Brun-Cosme, Nadine. Big Wolf and Little Wolf. Illustrated by Olivier Tallec. Translated by Claudia Bedrick. Enchanted Lion Books. 2009. 32 pages. Tr. $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59270-084-4.
Annotation: Big Wolf, a solitary animal, slowly lets a stranger, Little Wolf, join him in his daily activities. All is well until Little Wolf unexpectedly leaves and there is a big hole in Big Wolf’s heart as he misses his new companion. Happily Little Wolf returns and both bask in the newly formed friendship.
Summary: Originally published in French, this children’s tale tells of Big Wolf who is large and black and lives alone under his tree in the forest. One day small, blue and adventurous Little Wolf decides to visit Big Wolf’s domain. Little by little, Big Wolf accepts Little Wolf as a friend and includes him in his daily activities. Then one day, Little Wolf disappears and Big Wolf is decidedly sad. The reunion is sweet as Little Wolf returns to stay permanently with his new-found friend.
Evaluation: The sensitive text and colorful illustrations emphasize the touching relationship between wary Big Wolf and adventurous Little Wolf. The character’s emotions are accurately portrayed as Big Wolf learns to open his heart to another. Recommended for ages 3 to 8.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Animals, Wolves, Friendship
Awards: 2010 Mildred L. Batchelder Award Honor Book, 2010 ALA Notable Books for Children
Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion and the Mouse. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2009. 40 pages. Tr. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-01356-7.
Annotation: In this wordless adaptation of Aesop’s classic fable of the lion and the mouse, the king of the beasts and a little mouse learn about the true meaning of friendship.
Summary: In this wordless picture book set in the African Serengeti, the classic fable of the lion and the mouse is beautifully portrayed in watercolor and colored pencil. A tiny mouse escapes from an attacking owl, only to find herself at the mercy of a lion. The lion ponders the situation and decides to free the mouse. Later the lion finds himself caught in a poacher’s snare and it is the little mouse that returns the favor and sets the lion free by gnawing the rope. Because of the acts of kindness, both animals are free to enjoy their respective families once more.
Evaluation: The detailed and expressive artwork conveys the classic fable so well that words are unnecessary. Through the telling expressions of the realistically drawn animals, all relevant emotions are convincingly communicated. Recommended for ages 3 to 8.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Fables, Folktale, Animals, Lions, Mice
Awards: 2010 Caldecott Medal Winner, 2010 ALA Notable Books for Children, 2010 American Booksellers Indies Choice Book Award - Best New Picture Book
Mora, Pat. Book Fiesta! : Celebrate Children’s Day/ Book Day/ Celebremos El Dia de Los Ninos/ El Dia de Los Libros. Illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Harper Collins Publishers. 2009. 40 pages. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-128877-7.
Annotation: Joyful children invite other children from many cultures to join them in a book fiesta to celebrate the wonders and imagination of reading.
Summary: This bilingual book in English and Spanish has children excited about celebrating the joys of reading. Started in 1996, Children’s Day/Book Day is officially honored each April 30th but every day can be a book day. Multicultural children are seen reading their favorite books with friends and family in a variety of settings including in a hot air balloon and on a submarine. Kids are encouraged to think of ways they can enjoy reading.
Evaluation: The vibrantly colorful acrylic paintings complement the simple text. The positive message about the joy of reading and the multicultural nature of the children is inviting for all. Recommended for ages 3 to 10.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Holidays & Celebrations, Books & Libraries, Imagination
Awards: 2010 ALA Notable Books for Children, 2010 Pura Belpre Illustrator Award Winner
Feiffer, Jules. Bark, George. Harper Collins Publishers, 1999. 32 pages. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-205185-1.
Annotation: A mother dog is distraught when her pup tries to bark correctly but all that comes out of his throat are other animals’ sounds. She takes her pup to the veterinarian who gets to the bottom of the hilarious problem.
Summary: A mother dog is distressed because her pup cannot bark normally. When the poor puppy tries, other animal’s sounds emerge like a “Moo” or a “Meow”. When the mother has a vet examine the pup, the vet with rubber gloves extracts a number of other animals from the pup’s stomach. The mother is momentarily relieved when the pup produces a satisfying bark. However, on the way back home from the vet, the mother encourages the pup to bark once more and it manages to say, “Hello.”
Evaluation: This plain but expressive picture book with witty text expertly captures the comedy of the puppy’s animal “extractions” by the vet. The simple line drawings set against a pastel background will entertain children and adults alike. Recommended for children aged 2 to 8.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Animals, Dogs, Humor
Awards: 2000 ALA Notable Books for Children, 2000 Charlotte Zolotow Award nominee