Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who's There?

Booklist (May 15, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 18))
Preschool-Grade 1. For little BunBun, going to bed isn’t a problem—after all, he and his rabbit family live in the coziest little warren beneath a lovely Pooh-style tree. It’s that once he is snuggled in with his teddy bear, Boo, the anxiety begins: “Creak, creak, crinch, crinch, crinch, thwack-a-wack!” An ominous noise is coming from the hallway, and each time it gets closer and louder. The nonsense words Schaefer creates to communicate the noises are only part of the fun. Between each set of sounds, BunBun imagines the various monsters who might be approaching. It could be a Crusty Dumply Ogre (a pig in sandals) or a Grimy Gooey Ghoulie (a dog with a runny nose) or even a Splitch-kah-doo-mee Grabber (a rat with extendable mechanized arms). As rendered in Morgan’s ink-and-gouache artwork, none of these beasties are the least bit frightening, which makes this a solid everything-is-OK title to soothe panicked youngsters. The ultimate revelation—that it’s just his kid brother trailing a pull-toy—reaffirms the comforting status quo.

How To Get A Job By Me, The Boss

Publishers Weekly (June 27, 2011)
The wise-beyond-her-years heroine who addressed the finer points of getting married and having a baby in her previous books now tackles the job market. "[S]ometimes a Job is so you can get all dressed up and wear your new shoes to work," she explains. The narrator covers big jobs (like "President of the World") and small jobs (like "Balloon Holder") alike, and is highly encouraging ("You could be a Cowboy or an Explorer.... Or actually anything you want!"), while giving a nod to a few exceptions ("you shouldn't be a Robber"). Heap's acrylic, paint, and crayon illustrations are as energetic and quirky as the Boss herself, whose charmingly askew perspective includes some genuine advice-and remains as funny as ever. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

A Ball For Daisy

Horn Book (September/October, 2011)
The wordless story begins on the title page, where we see a scruffy little black-and-white dog about to be given a big red ball. It's clear from the start that Daisy loves her new toy. After playing with it inside, she cuddles up with the ball on the sofa and contentedly falls asleep. The real drama begins with a trip to the park, where Daisy and her little-girl owner play catch and have a moment of panic when the ball goes over a fence and has to be rescued. All goes well until another dog shows up, joins in the play, and pops the ball. It's a long walk home with gloomy Daisy, and the subsequent nap on the couch is lonely. In fact, the two contrasting double-page spreads of Daisy napping, with the ball and without it, show the ingenious artistry of Raschka, who communicates so much emotion through her posture. Throughout, Raschka uses broad strokes of gray and black paint to outline the dog, and varies the line to echo her emotions: bold, sure lines when Daisy is happy; shaky, squiggly lines when she is upset. Background watercolor washes also reflect Daisy's mood, going from bright yellows and greens to somber purples and browns. Raschka employs a series of horizontal frames to show sequential action, interspersed with occasional single paintings to show pivotal moments, such as the moment near the end of the book when Daisy gets a brand-new ball, this time a blue one, from the owner of the dog who destroyed her first one. It's a satisfying conclusion to a story that is noteworthy for both its artistry and its child appeal. kathleen t. horning

Smells Like Treasure

Booklist (May 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 17))
Grades 4-7. After Homer Winslow Pudding receives an invitation from the secret society of Legends, Objects, Secrets, and Treasures (LOST) to occupy his recently deceased uncle Drake’s vacant chair in this sequel to Smells like Dog (2010), the 12-year-old and his basset hound, Dog (who has a keen sense for sniffing out treasure but nothing else), skip the local county fair to meet with the world’s most elite treasure hunters. When Lorelei, Homer’s nemesis turned friend turned nemesis, reappears to challenge Homer’s stake in LOST, the young treasure hunters must compete to find Uncle Drake’s membership coin, using clues from the greatest mapmaker ever. Periodically interrupting their search is background information on Rumpold Smeller, the once future Duke of Estonia who turned to piracy and whose lost treasure remains the holy grail for treasure hunters. As in the first novel, quirky side characters and over-the-top humor hold reader interest even during slow points. Unfulfilled discoveries leave the scent of another sequel.