This month brought us a few new library finds along with some birthday book gifts to enjoy. Our favorites picture books included stories about monsters under the bed, mimes, writer’s block, and unruly fathers. I also highlight a couple of early chapter books that are pretty well known, but I recommend them nonetheless. Finally, we got to read a new graphic novel about alien abduction and a spunky little girl.
Go to Sleep, Monster! by Kevin Cornell is a picture book that starts with a child scared of the monster under his bed. However, the real question is this: what is the monster under the bed scared of? And how are all these scared characters going to get any sleep? We really enjoyed reading this book and anthropomorphizing this ageless fear into a beast with a softer side.
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon is a picture book about a boy who expresses himself through miming. Being a little different is always difficult, but Mime Boy eventually meets a kindred soul. The art and story are fairly simple, but oh-so sweet.
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead is a picture book written in the first person as a writer who can’t think of a story. “I have to write a story today. That is my job. I write stories. But today I don’t have any ideas.” Boy, can I relate! The book takes us on a journey through photographs and drawings as the idea-less writer goes about his day. He walks his dog. He sees a turtle. He talks to his neighbor. Eventually we all come to realize that, as the title suggests, ideas are all around us.
My Dad at the Zoo, written by Coralie Saudo and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, is a picture book that describes what happens if you had Freaky Friday at the zoo. The dad can’t wait in line, can’t stop goofing around, throws a tantrum for ice cream…you get the idea. Meanwhile, the son tries his best to wrangle his unruly father. It’s a funny story, plus I can only hope my children learned a thing or two from this new point of view.
Fortunately, the Milk, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young, is an early chapter book about a father who goes out to get milk for his kids’ breakfast, but comes home late with not just milk but an entire far-fetched tale about its journey home. This journey involves pretty much everything a geek could want in a story: time travel, dinosaurs, aliens, strange deities, etc. Basically, it’s a Doctor Who script.
Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist by Jim Benton is an early chapter book series about the adventures of a child mad scientist as her inventions go awry or save the day—or most likely both. We received these as a gift because Franny reminded them of my daughter: smart, clever, with a healthy dose of weird! In any case, these are fun to read aloud.
Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman is a graphic novel about a feisty foster child who gets abducted by aliens who end up crash landing on a seemingly deserted planet. Pittman has a long history as a cartoonist and writer for Disney, and this book is exactly what you’d expect from someone with that amount of experience. We can’t wait for the next novel in the series to see what happens next!