Must Read Monday (77): Children’s Non-Fiction & Biographical Picture Books from Jason Chin, Jeanette Winter & more!

Welcome to the first 2018 edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

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This week: all about non-fiction children’s titles and biographical picture books! Incredible looking and sounding and wonderfully reviewed and buzzed about titles here. While I did make my way through a number of non-fiction/biographical children’s titles, I still feel terribly behind in my reading in those areas. Taking a look through other blogger, librarian and author best of 2017 lists, and looking ahead to early 2018, I can see there is SO MUCH that I need and want catch up on and get to! Let’s get into the titles right away, in publication date order:

 

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Publication: February 21, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
Book Description:

Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.

Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.

Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.

 

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel, illus. Nancy Carpenter
Publication: April 4, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children’s books—John Newbery himself. While most children’s books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules, John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories, science, and games. He believed that every book should be made for the reader’s enjoyment. Newbery—for whom the prestigious Newbery Medal is named—became a celebrated author and publisher, changing the world of children’s books forever. This book about his life and legacy is as full of energy and delight as any young reader could wish.

 

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illus. Dow Phumiruk
Publication: May 2, 2017 by Christy Ottaviano Books
Book Description:

As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

 

What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures (The World of Weird Animals) by Jess Keating, illus. David DeGrand
Publication: August 8, 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Book Description:

Some people think monsters are the stuff of nightmares–the stuff of scary movies and Halloween. But monsters can also be found right in your backyard. Animals like aye-ayes, goblin sharks and vampire bats may look scary, but they pose no threat to humans. Others, such as the prairie dog, seem innocent–cute, even–yet their behavior could give you goose bumps.

What makes a monster? Read this book to find out, if you dare. . . .Jess Keating and David DeGrand, the author illustrator team behind Pink Is for Blobfish will have readers shrieking with laughter at this latest installment to the World of Weird Animals series.

 

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
Publication: August 22, 2017 by Beach Lane Books
Book Description:

Get to know Zaha Hadid in this nonfiction picture book about the famed architect’s life and her triumph over adversity from celebrated author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.

Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.

 

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. Eric Velásquez
Publication: September 12, 2017 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

 

How to Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy
Publication: September 19, 2017 by David Macaulay Studio
Book Description:

The savanna is not an easy place to live, even for African elephants, the largest land animals on earth. If it’s a challenge for these 7,000-pound giants, what’s it like for their newborn babies?

An infant elephant has precious little time to learn the incredible array of skills that are necessary to keep up, from projecting her voice across a 10-octave range to using the 100,000 muscles in her trunk to stay hydrated. But this giant-to-be has the perfect classroom–a family herd made up of her mother, sisters, cousins, and aunts. With their help and protection, she’ll learn how to survive, how to thrive, and how to be an elephant.

Award-winning author-illustrator Katherine Roy’s How to Be an Elephant delves into the intricate family dynamics at play in a typical African herd. Drawing upon the latest scientific research and Roy’s own expedition to Kenya, and brimming with lush watercolor illustrations and detailed diagrams, this book vividly portrays the life and development of an elephant from an uncertain newborn into a majestic adult. As informative as it is beautiful, Roy’s unique portrait of an elephant’s life will captivate young explorers and animal lovers alike.

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illus. Gordon C. James
Publication: October 10, 2017 by Agate Bolden
Book Description:

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair–a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

 

Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illus. Bryan Collier
Publication: November 14, 2017 by Little, Brown
Book Description:

Six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier brings this classic, inspirational poem to life, written by poet Useni Eugene Perkins.

Hey black child,
Do you know who you are?
Who really are?
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you can be?

This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

 

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson, illus. Qin Leng
Expected publication: January 23, 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Book Description:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers. But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said and locked those observations away for safekeeping.

Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library, and before long she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way . . . and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.

Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng have collaborated on a gorgeous tribute to an independent thinker who turned ordinary life into extraordinary stories and created a body of work that has delighted and inspired readers for generations.

 

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear, illus. Julie Morstad
Expected publication: February 6, 2018 by HarperCollins
Book Description:

By the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli had captivated the fashion world in Paris, but before that, she was a little girl in Rome who didn’t feel pretty at all. Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is the enchanting story for young readers of how a young girl used her imagination and emerged from plain to extraordinary.

As a young girl in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) felt “brutta” (ugly) and searched all around her for beauty. Seeing the colors of Rome’s flower market one day, young Elsa tried to plant seeds in her ears and nose, hoping to blossom like a flower. All she got was sick, but from that moment, she discovered her own wild imagination.

In the 1920 and ’30s, influenced by her friends in the surrealist art movement, Schiaparelli created a vast collection of unique fashion designs—hats shaped like shoes, a dress adorned with lobsters, gloves with fingernails, a dress with drawers and so many more. She mixed her own bold colors and invented her own signature shades, including shocking pink.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books I’ve Read…

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I have not been doing a great job with keeping up and participating, but I have been inspired this week’s topic: the most unique books we’ve read!

With the caveat that I have probably/most likely missed a number of unique titles here, I’ve picked ten titles- mostly all children’s titles- that, to me, stand out. Are unusual. Out of the ordinary. Seriously unexpected and seriously unforgettable. Perhaps even peculiar. In no particular order, here are my picks:

 

 

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
A picture book written all in imagined bug language (yes, indeed!), with gorgeous artwork…

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, illus. Júlia Sardà
Kyo Maclear is up there as one of my favourite wordsmiths/storytellers. The Liszts is a newer title: a story about a list-making family that is beyond one’s expectations and imaginings. Sardà’s illustrations are…extraordinary…

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan
I am rather obsessed with Tan’s work. This was one of my first introductions to his work, and I haven’t stopped reading and poring over his incredible work since…

Bera the One-Headed Troll by Eric Orchard
The combination of Orchard’s unusual and beautiful style of artwork with the darker fairy-tale feel- a stand-out graphic novel…

The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz
Ah, The Sleepwalkers! I read this graphic novel after falling in love with Schwarz’s picture books. A genuinely unusual, offbeat but lovely and hypnotic story about a team of heroes who rescue children from nightmares…

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston
A feat in storytelling, visuals and typography, this picture books is also a love letter to the power of books and words…

Press Here by Hervé Tullet
One of the first interactive perfect-for-storytime picture books I remember reading and arguably still one of the best…I would argue this was a game-changer and paved the way for more delightful interactive picture books to follow…I can’t imagine storytime with interactive books…

Art & Max by David Wiesner
David Wiesner, as with many authors and artists on this list, is a favourite. While most anything and everything by Wiesner is breathtaking and innovative, I must confess to a particular soft spot for Art & Max: a picture book about art, art styles, and two friends who test and bend art between the pages of this book that cemented Wiesner’s place on my roster of favourites.

Shadow by Suzy Lee
One of the first wordless picture books where I had a serious ‘aha’ moment about the beauty and signficance of the genre…Also: why isn’t everyone just as bananas about her work as I am?!?

Milk Teeth by Julie Morstad
This is a small book/collection of Morstad’s artwork. Surreal, dreamy, so strange and so beautiful…As with Shaun Tan’s work, I could forever be breathing in Morstad’s exquisite work…

Bonus mentions:

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, illus. Isabelle Arsenault

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

What titles are on your top ten this week?

Must Read Monday (47): Looking at Fall 2016 Releases (Part 2)

Continuing on with a Must Read Monday feature on Fall 2016 releases!…

This week’s Must Read Monday is a little bit different. I’ve been looking through various sources (review journals, publisher’s sites, Goodreads, blogs, etc.) as is my norm, but my to-be read pile has grown tremendously in a short span! This is due, in part, to all of the incredible books that are slated for Fall 2016 release! Some favourite authors and/or illustrators are releasing new titles or sequels, and there are new-to-me and/or debut authors with terrific sounding and terrifically reviewed titles.

You can take a look at my picks for Part 1 here!

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for Part 2:

 

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
Expected publication: September 27, 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins Canada

Foxheart by Claire Legrand, illus. Jaime Zollars
Expected publication: October 4, 2016 by Greenwillow Books

Today by Julie Morstad
Expected publication: September 2, 2016 by Simply Read Books

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems
Expected publication: October 25, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Expected publication: September 6, 2016 by First Second

Mooncop by Tom Gauld
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Drawn and Quarterly

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Happy as a Clam: The Twenty-First Sherman’s Lagoon Collection by Jim Toomey
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Stephan’s Web: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
Expected publication: November 22, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

*For the purposes of these posts, ‘Fall’ will include some August, September and October, possibly some November 2016 releases

Must Read Monday (30): Raymie Nightingale & When Green Becomes Tomatoes

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: two new titles from authors and illustrators I fervently admire! First up is Raymie Nightingale, the latest from the award-winning, critically acclaimed Kate DiCamillo. Save for one or two Mercy Watson titles, I have read everything DiCamillo has written and adore her work. Her writing is transcendent. Sublime. I cannot even express just how much The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane means to me- it remains one of my all time favourite reads. Needless to say, I am beside myself with anticipation to read DiCamillo’s latest! Second up is a poetry collection, When Green Becomes Tomatoes, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Canadian artist Julie Morstad. Fogliano’s picture book work is stunning, her writing expressive- If You Want to See a Whale is an example; and, as frequent readers of this site may know, Morstad is one of my most read and esteemed author-illustrators. The collaboration of these two Julies is an occasion to be excited about!

RAYMIENIGHTINGALE25937866

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Expected publication: April 12, 2016 by Candlewick Press

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

 

WHENGREEN25332008When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illus. Julie Morstad
Publication: March 1, 2016 by Roaring Brook Press

december 29
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes
overnight

Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano’s skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad’s charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.

 

Picture Book Review: Swan by Laurel Snyder & Julie Morstad

SWAN9781452118901_350Review: Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illus. Julie Morstad
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Chronicle Books
Verdict: Excellent

Book Description:

The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
everywhere
and all around.
But one night . . .

One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain.

So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendentally gifted Anna Pavlova.

There are times when you read a book and, upon finishing, you hold the book close to try and hold that feeling. You want to capture the words from the pages in a jar, like fireflies, and you want the world to be decorated with the illustrations you have just seen. Upon finishing Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad’s glorious picture book Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, I held the book close and experienced that exact run of sentiments.

Canadian illustrator/animator/designer Morstad, as ever, continues to amaze with her illustrations. Morstad’s work never reads as trying to impress or astonish with profusions of colour or scale and noise, but her drawings always light up and arrest the eye and heart. Snyder’s text here is just about flawless in its poetry and movement: in tandem with the rippling illustrations, Snyder’s words seem to float and dance across, around, and up and down the pages. This is the first of Laurel Snyder’s work that I have read, and having been so moved by her writing here, I am making it a plan to read her other children’s work.

Overall, I highly, highly recommend Swan. I cannot express enough just how beautiful, moving and full of life the words and drawings in this biographical picture book are. Readers who enjoy non-fiction or biographical picture books such as Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings or The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse might especially love this title. Moreover, readers (both young and old!) who adore the ballet, ballerinas, or have interest in Anna Pavlova’s incredible life and famous performances will undoubtedly be taken in with this stunning and quiet homage. We are now more than halfway through the year, and I think I can safely say that Swan will hold a place on my best of 2015 book lists.

Swan_MECHS.indd

Image from Swan via Chronicle Books

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

Must Read Monday (11): Swan, Leo & More Crayons!

Welcome to the eleventh edition of Must Read Monday! On Mondays I will spotlight current and/or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

SWAN18317569Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illus. Julie Morstad
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Chronicle Books
As soon as I read, see or hear about anything coming out from artist/illustrator Julie Morstad, it goes on my immediate must-buy list. Her work is just that incredible. In Swan, Morstad has teamed up with popular children’s author Laurel Snyder (Bigger than a Bread Box, Penny Dreadful) for what is sure to be a spectacular biographical picture book on the life of prima ballerina and choreographer Anna Pavlova. I cannot wait to read this one!

The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
everywhere
and all around.
But one night . . .One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendentally gifted Anna Pavlova.

 

LEO24905361Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illus. Christian Robinson
Expected publication: August 25, 2015 by Chronicle Books
Oh boy, this looks like a terrific one! We have: Mac Barnett, who authored Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole; and Christian Robinson, who illustrated the critically acclaimed Last Stop on Market Street and Josephine. 

You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.

 

thedaytheCRAYONScamehome23310161The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illus. Oliver Jeffers
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Philomel Books
If you adore the work of Oliver Jeffers and witty, laugh-out-loud funny picture books and haven’t yet read The Day the Crayons Quitwell, what are you waiting for?! The Day the Crayons Came Home is the long-anticipated companion to the best-selling Crayons debut.

…Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan’s stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box.

If you’d like to join Must Read Monday, please do! Link up or leave a comment about what you’re looking forward to reading- I love to hear what other readers have on their radar!

Review: This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary & Julie Morstad

thisissadie22926713Review: This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary, illus. Julie Morstad
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Tundra Books, imprint of Random House of Canada Limited, via NetGalley. Thank you!
Expected Publication: May 12, 2015
Verdict: Excellent

Book Description:

Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things — boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities … This is Sadie, and this is her story.

It is no secret that I have adored the illustrations and artwork of Julie Morstad for a number of years; her joint book efforts with author Sara O’Leary however, are something I have recently become acquainted with!

In their latest children’s picture book This Is Sadie, readers get to dive into memories and experiences of childhood- and see or be reminded of how limitless imagination IS for us all. Sadie has wings, she flies, she sails the seas, visits Wonderland, and has lived with wolves and as a mermaid. Readers of all ages will undoubtedly be able to relate to Sadie’s fantastical adventures, or be inspired to fall into their imagination like she does. During my multiple readings of this title I have been sparked by the little sprite’s adventures and found myself thinking back to the many, many adventures (in my real life, within the pages of books, and within my own imagined creations) that I had as a child.

O’Leary’s text is conversational, understated and wholly beguiling. How Morstad brings Sadie and her world to life is blissful and so lush- I can see Sadie breaking through and over the edge of the pages, grabbing our hands and taking us back to her world and her magical cardboard box. This is a picture book that a reader can return to again and again, and one that I highly recommend reading and exploring. This Is Sadie is, quite simply, enchanting. Having now read this title as well as When I Was Small by O’Leary and Morstad, I must go back and read the rest of their co-authored works!

I received this book as a digital galley from Tundra Books, imprint of Random House of Canada Limited, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Board Book Look: The Swing & Saffy and Ollie

theswing13593674The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson, illus. Julie Morstad
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Simply Read Books. Thank you!
Publication: November 5, 2012 by Simply Read Books
Verdict: Excellent

“How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!” – from the poem The Swing

 

One word immediately comes to mind when I think about The Swing and that word is joy! This is an utter gem of a board book, featuring glorious illustrations by Morstad to accompany the charming poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. There is something about this poem that takes me back to my childhood- perhaps I had it read to me when I was young, or it could be that it just exudes a feeling of happy nostalgia. That nostalgic feeling may also exist because this poem- perhaps due to certain key words or imagery- makes me think back to a beloved passage I read over (and over) again as a child: that of Winnie-the-Pooh, holding onto a balloon, sweetly singing ‘every little cloud, always sings aloud‘.
 
The lilting, uninhibited verse of Stevenson’s poem is, I think, perfectly expressed by Morstad’s buoyant yet serene illustrations. You can take a peak at some more of the delightful illustrations here on Morstad’s site. Overall, I just love this board book and would highly recommend it to little ones and adults alike.

swing3

 

saffyandollie12527320Saffy and Ollie by Paola Opal
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Simply Read Books. Thank you!
Publication: January 10, 2012 by Simply Read Books
Verdict: Good/Very Good

Saffy and Ollie is an adorably illustrated board book from Poala Opal’s Simply Small series of titles. We have a cute-as-can-be giraffe, Saffy- rolling a rock along a green hill- who meets a cute-as-can-be elephant, Ollie, who asks to join in on the playing and fun. Will Saffy share and welcome a friend?

While I usually prefer board books for babies to be light on text, I actually think that this title in particular may have benefited from more detail. It might be because the illustrations are so dreamy and darling that the limited text reads as a bit blunt- especially as Saffy does not allow Ollie to join in on her fun with a ‘no, it’s my rock’ but then almost immediately needs Ollie’s help when her rock gets stuck. Everything turns out well in the end when Ollie, clearly understanding and demonstrating very good friend behavior, comes to Saffy’s rescue. Saffy then learns how nice it can be to play and share with a friend, and how meaningful a ‘please’ can be.

I will say that overall, even though I personally found the text a tad clipped for this sweet story, Saffy and Ollie is undoubtedly the kind of board book that will make you go ‘aww’ and one that would likely be popular at libraries and homes for its winning appearance and well-meaning message. I am very interested in exploring the rest of the titles in the Simply Small series- there looks to be a great variety in titles and learning themes (and plenty more adorable animals!).

Saffy_ollie_v20_spread3

*Hardcopies were provided courtesy of Simply Read Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own*