Book Reviews

BVGT book reviews are written by Jocelyn Gebhardt. Jocelyn is a founding board member of BVGT as well as an employee of the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. She works in the Children’s Books section and runs Story Time every Tuesday at 10:30 am — Please feel free to stop by!

December 2016

Hand in Hand cover
Hand in Hand, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells

2016
for ages just born on up
This loving picture book describes the nurturing relationship between parent and young child. Wells uses her brightly drawn illustrations to match her gently rhyming text to create a cosy narration that will calm the most unsettled among us. It starts with “Be my sky, my moon, my sun” and ends with “Be my lighthouse, my north star”. A perfect gift for anyone, big or small, who has guided or been guided in the past or has that adventure in their future. A real treasure.

Yesterday cover
The Girl Who Saved Yesterday, written by Julius Lester, illustrated by Carl Angel

2016
for ages 7ish on up
The Girl Who Saved Yesterday is a richly illustrated picture book, telling us a folk tale of Silence, a young girl raised by jungle trees, being returned to the village to find Yesterday. Although she does not understand her quest, she bravely climbs the mountain to find it. Trees do her bidding, she works to uncover the mystery, and together with the villagers such ends up celebrating their ancestors–their Yesterday. At the Tattered Cover, we shelve this book in the Folk and Fairy Tales–Africa section. At home it goes on the shelf I reserve for books intended for children old enough to let stories enter their ears and be heard. So well done!

shy cover
Shy, written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman

2016
for ages 4 and up
When one is shy, it is much easier and safer to sit at home reading, and that is just how Shy has lived his life–up until he heard a REAL bird trilling–it was beautiful, then gone! Shy left home in search of his bird- and the land “was far more
wondrous than it ever looked in pictures”. Just the perfect book to encourage the hesitant ones you know, who perhaps need a gorgeous book to boost them over the sill. A great conversation starter for the doubters!

Here are a few suggestions of terrific new mid-grade titles for those in the older-than-picture-book crowd. (Though you do know picture books are for everyone, right?)

New Mid-grade suggestions-
GirlWhoDrankMoon cover    FURTHERMORE-cover  Secret Keepers cover   green glasshoue cover
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

Furthermore, by Tahereh Mafi
The Secret Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart (author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series)
and Greenglass House, by Kate Milford, now in paperback

And two Young Adult suggestions, both being SO SO GOOD!
Sun is star cover   Everything cover
The Sun Is Also A Star
, and Everything, Everything–both by the amazing Nicola Yoon

September 2016
Box by Min Flyte, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, 2015

This charmer of a book will engage your young kids from the front cover. There is something about kids and boxes; now add flaps that let you see inside- with foldouts and fold-ups — and questions to pique your curiosity!

Beautifully illustrated with large, easy to understand pictures, I can imagine Box will become a fast favorite with the 2 to 6 years old crowd. Really clever and fun.

Ned the Knitting Pirate by Diana Murray, illustrated by Leslie Lammle, 2016

Told in clever rhyme, this picture book is the story of Ned, a fierce and strong pirate who just happens to love to knit. The pirate captain is infuriated with Ned’s favorite pastime and finally puts his foot down, forbidding it.

Oh no! That very night the briny, ocean beast attacks- the one who loves to snack on pirate ships!

How does Ned save them all?

I guess you’ll just have to read this book to find out.

Irresistible rhyme and illustrations will draw you in, me hearties, so don’t try to resist its charms. Perfect for all who love a fun tale of not too scary action-packed adventure- and for those who do things a little differently than the crowd.

For ages 4 or 5 to 7 or so. Wonderful!

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, 2016

The Uncorker of Bottles had just one job — and it was “of the utmost importance”. His job was to open any bottles found in the ocean and deliver the letter within.

Listen to the language the author uses- “Sometimes the messages were written by a quill dipped in sadness. But most of the time they made people quite happy, for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.”

The Uncorker secretly wished there would be a letter for him- but how could that happen, when he had no friends?

Find out how he successfully delivers a letter that isn’t addressed to anyone!

Rarely does a picture book come along that hits the sweet spot combination of story line and illustrations, and this is one of those books. Truthfully, it is as popular with adults as it is with the picture book crowd. I’d have to say the age span of this book goes from about 5ish to adult, if you know an adult who has a yen for a happy ending.

Whittling down this list from many to three was especially hard this go-round.

So many good picture books from which to choose!

I did it, but only after deciding to leave you with three more titles I hope you enjoy on your own…and they are:

Dragon Was Terrible, by Kelly DiPucchio

All My Treasures: A Book of Joy, by  Jo Witek

You Are My Best Friend by Tatsuya Miyanishi

Happy reading!