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Thursday Evening Book Review: “I Don’t Want to Be Big,” “Little Penguins,” “Imagine a City” and “The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep”

October 6th, 2016

“I Don’t Want to Be Big,” by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt, is the sequel to “I Don’t Want to Be a Frog.” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2016, ages 3-7, $16.99, 32 pages.) Oh, this frog. He doesn’t need to get big, see? Not when his dad can carry him places, and his big friends can reach things for him. No, he’d prefer not to meet the tree frogs, thanks. Gentle take on how to work with those who are showing their stubborn streak. The story is funny; the illustrations bright and cheerful. And hello, frogs. Frogs are funny.

Who can resist little penguins, eh? Acclaimed children’s author Cynthia Rylant and Caldecott Honor winner Christian Robinson have released “Little Penguins,” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016, ages 3-7, $17.99), and it’s pretty darling. I’m really a sucker for winter books — anything with snow, the holidays, warm, crackling fires, sledding, ahhhh… winter. You may remember Rylant from the “Henry and Mudge” and “Mr. Putter and Tabby” books. Robinson’s artistic work includes “Last Stop on Market Street,” a Caldecott Honor Book, by Matt de la Pena, and the illustrations for “Rain!” by Linda Ashman. Acrylic paint and cut paper collage were used for this book, giving it that crisp, classic kids’ book feel. Really beautiful to look at, and the repetition is nice, soothing and strong. “Snowflakes?” “Many snowflakes.” The littles will love this one.

“Imagine a City” is reminiscent of my girlfriend Eloise, the city child. Remember her? Pen and ink on paper give it a timeless look. Elise (sounds like Eloise!) Hurst is the author. (Doubleday, 2014, ages 3-7, $16.99.) That black and white, with just the splashes of red — really nice. A mommy and her son and daughter are off on an adventure in the city. What will they see? What will they find? “Imagine a train to take you away/imagine a city and drops of rain…” Magical book. I hope the kids take the time to really look at it, and not shout, “Is it my turn on the computer yet?” Just sayin’. So much time and love went into this one.

“The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep” (he’s a friend of “The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep”) is illustrated by Sydney Hanson, written by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $16.99.) OK, you cute little elephant, what are you up to? Oh, it’s a lesson book. Who wants to go to sleep, you, right, baby? (Kinda funny to me, now that I have teenagers and spend many of my waking hours trying to get them out of bed. Oh, how the worm has turned…) Cute little book, and the illustrations are lovely. The relaxation techniques seem like they would be helpful. (“Five. Oh, how lovely, you say to yourself, and you let go of all your thoughts and listen to the story. Aaah…”)

Happy reading, everyone.



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