A trio of picture book reviews

There's Going to Be a BabyThere’s Going to Be a Baby by John Burningham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s Going To Be A Baby is a quietly lovely little book. There’s a gorgeous intimacy about it which envelops the reader from the front cover image of parent and child trustingly holding each other. I loved this. It’s just lovely. Lovely. (It was very good)

Drawn in a clear and concise style and mainly structured in a text / picture (verso / recto) style, there’s a delightful warmth about the artwork. You can see the mother’s pregnancy developing the further you go through the book and there are some very nice touches about how she’s presented throughout. I particularly enjoyed how she quietly shifts through a whole range of emotions from fatigue through to utter contentment. It’s a very sympathetic book which sat well with me.

From a textual perspective, it’s fascinatingly evocative of a small child’s fractured speech and sparky thought process. It is very well done.

Or, to put it another way, it’s lovely.

Guess How Much I Love YouGuess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Guess How Much I Love You is one of those books which, Gruffalo-esque, has firmly rooted itself into popular culture. This review specifically relates to the pop up version from Walker Books (2011).

God I love pop up books. I really really do. A lot of this is due to Huck Scarry’s Looking Into The Middle Ages which I read at an early age and have remembered for the past twenty five odd years primarily because of the fact it had POP UP FREAKING HORSES which frankly would endear anything to me regardless of literary value.

The pop up version of Guess How Much I Love You moved me to incredulous tears. It’s beautiful. Pop up, when done well, is breathtaking. This book is gorgeous. It is worth noting that a few of the more elaborate settings may be slightly difficult for smaller fingers to manipulate and that the book as a whole may not be the most robust. But regardless of that, it is worth persevering to deliver the full effect of the pop up as it’s very much worth it.

And jeepers but the last double-spread is beyond lush.

Chilly Milly Moo

Chilly Milly Moo by Fiona Ross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chilly Milly Moo is one of those books that took me by surprise. With a distinct artistic style, both in palette and use of line, coupled with a pleasing story about accepting difference, it’s a pretty unusual book.

Chilly Milly Moo is the story of Milly – a cow who can’t produce milk. We eventually learn that she does have her own special skills that make her pretty damn cool (no pun intended) to have around. There’s an allusion to bullying (there’s a crowd of three “normal” cows that engage in an occasional dialogue with Milly) but this is fairly subtle and may require a rereading to pick up.

I had a little bit of difficulty with the colour story. It’s a fairly muted palette of earthy tones – browns, greys and the occasional washed out pastel background. There’s a lot of intriguing subtlety in this book that may be missed in a traditional classroom context. I felt it would work stronger in smaller groups and one-to-one settings in order to allow more interactivity with the text.

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2 thoughts on “A trio of picture book reviews

  1. Great post. I love Guess How Much I Love You. Along with Martin Waddell’s Can’t You Sleep Little Bear, it is one of the most beautiful depictions of a caring relationship between a male “adult” character and a male “child” character I’ve seen, and I recommend them to my students.

    • I wept over GHMILY, I really loved the simple sense of “love” in it. And you’re so right, it’s one of the most lovely paternal-son depictions of a relationship in children’s literature that I’ve ever read.

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