Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Tap to Play!

Salina Yoon. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-228684-0

In a book channeling the aesthetic and interactivity of an app (the glossy pages are even suggestive of a touch screen), Yoon introduces Blip, a red dot with eyes and legs who asks readers for help. “I need to reach that bar to win the game,” he says from the corner of a blank white spread, a blue bar appearing diagonally opposite. First, he requests readers “shake the book so I can bounce,” which results in wild ricocheting; in subsequent scenes, children are told to flip and tilt the book, and to tap Blip himself. “OUCH! Not that hard,” he protests, after his body is flattened with a “SPLAT!” Yoon is aiming for the same audience as Hervé Tullet’s Press Here and subsequent interactive titles of its kind. But while Blip’s pratfalls and overreactions should prompt some laughs, Blip’s generic appearance and one-note personality keep him in the realm of digital avatar, rather than a character to invest in, and the interactive payoffs, including the “surprise” at the end of the game, fall flat. Ages 4–8. Agent: Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Hadley Hooper. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-948-1

In one long, singing sentence (and a briefer second one that’s no less lyrical), MacLachlan (Snowflakes Fall) takes what’s known of Matisse’s upbringing and shows how naturally it leads into a life as an artist. “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived/ in a dreary town in Northern France where the skies were gray,” she starts, as Hooper (Here Come the Girl Scouts!) draws a bundled-up boy crossing a village square in the wintry dusk. As MacLachlan shows how Matisse’s mother brought color into her son’s life, Hooper’s woodcutlike images recall Matisse’s organic forms and brilliant hues while preserving her own style. Small Henri feeds pigeons, “Watching... their colors that changed with the light... That your mother called iridescence.” On the next page, the boy stands opposite the man Matisse, who holds a palette. “Would it be a surprise that you became/ A fine painter who painted/ Light/ and Movement/ And the iridescence of birds?” It’s a sumptuous meditation on the way artists see and feel, one that possesses an iridescence of its own. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content LLC. Illustrator’s agent: Marlena Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story

Patrick McDonnell. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-22258-7

Louie, one of McDonnell’s adorable button-nosed creatures, is in the middle of his own story, singing happily when he notices some jelly on the pages. It’s not just a drawing—the photographic blob looks very real, as if readers had spilled jelly on their own book. Then a splotch of peanut butter lands on Louie’s head. “My story is getting all messed up!” he cries. A flurry of fingerprints, a splash of orange juice, and crayon scribbles soon follow. “This is the worst thing ever!” Louie wails, arms flailing wildly. The official-looking narration that starts and restarts as the book progresses (“This is Louie’s story”) turns out to be a kind of coach, an objective voice that urges Louie to take the long view. “I’m still here,” he concludes. “You’re still reading. And it is a pretty good story, messes and all.” Louie’s exaggerated reactions to the growing mess will trigger laughs with every page turn. Yet McDonnell (The Monster’s Monster) excels at reminding his characters—and readers—that it’s possible to keep it together even when life has jelly all over it. Ages 3–6. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Gentleman Bat

Abraham Schroeder, illus. by Piotr Parda. Ripple Grove (Midpoint Trade, dist.), $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-9913866-0-4

Schroeder and Parda make their children’s book debut with a fittingly genteel story that follows the nocturnal stroll of the gentleman bat of the title; the book is also the first from publisher Ripple Grove. Writing in rhymed couplets with a solid meter, Schroeder describes a world that comes alive by night, as bats dressed to the hilt in Victorian finery meander through cobblestone streets under gaslight: “With the nod of his head and a wink of his eye,/ The gentleman bat would greet passersby.” Parda’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are painted in quiet grays, warmed by the glow of lanterns and storefronts. He lavishes attention on the bats’ suits, gowns, and accessories, and tucks visual jokes into some of the scenes (a quintet performing in a bandstand plays their music upside down, naturally). The plot itself is quite subdued—the gentleman bat meets a lady friend on the street, they share a dance, fend off a sudden storm, and kiss. It isn’t a story to set hearts racing (other than those of the two bat lovers), but it’s an enchanting world to spend time in. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Counting Chickens

Polly Alakija. Frances Lincoln/Otter-Barry (PGW, dist.), $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-84780-437-2

The notion that one shouldn’t count one’s chickens before they have hatched has been around for centuries, but for an African boy named Tobi, there isn’t much else to do. Tobi’s friends all have animals, as well, and over the course of one week, they all begin to have babies. “On Monday, Ade’s cow had a calf,” writes Alakija (A Stork in a Baobab Tree). “Tobi’s hen laid one egg.” On the days that follow, Tunde’s sheep bears two lambs, “Bisi’s goat had three kids,” and so on. The eggs from Tobi’s hen? They just sit there, leaving Tobi feeling bored and left out. Alakija’s acrylic paintings, given rough texture through pencil shading, present vibrant images of contemporary village life—one boy chats on his cell phone soon after his pig gives birth to six piglets. Throughout, readers can count Tobi’s eggs, his friends’ animals, and their offspring, and after the seven chicken eggs finally hatch (and grow up to lay eggs of their own), children can seek out 50 chickens in the final spread. An inviting account of the rewards of patience. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack

William Joyce and Kenny Callicutt. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7349-2

Joyce (The Numberlys) dispenses with the scarier parts of Jack and the Beanstalk (no “Fee fi fo fum” here), stringing old and new elements together with chatty narration and dialogue. In this version, there’s a drought in the kingdom where Jack lives, a special problem for the royal court: “The king’s royal pinky had become stinky.” Joyce and newcomer Callicutt give their cast rounded heads that make them resemble Playmobil figures, including the bearded wizard whose ultralong beard deposits a talking bean in Jack’s hand. “Hey, I’m a smallish magic bean,” the bean says. “Hey, I’m a smallish regular kid,” says Jack. The beanstalk leads to a “smallish giant kid named Don” whose overlong bath is responsible for the drought (“So Don...” “Yeah, Jack?” “Been in the tub long?”). Fast pacing and fresh visuals provide continuous laughs and entertainment as Joyce and Callicut drive home a lighthearted message that smallish kids (and beans) can bring about big change. As a bonus, the ending suggests that additional fairy-tale reimaginings could be in store—here’s hoping. Ages 3–6. Agent: Michael Siegel, Michael Siegel & Associates. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
I Wanna Go Home

Karen Kaufman Orloff, illus. by David Catrow. Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25407-9

Previously seen in I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room, Alex is still exchanging plaintive missives with his parents in his third picture book, though he has upgraded to email, out of necessity—Alex and his siblings are staying in Florida with their grandparents while their parents are in Bora Bora. Alex is miserable: it’s raining, it’s boring, and he’s unnerved by seeing Grandpa’s false teeth on his bedside table (a scene that Catrow, no surprise, delights in making as icky as possible). But a square dancing class, Grandma and Grandpa’s laissez-faire attitude toward mealtime (at a diner, Alex turns nine corn dogs into an impressive statue of a poodle), and a (very) old-fashioned game of stickball soon have the boy singing another tune. Orloff skillfully expresses Alex’s gradually shifting attitude, while Catrow’s comically exaggerated art provides a hyperbolic sense of fun. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bear on the Homefront

Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat, illus. by Brian Deines. Pajama Press (Orca, dist.), $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-927485-13-2

The creative team behind A Bear in War moves from WWI to WWII to continue the story of Aileen Rogers (Innes’s great-aunt) and her teddy bear, inspired by real events. Now an adult who works as a nurse, Aileen gives Teddy to two British siblings, Grace and William, who are among many children arriving in Canada to be kept safe during the war. Rendered in a muted palette, Deines’s lush oil paintings showcase the Canadian landscape as the children make their way by train to Winnipeg to live on a family’s farm until the war ends. Once again, Teddy narrates the story, and his separation from Aileen tenderly mirrors the children’s distance from their parents. All parties are reunited, but the authors make it clear that these happy endings took time: “The war did not end soon. It went on for five years, until William’s tenth birthday.” Ages 5–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Circle Square Moose

Kelly Bingham, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. Greenwillow, $17.99 (40) ISBN 978-0-06-229003-8

Having thoroughly disrupted an alphabet book in Z Is for Moose, Bingham and Zelinsky’s enthusiastically in-the-way quadruped has his way with a primer on shapes. Bingham gives the unseen narrator a sickly sweet tone, complete with predictable rhymes, though Moose’s interruptions (such as eating the sandwich used to demonstrate as a square) quickly raise hackles. “You are ruining the book. This is a book about shap–” begins the narrator, before another new arrival, the referee Zebra from the previous book, pops in, resulting in a metafictional chase that has the animals “crinkling” pages, getting tangled in acres of ribbon, and falling down a hole into a sort of picture-book void. It’s wild fun, and adults could probably even use the book to explore shapes with children, if they can get them to stop laughing long enough. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Sheep Go on Strike

Jean-François Dumont. Eerdmans, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5470-4

Dumont’s barnyard fable The Chickens Build a Wall dealt with xenophobia, and The Geese March in Step celebrated individuality; here, he uses humor to explore notions of fairness in labor. Fed up with being sheared, the sheep mount a strike, causing havoc on the farm. After Ernest the sheepdog tries to get the sheep to move by nipping at one of the ewes, “the flock nearly stampeded him, running after him and hollering about police brutality.” Opinions on the farm are divided: “Some, like Igor the goose, thought that sheep were made to be shorn.” Following a knockdown fight involving all of the animals—including a few insects and a snail—a (fashion-forward) compromise is reached, allowing the sheep to enjoy their wool in a new way. Fun on the farm, with plenty of fodder for conversations about social justice. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.