Tag: Picture Books

A Lonely Doll story
by Dare Wright

Picture book story of a little doll who lives with Mr. Bear and Little Bear. Mr. Bear comes home from a trip and brings presents- the younger ones clamor for gifts and then argue about whose is better. But the most wonderful thing is a glass-sided clock Mr. Bear bought for himself. Edith is fascinated by the workings of the clock; Mr. Bear puts it up high out of reach. One day when no-one is around Edith climbs up to see the clock closer, and accidentally breaks it. She hides the evidence, and then lies when Mr. Bear asks who did it. She feels bad about lying, but can\’t admit it and feeling worse and worse, starts being horrid to her friends and can\’t even enjoy her own birthday party. She decides to run away, but after wandering through the streets half a day cold and lonely of course she goes home again. Mr. Bear has been frantically looking for her. She is welcomed back and finally confesses what she did, all is better now. Well, at least, she made amends. But the story continues a little and you see that Edith isn\’t perfect- she still does naughty things, quarrels with Little Bear and likes to brag. But she never again lies to Mr. Bear.

The photographs by Dare Wright (a woman) illustrating this story are just lovely. They\’re made with a real doll and teddy bears (also a live kitten in a few scenes) posing in different situations with tiny props. Although black and white they\’re very nice and the vintage look is charming.

There\’s only one picture that looks awkward to me, where Edith has just come home and is standing ashamed in the doorway. Mr. Bear is holding the door open but it looks like he is going to hit her over the head with his pipe!

Reminds me of a children\’s book in my daughter\’s collection called Carmen (black and white photos illustrating a story of a lonely girl in a city apartment). I\’d like to find the others in this Lonely Doll series. I found this one at the public library, they have a few more.

Rating: 4/5         58 pages, 1964

by Anna Kemp

Princess Sue is pining around waiting for a prince to come and sweep her off her feet. When a prince finally arrives at her castle, she\’s ecstatic- until she realizes his plans for her. Her new prince expects his lady love to stay in the castle, try on pretty dresses and \”just smile a lot and twist your curls.\” Princess Sue is incensed- she wants to ride horses and have adventures. Not one to accept defeat, she teams up with a dragon to realize her dreams. Great fun. Love the bright, slightly sketchy illustrations by Sara Ogilvie. It\’s also nicely written, the rhyming text flows smoothly when read aloud. And funny, to the right listener- my ten-year-old was listening on the other side of the room and kept giggling quietly as I read this at bedtime to her younger sister. The story really reminds me a lot of The Paper Bag Princess.

Rating: 4/5      32 pages

more opinions:
Vulpes Libris
Waking Brain Cells
Jen Robinson\’s Book Page
My Favorite Books

by Mark Birchall

Really cute book I found at the library with my kids the other day. Little Rabbit\’s aunt knits her a wooly striped sweater, but she doesn\’t want to wear it. She wants her toy doll Mr. Cuddles (who does everything with her) to have one too, and besides it\’s too big. Her mom insists the sweater is lovely, and makes her wear it to play outside. Rabbit takes her sweater off at the park and leaves it behind, but someone finds it and brings it home for her- all dirty from laying on the ground and getting kicked around in a soccer game. Into the washing machine it goes- and it shrinks! Much to small now. What will Rabbit do?

The pictures are lively and charming- they look very freehand. And the story presents a predicament lots of kids will be familiar with- disliking a well-intended gift, wanting something different… with a nice ending here. I liked it enough I\’m looking to find other books by this author to read to my three-year-old too.

Rating: 3/5      24 pages, 2000

by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna is an adorable young fruit bat. She is accidentally separated from her mother, and adopted by a family of birds- but only if she can follow mother bird\’s rules of conduct. So Stellaluna tries to adjust and learn to live like the birds- although some things make her miserable (eating bugs) and she\’s particularly awkward at landing upright. When Stellaluna learns to fly she is discovered by other fruit bats and learns her true identity. Then she wants to introduce her bird friends to her bat family- only to discover that they find bat manners just as strange!

This is a lovely picture book. It\’s a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, teaching children about the biology of bats and birds at the same time. The end of the book has some facts on bats as well, for those who want to learn more. I have to share some of my favorite pictures with you:

especially this one

Rating: 4/5       48 pages, 1993

more opinions:
The Well-Read Child
The Reading Tub

by Nancy Rose

Mr. Peanuts is not an ordinary squirrel. He has quite the refined life- playing the piano, baking cakes, reading from his tiny library. He mails a letter inviting his cousin to come visit, and is shown making preparations- tidying the bedroom, doing laundry and so on. When cousin squirrel arrives, the two enjoy visiting an ice-cream parlor, going on a picnic, and playing chess among other things. Mr. Peanuts is sad to see his cousin go when the visit is over- having discovered that your favorite activities are more fun when you have a friend to share them with!

The pictures in this book are just delightful- showing real life squirrels among miniature furniture and sets. I thought at first these must be tame squirrels, but it turns out they are wild animals that visit the author\’s backyard. She describes in the back of the book her process for taking the photographs (creating tiny sets, baiting them with peanuts, waiting for the curious squirrels to arrive and taking dozens of photographs to capture just the right pose). My kids really enjoyed this book- the youngest loved seeing a squirrel doing \”people things\” and her older sister spent a long time looking at the pictures, to guess how the author made all the miniature items. The author has a website too. There\’s an article about her work here, with more pictures.

Rating: 4/5          32  pages, 2014

more opinions:
Indextrious Reader

Pete in School
by Maira Kalman

I don\’t quite know how to describe this picture book. It\’s nuts, funny, quirky and downright hilarious. I have a suspicion there\’s a few of them revolving around the dog, Pete, but this is the first I\’ve encountered. This girl tells about the day her dog went to school, caused havoc in several classes, ate a set of encyclopedias and started talking. Then caused all sorts of new trouble because he suddenly knew everything and the kids wanted him in class to answer questions for them. Throughout the silly story of a dog in school there\’s all sorts of little hilarious asides and snide remarks on the school rules, the system, the quirks of various teachers, the girl\’s friends and classmates and so on. With these awkward but descriptive drawings and funky handwritten text (even the copyright info on the first page is handwritten into a picture on a classroom wall!) that really liven up the story. It\’s great. Way beyond the comprehension of my little one, but my ten-year-old ate this book up. I\’ve got to find more by this author.

Rating: 4/5     44 pages, 2003

by D.B. Johnson

This very imaginative picture book draws its inspiration from the work of M.C. Escher. In a whismical, dreamlike story it features a young boy Mauk who is apprentice to a master builder. Mauk is supposed to only sharpen the master\’s pencils, but it seems he has turned the drawing around when no one was looking. As he runs through the corridors, courtyard and staircase of the palazzo in construction, things turn one way and then another, the ceiling becomes a floor, the staircases run the wrong way, all is confusion. The workers try to catch him, the mistress leans out windows the wrong way, the Master calls out, but in the end they see that all is right, even turned every whichway. The Master (and Mauk) realize the building is more beautiful in its confusing ambiguity. You read the book left to right, then turn it over and read it back the other way, with the pictures telling both sides of the story (beginning and end). It\’s quite intriguing. My favorite spread is the one where the boy runs over the bridge- on one end of the story birds and fishes are in their place, at the other end the birds are in the water and fish swim in the sky. Delightful!

Rating: 3/5     32 pages, 2010

by Clare Turlay Newberry

April lives in a small apartment with her parents and their beloved cat, Sheba. When Sheba has kittens, the little girl is delighted, but her father is concerned- their place is too small for four cats, so the kittens must go. Of course April falls in love with them, and has a special favorite. When new prospective owners come visiting, she watches anxiously as they each pick out a kitten. Finally only one is left- and it\’s her favorite. Her father decides that they will give the mother cat to her her aunt, and keep the kitten \”you\’d rather have a kitten to play with, wouldn\’t you?\” but soon April realizes this will mean giving up the cat she has known for so long- and what if Sheba isn\’t happy in her new home? a young kitten would adjust easier. She agonizes and sheds tears, then finally decides to send the kitten to her aunt\’s house, and keep Sheba instead. But when she announces this idea to her father, he has a new plan that might allow them to keep both cats.

I have to say, not everyone would find the final solution practical, but it\’s a neat and tidy ending that leaves everyone happy. What makes this story shine are the very realistic conversations everyone has over the fate of the kittens- April wondering, tearful, hopeful at turns, her mother gentle and consoling, her father very matter-of-fact, other children questioning and thrilled with the kittens too. The illustrations are simply delightful. They are so beautifully drawn and depict precisely feline gestures and moods.

I snatched this up when came across it on a library shelf (I\’m familiar with a few other books by this author/illustrator). The book is a little advanced for my three-year-old; I have to edit out about half the sentences on a page or she looses interest but the illustrations are so endearing, she still wants to read it with me (my older daughter read a few of the picture books I brought home last week too, and this one was her favorite).

Rating: 4/5       32 pages, 1940

by Judy Sierra

A man named MacDonald bemoans the effort it takes to mow his lawn. He decides to get a goat to eat the grass, then buys a chicken (online!) The chicken it turns out, is knowledgeable and can talk. She teaches MacDonald how to smother his lawn with layers of newspapers, feed the soil with kitchen scraps and make a worm compost bin. Then they plant seeds and soon MacDonald has so much produce he starts selling it from a mobile cart (built atop his old lawnmower!) Some of his neighbors complain about the smell and changes, but most seem pleased to enjoy the fresh produce plus cheese from his goat, eggs from his hen, even honey from some bees. I don\’t know if I\’d ever just throw vegetable waste and horse manure all over the ground like this book portrays, and the guy sure looks tired and confused through the whole process of converting lawn into garden, but the end result is so nice. My favorite picture is the one that shows bright vegetables growing, the root shapes with happy-looking worms around them underground. My three-year-old likes the last two pages, where she tries to point out and name all the plants, vegetables and things shown growing in the garden and spread out for sale around MacDonald\’s produce cart. The illustrations by Matthew Myers are vivid, funky and fun. Nice bold brushstrokes.

Rating: 4/5      32 pages, 2014

by Nancy Coffelt

Baby brother has a bath and then doesn\’t want to get dressed. Instead he goes running naked through the house. On each page, another family member joins in the chase. My little girl giggles at the nakedness (you only see his butt) and the romp through the house. She loves pointing out where the baby is hiding behind furniture on certain pages. In the end the little boy puts his clothes on by himself- all the wrong way of course, which elicits even more giggles! The illustrations by Scott Nash, ink line and color, are lively and fun.

Rating: 3/5     34 pages, 2011

more opinions:
Waking Brain Cells
Sal\’s Fiction Addiction
Rosemary\’s Reading Circle
The Little Mom


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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