Monday, August 26, 2013

Five More 5-Star Picture Books

Here are five more excellent picture books that have been released in the past couple of months:

Matilda is a very good cat, but Hans is very naughty. Yet somehow, when Hans goes too far and a reward is offered for information about him, Matilda knows exactly where he can be found. In Matilda and Hans, Yokococo masterfully blends a simple story with striking illustrations. While the story teaches the basic principles of naughty and nice, it also shows that everyone contains at least a little bit of both. Matilda and Has makes a great read-aloud for preschool children.

In No Fits, Nilson!, Amelia and Nilson go everywhere and do everything together. The problem is, whenever something goes wrong, Nilson throws a major fit, and Amelia must do whatever she can to calm him. OHora has crafted a short but highly relatable story of temper tantrums that recognizes how little it can take to spark one but which also offers encouragement for controlling them. The acrylic paintings have a cartoon-like quality to them and effectively support and expand upon the story. The final illustration may confuse some children, but makes a great starting place for discussions (what was really throwing the fits?). This is a great book to share with preschool to early school-age children, especially those who might need a little help with their own tantrums.

Zoe's Room (No Sisters Allowed) tells the delightful story of Zoe, self-proclaimed Queen of the Universe. Every night after the lights go out, she builds empires, explores uncharted territory, and holds tea with the royal court. But when her little sister moves in, everything changes. Murguia has written a very short but lovable story that will resonate with any child who has a younger sibling, or who is facing any sort of big change. Her ink and watercolor illustrations are uncluttered and inviting, with just the right tones to set the mood and ample white space where appropriate.

Clementine receives exactly what she wants for her birthday: a nurse's outfit and a first-aid kit. As Nurse Clementine, she is ready to leap into action at any sign of injury, no matter how small. But she is not ready to deal with the biggest problem of all--when no one needs her help. Simon James' watercolor and ink illustrations are cartoon-like but expressive and full of action. The situations throughout the book are entirely realistic and will resonate with any child. It is also very easy to empathize with Clementine when she has no one left to help.

Dozens of Cousins is the story of a huge family reunion, complete with uncles and aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers, and of course dozens of cousins. The story is told by the cousins, who scramble, race, jump, dive, stuff their faces, get muddy, and generally have a fun, noisy time. The story is actually a free-verse poem, and as such has some wonderful word choices and arrangement. It begs to be read out loud. The illustrations are wide, double page spreads covered from edge to edge with color and action, along with plenty of details to examine through multiple readings. One of the best new picture books I've seen this year.

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