2014 saw several new picture books aimed at kids 4-7 years old by some honored picture book authors. The author and illustrator of a 2013 Caldecott Honor book, Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have teamed up again on Sam & Dave Dig A Hole. A simple story about two boys digging a hole to look for something spectacular. Some kids back in the olden days amused themselves during long summer days by digging holes either to bury or look for treasure or for the more ambitious, to dig their way to the other side of the world. While the story is told pretty straight, Jon Klassen’s illustrations are humorous. We can see what Sam and Dave cannot. Just as they are getting close to finding something, they change course. Fortunately, their dogs does dig his way to a spectacular find. The boys eventually fall down the hole and come out the other side. They decide that is a pretty spectacular way to spend the day. The AR is 1.9.
Mac Barnett came out with another book this year illustrated by Jen Corace. Telephone is a play on that another amusement from the olden days. One person whispers something to another, that person whispers what he heard to the next person and the last person who hears it repeats the message aloud. More often than not, it bears little relationship to the original. The whole story takes place on a telephone wire, the characters are birds. Peter’s mother tells a cardinal carrying a baseball bat “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner”. The cardinal tells a flyboy, “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers”. Flyboy passes his version to the next bird on the wire and so on. Each bird adds a twist to the message until finally a very drenched bird relays a message that combines parts of all the versions to a wise looking owl who happens to be sitting near Peter on the wire. The owl thinks about what he just heard and says to Peter, “Your Mom says fly home for dinner”.
Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Exclamation Mark, has teamed up with Richard T Morris on This Is A Moose.
An unseen director is making a wildlife movie about a moose. Take one: the star of the movie wants to be an astronaut. This will not do. The director yells, “Cut!” and says matter of factually that a moose cannot be an astronaut. Take two is interrupted by the star’s grandmother (yeah grandmas!). She wanted to be a La Crosse goalie and don’t tell her a moose can’t be one or you have a fight on your hands. Take three is interrupted by a Regal Giraffe who always wanted to be a doctor. The director dismisses the giraffe because this is a woodland movie not a safari movie. At this point Grandma and Regal Giraffe take matters into their own hands and launch Moose into space. The director goes into a tirade about how that cannot happen because this is a movie about a moose doing moose things. Nonetheless the Moose is in outer space. Finally, we see the director, who happens to be a duck, yelling, “will somebody please find me an animal that acts like it’s supposed to!!” We see the director pausing to think and coming to the realization that if a duck can be a director then a moose can be an astronaut . The new movie is “This is an Astronaut” on location on the moon.
Great read-a-loud book. The AR is 1.9.
Katherine Applegate, the winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal for The One And Only Ivan, has written a picture book about the real Ivan called Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The book is beautifully illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
The story tells of Ivan’s birth in a tropical forest in Central Africa, his capture by poachers and his arrival in Tacoma, Washington. He was raised like a human child for three years until he became too big. Then a cage in the shopping mall became his new home. He lived in that cage for 27 years without the company of another gorilla. Some people thought Ivan should have a better life. After letters, petitions and protests it was arranged to transfer Ivan to Zoo Atlanta. There he lived out his days in “a place with trees and grass and other gorillas”. The AR is 3.7.