I’m not sure where we’ve been but up until recently we had never met Traction Man. This new book, the third in the series, delighted me and the kids. Ruth especially loved the tale of the intrepid Traction Man and his trusty side-kick/pet dog Scrubbing Brush and their adventures at the beach. She requested multiple readings, sometimes on the same day. There is something so appealing to kids about stories of the secret lives of their toys. It’s certainly been done before, but when it’s done well it still makes for a book that feels fresh and interesting. Author Mini Grey does it well here. In Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey, the superhero goes on a beach trip but must endure Grandma’s dog Truffles burying him in the sand, a giant wave that sweeps him and Scrubbing Brush away and finally a rescue by Beachtime Brenda and friends. I love the way the illustrations alternate between being at Traction Man’s viewpoint and showing what is really going on from the perspective of his owner. The text and illustrations together have a cartoon-like feel that goes perfectly with the superhero theme.
Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley tells of a superhero of a different type. Kel is a daredevil, dangerous is his middle name. He eats broccoli. He faces the Potty of Doom. He even faces the dreaded bath. Toddlers and preschoolers will love this book as they identify with all the new (and sometimes scary) daily tasks that Kel must bravely face. Older kids also will like it if my two boys are any example. Heck, it says Potty. What’s not to like? There is also a bit of sweetness to the silliness as Kel ends up needing just a bit of help for his most dangerous feat of all from the experts (his parents).
Move over Frog and Toad, George and Martha, Squid and Octopus. Yes, even Elephant and Piggie. Time to make some room for Amanda and Her Alligator. This Mo Willems book was another hit with all of us. Told in 6 1/2 short stories, we see Amanda (and her alligator) find new ways to surprise each other. Alligator likes nothing more than waiting for Amanda to bring home a surprise, but one day she brings home something that he thinks is not-so-nice. No worries though, the not-such a surprise ending leaves everyone happy. There is plenty of the trademark Willems quirkiness here, most predominately in the various library books that Amanda is reading in each illustration (with titles like “You Can Make it Yourself: Jet Packs”).
I think of all the books I have to share today, Boot and Shoe is my favorite. One reason is that it was written and illustrated by one of my favorite picture book illustrators, Marla Frazee. Boot and Shoe are littermates that live in the same house. They eat out of the same bowl. They sleep in the same bed. They even pee at the same tree. But one is a “front porch kind of dog” and one is a “back porch kind of dog”. They each are content to spend their days happily ensconced on their own porch knowing they will see each other when it’s time to eat and sleep. (And pee.) One day a pesky squirrel stirs up some trouble and everything ends up all topsy-turvy. As usual, I love Frazee’s detailed illustrations. The kids especially liked the one of the two dogs chasing the squirrel all over the page. (Think the old Family Circus cartoons with the overlapping paths going all over the place.)
Start off the New Year right! Stop by Hope is the Word for the first Read Aloud Thursday of 2013. You’re sure to get lots of great book ideas.