78 Booklist February 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
not always getting along with mom, are acknowledged without negative judgment. The
blocky, geometric figures in dense, warm color are appealingly childlike, while small lines
capture the two characters’ range of expressions. The puppy realizes that, though some
days are hard, it’s all a part of “learning how to
be a family.” —Lucinda Whitehurst
By Danny Parker. Illus. by Matt Ottley.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Eerdmans, $16 (9780802854698). K–Gr. 2.
What makes you feel safe? For Toby, it is a
parachute. He is a small boy, and the idea of
having a parachute just in case he needs it to
reach safety is very comforting. Varying vi-
sual perspectives demonstrate Toby’s anxiety
in a graphic manner, and as an observable
expression of inner distress, the illustrations
are highly effective. The digitally rendered
paintings successfully capture realistic and
dreamlike qualities and brilliantly extend the
text. The story encompasses several elements
of growth—Toby becomes physically larger,
he must think beyond himself to help his
pet cat, and he must calm himself in order
to climb down from his tree house without
the security of the parachute. In the final im-
ages, Toby leaves the parachute behind, his
top bunk now appearing normal-sized and
easily managed. The stuffed animal Toby has
carried throughout the book is left there,
too, further evidence of Toby’s maturation.
Creative and captivating, this story can be
appreciated on many levels and by a wide
range of ages. —Lucinda Whitehurst
By Lois Ehlert. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2016. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99
(9781481461528); e-book (9781481461535). PreS–Gr. 3.
A day of rain brings strange creatures into
Ehlert’s world. Formed by wet bits of discarded
paper, fall leaves, old socks, feathers, and other
debris, they combine in elongated shapes that
appear quite fishlike,
often with a bottle
cap or other round
object for the eye. In
these “rain fish” be-
gin to take on lives of their own. “They love to
splash in puddles / and dance upon concrete. /
They gather in the gutters / and then swish
on down the street.” The colloquial, rhyming
text provides just enough guidance, drawing
readers through the book while allowing them
to enjoy the details as well as the overall ef-
fect of each picture. Ehlert has perfected her
style of collage, with bold forms and a skillful,
distinctive use of color, texture, and composi-
tion. Underscoring the book’s usefulness as a
springboard to creative activities, an appended
double-page spread features some of the found
objects that became the illustrations’ rain fish
and provides brief identifiers of box top, concert
ticket, fish bobber, parking ticket, sand dollar,
etc. With a smooth, flowing text and fish im-
ages that show up beautifully from a distance,
this unusual picture book is a great read-aloud
choice for a rainy day. —Carolyn Phelan
Ten Kisses for Sophie.
By Rosemary Wells. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Viking, $16.99 (9780670016655).
For Aunt Prunella’s birthday party, Sophie
(a little mouse) helps Mama prepare a special
dessert: chocolate kisses made with pistachio
buttercream. Sophie wants to eat hers immediately, but she must wait for tomorrow’s
party. Late that night, she visits the kisses, frets
over whether there will be enough, and makes
place cards to sort things out: 10 people, 10
chocolate kisses. But the next morning—
|surprise!—Aunt Martha arrives from Saskatoon. Worried about whether there will be a
kiss for her, Sophie is too upset to eat, until
her perceptive Granny saves the day. Written
with short sentences, simple words, and a bit
of dialogue, the story includes appropriate details but focuses on the essentials. The artwork
uses spring colors to create a cheerful look.
For children who are learning their numbers,
the illustrations offer counting opportunities
that are integral to the story. From the likable main character to the happy ending, the
fourth book in the Sophie series is a satisfying
choice for young children. —Carolyn Phelan
What to Do with a Box.
By Jane Yolen. Illus. by Chris
Mar. 2016. 32p. Creative Editions, $17.99
(9781568462899). PreS–Gr. 1.
Beginning with Sheban’s trompe l’oeil cover
illustration, Yolen’s latest picture book charmingly captures both real life and imaginary
adventures. Starring a bespectacled girl, a
red-haired boy, and, at
center stage, a big cardboard box, the book
is written in spare but
appealing rhymes and
illustrated with great
skill and cleverness. Using watercolor, colored
pencil, and white acrylic
paint, Sheban created all of the pictures on
actual cardboard, effectively immersing young
readers into the experience. Yolen’s text suggests a variety of ways that kids can use such
a container: it can be a place to read books, to
play with a friend, and to make art (“You can
paint a landscape with sun, sand and sky / or
crayon an egret that’s flying right by”). It can
also be a vehicle for make-believe (“You can
drive in that box all around a dirt track. / You
can sail in that box off to Paris and back”).
Tagging along on these escapades is a watchful but sweet-looking dog, and Sheban’s use
of unusual perspectives makes the interactions
between the kids, the box, and the dog entertaining to examine. The book’s final page,
featuring the familiar words this end up turned
into the end, is another nice touch of thinking
outside the box. —Abby Nolan
Animal Word Pairs
LINDA SUE PARK
JENNIFER BLACK REINHARDT
ILLUS TRATED BY
Have you ever seen
a yak yak?
a bat bat?
a steer steer?
a duck duck?*
If not, now is your chance!
Open this book to
see animal names
and actions in unlikely,
comical pairs—a very
special kind of wordplay.
* If you have, you must be a
remarkable person, or you’ve
already read Yaks Yak!
6.99/Higher in Canada
$16.99/Higher in Canada
yak.indd 1 1/26/16 2:12PM