Anne’s Feelings by Kelly Hill


Anne’s Feelings by Kelly Hill

Beautiful oversized board book for illustrating a variety of emotion–from being in the depths of despair to feeling full of wonder.

Every page has illustrations that are “hand-embroidered”, giving the book a patchwork look, which extends to the names for each of the feelings too. They are charmingly detailed–I especially love the tiny bees and flowers on some pages and the purple-heavy palette for the nighttime scene.The only page that gave me pause was the “scared” one–it has the back of a girl’s head with a ribbon on it that really triggers pareidolia (looks like an angry face), which kind of makes it even more of a scary situation. Smallest of nitpicks though. Overall very effective, both in general visual interest and in illustrating Anne’s feelings!

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies


The Day War Came by Nicola Davies

This is a hard book to review. For an adult it easily induced grief and was appropriately distressing for the topic it’s covering–displacement of children during times of war, the difficulties of finding acceptance as a refugee child.

I can’t be sure how it would hold up to a child, though–the loss of the family seemed to be an important point to me. But for the child-narrator of the story, she couldn’t even give words to the feelings. The story moves quickly–there is no stop for mourning. It’s a stark account–the illustrations show smoke-filled settings and blockish but emotive human figures.

Overall, I find the book successful, and it would be an excellent one to spark a conversation with children on acceptance and empathy.

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera


Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera

Very evocative! The early pages describing the small, quiet moments of childhood that you remember for a lifetime–a bird’s shadow, clamoring chickens and fuzzy flowers–are wonderfully vivid. The illustrations that accompany them are perfect for the poem–dreamy colors blending together and soft, thick outlines.

Some of the later stanzas fell flat to me–they tended towards excessive adjectives. The message of the book builds up well across the pages though, and as you read aloud, the “imagine” at the end of each stanza can build up in intensity.

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

The Yark by Bertrand Santini


The Yark by Bertrand Santini

I had slight trouble with this one–I couldn’t initially place the audience. I thought it was for children, but the explicit description of eating a child piece by piece at the start even had /my/ skin crawling. The Yark is a Monster (as is Humanity, though his kind is only rarer) that feeds on good children–bad children give him colossal indigestion.

The premise is bleak, in that the Yark is just having awful luck finding good children to eat anymore, and is likely to starve to death soon. There’s a lot of insistence that children in the good old days were much better behaved (and that they were even more hygienic??), and any old Yark could feast at their will.

It has lots of dark humor, like the assessment of the scent of the world’s most wonderful girl, Madeline: “Violet and anise are the heart notes that reveal and underlying melancholy. . . a blend of blood orange and milk sugar, top notes that emanate only from the purest souls.” There’s a dream sequence smorgasbord I liked, as the Yark lies hungry: “boys in bacon, orphan gratin, chicken-fried children, breaded babies, leg of twins, brats in a bun, pate of little girl, stuffed schoolchildren, tandooried toddlers, choirboys in bundt cake…”

Overall I could see this working for a certain kind of middle grade (probably no younger)–the lover of grotesques, of random and dark humor. I was a big fan of Jhonen Vasquez in my preteen years, and I can imagine The Yark would appeal in a similar way–especially the greatly detailed illustrations (the Yark occasionally has tiny skulls matted in his fur!).

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber


“He wore an indescribable hat, his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time, and he had a dark, describable beard.”

“The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets.”

“Something very much like nothing anyone had ever seen before came trotting down the stairs and crossed the room. ‘What is that?’ the Duke asked, palely. ‘I don’t know what it is,’ said Hark, ‘but it’s the only one there ever was.'”

some quotes I loved from Thurber’s The 13 Clocks

Red Sky at Night by Elly MacKay


Red Sky at Night by Elly MacKay

Creative non-fiction like this is wonderful to find, especially aimed at younger audiences–this one is an illustrated book of traditional sayings about the weather (like “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight”). It’s a way to start a conversation about weather, about customs, about the habits of frogs and ladybugs (thanks to the extra section in the back on the accuracy of the sayings). The art is beautiful as well–there’s one two-page spread of small homes on high hills peppered among the ocean with a train whistling in the background that’s especially imaginative and provoking.

I do wish there had been more of a story woven in–something that I know would be difficult when all your text is just traditional sayings (but maybe with some rearranging it could have been done).

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”

“… and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

“Absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams.”

some quotes I loved from The Wind in the Willows