Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Picture book roundup - Dynamic Duos

Here are two great new picture books with dynamic author/illustrator pairings.  Enjoy!

  • Ray, Mary Lyn and Marla Frazee. 2011. Stars. New York: Beach Lane.
Stars combines childlike simplicity with the grace of a poet. As children face the wide expanse of the universe, they are not afraid.  Instead, they exhibit a sense of quiet, contemplative wonder.

The illustrations, “rendered in graphite, gouache, and gel pen,” are both whimsical and philosophical. When shown outdoors, children are the focal point of the illustrations - sitting pensively in the seat of swing, blowing dandelion seeds to the wind, holding a basket aloft to a star-studded sky; yet they are small and insignificant amidst the vastness of the world.
It may help to have on pajamas.
Then you look up. Almost always you will find one. And another, and another, and another.
And if sometimes you can’t see them, they’re still there.
(The font was hand-lettered by Marla Frazee.)

One of the year’s best picture books. A stellar collaboration! 

Read a graphic excerpt here.

(And keep this one in mind for next year’s collaborative summer reading theme, Dream Big.)

  • Becker, Bonny. 2011. The Sniffles for Bear.  Ill. by Kady MacDonald Denton. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

Rarely do follow-up picture books measure up to the success of the original, but The Sniffles for Bear, the fourth in this wonderfully charming series, is nearly as delightful as the original!  It is by far the best of the Bear and Mouse sequels.

Bear is sick, and the ever-cheerful, ever-helpful, bright-eyed Mouse is trying his best to comfort the ailing bear, who is decidedly unwilling to be comforted.

“This is impossible, intolerable – “Bear started to roar.
But he was too weak.  “Look!” Bear wheezed.  “Look how my paw is trembling. You must help me to my bed.”
And indeed, Mouse was most helpful.
(picture Mouse, trudging backwards up the banister, pulling on the finger of Bear who is dramatically and theatrically feigning an inability to mount the stairs on his own)

Bear is at his funniest when his mood is at its darkest.  But of course, when Mouse becomes ill, his sour mood will turn to one of concern.  They are, after all, the best of friends.

This may be a well-used plot, but Becker and Denton play it to perfection.


  1. Thank you for writing about these books. Being in fifth grade this year, I have missed out on many picture books. These look great.


Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...