Two more perfect-for-the-season picture books on the review docket today! First up, I will be taking a look at Sara O’Leary and Qin Leng’s glorious A Kid is a Kid is a Kid, thanks to friends at Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press; and secondly, I’ll be talking about the fantastic What Does Little Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari, thanks to lovely folks at Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada. Happy reading to you all!
“Being the new kid is hard. I can think of better things than if I’m a boy or girl. ‘What a question!’”. The Canadian team of author Sara O’Leary and illustrator Qin Leng previously collaborated on the acclaimed and much-loved picture book A Family is a Family is a Family; the duo have now returned with a follow-up title called A Kid is a Kid is a Kid. If you have had the joy of reading the superb A Family is a Family is a Family you might be wondering if a follow up could possibly match the beauty of the predecessor. Well, readers are definitely in luck as A Kid is a Kid is a Kid is exquisite! The story opens up on a young child walking into a school yard, being pointed at and asked whether they are a boy or girl. The child exclaims “What a question!” and lets us know how there are just so many different questions they could be asked! With each spread that follows, our young protagonist is joined by fellow children on the playground, sharing the questions they have been asked and they questions they WISH they’d be asked instead. The questions and insights from the children are a blend of profound and witty- questions and answers that proffer things to consider and think about (I don’t want to spoil any here!). The pairing of O’Leary’s gift of capturing kids’ thoughts and voices with Leng’s thoughtfully expressive and bustling illustrations makes for something gorgeous. Just right for back-to-school/distance learning (or for anytime, honestly!), O’Leary and Leng’s latest picture book collaboration is exemplary: as wise and insightful it is a lovely spark of energy and humour- and whether shared in classrooms, experienced as solo reading, or as a nighttime read aloud- A Kid is a Kid is a Kid is simply not-to-be-missed.
Written, illustrated and hand-lettered by Eva Montanari, What Does Little Crocodile Say? stars a young crocodile as they and their grown-up as they get ready for their first day of preschool- and all the ups and downs that follow. Instead of featuring a narrated or first-person story, which might be more typical of a starting-school book, however, what makes Montanari’s picture book unique is the text features noises and sounds! From the opening of the “alarm clock goes ring ring. The tickle goes tee-hee. The water goes splash. The zipper goes zzzt.”, What Does Little Crocodile Say? is all about the different noises that Little Crocodile hears and encounters when waking up, on their way to preschool, and throughout the day in class. There are a few key moments that turn the story around to ask “and what does Little Crocodile say?”, and the results are simultaneously so affecting and sweet. A bright and softly tender picture book that so wonderfully captures the emotional highs and lows- the excitement, wonder, tears, sadness, sleepiness, and happiness- of a first day of preschool, What Does Little Crocodile Say? is terrific and out-of-the-ordinary getting-ready-for-school reading. Eva Montanari’s chalk pastel and coloured pencil illustrations are eye-catching and meaningful, modern and warm- all of the illustrative spreads are fantastic, but the ones featuring the young ones at preschool, and big crocodile and little crocodile at drop-off and pick-up are particularly wonderful and heartfelt. A picture book just about tailor-made for storytime and reading aloud (just think of all the fun audience-participation with the sounds!), What Does Little Crocodile Say? is recommended reading.
I received a copy of A Kid is a Kid is a Kid courtesy of Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press and What Does Little Crocodile Say? courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.