Several well-known children's authors released new books recently, several on the same day in fact. Here's my take on whether they live up to expectations or not.
Where is Jumper? by Ellen Stoll Walsh. October 13, 2015. Beech Lane Books, 32 pages. Ages 4-8.
In this latest installment of Walsh's concept books the mice demonstrate and explore prepositions and spatial relationships as they look for their missing friend, Jumper. Is he inside the cave? Below the tree? Down the tunnel? Under the leaves?
Fans of the previous books will enjoy this one as well and kids will enjoy Jumper's little adventure and guessing where he will turn up.
Crybaby by Karen Beaumont. August 18, 2015. Henry Holt and Co., 40 pages. Ages 3-8.
Baby starts crying and everyone is scrambling around trying to figure out what she wants. Roy, the loyal dog, knows what she wants, but no one will listen to him. Finally, after they have tried everything else, Roy finally manages to give her the toy sheep and she immediately calms and goes to sleep.
I thought this was very cute and would be good for a "Baby" themed storytime. The story is cute and funny, and children will appreciate that the dog was right all along. It also has a repeating line every time they try something new to quiet the baby, "But the more they tried, the more that baby cried," kids can say along to make it interactive, and they can also guess what will work.
The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle. October 13, 2015. Philomel Books, 40 pages. Ages 3-7.
A mouse chasing a cat? A lion training people? A rabbit pulls a boy out of a hat? What's going on here?? Pure nonsense, that's what it is. This book is a mix of absurdity and surrealism, intended to spark imagination.
I was excited to see a new Eric Carle book, but as much as I wanted to love this book, I just didn't. The illustrations are wonderful, of course, but the text just seemed a little flat. I even waited and read it again over the next couple of days to see if I was just in a blah mood the first time, and while it has grown on me a little, it just isn't as funny as I want it to be. I'm not even sure what it is, maybe the humor isn't clever enough or silly enough, or what. I'd love to hear what other people think, and particularly how it has been received by children. Maybe it's just me....
Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. September 22, 2015. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 40 pages. Ages 4-8.
It is Christmas Eve and Farmer Brown is preparing for Christmas. Does he hear Santa on the roof? No, it is just that mischievous Duck, who has zip-lined onto the roof and promptly fallen down the chimney and gotten stuck. One by one the other animals zip over to try to help Duck, but of course they all end up getting stuck, too. Then a certain jolly old elf arrives just in time to rescue them all.
This is another cute story with plenty of humor and decent illustrations. The only thing that bugs me is why she keeps including "click, clack" in the titles when there is no typing involved. I can't understand why the story didn't begin with Duck typing a letter to Santa, seems like such an obvious way to tie it in....
Diva and Flea by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony Diterlizzi. October 13, 2015. Disney-Hyperion, 80 pages. Ages 6-9.
Diva lives with her owner in a classic French building in the center of Paris, where she enjoys exploring her courtyard, but no further. Flea is cat who lives on the streets on Paris with no particular home, enjoying his life exploring and doing whatever he wants. One day these two meet and become friends. Flea teaches Diva how to explore and not to fear feet, taking her to see the Eiffel Tower. In the end, Diva convinces Flea to come inside her apartment, where he is introduced to the comforts of a real home, including regular meals.
I did not realize this was an intermediate chapter book, rather than a picture book or early reader as I had expected, until it came in. It is inspired by real events during the time Mo Willems lived in Paris. I was also surprised he didn't illustrate it himself, as he is certainly a wonderful illustrator as well. The illustrations are very "French", reminiscent of the illustrations in Bemelmans' Madeline books. I found this to be a very sweet, endearing story of friendship that I'm sure many kids will enjoy, especially animal lovers.