PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Is 2 a Lot?/Angry Cookie/Noah Builds an Ark


While Joey’s mom explains the context of numbers in vivid ways, Joey’s imagination transforms their ordinary car ride into a magical odyssey through a land of make-believe. 

Is 2 a Lot? is a wonderfully charming and authentic exchange between mother and child. Annie Watson’s story makes numbers tangible, and Rebecca Evans’s illustrations bring them to life.


Is 2 a Lot? takes the reader on a journey through the relative value of numbers as imagined by a mother and her little boy.  I quite enjoyed reading this as the comparisons the mother makes are amusing.  For example, when Joey asks if 2 is a lot, his mother tells him that 2 isn't a lot of pennies, but it is a lot of smelly skunks.  At this point, the mother turns the car down a path with a sign that says, "Fasten safety belt before time travel".  Joey continues by asking about 3, 4, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 1000.  As the mother shares various amusing comparisons with her son, the various items and animals start to interact and build up in the illustrations creating an amusing conglomeration of chaos amidst the orderly nature of numbers.  Numbers have never been so fun!  A great book for sheer enjoyment, but even better for teaching children about a rather abstract concept. 


Famed spoken-word poet Laura Dockrill's hilarious read-aloud about an outraged baked good!

Oooohhh . . . not you again!
AGGGHH It's so bright! . . . Close this book this very second, you nosy noodle!

Cookie has woken up on the wrong side of the bed and is very angry. You want to know why? Well, you'd have to keep reading to find out, but now Cookie's calling you annoying and telling you to mind your own business. If by chance you do stick around, you might hear about a certain roommate's terrible musical skills, why you should never let your barber try out a "new look," how it's impossible to find a hat that fits a cookie, and why an ice-cream parlor that's out of your favorite treat can be a source of desolation. Then there's the matter of a hungry bird who tries to snack on you. . . . Propelled by quirky humor and woes that every young child can relate to, Angry Cookie suggests that sometimes the best way to cheer up a grumpy lump is simply by being there -- and lending your ears.


Angry Cookie tells the story of a cookie that wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, annoyed with the reader for intruding on his privacy.  It turns out that he has an underlying reason for his anger that led him to take out those feelings on the reader.  As the reader listens to Cookie's frustrations (an annoying song, a bad haircut, a dangerous bird), Cookie starts to feel better.  The story shares the idea that simply being listened to by a friend can help one work through bad feelings.  I liked the theme.  Feelings are a topic that young children are still learning about and learning to deal with and manage so a fun book like this one that shares the importance of managing one's emotions is great.  The illustrations are cute too for the most part.  But there was one thing that I didn't like and it lowered my rating of the book.  In two illustrations, the cookie's 'bum crack' is showing.  I do not enjoy seeing this when I read a book, especially since it is so totally unnecessary to the story.  Of course this won't bother every reader and if it doesn't bother you than this is a fun story to read and share.  As it is, it's not one I would feel comfortable sharing with a class because I can guarantee that some student will point out this detail and I'll lose the class to giggles and wisecracks.


A storm is coming -- a big one. How does a young urban boy prepare? A lovely allegorical story about ecology and caring inspired by the ancient tale of stewardship.

While his family readies his townhouse for an approaching storm, boarding up windows and laying in groceries, Noah heads to the back garden, where beetles are burrowing deeper into the bark and mice are stuffing their hole with moss. Quickly and efficiently, Noah sets to work building an ark for them and other backyard creatures -- salamanders and toads, snakes and spiders, even brightly colored hummingbirds. Setting out fistfuls of nuts and leaves, berries and seeds, the boy props a flashlight inside and arranges some miniature furniture for the animals to sit or sleep on. "Come," Noah whispers to his friends just as his mother calls him inside and the dark storm roars in. From an award-winning author and a Caldecott Honoree comes a quietly inspiring story about how taking action on behalf of our fellow earth travelers can help us face fearsome events.


Noah Builds an Ark does as one would expect follow the biblical story.  In this version, a young boy decides to build a shelter for the animals that live in his backyard to protect them from a coming storm.  Now, in real life, these animals aren't likely to seek shelter together, and the illustrations show problems with the durability of the shelter, which is understandable since it's built by a young boy.  But the boy's efforts to take stewardship for the animals he cares about makes for a tender story.  My favorite part of the book though are Rocco's luminous illustrations.  They are absolutely stunning.  The animals with the tiny furniture huddled against the rain compare interestingly with the illustrations of the boy sheltering with his family in their home.  The theme of human environmental stewardship shines through loud and clear.  The religious parts of the original biblical story are not to be found here, the story revolves around the boy's efforts to save the animals.  An enjoyable tale of environmental care.


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