Wednesday, February 14, 2018

VALENTINE'S DAY PICTURE BOOKS: Click, Clack, Moo I LOVE YOU!/Rot The Cutest in the World/I Am Loved


It’s Valentine’s Day and on the farm - that means a Valentine’s party! Little Duck is wildly excited. She hangs balloons, streamers, sparkling lights, and hearts everywhere, and hand-makes a valentine for everyone. On top of a hill, a little fox hears the music from the party and follows Little Duck’s many decorations to the barn…but foxes are not at all welcome on farms. The chickens stop dancing. The sheep stop dancing. The pigs stop dancing. The mice hustle off to hide. Will Little Fox ruin the dance? Or, perhaps, she’s just what the party needs! 
Cronin and Lewin have created another cute book revolving around the animals on Farmer Brown's farm.  In this one, Little Duck spends a great deal of time and energy decorating the farm for the upcoming Valentine's Day dance.  She also makes a valentine for everyone.  That night after the work is done and the cows have gone to their shindig, the party commences with food, dancing, and valentine's for everyone.  But the animals stick mostly to their own kind until a fox shows up and scares everyone except for Little Duck.  It turns out Little Duck still has one valentine left and she's willing to share it with Fox.  Not only is this a sweet story about reaching out to those who are different, it's full of glitter which is bound to thrill young listeners (especially if they get to touch it).
A mutant potato learns that he’s pear-fect just the way he is in this bright, fun, and silly picture book from the creator of It Came in the Mail that will have kids collapsing in giggles (and rescuing the contents of the vegetable drawer).

Rot is a mutant potato. Like most mutant potatoes, Rot loves all sorts of games and contests. So when he sees a sign for the “Cutest in the World Contest,” he can’t wait to enter.

But when Rot realizes who he’s up against—an itty-bitty baby bunny, a little-wittle cuddly kitten, and an eenie-weenie jolly jellyfish—he loses confidence. Will the judges find room in their hearts for an adorable mutant potato?
I enjoyed most things about this book.  Rot is a fun character who enjoys being himself, but when faced with a cute bunny, cuddly kitten, and peppy jellyfish he decides to try to be more.  When that doesn't work out he struts out onto the stage as the one and only ROT THE CUTEST IN THE WORLD.  While the book is cute and funny, I'm not a fan of the butt crack joke (apparently Rot's best side and 'the end' of the book).  But if that sort of joke doesn't bother you, this is a fun book about beauty or cuteness being in the eyes of the beholder.


Newbery Award honoree Ashley Bryan has hand-selected a dozen of National Book Award winner Nikki Giovanni’s poems to illustrate with his inimitable flourish.

There is nothing more important to a child than to feel loved, and this gorgeous gathering of poems written by Nikki Giovanni celebrates exactly that. Hand-selected by Newbery honoree Ashley Bryan, he has, with his masterful flourish of color, shape, and movement, added a visual layering that drums the most impartant message of all to young, old, parent, child, grandparent, and friend alike: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. As a bonus, one page is mirrored, so children reading the book can see exactly who is loved—themselves!
Like many poetry books, I enjoyed some of these poems more than others and the same is bound to be true for young readers/listeners.  I liked the poems about family and heaven and being a mirror of those who came before.  But there are a few poems that are so abstract in their comparisons that young children will have a hard time figuring out what they mean.  I had a hard time with a couple of them (ex. Paula the Cat, Kidnap Poem).  Bryan's illustrations are bright and colorful and gorgeous as his normally are, but may not appeal to all children. 


"In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.
A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life."

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that's soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.
This is a beautiful book about love and where it can be found.  Love can be found in the glowing eyes of new parents, in the music on the radio, and the fresh air.  Love can be found spending time with those we love in the memories we make in the world around us.  Laughter can be love.  There is a lot of imagery in this book both in the words and the illustrations.  Imagery of making memories together, laughing together, sharing and helping each other, all these things are mentioned.  There is one picture that some reviewers haven't liked showing a young boy under a piano as his mother cries and his father stomps from the room.  There's a turned over lamp and chair.  Love is a beautiful thing, but loving humans can also be a painful, hurtful thing.  Sometimes those we love 'flame out' as the book says.  While the book is mostly positive, Long includes this picture demonstrating that love is wonderful, but sometimes also painful.  Long's illustrations are gorgeous and beautifully complement de la Pena's words.

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