Friday, May 30, 2014

I Love Planes!

I Love Planes!

by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern

Philemon Sturges' I love Planes! chronicles the passion that a little boy has for all things aviation - gliders, planes, helicopters, balloons, blimps, even space shuttles. Complemented with bright illustrations by Shari Halpern, the story unfolds, letting us know the reason the boy has for loving planes - his Mom is an astronaut, hard at work in a space station. At the end of the story, the boy and his mother are reunited, and she (in a star speckled dress) spins him around the playground, much to his delight.

I Love Planes! by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mr. Wuffles!

Mr. Wuffles!

by David Wiesner

Our brave adventurers have made landfall on a strange new planet. As they prepare to leave their ship, they are attacked by a ferocious beast - a house cat called Mr. Wuffles.

When Mr. Wuffles tires of his new plaything, discarding the smoking ship among his other toys, the crew discovers that they can't repair their broken ship. They must go out and search for help to repair their damaged drive.

They make their way through Mr. Wuffles' house, finding shelter behind the radiator. There they discover and befriend a society of ants and ladybirds. The insects have chronicled their past battles with Mr. Wuffles in elaborate cave paintings, commemorating their fallen comrades.

After sharing some food, their insect hosts help the aliens make repairs to their damaged ship. Through teamwork, the aliens and insects perform a daring escape. The aliens get away and the insects return to their cave to commemorate their victory with their new extraterrestrial friends.

In this almost wordless picture book, David Wiesner deftly tells a compelling story about inter-species cooperation and friendship. The rich coloring and clever details make this a rewarding book to 'read' with your child. The story changes a bit every time and you can encourage creative story telling by encouraging your young collaborator to help tell the story.

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess

by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Princess Elizabeth is a princess. She lives in a castle, wears fancy clothes, pines for her prince - all the typical princess stuff. When a dragon comes along, burns down the castle, and makes off with her prince, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake, she puts on the only un-burned thing around (a large paper bag) and sets off to rescue her prince.

When she finally tracks the dragon to its lair, she vanquishes it through a mix of quick thinking and flattery. However, her prince proves to be an entitled dope, only interested in well-groomed princesses, not competent ones.

Michael Martchenko's comically emotive cartoon illustrations nicely complement Robert N. Munsch's whimsical, feminist take on the traditional princes and dragons fantasy story. It is a refreshing change to all of the pretty, sparkly mainstream princess fare (not that there's anything wrong with pretty or sparkly - it's just nice to have variety).

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger lives a prim, proper life in a prim, proper city, surrounded by other prim, proper animals, in a prim, proper Victorian city. Nothing is surprising. Nothing is exciting. In short, it's boring.

One day, Mr. Tiger gets a wild idea. When he starts going around on all fours, he gets strange looks. When he starts running about, roaring, and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, the other animals are quite disturbed. When he starts going about in just his strips, it's too much and he is sent off to live in the wilderness.

The wilderness proves to be everything he dreamed of - full of running, roaring, hunting, and stalking. But, it's lonely. It isn't home. There's no community.

When Mr. Tiger decides to accept the rules of society and returns to the city, he discovers that quite a few things have changed - some animals are going around on all fours, some have loosened their ties, and some (gasp!) have even taken off their coats and top hats.

With gorgeous, vibrant illustrations (just look for the oranges!), Peter Brown's lovely book shows the importance of treading the fine line between following the rules and making your own way. This book is highly recommended for wild things of all ages.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Five Trucks

Five Trucks

by Brian Floca

With an incredible eye for detail and gorgeous watercolors, author and illustrator Brian Floca really delivers with Five Trucks. From push out-tractors to baggage conveyors, this book reveals a lot of the hidden infrastructure of the airport. In addition to showing and naming five different trucks, this book has a nice framing story of a little boy taking a trip with his Papa and does an excellent job of showing diversity among the airport workers.

As an added bonus, there are subtle rewards in the illustrations - an implied romance between the push-out tractor operator and the mechanic, a smashed and battered up-side-down box carefully labeled 'fragile', etc.

Five Trucks by Brian Floca

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How To Train a Train

How To Train a Train

by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by John Rocco

This manual for the proper care and feeding of your pet train is an indispensable resource. From types of trains, their natural habitat, proper nutrition, hygiene, naming, house training, to properly socializing, this book has all the information a young engineer needs to keep their train happy and healthy. There's also lots of good information that could help with your pet airplane, pet truck, or pet submarine.

Jason Carter Eaton's wickedly clever book adapts all of the conventions of pet manuals to the realities of train ownership. John Rocco's hilarious illustrations are works of fine art in themselves. This book is sure to delight and enchant the train obsessed young person in your life.

How To Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by John Rocco

Rah, Rah, Radishes!

Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant

by April Pulley Sayre

Want to punch up a visit to the farmers' market or garden? This is a great book to help get your little one excited about discovering the joys of vegetables. With bright, intense colors and vibrant prose, this homage to healthy eating is a multi-sensory pleasure. Most times that we read it, Yuri nearly falls out of my lap with glee.

"Note: No vegetables were harmed or mistreated in the making of this book. Most, however, were later eaten."

Rah, Rah, Radishes! by April Pulley Sayre

Boy + Bot

Boy + Bot

by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

One day, a boy and a robot meet in a forest, while each is exploring. They immediately become friends and start playing.

When the robot is accidentally switched off, the boy becomes deeply concerned and tries everything he can think of to save his sick friend. When nothing works, the boy tucks the robot into bed and hopes for the best.

Late that night, the robot turns back on. Startled to find the boy asleep,  everything he can think of to save his malfunctioning friend. He's just about to replace the boy's battery (!!!) when the boy wakes up.

In the end, all is sorted out and the boy's parents and robot's inventor allows them to play together. The boy even learns to talk like a robot.

Ame Dyckman's light prose is well paired with Dan Yaccarino's bright and cheerful illustrations. This is an excellent book for any aspiring roboticist. Affirmative!

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

I Know a Rhino

I Know a Rhino

by Charles Fuge

Have you ever taken a bath with a giraffe? Played doctor with a dragon? Brunched with a bear? Rocked out with an orangutan? The female lead in I Know a Rhino is a little girl with a big imagination. She brings her stuffed animal friends along in all of her imaginative adventures.

Charles Fuge's luscious illustrations in I Know a Rhino made this Yuri's favorite board book from infancy. The text flows nicely, with well-formed rhymes and a good pace. You will quickly be able to read this book with your eyes closed (which is quite handy with a cranky child who's up all night long).

As an added bonus, this is a great book to start working on scientific names of animals (if you're so inclined). A close reader might notice that the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) on the cover seems to become an Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) on the final page.

I Know a Rhino by Charles Fuge

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Dark

The Dark

by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Laszlo lives in a big, old house with a creaky roof and lots of stairs. There are plenty of places where the dark likes to lurk - behind the shower curtain, in the closet, outside the windows at night. But the dark's favorite place is its room down in the basement.

Laszlo doesn't like the dark, but the dark likes him. One night, Laszlo wakes up to discover that the dark has come to visit him in his bedroom. It wants to help him. Summoning up all of his bravery, Laszlo makes friends with the dark and it never bothers him again.

Lemony Snicket's The Dark is a cute story about overcoming your fears and making friends in the most unexpected places. It's a lot of fun to read out loud, giving different voices to Laszlo and the dark. With Jon Klassen's gorgeous, slightly creepy, retro illustrations, it's visually pleasing as well. I was a bit concerned that this book might be too spooky for Yuri, but he absolutely adores it.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Friday, May 16, 2014

Violet the Pilot

Violet the Pilot

by Steven Breen

Violet van Winkle has a problem. She's a mechanical genius and aspiring aviatrix, but she has no friends (aside from her faithful pup Orville). The kids at school mock her for her strange books and greasy coveralls, but her parent give her the run of their junk yard where her creativity blooms. She builds all manner of crazy flying contraptions - the Pogo Plane, Bicycopter, and Wing-a-ma-jig to name a few but has trouble keeping bugs out of her teeth.

When she learns of the upcoming airshow, she hatches a plan to earn the respect of her peers and sets to work building her greatest flyer yet - The Hornet. Her plan to win the blue ribbon is thwarted when she sees a Boy Scout troop in distress. Little does she know that her heroic rescue will earn her an even better prize - a visit from the Mayor and the esteem of her whole town.

Violet the Pilot promotes the DIY ethic, selflessness, and heroism and to top it off, has a female protagonist. It's a great story all around.

Violet the Pilot by Steven Breen

All in Just One Cookie

All in Just One Cookie

by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Timothy Bush

Have you ever wondered where your sugar comes from? Your flour? How about your baking soda (spoiler: it's mined from underground in Wyoming)? And what exactly does the baking powder do anyway?

This fun book takes you and your child on a guided tour through the ingredients of a chocolate chip cookie, explaining the origin and purpose of each ingredient. With a frame story of a Grandma and her pets getting ready for company, there's a good source of humor as well.

If your child loves to ask 'why' (and what child doesn't ask 'why'?) and 'how' (ditto), this is an excellent book to satisfy their appetite for knowledge. With a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in the back, it will do a good job of satisfying their appetite for desert, as well.

All in Just One Cookie, by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Timothy Bush

Support Bibliopapa!

I write this blog for many reasons - to keep track of what Yuri and I have enjoyed reading together, to help other parents find good books for their kids, to help promote excellent authors and illustrators, to help clueless childless aunts and uncles find a good birthday present, and to practice my much neglected writing. This blog takes time and energy and I'm writing it on my own time.

I will not put annoying banner ads on this blog. Every review I post will include an Amazon link to the book. By buying books through those links, I will receive a (tiny) portion of the purchase price (this includes other things from Amazon - not just the books that I review). If you decide to buy any of the books that I review here, please use the links provided. It will help me justify this use of my time to the management.

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There are many books out there, some are good.

Parents know that they are going to read some books to their children hundreds (or thousands) of times. You are reading with your child to help inspire a lifelong love of books and reading. If you read a book with bad flow, uninspired illustrations, or shoddy writing, you won't enjoy it and neither will your kids.

Here at Bibliopapa, I will review some of my very favorite children't books to help parents, teachers, and anyone else who's interested in books for kids pick just the right one for the little people in their life. I won't rate books that I (or my son) don't like.

If you have any favorites that you would like to recommend, please include them in the comments section!



by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor

Barbapapa is a giant shapeshifting creature, who sprouts out of François' garden one sunny morning. Unfortunately, François' parents won't let him stay, so Barbapapa must try to find his place in the world. After a tearful goodbye, Barbapapa has many adventures, before eventually moving into a special home of his own in François' back garden.

Annette Tison and Talus Taylor's sweet story with simple illustrations takes on themes of loneliness, not fitting in, adventure, heroism, and friendship. It is one of my favorite books from childhood and it provided inspiration for the name of this blog.

Barbapapa, by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor