Recently Read: Great Picture Books (15)!

A look at some wonderful picture books that I have had the pleasure of reading lately! All are titles I have read and enjoyed. On this installment of Recently Read, we have a few titles that my three year old has requested multiple read alouds of including Nobody’s Duck from Mary Sullivan, which is a totally entertaining, witty and sweet story. Sullivan has authored and illustrated numerous wonderfully funny titles including Treat and Ball. Nobody’s Duck is great- visual gags and kookiness abound. My daughter, after our first read aloud said- (while giggling)- ‘That was really funny!’ Fans of Ame Dyckman, Jan Thomas and Keith Graves might like this one! Next we have Steve Antony‘s Unplugged, about an adorable robot named Blip who, after a blackout, finds herself unplugged- literally and figuratively. Unplugged is another one my daughter loves having read to her. The title is strong on the message about making sure we all unplug and be with friends, and find our own adventures away from screens- but, honestly, it is a timely point and the text is so genuine and wonderfully illustrated. Unplugged would pair nicely with Matthew Cordell‘s hello! hello!. Other great picture book picks include: Yellow Kayak, a visually arresting, melodic, rhyming title from Nina Laden with artwork by Melissa Castrillón; Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley‘s charming and heartening Vincent Comes Home; All the Animals Where I Live, by Philip C. Stead, uncommonly told and structured, but what a wondrous treat; and the utterly heartwarming and surprising The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling – another fantastic and unusual title from Timothy Basil Ering.

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Picture Book Reviews: Before I Leave & Ninja Baby

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Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley
Source: ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: February 16, 2016 by Roaring Book Press
Verdict: Very Good/Excellent

How do you say goodbye to your best friend?

When a little hedgehog’s family tells her they’re moving far away, she and her anteater best friend decide to play one last time, like nothing is changing. And though it’s hard, they discover that while some things have to change, the most important things find a way of working out.

After reading and falling in love with Jessixa Bagley’s previous picture book, the critically-acclaimed and superb debut Boats for Papa, I couldn’t wait to see/read what Bagley would do next. With the same soft touch of portraying genuine love and sadness- this time in a different capacity- Bagley’s Before I Leave is another beautiful and affecting picture book. A simple story unfolds: hedgehog’s family is moving to a new home…taking her far away from her best friend in the world. Through Zelda the hedgehog’s uncomplicated and pitch-perfect first person narrative, we see how she and best friend, anteater Aaron, face the impending move. Through Bagley’s gentle, colourful and expressive illustrations, readers get to experience how Zelda decides to spend her time before she leaves, and how Aaron helps her face some of her fears about moving.

A soft and unassuming picture book about saying goodbye, Before I Leave is a wonderful story that brims with sensitivity, the happiness of friendship, love, and finding some sunshine in clouds of sadness. Readers young and old will find much to enjoy and savor in this endearing story. Jessixa Bagley is clearly a big talent in picture books and I cannot wait to discover her future books!

 

NINJABABY24905369Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, illus. Diane Goode
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: November 3, 2015 by Chronicle Books
Verdict: Very Good

From the day she was born, Nina was a ninja baby. She obliterated her applesauce. She concealed herself at bath time. And she was training herself in advanced infiltration (of movie night). Nina wants to do everything by herself, until the day her parents bring home a Kung Fu Master (a baby brother). Now with a sibling, Nina will face the one thing she cannot do alone: be part of a family. With verve and humor, David Zeltser and Diane Goode tell the story of an unusually gifted child, and the family that is more than a match for her.

With positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, David Zeltser and Diane Goode’s Ninja Baby makes a spirited entrance into the picture book sphere. Zeltser does a solid job here in his picture book debut: in precisely restrained text and diction, his text just springs to life with accomplished illustrator Goode’s artwork. Diane Goode’s illustrations are absolutely terrific: dynamic, fluid, and with just enough detail to capture all the essential elements of the story. With such an active story and combustible main character here in Nina the ninja, it’s a testament to the skill of both author and illustrator that the story never once feels frenetic or overworked!

If you’re expecting a simple picture book just about a funny little girl who is a brilliant young martial artist, you may be in for a surprise or two. While indeed about young ninja Nina and her exceptional skills from birth, the picture book is also a story about a young child who is suddenly faced with becoming a big sister. Nina not only reacts in some unexpectedly non-ninja-like ways to being a big sister and but also feels a bit lonely…However, things change when she learns some very impressive techniques from her surprisingly skillful new brother. A fun twist at the end may have readers wondering if we may ever get to see more of Ninja Baby and Kung Fu Master baby in action! Overall, Ninja Baby is an entertaining, energetic and witty read that also offers an interesting and fresh take on welcoming a new sibling.

I received copies of Before I Leave and Ninja Baby courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Recently Read: Great Picture Books

What a run of terrific picture books as of late! I have not done a picture book round-up post in a little while, but the sheer number of absolutely wonderful titles I have read calls for some attention.

From the sublime and boundary-pushing to the heart-warming and perfect for reading aloud, here are the recently discovered picture books that I would absolutely recommend:

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Mr. Squirrel & the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett

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Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybèle Young
Nancy Knows by Cybèle Young
Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin

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Yeti and the Bird by Nadia Shireen
Tell Me What to Dream About by Giselle Potter
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

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Ask Me by Bernard Waber, illus. Suzy Lee
A Perfect Place for Ted by Leila Rudge
Migrant by Maxine Trottier, illus. Isabelle Arsenault

 

All titles listed have been released!