The Children's Book Compass

Wonderful New Picture Books

Posted on: August 10, 2011

The Children’s Book Compass and I have been on vacation for awhile.  However, I have been reading hundreds of books  and have discovered some excellent titles to share with you.  Over the next weeks I will blog about  them.

Should I Share My Ice Cream?  by Mo Willems.  (2011).  57 pages.  Hyperion.  Grades K-3.  Beginning Reader.

Mo Willems is a genius!  His fifteen books about the characters, Elephant and Piggie, use natural language and expressive, simple illustrations to tell stories that intrigue children.  The bonus for young readers is that they can be successful in reading the books for themselves.  This time Elephant buys an ice cream but the title question immediately causes him a dilemma – should he share his ice cream with Piggie?  As he argues with himself about what to do, the ice cream melts into a puddle on the ground.  The satisfying conclusion will delight fans of the two friends.

Hurry Down to Derry Fair by Dori Chaconas.  Illustrated by Gillian Tyler.  (2011). Unpaged. Candlewick Press.  Grades K-3.  Picture Book.

On the title page of this charming book, Dinny Brown, a small boy, watches the Derry Fair being set up on the property just below his family’s farm.  He is eager to experience each part of the fair – the giant swing, the animals, the cotton candy, the hot-air balloon, the ferris wheel.  He urges each of his family members to hurry up so they can go.  But Mama, Daddy, and sister, Lucy, have to first finish their preparations for items they are taking to the fair.  Even though Dinny helps each one, he is afraid that that the fair won’t wait.  When he comes to Grandma Patty he finds a receptive audience.  She tells him to fetch his coins because she is taking him to the fair.  Suddenly, the rest of the family gathers up their things and “rush and tumble down the walk.” to see the fair.  A gatefold at the end opens out to show a four page spread of all the activities at the fair.  The lyrical text combines with the detailed, warm illustrations to make a story that will become a classic.  The pages showing Dinny helping Mama make her lemon pies to take to the fair shows how the words are complimented and expanded by the illustrations.  The text reads, Whap! Crack! Plop-plop-plot! Whisk a little! Whisk a lot! Whisk those eggs as light air.  Mama sifts while Dinny whisks. Then off they’ll go to Derry Fair!”  The two page spread illustration shows each part in the process of making the pies.  The characterizations of Mama and Dinny are enhanced by the small details in their dress and hairdos.  This book made me wish to fly to rural England to attend a country fair.

If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre.  Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic.  (2011).  Unpaged.  Greenwillow.  Grades K-4.  Picture Book.

Do you remember singing the traditional song, “If you’re happy and you know it?”  It was a hit with my students and my own children.  Sayre gives that favorite song new life with lyrics that will make children sing with joy.  “If you’re hoppy and you know it, you’re … a frog.”  The frog is joined by other hoppy critters.  Each new verse introduces more humorously illustrated creatures that cavort across the pages being sloppy, or growly, or flappy, or slimy and scaly and mean.  Sayre plays with the pattern of the verses that adds to the fun of the song.  The book design features large sized font in various colors that adds emphasis to the lyrics.  The brightly colored, animated animals have pizzazz!  The only thing lacking in this book is the music for the song.

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

Contact Marilyn

e-mail: MarilynCaz@aol.com
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