Picture Book Review: Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros & Brianne Farley

Review: Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros, illus. Brianne Farley
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: March 14, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Book Description:

Charlotte is a serious scientist. She solves important problems by following the scientific method. She has all the right equipment: protective glasses, a lab coat, a clipboard, and a magnifying glass. What she doesn’t have is space. She has so many brothers and sisters (she is a rabbit, after all) that she is too squished to work on her experiments! Can she use science to solve her problem? This funny, satisfying story is a playful introduction to the scientific method and perfect for sparking an interest in STEM subjects.

Joining the wonderful, growing stream of science-leaning picture books, Camille Andros and Brianne Farley’s Charlotte the Scientist is Squished is a beautifully illustrated, utterly delightful story that comfortably and easily introduces the scientific method to children- with an adorable story to boot.

You might be wondering how a picture book can all of those things, and I think it comes down to how debut author Andros approaches the story, and how Secret Tree Fort illustrator Farley captures the spirit of the story. The story is set-up with readers being introduced to scientist Charlotte and her big problem: she is squished and unable to properly conduct her science experiments. Her rabbit family is so large and her siblings are making things very difficult for her. So, Charlotte approaches her problem of being squished with the five steps of the scientific method. Andros, with Farley’s delicious illustrations, outlines the five steps- from question, hypothesis, experiment, observation, conclusion- in a comfortable, understandable fashion, that works beautifully due to Andros’ natural storytelling style. Readers get to go along a journey with Charlotte as she experiments with everything from trying to make herself invisible to commandeering her carrot-like rocket ship to space.

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished eases along into a satisfying, well-deserved ending for both Charlotte and her family, all the while maintaining a nice balance between the sweet storytelling side and the science side of things. I think this could make for a great read aloud for a preschool and up age group; older children might be more curious in the science leanings and have their interest piqued by Charlotte’s scientific approach, while a younger audience might especially adore the delightful, bright illustrations and happy ending. Overall, a lovely, fun, educational read that promises and delivers on storytelling, illustrations and a unique angle.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

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Picture Book Reviews: Liz Wong’s Quackers & Brianne Farley’s Secret Tree Fort

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Cheers to more terrific picture book discoveries!

Quackers by Liz Wong
Source: Hardcover
Publication: March 22, 2016 by Knopf
Verdict: Very Good
Book Description:

Quackers is a duck. Sure, he may have paws and whiskers. And his quacks might sound more like…well, meows, but he lives among ducks, everyone he knows is a duck, and he’s happy.

Then Quackers meets another duck who looks like him (& talks like him, too!)—but he calls himself a cat. So silly!

Quackers loves being among his new friends the cats, but he also misses his duck friends, and so he finds a way to combine the best of both worlds. Part cat, part duck, all Quackers!

 

A gentle and funny story about an adorable orange cat named Quackers who believes he is a duck, Liz Wong’s debut is solidly loveable all around.

With speech bubble style text, (think of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie series or Bob Shea’s Ballet Cat series), Quackers makes for a great read aloud amongst a pair or group- but of course will entertain as a quiet read. Quackers has overarching themes about belonging and acceptance of difference- themes you regularly see in picture books- and I really appreciate that Wong presents it in a refreshingly unassuming and fun way. Quackers is a solid pick for readers who love stories about finding family, what home is, making friends, and, of course, readers who adore cats!

Side note/personal back story here: I have had the pleasure of reading Liz Wong’s clever and charming picture book debut Quackers aloud at a preschool storytime: it went over wonderfully, and one child commented that it was not only funny but also cute, and would I please bring it for my next storytime? WIN.

 

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Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
Source: Hardcover
Publication: April 12th 2016 by Candlewick Press
Verdict: Very Good/Excellent
Book Description:

I have a secret tree fort, and YOU’RE NOT INVITED!

When two sisters are ushered outside to play, one sits under a tree with a book while the other regales her with descriptions of a cool fort in a tree that grows ever more fantastical in the telling. What will it take to get the older sister to look up? The promise of a water-balloon launcher in case of attack? A trapdoor to stargaze through? A crow’s nest from which to see how many whales pass by or to watch for pirates? Or the best part of all, which can’t be revealed, because it’s a secret?

 

A gorgeous picture book about the magic of imagination and a relationship between two sisters Brianne Farley’s sophomore picture book is a stunner. With exciting and vibrant illustrations that accompany the younger sister’s increasingly larger-than-life tales about the incredible happenings in her secret tree fort, I found so much to love in this one. Secret Tree Fort could make for a fun read aloud option to a slightly older preschool crowd, or perfectly enjoyed and savoured as a quiet read on one’s own or shared with another.

Readers who like picture books along the lines of Nicola O’Byrne’s Use Your Imagination, Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed Up Story, Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s Open This Little Book or the illustrative work of Kelly Light, Aaron Becker, or Pamela Zagarenski might especially love this. I must confess that I have not yet read Farley’s debut, Ike’s Incredible Ink, and I will have to rectify this soon! I really look forward to see what the author/illustrator publishes next!