The Day the Crayons Came Home

The Day the Crayons Came HomeAnother fun Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers! This time Duncan’s crayons are off on their adventures and send home postcards detailing where they were lost or forgotten.

As someone who has sent a lot of postcards and received almost as many, I really loved flipping through each of these creative postcards documenting the crayons and where they’ve been. I loved seeing Jeffers’ creative ways to convey each crayon’s story, especially the glow in the dark spread (spoilers!) and the courageous Pea Green (aka Esteban)’s many post cards from exotic but misplaced locals.

All in all, a very fun picture book!

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Journey

Sadly, I haven’t been reading quite as many books lately – I think it has something to do with traveling and going to school… maybe. Regardless, I was recently in a Czech bookstore (despite not being able to speak or read the language I still like to visit bookstores) and saw a copy of Journey and cracked it open.

The beautiful thing about this book is there are no words and the narrative relies solely on illustrations to convey the story which is fantastic when you probably wouldn’t be able to read the book in the first place.

Journey is one of those books that transcends typical children’s books and is an absolutely stunning work of art. Telling the story of a little girl who uses a red crayon to create a red door and step into another world filled with magic, depth, and mystery. The influence from Harold and the Purple Crayon is evident but Journey has a feel and tone to it that is different from the unmistakable classic. I absolutely loved this book and didn’t even care about the strange looks people were giving me as I slowly flipped through it – they can blame it on me being a foreigner for all I care!

Following the little girl through the fantasy world there were times that I had to pause the unspoken narrative and study the detailed, full-page illustrations closer adding to the tone and feel of the world and story. With themes of imagination, creativity, and adventure streaked throughout the story and incredibly imaginative and at times breath taking illustrations – it’s hard to not love this little beauty.

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Chloe and the Lion

Chloe and the LionThis book brings the fourth-wall crumbling down when author and illustrator begin bickering about the direction the story should go. It all begins when Chloe wants to ride the merry-go-round but devolves as the illustrator and author dispute about the antagonist of the story, the illustrator is fired, the author tries to draw, the illustrator gets eaten by a lion until Chloe finally puts her foot down and straightens out the story.

Visually, this story is hilarious. The story begins in a specific cartoon format but once illustrator and author begin commenting on the direction it’s doing the picture pans out and includes claymation stylized replicas of the two with Chloe’s story on a theater-like pedestal. Eventually, the author even tries to draw a new direction and his child-like attempts mangle the direction which is the catalyst for Chloe’s intervention. The use of several different mediums of illustrations – cartoon, claymation mannequins, and child-like drawings – alludes back to the meta-fictive and postmodern nature of this book.

The realization of the character’s roles in the picture book – self-referential – is an added element that is not often seen in other classic picture books and increases the sarcastic role of the story-line. I think these added characteristics that make the story atypical and non-linear really endear the story-line to readers and make Chloe and the Lion a huge hit!

Nelson Mandela

I’ve often made it clear how much I enjoy picture books and admire how the format allows the narrative and story to take center fold. That said, itt’s incredibly hard for a picture book to capture an entire person’s life – especially one as active and impactful of Nelson Mandela. The story begins with a boy and follows him on his journey grow13623795ing up in Johannesburg, learning from African elders, his time in prison, helping to bring an end to apartheid and becoming the president of South Africa. This story is clear and powerful in a way that only true stories can be.

Front the powerful front cover all the way through the story the illustrations and story capture the reader’s attention. Each illustration is a tribute to this seemingly larger-than-life
man. With darker tones and a clear emphasis on Mandela in the illustrations the reader is better able to understand the true meaning and weight of the story. The illustrations capture the atmosphere and bring an added emphasis to the severity of his plight and challenges.

In our society that idolizes athletes and pop stars it’s good to recognize a real hero. This is a perfect introduction for children to a little discussed time in our history and an opportunity to remember a man who sacrificed so greatly for people he believed deserved equality and freedom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – I think for most people they have some memory linked with this book. It seems like one of those classic picture books that every bookstore and library must have, and most parents have probably read this story at one time or another to their kids. The story itself is very straightforward: lowercase letters want to climb up the coconut tree and do so with pizazz helping each other up along the way.

With bright, colorful, and engaging pictures that capture young ones attention. That combined with a catchy, fast paced rhythmic text that introduces the ABCs to children I understand why this story has been so loved for so long.

As I mentioned earlier, I find it interesting how creatively Bill Martin incorporates and introduces the letters of the alphabet. The characterization of the letters and the way the texts highlights each letter creates an innovate way to familiarize children with the alphabet.

Additionally, I find the family dynamic displayed between the little letters and the capital letters endearing and an interesting way to remind children that it’s ok to ask for help and to let others patch you up after scrapes and falls.

In addition to all the fun this book is, it also has some good lessons and is one of the subtler books for introducing the alphabet to children. I was able to re-read it recent and was reminded of how much I love this little story – I recommend everyone take a minute or two from their day and read this little story out-loud again!

Vader and Son AND Vader’s Little Princess


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I’m a geek at heart.  I drool over anything associated with Lord of the Rings, the BBCs Sherlock makes me giddy, slap anything Star Wars-y on something and I’ll be throwing money your way, when I meet someone who’s seen Firefly we become best friends instantly, and don’t be me started on Doctor Who!  So naturally, when I saw a copy of Vader and Son I ended up getting it and I just HAD to complete the set and purchase Vader’s Little Princess when it came out.  These two little books don’t have a specific plot but follow an idea of what Darth Vader would be like as a father to his two kids depicting in comedic cartoons that drop in on different scenes from what their life would have been like.  While I think these two collections of cartoons are amazing I identify best with Vader’s Little Princess

I'm pretty sure I made my dad several scarves that ended up like this!
I’m pretty sure I made my dad several scarves that ended up like this!
Yah, a version of this happened in my childhood too.
Yah, a version of this happened in my childhood too.