Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Number One Sam

Cover image for Number one Sam
Booklist (May 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 17))
Preschool-Kindergarten. They don’t make dog racers better than Sam: “He was number one in speed. He was number one at turns. And he was number one at finishing races in the number-one spot.” On the day of “the big race,” he is happy and confident and steers his racer (which looks rather like a hot dog) around the track, neck and neck with elephant buddy Maggie. Then, with an effective color shift from bright pastels to moody blues, “Sam lost.” Young readers will identify with the shock of unexpected failure, as Sam arrives at the next big race quiet and nervous. (Observant sorts will notice the 1 on his race car has been crossed out in favor of 2.) But there are more important things than winning, as Sam gives up the lead to scoop some duckies off the path. Pizzoli’s follow-up to the 2014 Geisel Award–winning The Watermelon Seed (the starring crocodile makes a cameo here) again uses cheery Rocky-and-Bullwinkle-style illustrations and sparse text to pull off a far more emotional feat than you’d expect.


School Library Journal (May 1, 2014)
PreS-Gr 2-Mrs. Poodle has new puppies, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston, but one of them is not like the others. Next to his petite siblings, Gaston is stocky, ungainly, and goofy looking. One day, they encounter a rough-and-tumble bulldog family, and it's immediately clear that there has been a mix-up. Gaston's short legs and broad ears look just like those of the bulldogs', while the bulldog family includes a tiny poodle named Antoinette. What starts out as a typical "Ugly Duckling" plot becomes a tender exploration of nurture vs. nature. The pups go home with their "real" families, but everyone questions the decision. The mothers are shown gazing forlornly at family portraits, and poor Gaston has no interest in anything "brutish or brawny or brown," preferring the "proper or precious or pink" home that Antoinette scorns. The next day they joyfully switch back: "There. That looked right. And it felt right too." But the story doesn't end there. Both families continue to meet and teach each other about being tough and tender, and when Gaston and Antoinette eventually fall in love and have puppies of their own, they teach them to be whatever they want to be. Robinson's expressive acrylic paintings are bright and bold, yet simple, making masterly use of negative space and contrast. This heartwarming story of family will be a welcome addition to homes and libraries of all types.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Cover image for Gaston / pictures by Christian...

Dog Vs. Cat

School Library Journal (April 1, 2014)
PreS-Gr 2-Starting with illustrations on the endpapers, readers know immediately that they are in for a treat with this picture book. On the same day, Mr. Buttons returns home with a "friendly-looking dog," while Mrs. Buttons find the perfect "smart-looking cat." Clearly, these newcomers are not going to get along, and each one sets out to make the other leave ("Dog rubbed some party balloons on the rug and stuck them to cat. Cat popped them with sharp claws, nearly giving Dog a heart attack. Cat filled Dog's water bowl with hairballs. Dog poured the water over Cat's head during naptime."). The exaggerated traits of both animals are wonderful. Small details, such as the dogs at the animal shelter holding signs saying "I'll be your best friend" and "I want to lick you!" are a hilarious contrast to the cats in the pet store window with signs such as, "And you are?" and "I'm kind of a big deal." The colored-pencil illustrations are remarkable, and the animals' dialogue, expressions, and body language are priceless, as is the funny conclusion. A terrific addition to any friendship or pet storytime.-Brooke Rasche, La Crosse Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Cover image for Dog vs. Cat

Help! We Need A Title!

School Library Journal (May 1, 2014)
Gr 1-3-Tullet breaks the fourth wall in this fantastic book. His characters look readers right in the eye and talk directly to them. A pig and a princess are busy playing when they notice they are being watched; they stop and call for other characters to come and take a look. They're all unpolished scribbles created with various media and mixed in with smudges, smears, doodles, and notes the author has written to himself. The chaos is great fun and gives the appearance of a book in progress. Tullet himself has a cameo, mugging for the camera in a series of entertaining head shots on top of a drawn torso. His cast of characters begs him for a story so readers won't get bored and go away, and he obliges them. But they're less than impressed with his effort. He feigns offense, and in a wonderful reference to his wildly successful Press Here (Chronicle, 2011), he asks readers to push the button on his desk lamp, leaving the characters in the dark, their bewildered eyes glowing. They ask readers to turn the light back on and express their gratitude with sweet farewells. The pig and princess resume their play. Kids will love the messiness of the pages and the casual, witty dialogue. With this book, Tullet adds to his repertoire of interactive creations unparalleled in their cleverness and merriment.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.