We’ve been enjoying a lot of new 2011 new picture books with the Armchair Cybils challenge at Hope is the Word.
I liked this book, but I’m not sure how many kids it will appeal to. Each page starts with a square that is then transformed into something else simply by being torn or cut into smaller pieces. I enjoyed it and the way it encouraged creative thinking. However, I read it to my two youngest kids and they were underwhelmed. It might appeal more to older kids, especially ones that are of a creative or artistic bent.
We all really enjoyed this book. Harvey is about to draw a picture when his shocked Mom tells him to stop because it’s Doodleday and “no one draws on Doodleday”. Harvey ignores his Mom and draws a nice big fat fly, only to find that the fly comes alive and starts destroying his house. He draws a series of creatures hoping that each one will eat the others and fix the situation but it just gets worse and worse. Finally, his Mom comes home and draws the only thing that can possibly fix this impossible situation: DoodleMom. It’s a great story, full of imagination and everyone in our family enjoyed it. The cartoon like illustrations fit the story perfectly. I especially liked that the monsters the boy draws look like crayon doodles.
Bad Bart is the biggest burliest pirate in the Atlantic but wonders if he is the baddest in the world. At the same time Mean Mo is the meanest mightiest pirate in the Pacific bug wonders if she is the meanest in the world. They sail off to find out if there is anyone badder or meaner and meet in the middle. An epic battle ensues but neither can beat the other. As they battle they realize that they are perfect for each other and the book ends with a pirate wedding. It’s cute and funny and a nice enough book, but for some reason it fell a little flat here. I think the love story part didn’t appeal to my boys and it felt a bit forced to me too.
Argus is a dragon that hatches out of Sally’s egg when her class is doing a science project to hatch chicken eggs. Sally takes cares of him but it’s tough because Argus is so different. The other chicks eat seeds. Argus wants to eat the other chicks. One day, Argus gets lost and at first Sally thinks she should be happy but she realizes she misses Argus and that she doesn’t mind being different.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Ireally liked the story and the simple ink and watercolor illustrations. But I get a little tired of the “it’s ok to be different” lesson in children’s books. I don’t disagree with the lesson but any adult will be able to write the plot of this book from page one. That makes for a good lesson but not as great of a book. I will say that in the “let’s all be unique” genre, this one is more enjoyable than most. The lesson isn’t quite as heavy handed as I’ve seen elsewhere. I prefer the story to be primary with any message left to the reader instead of stated in the text, but this one isn’t belabored. Michelle Knudsen is also the author of one of my favorite children’s books, The Library Lion, which has much the same message but done in a more subtle way.
I like Knudsen’s sense of humor. I loved that the teacher keeps telling Sally not “to be difficult” even when really weird things are happening to her and her egg. I liked that everyone just acts like it’s par for the course to have a dragon in the classroom, like it’s a minor inconvenience but not really all that big a deal.
This is a fun seek and find book. Each page has rhyming text and die cut peepholes that invite the reader to look closely at the next page. When you turn the page there is a crazy scene (reminiscent of Richard Scarry) with all sorts of things to look for. I prefer books with stories but we did all have fun looking at this one and finding funny things in the pictures.
The point of doing this challenge is to read more. And in particular to read more with my younger two kids. If however, I was picking a winner from this batch I’d pick Doodleday by Ross Collins, with Argus being a close second.