long, long road. At one end was a little house, standing all alone. At the other end of the road was a big house, surrounded by trees”. The sole occupant of the little house by the river is Little Mouse, while Big Bear is the sole occupants of the big house by the lush trees. The two have “never met” as they each walk “the opposite way” “every morning”. Little Mouse has their days full of work at a bakery; Big Bear works “alone in the forest”; and each wonders what it might be like to meet someone…and maybe make a friend. While wandering alone and admitting aloud to their loneliness one Sunday, the two finally bump into one another, cheeks a bit pink! After making a happy plans to meet the following Sunday, Little Mouse and Big Bear look forward to seeing each other- only to have a terrible rain storm interrupt their plans! As Big Bear’s worries about his friend grow and grow, a significant decision is made, leading to a well-deserved, lovely, felicitous ending. A sweet tale on a much-explored picture book topic, The Big House and the Little House is a genuine embrace of a book, elevated by simple, effortless storytelling and dreamy illustrations. Fans of picture books by authors and/or illustrators such as Sarah Jacoby, Akiko Miyakoshi, Kaya Doi or Stephanie Graegin might especially love The Big House and the Little House. Note: This title was originally published in Japan in 2012 as Ôkii Ouchi to Chîsai Ouchi. This 2021 edition has been translated by Japan Foreign-Rights Centre with Arthur Levine.

Author and illustrator Tony Cliff (Delilah Dirk graphic novel series) turns to picture books with the playful and wonderfully illustrated Let’s Get Sleepy!. A feline-centred tale with an added element of seek-and-find, Let’s Get Sleepy! follows a gaggle of adorable kittens as they chase high and low through adventurous and fantastical worlds to find an elusive mouse named Sleepy- “the Prince of the Night… master of Dreams, and the King of Moonlight“. Starting from their “neighborhood block”, the troupe of kittens “search..and seek and ask friends that [they] meet” in various locations (A parade! A beach! Slug caves and more!) if and where they might have spotted Sleepy mouse. Readers will likely delight in not only the beautiful and exciting illustrations, endearing kittens and their adventure-filled story, but also in the surprisingly sweet quest to ‘get Sleepy’ before night falls. While as with most seek-and-find stories, it might be tricky to share as a group read aloud, but there is just so much in Let’s Get Sleepy! to pore over again and again as a going-to-bed book and/or as a fun look-and-find exercise. Bonus: There are some delightful visual surprises hidden throughout the picture book, including an appearance from bear-y famous character from one of Jon Klassen’s books!

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.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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