Saturday Book Review: “A Greyhound, A Groundhog,” by Emily Jenkins & Chris Appelhans; “Wisteria Jane: Bingo Did It!” by Amber Harris & Ard Hoyt; “I Am the Mountain Mouse,” by Gianna Marino
“A Greyhound, A Groundhog,” written by Emily Jenkins & illustrated by Chris Appelhans (Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books, 2017, $17.99, ages 3-7). I was able to get an advance copy of this title, which will be released in a couple of weeks. It’s really a toss-up, isn’t it, as to who is cuter, a greyhound or a groundhog? We get both in this children’s book from Jenkins (the “Toy” series, which includes “Toy Dance Party” and “Toys Go Out”) and Appelhans (who worked on two of my favorite films, “Coraline” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”). Jenkins gives a shout-out to author Ruth Krauss, who inspired the book. (For more of Appelhan’s work, take a look here; Jenkins’ site is here.) (PS — now I remember why I like Appelhans’ work! He illustrated that cool book, “Sparky the Sloth.”)
The illustrations are soft and pretty, and the story is sweet. The book — words and pictures, both — has a good rhythm. We have two unlikely friends, playing hard.
“A groundhog, a greyhound, a round little greyhound. A greyhound, a groundhog, a brown little groundhog.”
They’re having fun, and the kids will, too, reading it. (The page with the butterflies is my favorite.) It’s always nice to have a book about groundhogs when Feb. 2nd rolls around… I remember when I was teaching, there were never enough titles.
“Wisteria Jane: Bingo Did It!” written by Amber Harris & illustrated by Ard Hoyt (Red Leaf Lane, 2016, $16.95, ages 3 and up). Wisteria Jane Hummell has a best friend, Bingo, and that doggy gets her into a lot of trouble. There was the tea party, and all the broken cups… “Bingo did it, Momma,” I said. “He was drinking his tea like a good dog, and then he knocked everything over like a bad dog.”
Then there is Mama’s torn-up flower bed, and a bubble bath gone wrong. But does Wisteria Jane have a hand in the chaos, perhaps? This is a charming “lesson” book that isn’t preaching at all while it teaches kids about personal responsibility.
The illustrations remind me of Louis Darling, Jr.’s work on the Beverly Cleary books. Bingo reminds me of Ribsy, a bit. They’re funny and warm, and will make little readers feel like they’re in the middle of the action. You can find the author’s website at AmberBHarris.com; the illustrator’s website is ArdHoytBooks.com. Both live in Bentonville, Arkansas.
“I Am the Mountain Mouse,” written & illustrated by Gianna Marino (Penguin Random House/Penguin Young Readers/Viking, 2016, $16.99, ages 3-5). Hilarious collection of short stories about a little mouse with a big ol’ ego. The graphic novel-style layout of two panels per page is fun, and the stories clip along. (The author’s website is GiannaMarino.com)
Mountain Mouse is hungry, that is his food! Only, buddy? There’s just one thing. That’s a camel, not a mountain. He’s not scared of camels, or cats, or heights, and he doesn’t really like to heed his friends’ advice, so you know things are going to be lively.
I love books where kids can yell, Oh, no… Don’t do it! Lol. This is a great one for that.
Enjoy your holidays!