Picture books for children – reviews | Picture books
SSpring has arrived, a fresh coat of paint splashed over the world, the sight of unfurling leaves and bright flowers give many people an extra boost in their step. Those longer days, however, can bring a new challenge to anyone with young children: how do you get them to sleep while the pesky sun continues to shine through the windows?
Just in time arrive two new picture books exploring bedtime. First, Clare Helen Walsh’s mini science lesson wrapped in a beautifully cozy tale that finds Miki and her mother soaring into space to find out why it’s still light, even though Miki has brushed her teeth and put on his pajamas. As they pass stars and planets, Sun at sunset (Storyhouse) goes over the basics of how the Earth orbits the sun and how this causes the seasons. Illustrator Sally Soweol Han characterizes the sun with fluttering eyelashes and a huge smile, blushing each page with a soft glow.
It’s not clear skies that keep the boy awake at Alex English monkey bedtime (Faber, May 5), but a host of hairy primates that escaped from the zoo. At first, it’s just a pygmy marmoset tapping on the window, but soon the little guy has let in dozens of his friends and chaos breaks out in the bathroom: “The tamarin burped its name in bubbles in the air. The marmoset jumped into the sink, put toothpaste in his hair.
As mum no longer takes care of the baby (while sometimes yelling at her son to get undressed, wash his face, GET READY!), the situation spirals out of control, illustrated by Pauline Gregory’s cartoons of monkeys destroying home (the shocked looking pet dog is a nice touch). Soon the boy finds himself in tears which, fortunately, triggers a big cleaning on the part of the guests who realize that they have gone too far. A fun, literal depiction of the savagery that so often overcomes children at the end of the day, monkey bedtime asks to be read aloud.
A little dot (Templar) by Lucy Rowland features a blue ball representing kindness in a story that rolls along with great energy and warmth, the ball growing as it bears witness to thoughtfulness. Bursting with people, flowers, and a predominantly pink, orange, and yellow color palette, Gwen Millward’s vibrant illustrations have a slight ’70s feel to them, and her blue dot is reminiscent of a famous child of that era, Mr Happy from Roger Hargreaves (1971). But it’s truly a book for our times in both style and message: when Blue Dot is stopped short by an irate girl who feels left out, Anger and Kindness respond by hugging her. “Well… the thing is, with Anger (as Kindness well knew), if you look closely, you’ll see Sadness there as well. » A little dot invites little readers to think deeply about their emotions to better understand themselves and others.
Meanwhile, tensions are rising Flooded (Quarto, May 3). When their town begins to fill with water, the animals first try to get on with their lives – getting to work, going to dinner – they just put on their rubber boots, or the smaller animals get out of surfboards and canoes. But as the situation worsens, opinions begin to diverge, until the animals finally agree that they must come together to solve the town’s problem. This impressive debut album from new author-illustrator Mariajo Ilustrajo uses a minimal palette of smoky grays and inky blacks, the detailed designs becoming steadily saturated with aquamarine as the floodwaters grow. It’s a timely read and a brilliant reminder that while children’s books – and lives – are enriched by color, sometimes less can be more.