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Five questions for Laura Dronzek

DronzekLaura credit Kevin Henkes

Laura Dronzek’s color-drenched illustrations for When Spring Comes (Greenwillow, 2–4 years) bring husband Kevin Henkes’s poetic text into full bloom. Looking at her lively renderings of rain-soaked earth, flowering trees, baby animals, and other springtime delights, it’s easy to see Dronzek’s fine-arts background; her saturated acrylic paintings feature many similar subjects. In fact, her paintings […]

Let’s hear it for spring

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Winter is almost over! Time to head outdoors. Four very different picture books take readers outside, whether it’s on a working farm, in an imaginary tree fort, for a day out with two best friends (one is a bulldog), or going up on a mountaintop in search of a lost kite. On the Farm, at […]

Review of When Spring Comes

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When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; 
illus. by Laura Dronzek Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-233139-7   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-06-233140-3   $18.89 “Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. // But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” In a gently rhythmic text and lush, […]

Review of Oops Pounce Quick Run!: An Alphabet Caper

twohy_oops pounce quick run

Oops Pounce Quick Run!: An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins 32 pp.   2/16   978-0-06-237700-5   $17.99   g Shelves may groan under the weight of abecedaries, but this one stands out with its use of alphabetic structure to tell a spare, fast-paced story through cartoon illustrations that excel […]

Two picture books | Class #5, 2016

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     The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, 2007) The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís  (Farrar, 2007) Though not the typical purview of adolescents, sophisticated picture books such as these offer rich rewards for readers/viewers with an experienced eye. Consider prior knowledge older students can bring to these works and connections […]

Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!

falatko_snappsy the alligator

Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! by Julie Falatko; illus. by Tim Miller Primary   Viking   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-451-46945-8   $16.99   g The omniscient narration begins normally enough: “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.” After a bit more in this vein, Snappsy turns to the reader: “This is terrible!…Why is […]

Review of Don’t Call Me Grandma

nelson_don't call me grandma

Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; 
illus. by Elizabeth Zunon Primary   Carolrhoda   32 pp. 2/16   978-1-4677-4208-5   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-4677-9559-3   $19.99 Ninety-six-year-old great-grandmother, Nell, doesn’t answer to “Grandma.” She doesn’t do hugs and kisses. She growls her disapproval at her great-granddaughter, who narrates this book. But belying Nell’s starchy exterior is the […]

Review of Here Comes Valentine Cat

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Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda Preschool   Dial   88 pp. 12/16   978-0-525-42915-9   $16.99   g Valentine’s Day has its haters, and Cat (Here Comes the Easter Cat, rev. 3/14, and sequels) is one of them. Cat can’t think of anyone to grace with a Valentine, and new neighbor Dog doesn’t seem […]

Review of Dylan the Villain

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Dylan the Villain by K. G. Campbell; illus. by the author Primary   Viking   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-451-47642-5   $17.99   g “‘Congratulations,’ said the doctor. ‘It’s a healthy little super-villain!’” Sweet, unsuspecting new parents Mr. and Mrs. Snivels are surprised by this development (and by the fact that they just “happened to have a baby”), but not […]

Review of The Red Hat

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The Red Hat by David Teague; 
illus. by Antoinette Portis Primary   Disney-Hyperion   40 pp. 12/15   978-1-4231-3411-4   $16.99 With a nod to Albert Lamorisse’s film The Red Balloon, and with much of its tenderness, this fable-like story tells of Billy Hightower, whose isolated life atop “the world’s tallest building” changes when another skyscraper is built alongside […]