Sep 12, 2007

Parades and the Zoo

Picture books featuring a spontaneous parade are not a new idea but The Great Doughnut Parade written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond (Houghton Mifflin) seems wholly original. Billy and his doughnut collect all manner of people and animals, rendered in watercolors with an old-fashioned senisibility, the white space becoming more and more crowded as the story builds. It's a delighted and delightful bunch, "all jumbled and tumbled with snortles of laughter,"and you can see how the language captures the pure joy of the assembly. Billy happily slips away for his original purpose; a quiet fit ending. Why do I like this picture book so much? The simplicity of the story, its spirit aand joy, and language that begs to be read aloud.

Adam Rex made me laugh out loud with Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (Harcourt) and my 9 year old nephew thought it was one of the best books I've given him. His new title, Pssst! (Harcourt) is funny in the same dry humor kind of way. A young girl visits the zoo and as she walks through various animals request different things -- odd things -- from her, bats want flashlights, penguins ask for brightly colored paint, and sloths need bicycle helmuts. "Lucklily there was a store across the street that sold everything." What all this is actually used for is a surprise (believe me!) The conversation with each animal always begins with "Pssst!" and a page of dialogue panels follows. Alternating are two-page spreads of line drawings and limited spot color, showing the girl meandering through the zoo. The signage is hilarious, though some of the references may be lost on kids. Look for "Camel-lot" and "I am the Walrus (koo-koo-kachoo)" What an inventive lark!

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