Once again a recent library haul yielded some longed-for books. Here they are:
My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer and illustrated by her father Jules Feiffer was one of those rarities that lived up to my expectations! Based on a true incident that occurred between author and illustrator many years ago, Sadie (based on Kate) insists as she and her dad drive to the zoo, that it is not raining on her side of the car. I love Sadie's stubbornness and willingness to stick to her story in the face of (very wet) reality ("people are putting on their sunglasses and going to zoos all over the world on my side of the car") and her dad's abundant patience. Ultimately, the sun comes out to save the day. The illustrations are perfect - Feiffer makes them look so easy to just dash off, with the pencil outlines visible, yet they are really the product of so much talent. The pictures add to the text, not just depict it (note Sadie's change of clothes after she gets wet). The brief dialogue between (actual) daughter and father at the end of the book discussing the real event the book is based on is entertaining and the author-illustrator photo on the book jacket showing the pair from 30 years or so (give or take) is a nice touch. We all love this one.
Frank Viva's Along a Long Road, which follows a bicyclist on his trip on a yellow (not brick) road, fell short for me in terms of language and plot but the illustrations, which are the point, in my opinion, are unique and beautiful. With a retro -seeming palate of black, gray, white, light blue, red and the orangey-yellow of the road (the texture of which is smooth and shiny, making it stand out even more), this is more a picture book for adults interested in design. But my three-year-old said she liked it. I think it would work better as a wordless book.
Hallie Durand's Mitchell's License, illustrated by Tony Fucile manages to make a full picture book out of a single joke: that three-year-old Mitchell "drives" the Daddy car to bed every night. With lots of analogies to real elements of cars and driving, this might go over better with transportation-obsessed children. I had to explain some of the jokes and references (putting the car in neutral, turning on the blinkers) to my city girls.
I couldn't decide how I felt about Nadia Shireen's Good Little Wolf, the second story about bloodthirsty predators I read this week (for the first, see my first Library Round-up). I guess that's a throwback to the fairy tales of yore but these days it's a little jarring. Here, especially, I found the ending shocking as the book first seemed to be a feel-good type of story: a good little wolf tries to become a big, bad wolf. He thinks that he is failing but when a wild, fierce feeling overtakes him and he uses it for good, not evil, he realizes he can be a good little wolf after all. I expected the book to end there. But in a final twist, the good guy doesn't finish last. I found this juxtaposition somewhat disjointed and wasn't sure it worked. But the twist delighted my six-year-old who, after a few seconds of staring intently at the two-page spread, figured out what had happened (as in I Want My Hat Back, you have to read between the lines and/or pictures to understand the surprise ending). For another take on the book, head on over to Playing by the Book.
What long-awaited books have you read lately?