How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan; illustrated by Lee Wildish (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages)
Consider a sleepover at grandma’s house from her granddaughter’s perspective. Rather than grandma running the show, it’s the little girl’s turn. This book is one of a series of “How to…” books written by Jean Reagan. The text is directed at the child with gentle guidance for managing the visit. There are shifts in typeface from purple handwritten lettering to standard black 18-point New Century Schoolbook. The purple lettering focuses on fun and silly sounds to make during activities. The black typeface conveys the directions for what to do in each situation that happens during a sleepover.
Mommy and Daddy make brief appearances in the story at the beginning (drop off) and at the end (pick up). They provide the premise for the story. The rest is pure fun for the lucky grandma and grandddaughter. Having a shift to a child’s list of activities is empowering and a delightful way for grandma to experience the visit. By the way, there is ample coaching for the little girl to let grandma know what to choose. I’m guessing the cute blond pigtailed girl depicted in this book is somewhere around five or six years old.
Grandma is provided her choice of activities – going to the park, singing together and dressing up, to name a few. Making silly faces with food, playing shoe store and dressing as twins were new to this reviewer who happens to be the grandma of a nearly six-year-old blonde who sometimes wears pigtails. When shown the book’s cover during a Face Time visit recently, she immediately identified herself! The doggie in the story is white with black spots, just like my granddaughter’s. The only thing missing is the fluffy brown Maine Coon cat who adores her mistress.
The illustrations by Lee Wildish are bright and cheerful with spot on proportions for the characters in keeping with the drawings of someone who is six or thereabouts. Surprisingly, they were created digitally. Regardless of the method, their fresh, light-hearted quality is a perfect match for the text.
This book was purchased by the reviewer.
Ginger and the Mystery Visitor by Charlotte Voake (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 40 pages)
Readers who are familiar with Ginger the cat will be happy that Charlotte Voake’s latest book is the perfect – or purr-fect – companion to Ginger. They are the same size with very similar covers, which makes them a lovely set. The cast of characters has expanded with the introduction of the mystery visitor. The storyline involves a cat who sneaks into Ginger’s house to eat. The tale is short and sweet with a built-in message or two. It offers opportunities for the reader and listener to discuss what can happen when we feed other people’s pets.
The illustrations are charming and full of expression. Clearly, this is a book to be read aloud to young children. Later, it will be a good one for practicing reading skills. Lastly, a grandma or grandpa who is creating a library for the grandchildren can count on Ginger and the Mystery Visitor as a welcome addition.
If we’re lucky, Charlotte Voake will create more books about Ginger. Highly recommended.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.
Woof: A Love Story by Sarah Weeks; Illustrated by Holly Berry (HarperCollins, $16.99, 32 pages). Age range: 4 to 8.
A dog is a dog/ and a cat is a cat/ And most of the time/ it’s as simple as that/ Or is it?
Young children’s literature is alive and well! The dynamic duo of author Sarah Weeks and illustrator Holly Berry have teamed up to create a colorful, delightful and endearing picture book. Woof is the story of a dog who, at first glance, becomes smitten with a lovely white kitty. His tale is set forth in rhyming verses guaranteed to delight both the listener and the reader. The illustrations are created using an imaginative combination of original woodcuts and photographic images. The effect is just eye-catching enough to enliven the story without being jarring.
Woof is big enough for the reader to hold it while allowing the listener to easily turn the pages. Although the story line is a bit improbable (it involves a buried trombone ), it sets the stage for a dialogue about ways of communicating that can take place between the person reading the book and his or her young listener. Clearly, woof and meow are not the only way for the two characters to share their feelings. Music is the key to their understanding of each other.
Delightful – 5 Woofs (or Meows). Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review. “This humorous and heartfelt story is about the power of love and the power of music, told through the eyes of a lovelorn dog and the cat he adores.” HarperCollins