Lately our daughter has been obsessed with getting a dog. We’ve been through every conversation there is to have: My friends have dogs. I’ll clean up after it. I’ve done research. (She decided on a bulldog… English, to be specific.)
All of these are addressed in Elise Gravel’s charming I Want A Monster, in which young Winnie is after her parents to get her a cuddly baby monster as a pet. Finally, her father relents and the family gets an adorable Oogly-Wump. Of course, that’s when things get hairy, and Winnie learns that having a pet is more work than she bargained for.
Elise Gravel’s monsters are surely adorable, and very reminiscent of Delphine Durand’s illustrations for sadly overlooked Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood. Filled with the full range of bright colours, Gravel opts for a style reminiscent of a child’s own drawings. Filled with wonderful details (Winnie is seen reading a how to book, written by none other than Elise Gravel) and moments (“Please don’t do that in Papa’s shoe!”), this is a fantastic book that will elicit many a laugh from readers three to seven years old, and probably their parents as well.
It’s an old maxim that if you give a kid a gift they’ll set the toy aside and play with the box instead. Jane Yolen has created a book about the myriad things a child might do with a box, from using it as a boat to a library. There are no limits.
The truth is, this is a cute book, and ranks up there with the better books about boxes on the market, in terms of text, but the true magic herein lies with Chris Sheban’s frankly brilliant illustrations.
Very occasionally we get a book come across our desks that takes our breath away with its pictures. Elly MacKay’s Butterfly Park is one notable example, as is Rilla Alexander’s The Best Book in the World. Add to that list What to Do With A Box.
To drive home the point that there is no limit to what can be done with a box, he illustrates the story by drawing on cardboard boxes, often with the manufacturing markings on display and tears exposing the corrugation. But even without the clever choice of drawing surface, Sheban’s work is flawless and awe-inspiring and a bit mind-bending, working on so many levels at once that it can be a bit overwhelming.
Virtually every middle grade and young adult novel we get is on some level a whodunnit, but we don’t get many of them for the younger kids. Who Broke the Teapot? is a genuine headscratcher, about mom’s favourite teapot turning up, well, broken. Nobody will admit to it, and mom gets madder and madder.
Slavin’s illustrations are dark and textured, almost muddy, and won’t necessarily be to everyone’s taste, but they work for the story, capturing the manic feeling of a house with rambunctious kids. There is great movement in the pictures, but sometimes the fonts and the pictures don’t entirely gel. The characters are wonderful, with hilarious expressions.
The text is fantastic, in flowing rhyme that will make the book all the more palatable to younger readers and a hit at bedtime.
Kinderlit.ca received copies of these titles in exchange for honest reviews.