Ah, lots of picture book love this week. I love hitting the library and browsing through the sizable collection of kid’s books. There are so many clever picture books out there, and I feel that I have been very neglectful of them. I don’t even think I read that many as a child, other than Clifford the Big Red Dog. This gap in my reading must be filled!
Title: Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Published by Candlewick Press
The title of this book is what initially caught my attention. What could that brightly hued chicken be interrupting? Story time, it turns out. The little red chicken just can not contain herself when when her father reads her bedtime stories. She knows that the characters in her favorite fairy tales need a little help, so she jumps right into her father’s narrative with her own twist to the endings.
The illustrations are big and boldly colored, which works well with the little red chicken’s inclination to be bold herself and interrupt her father. She is clearly a conflict avoider, and she prefers that her fairy tales to skip right over all of the drama and suspense. I loved how patient her father was with her, and how he resolved the dilemma of his interrupting chicken.
Title: Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
I love Olivia! This pig has the right attitude in life. When the family jets over to Italy for vacation, she is pleased to be searched for weapons at the airport. Pleased! When I am chosen for additional screening, I am not so amused. In fact, I am quite pissed. But Olivia, dressed in her red striped jumpsuit, looking like an escapee from the nearest penitentiary, is pleased by the extra attention. Everything is an adventure for her, and that, sadly, is something that the rest of us seem to grow out of.
Venice will never be the same after Olivia’s whirlwind visit. The gondoliers may breathe a sigh of relief, and the gelato sellers will cry bitter tears at the drop in sales after she flies home, but Olivia is going to have the time of her life sightseeing, strolling over bridges, visiting palazzos, and drifting along the Grand Canal. And causing some mischief. Don’t forget that Olivia’s special ability is to cause mischief!
The art is a mix of charcoal and gouache, with a dash of digitally enhanced photos. I love the facial expressions and deceptively simple illustrations. If you’ve not spent time with Olivia, she is a friend worth knowing.
Title: Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Putting a humorous spin on “he followed me home,” Lucy the bear finds a child in the woods. She is instantly smitten with him, especially the way he squeaks, and she decides to take him home. Her mother is not so amused, and is at first reluctant to allow this creature into her home. However, after making it crystal clear that Lucy can keep her new pet as long as she promises to take care of it, she relents. After spending many an inseparable hour with Squeaker, Lucy realizes that maybe her mother was correct, and children do make terrible pets.
What a cute book! The illustrations are adorable, and I love the simple page arrangements. There’s not a lot of text, but there doesn’t need to be. The expressive drawings more than make up for the lack of words. Lucy’s expressions when Squeaker misbehaves are sure to elicit laughs.
Review copies obtained from my local library