Saturday, November 27, 2010

Everything Else: Cybils Nominations N - O

Into the home stretch! Of course I still have that longer review stack, and then I have to take my massive shortlist and make...decisions. The hardest part of course! So many great picturebooks this year...

  • Nabeel's new pants: an Eid tale by Fawzia Gilani-Williams. After Nabeel finishes his work and buys presents for his family, he purchases some new pants - but they're too long. He asks his wife, mother, and daughter to fix them, but each one is busy with Eid preparations, so he fixes them himself. Later, each of them come back to shorten the pants and Nabeel ends up with shorts. There is a brief glossary of terms at the beginning of the story. This book is not an introduction to the holiday, but a "companion" story. Recommended if you have a Muslim presence in your community who would like books about the Eid holiday. Review copy provided by publisher.
  • Nathan Saves Summer by Gerry Renert. There is nothing Nathan the hippo wants more than to be the lifeguard at the small pond his friends play in during the summer. But despite his best efforts, no one will let him be the lifeguard. Finally, they tell him - he's just too big! When Nathan "saves" a tiger cub, all the water gets spilled out of the pond and the summer fun is over...until two penguins discover the water has trickled down and created a bigger lagoon. And...then the animals say Nathan saved summer. exactly did he fix the problem he created in the first place? The illustrations have the same odd yellowish cast as the other Raven Tree Press books, which makes me wonder if it's something in their publishing process? Not recommended. Review copy received from publisher.
  • A night on the range by Aaron Frisch. A little boy is ready to camp out all night and be a real cowboy, sleeping out on the plains...but camping out turns out to be too scary! Can he still be a real cowboy? This is a fun story about letting your imagination run away with you. The illustrations are all shadowy, especially showing the various scary creatures Cole imagines outside at night. The major drawback is I haven't met a kid interested in cowboys since...well, ever. Even the popularity of Toy Story doesn't seem to have gotten kids interested in cowboys as a general character. But it's a fun, scary story to read before - or maybe after - a first camp out. Review copy provided by Creative Editions.
  • No T. Rex in the library by Toni Buzzeo. Tess is out of control in the library, ramping and roaring like a wild t. rex! But when a real t. rex comes out of a library book, she realizes sometimes it's possible to get a little too wild, especially in the library. There's not really a moral to this story, it's just a fun dinosaur tale with lots of roaring and various people and creatures popping out of books. Fun! Review copy received from Simon & Schuster.
  • Oh No! (Or how my science project destroyed the world) by Mac Barnett. This homage to classic monster movies has a small but stubborn girl dealing with the havoc her science project is wreaking on the city. Dan Santat's illustrations are the perfect fit for Barnett's straight-faced humor. This isn't ideal for a read-aloud, since most of the humor is incorporated into the details of the illustrations. Hand it out for one-on-one delectation. Borrowed from the library.
  • Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea. Ollie, Gossie, Gertie, and all their friends enjoy a fun-filled Halloween night. I would have preferred this in a board book format, since most of my Gossie and Gertie fans are familiar with the characters in that format and this small book is the right size. A poster is included in the book. A sweet Halloween story for younger children. Borrowed from library.
  • On a windy night by Nancy Raines Day. Heavily textured illustrations show a little boy in his skeleton costume going home...but something is following him! The tension grows with each repetition of the frightening refrain, until it turns out to be just a little cat. This story is scary enough for older readers, and too scary for little ones...but the cat is a let-down. I would have liked to see an actual skeleton or something, in keeping with the scary tone of the story. Review copy provided by Abrams.
  • Once upon a royal superbaby Kevin O'Malley, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto. In this sequel, two students with very different storytelling ideas are again arguing over how to create a fairy tale. They eventually compromise, including motorcycles, muscles, animal speech powers, unicorns, and more. A fun book for older children to practice their writing skills - or just create a fun story. Borrowed from the library.
  • Orange Peel's Pocket by Rose Lewis. A little girl nicknamed Orange Peel was adopted from China as a baby. One day, her class is studying China and all the kids want her to tell them what it's like. Orange Peel realizes she doesn't know anything about her birth country and accompanies her mom on a series of errands to the stores of various Chinese-Americans. Each one tells her something about China and slips a souvenir into her pocket. She's nervous when she returns to tell her class about what she learns, but when she finds the treasures in her pocket, she regains confidence and tells everyone the interesting things she has learned. There are some positives about this story - it's a new take on the few adoption books I've seen and has some good ideas for children and parents to learn about a birth country. But...why on earth did the author put in that weird nickname for the little girl? It makes no sense and kept jarring me out of the story. I was also puzzled by the little girl's complete ignorance of China, when it's made clear that she and her mother regularly visit several stores with very strong Chinese connections. Review copy provided by Abrams.
  • Otis & Sydney and the best birthday ever by Laura Numeroff. Otis and Sydney are best friends. Otis plans a special surprise party for Sydney, but makes a mistake with the date and no one comes. It's still a great birthday party though, Sydney assures him, because Otis was there. A pleasant, if forgettable, read parents and children will enjoy. Review copy provided by Abrams.
  • Over at the castle by Boni Ashburn. "Over in the meadow" is retold in a castle setting. We see all the occupants of a medieval castle as well as two dragons who are waiting for the right let off fireworks. I kinda wanted them to eat somebody. A nice counting story. Review copy received from Abrams.

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