Rodzilla by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Dan Santat, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Look out! Rodzilla is crashing through the town, shooting stink rays, dripping slime, and hurling… and the only ones who can save the world are… his parents! Toddler Rod(zilla) in his playroom becomes a wild, smash-up ride through a cartoon-like world in the capable hands of Dan Santat. A fun read aloud, especially if you have a child who is currently obsessed with bodily functions. Santat pulls of a couple of wild full-page spreads that make the reader feel like they’ve stepped into a Saturday morning show. Hilarious, irreverent, and sure to be a hit.
There might be lobsters by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Laurel Molk, Candlewick Press
There are lots of things to be scared of at the beach, especially if you are a small dog. There are big waves, beach balls, big stairs, loud people, and of course, there might be lobsters. The fears of a small dog may sound familiar to an anxious child, and how Sukie the dog overcomes those fears can be reassuring. Ink & watercolour illustrations set the tone, and looking for those ubiquitous lobsters is fun!
Blue Ethel by Jennifer Black Reinhardt, Margaet Ferguson Books
Ethel, a cat, is old. And fat. She was black, and she was white, and very set in her ways. One day, when Ethel rolls on her favourite bit of sidewalk, she discovers that she has become BLUE (due to a child’s chalk drawings). She feels sad about this until a younger friend rolls in the art and becomes pink. The delightful ink & watercolour illustrations show us a personable cat in a colourful, detailed world. Reinhardt uses line and colour expertly to depict mood, and the pacing of this story is spot-on. If I were a member of the Caldecott committee, I’d be keeping this in my look-again pile, top shelf.
Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries by Mark Teague, Orchard Books/Scholastic
As you might expect, this Jack trades his cow for beans. And his mother cooks the beans. So many beans. Breaded beans, bean dip, bean soup, pickled beans. The whole town is eating beans and they are tired of it. When Jack goes up to see what is at the top of the stalk, he finds a Giant who is really tired of beans as well. When they decide what they truly crave is french fries, it is Mrs. Giant who comes up with the solution, which is to plant a vegetable garden that includes potatoes.
I like the resolution here, perhaps because it has a tiny bit of a feminist leaning (Jack and Giant are lazy, Mother & Mrs. Giant are making the best of the situation). The illustrations are pure Teague: fun, cartoonish realism, and loads of colour. Pair it with Kate and the Beanstalk for a couple of viewpoints on this old story.
Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Kester, illustrated by Sue Eastland, Albert Whitman and Company
Carrying a basket of sour cream and applesauce into the woods to Bubbe Basha’s house, Little Ruthie (in her red coat and boots) meets up with a wolf. Trying to be brave as the Maccabees, she outwits the wolf. He heads to Bubbe’s house, finds she’s not home, and he dresses in one of her outfits. Ruthie arrives, is not fooled, and when the wolf determines to eat her, she serves him a big pile of latkes. No one dies in this new version of Little Red Riding Hood, which makes a great addition to any collection. The inclusion of the story of the Maccabees is seamless, making this an easy one to recommend to anyone who wants to know more about the Hanukkah holiday. Colorful illustrations and a wolf who tries to be ferocious but ends up being fairly silly make this an easy one for younger listeners.
What Eats That? By Ryan Jacobson, photographs by Stan Tekiela, AdventureKeen Publications (seen as review copy from publisher) ISBN 978-1591937494
Explore the food chain in this easy to read (and understand) book, filled with clear photographs. Starting with the sun, we page through the food chain– flowers “eat” the sun, but what eats flowers? Each page has a hint of what is to come, with picture-bubbles featuring the links in the food chain. An explanation of food chains, some suggested activities, and extra information on each animal shown add to the usefulness of this book. It is very readable, and you might learn something new. I did! Watch for other books by this publisher for easy nonfiction – such as Whose Butt?