Children’s Picture Book Review: The Pruwahaha Monster by Jean-Paul Mulders, Jacques Maes (Illustrations), Lise Braekers (Illustrations)

Children’s Picture Book Review: The Pruwahaha Monster by Jean-Paul Mulders, Jacques Maes (Illustrations), Lise Braekers (Illustrations)The Pruwahaha Monster by Jean-Paul Mulders, Jacques Maes, Lise Braekers
Published by Kids Can Press on October 4th 2016
Pages: 26
Goodreads
five-stars

A five-year-old boy has gone with his father to swing on his favorite swing near the woods. But while he's been having fun swinging, a huuuuuge monster has woken up nearby from a very long nap. The monster is ravenous, and there's only one thing that will satisfy its hunger: little children! At first, the monster has no luck as it searches the woods for food. Then, oh, no! The monster spies the little boy on the swing! But when the monster creeps closer and tries to scare the boy with its fierce cry, “pruwwwahhahaha!” the boy isn't frightened at all. In fact, he only laughs at the monster and keeps swinging! Is the boy fearless? Or does he know something about this monster that we don't know?
With humor and suspense, children will be on the edge of their seats listening to this lively picture book. Author Jean-Paul Mulders artfully tells the story using rhythmic language and fun monster sounds that children will love repeating aloud. The two-color illustrations by team Jacques Maes and Lise Braekers feature lots of busy forest scenes to keep readers guessing what might be “out there” while, of course, never actually revealing the “monster.” Small children delight in being spooked, and this book offers just the right amount of thrill, perfectly balanced with humor and the warmth of the relationship between the boy and his father.

 

The Pruwahaha Monster is a story told by a father to his son while he pushes him on a swing. The story is a bit scary with a monster who is looking for a child to feast upon. Personally, I thought it was sort of funny in a “morbid” kind of way. However, this story is not meant to scare but to empower the little boy not to fear the monster.

The illustrations are gorgeous. I love the colors used, and all the details throughout. With the words of the story contained to every other page, the reader gets a chance to fully explore the illustrations and see all the beauty within them. My favorite things about the illustrations are the woodland creatures (especially the bunny). As you read the book it is clear that the story and the illustrations go hand in hand. It is a perfect artistic pairing.

The writing is descriptive and beautiful. With a change in font size, the illustrator/author gives the reader a visual cue to remind them to change his/her voice while reading the story out loud. Along with visual cues, the author uses more difficult vocabulary that opens up the opportunity for readers and listeners of the story to learn new words.

One of my favorite things about the Pruwahaha Monster is the feeling of mystery created by the author in regards to the monster. Younger readers are sure to be on the edge of their seats. There will be questions that will arise as to who the monster really is. This can lead to an excellent opportunity to discuss the meaning of the word “monster’. Are there different meanings/types of monsters? How do they differ from the ones created in our own imagination?

At first, I was a bit concerned that this book would frighten little kids. However, the story’s tone does change quickly and the cheerful illustrations also help take away from the “scary” factor. Due to the positive message about conquering one’s fear and laughing at it. As well as the mystery behind who the monster really is. I believe both kids and adults will enjoy and be entertained by this story.

The Pruwahaha Monster is the perfect Fall read as we approach Halloween. A bit scary, fun, and entertaining. It is sure to delight young and old readers alike.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for providing me with an E-ARC in return for an honest review.

five-stars

Children’s Picture Book Review: A Tea Party In The Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

Children’s Picture Book Review: A Tea Party In The Woods by Akiko MiyakoshiThe Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
Published by Kids Can Press on August 1st 2015
Pages: 32
Goodreads
five-stars

Kikko sets out after her father with a forgotten pie for Grandma. When she arrives at a strange house in the wintry woods, a peek in the window reveals that the footprints Kikko had been following did not belong to her father at all, but to a bear in a long coat and hat! Alice in Wonderland meets Little Red Riding Hood in this charmed tale.

When I first saw the cover for A Tea Party in The Woods I thought…”must read…there is a bunny wearing a yellow coat”. I also love tea parties…so obviously this seemed like a win-win for me as a reader. Luckily NetGalley approved my request and I was able to explore the story further. It turned out to be quite a delightful and whimsical journey.

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A Tea Party in the Woods is the story of a little girl named Kikko and her journey through the snow covered woods to bring her grandmother a pie. Her father has already set off and she must hurry to try to catch up to him. Unfortunately, she stumbles and crushes the box with the pie inside. Kikko is devastated but this turns out to be a happy accident because she soon comes upon a house filled with furry animals having a tea party. Kikko joins in on the celebration and with the generosity of all the animals she now has various pieces of cake to bring with her. As she sets off to grandmother’s house the animals accompany her in a makeshift musical parade. 

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The book’s concept reminded me a bit of Little Red Riding Hood, minus the hungry wolf. I thought the artwork to be beautifully done, and a great use of light and shade. Though mainly done in charcoal, there are splashes of color (mainly red and yellow and orange) that bring your attention to exactly where you should be looking. I also thought that the minimalistic color choices were a good way to depict the “bleakness” of what winter can be like. While reading this story I couldn’t help but imagine how some of the illustrations are a bit “dark” and with the right twist of the mind you could think something far more sinister could be afoot…(i.E. The animals all turn on Kikko and eat her for the main course). However, A Tea Party in The Woods is definitely a children’s book, and the author and artist made sure to not leave too much room for the mind of the child to wonder to such dark thoughts (though if you were like me as a child…I probably would have anyway).

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A Tea Party In The Woods was originally published in Japan in 2010 and I am very happy that it has been so flawlessly translated into English. I am most definitely going to add the finished copy to my library and I recommend that you give this one a chance, it feels like it could be a classic and children will enjoy reading it over and over again. It was stunning, with just the right amount of weird and whimsy to fill my heart with joy.

Thank you to NetGalley, and Kids Can Press for providing me an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

five-stars

Children’s Picture Book Review: Toshi’s Little Treasures

Children’s Picture Book Review: Toshi’s Little TreasuresToshi's Little Treasures by Nadine Robert, Aki
Published by Kids Can Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 32
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In this appealing search-and-find informational picture book, readers join a little boy named Toshi as he and his grandmother explore six of their favorite places -- the riverbank, the town, the forest, the country, the park and the beach. At each location, Toshi finds treasures to add to his collection, from a dragonfly wing to a glittery rock to a guitar pick. Best of all, his grandmother always knows what everything is! Each scene is featured in a full-spread illustration, with lots of potential treasures labeled. Following that is an activity in which readers help Toshi identify his found treasures from each place by matching them to related items (for example, pink peony petals matching the peony plant, and a coin matching the coin purse). Answers at the back of the book reveal interesting facts about them all, adding context. The animals that Toshi and his grandmother encounter are also shown at the back of the book. Using an innovative technique that mixes fiction and nonfiction, this book is the perfect resource for life science lessons on habitats and the environment. It encourages observation skills, curiosity and critical thinking -- building blocks for studying science. This book would be a terrific inspiration for a trip around the neighborhood in which children can find, identify and draw treasures of their own. It could also be used as a starting point for storytelling, in which children imagine the story of a treasure -- Toshi's or their own -- before it was found.

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This book is about the special treasures Toshi finds when he goes for walks with his grandmother. It reminded me of my own walks with my grandmother and how I would ask her about the different things that I saw. It also reminded me of my nephews and how inquisitive they are, always picking up different things in the yard when we play with them outside. Toshi’s Little Treasure has lovely bright colors and so much to seek and find. You travel along with Toshi and his grandmother to the riverbank, the town, the country, the forest, the park and the beach.

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At each location, Toshi goes exploring with his grandmother and finds many different little treasures to add to his growing collection from a glittery rock, dog whistle, a partridge feather and so much more. This book is a great starting point to encouraging exploration of nature and different habitats as well as promoting being in nature. This is definitely a great book to inspire your own family to go on your own treasure hunting adventure. I loved that after each place you have a list of all the treasures that Toshi found and you have a matching “game” to see if you can match the different items you found to where they come from.

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I would have loved for the illustrations to have been a bit more detailed, but that is really just me being picky. At the back of the book, there is an answer key with all the matching answers, as well as some interesting and educational little tidbits of information about each item.I think this book would be a great addition to any family library. Be it used for exploring, or just as a “seek and find” reading activity it is sure to entertain and captivate young readers.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and enjoy this delightful book.

 

four-half-stars

Picture Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Picture Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley SpiresThe Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Published by Kids Can Press on April 1st 2014
Pages: 32
Goodreads
five-stars

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.
For the early grades' exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl's frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it's okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn't just make her magnificent thing --- "she tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens." These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

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The Most Magnificent Thing is the story of a regular unnamed little girl and her little companion. They both enjoy making things, and one day the little girl decides to make the “Most Magnificent” thing. Together they set off on a series of trial and error experiments to try to create exactly what the little girl has envisioned in her mind. However, she just can’t seem to get it right. Eventually, she gets frustrated, angry and is about to give up completely, but her faithful companion pup convinces her to step away from the project and take a walk instead. As they go on their walk, the little girl starts to calm down and to relax. She returns again to all the different versions of her previous “failures” and she starts to see that there are bits and pieces from each of them that actually could work after all. With a clear mind, and a new positive outlook the little girl and her little assistant start anew and finally create The Most Magnificent Thing. Though it was a bit heavier than expected, and the color needed some work, it was just exactly what she wanted after all.

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WOW! This book AMAZED me. The illustrations are adorable, colorful and filled with so many details to look at. The vocabulary used in the book is fantastic, using words like “tinkered”, “pondered”, “fiddling” , and “wondered” throughout the story. I love that there is never a name given to the little girl, so readers can either place themselves in her place, or pick whatever name they want for her. I think it’s really great that the little girl is just a standard, regular girl. She’s not a princess, or witch, warrior or fairy. She’s just a little girl with lots of imagination and spunk. I love the lessons that can be found between the lines of this book. Lessons about the struggles and frustrations that come with trying to execute a vision into a reality. Lessons about not needing things to be perfect for them to be magnificent. Lessons about having patience and perseverance. Lessons about how sometimes you need to just take a breather and clear your mind before you can get to where you need to be. Lessons about how sometimes you need to fail or get something not quite right in order to achieve your ultimate goals. All of these lessons are wonderful for children to learn, but they are also great reminders to the adults reading this book to their children, students, family members or themselves. Big lessons, in such a simple yet beautifully written story about a regular girl and her little sidekick. It’s also a marvelous thing to see that the little girl’s ideas and projects are what the main focus of the book is and not so much the little girl herself. I love that she is written as a creator, a thinker, a builder. Both girls and boys will enjoy this book, but it is really lovely to see a book promote Girl Power so eloquently.

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I highly recommend this witty and adorable book to everyone, young or old. It is the type of book that can be read over and over again, and each time there are new things to discover upon the bright and detailed illustrations on each page. It truly is a Most Magnificent Thing.

Thank you, NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing me with the E-ARC of this awesome book.

five-stars