Sunday, May 31, 2015

Random Finds While Shelf-Reading

This is a handful of picture books that caught my interest when I came across them while shelf-reading, for various reasons.  Shelf-reading can be a little tedious, but I love getting the chance to see the whole collection and keep an eye out for overlooked gems.

Rotten and Rascal:  The Two Terrible Pterosaur Twins by Paul Geraghty.  Ages 4-8.  Barron's Educational Series, 2006.  32 pages.

Summary - Rotten and Rascal are twin pterosaurs who argue and bicker about *everything*.  Their loud bickering annoys the other dinosaurs and one day T. rex had had enough, so he asked them which one of them tasted the best.  They were so busy arguing, they failed to notice the gleam in T. rex's eye.  And guess what? *Spoiler Alert* They tasted exactly the same ;)

Review - I love this book!  I'm partial to dinosaur books anyway, and I enjoy dark humor.  I would be careful about reading it to younger or very sensitive kids who might be freaked out about the main characters being eaten, but it would be great for older kids who would appreciate the humor, especially if they've been bickering too much lately. 

Elizabite: Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant by H. A. Rey.  Ages 3-8.  HMH Books For Young Readers, 1999 (originally published in 1942).  32 pages.

Summary - Dr. White discovers a rare carnivorous plant and takes her back to his lab to study and obtain seeds.  However, Elizabite proves to be a bit more than he can handle and ends up biting off the poor scotty dog's tail and nipping the maid's posterior.  But in the end she saves the day by stopping a dastardly burglar.

Review - If this seems familiar, I mentioned it in a previous Garden-theme storytime post, and the author is very well known for his Curious George books.  I absolutely LOVE this book!  I have always been fascinated with carnivorous plants, and one can't help but fall in love with Elizabite's cheerful, happy face.  The rhyme and rhythm of the text is great and helps draw the listener in, and it includes some good scientific vocabulary to introduce, such as "carnivorous," "botanist," and "laboratory".  The wonderful illustrations really tell the story well, even without the text.  Pair it with a non-fiction book to show real carnivorous plants and you have the beginnings of a STEAM program. 

The Crows of Pear Blossom by Aldous Huxley (yes, that Aldous Huxley), illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  Ages 4-8.  Harry N. Abrams, 2011 (originally written in 1944). 40 pages.

Summary - Mr. and Mrs. Crow have yet to successfully raise any baby crows as a snake hiding at the base of the tree keeps sneaking into the nest and eating their eggs.  Finally, with the help of a wise, old owl, they come up with a plan to defeat the snake.

Review - When I caught the author's name, my first thought was, "The author of A Brave, New World wrote a children's book?!?", and I had to read it.  The story could have been good, but has some rather odd passages, and I found it to be very demeaning to women, with Mr. Crow's very Archie Bunker-esque demeanor to his mate.  Every time Mrs. Crow would try to suggest something, he would basically tell her she was just a stupid, silly woman and to shut up.  This was a huge turn-off for me.

Bugs In My Hair! by David Shannon.  Ages 4-8.  Blue Sky Press, 2013.  32 pages.

Summary - A kid-friendly, humorous but informational explanation of head lice and how to get rid of them. 

Review - First, let me apologize for the itchy, creepy-crawly feeling you are now experiencing ;)  I know this book will make most adults cringe, especially if you have been through the nightmare of a head lice infestation.  While I wouldn't use this book for my bug storytime, it would be good to help a child who is dealing with lice understand what is going on.  I think it would be great as a classroom read-aloud to introduce the topic and help reduce the stigma of having lice during a school epidemic.  It is simple enough that kids can understand, humorous enough to ease discomfort, yet factually accurate.  The drawings are kid-friendly and almost cute, but still pretty accurate and less icky than actual photographs.


  1. I enjoyed a Sophie Blackall-illustrated book previously so I'm thrilled to find another. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. Thanks for stopping by & taking time to comment :)