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Posts Tagged ‘picture book’

Oh, Were They Ever Happy!

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 13, 2014

The three Noonan children, mistakenly left at home without a babysitter, decide to spend their day helping out by painting the house. Oh, won’t their parents be happy!


Peter Spier’s Oh, Were They Ever Happy! follows the children from beginning (“I do not know who thought of it first, but there was plenty of paint in the garage.”) to end (“Sure looks swell! Won’t they be happy when they come home and see what we’ve done!”). As the children go along, they gradually become messier and the house gradually becomes more colorful, as the children use as many colors of paint as it takes to finish the job.


The children even clean up, when they’re done! Won’t their parents be happy!

This is a very fun book. They story’s amusing as the children go along, happily ‘helping’ by painting their house (windows and all!). With each passing page, it hardly seems that the mess could get any bigger, but turn the page and it’s messier still. The art is simple, colorful (and how!), and perfectly pleasant. Altogether, this book rather reminds me of Wacky Wednesday.

Spier won the Caldecott medal in 1978 for Noah’s Ark, which is (mostly) wordless, but has a similar style of art.

Strangely, Oh, Were They Ever Happy! seems not to be in print, and the prices at Amazon are higher than expected, but if you do come by a copy, it’s surely worth a read.

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Welcome to Equestria

Posted by Tracy Poff on April 17, 2013

Welcome to Equestria coverShining Armor and Princess Cadance, the new rulers of the Crystal Empire, have been invited to visit towns all over Equestria. As they tour the land, they write letters to Twilight Sparkle about their journey, which will end in Ponyville, where Twilight lives.

Welcome to Equestria by Olivia London is a children’s picture book featuring characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The story is told in two ways: first, by narrative recounting the events as Shining Armor and Princess Cadance travel; second, by the letters they write to Twilight.

The narrative is simple, as is appropriate for a children’s book, but also, frankly, pretty boring. The letters have much more character. Compare:

“They are delighted to visit Princess Celestia and Princes Luna at Canterlot Castle, and enjoy some time in the city together.”


“We arrived in Canterlot today after a lovely send-off in the Crystal Empire. It was wonderful to enjoy Canterlot knowing that it is now safe from that evil Queen Chrysalis!”

Both are simple and direct, but the second, from the letter, is a lot more fun to read.

The story isn’t anything special–there’s not any plot to speak of, just a sequence of descriptions of places Shining Armor and Cadance. The only thing tying things together is that the two pick up gifts as they travel, and give them to Twilight and her friends at the end. There’s nothing wrong with the book being very simple, but it could have been better. The show itself manages much more interesting stories with being appreciably more complicated to understand.

Welcome to Equestria sample

Of course, for a picture book, the writing is only half the story. Welcome to Equestria‘s artwork matches the show, so it’s nice enough, but it mostly consists of scenery and the occasional character posing, which isn’t very interesting to look at. Also, the art is very separated from the text, and seems somewhat superfluous. Nice to have, but not important. In a really good picture book, the text and art work together to tell the story, but that doesn’t happen in Welcome to Equestria.

Welcome to Equestria isn’t bad, and kids that like the show will probably like the book, but it’s no classic of children’s literature, either. Pick it up for fans, but otherwise there are probably better choices.

Welcome to Equestria is available in paperback or for the Kindle.

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My Visit to the Dinosaurs

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 1, 2011

What were the dinosaurs like? What did they eat? How do we know about them?

In My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki, a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book, children can learn about the different kinds of dinosaurs, with information both about the dinosaurs themselves, and how we come to know about them, through fossils.

This one is good, but I don’t like it as well as the other two books in this series that I’ve reviewed, Ducks Don’t Get Wet and What Makes Day and Night. The illustrations are nice, but the book is more like a collection of trivia than the other two. Still, it’s quite a good book for kids.

I’d recommend My Visit to the Dinosaurs especially for kids interested in dinosaurs, but anyone might find it interesting. It’s a solid children’s picture book, well worth reading.

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What Makes Day and Night

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 1, 2011

Why is it sometimes night, and other times day? Why does the sun seem to move across the sky? Does the moon have day and night?

These questions (and a few more) are answered in a clear and understandable fashion by the excellent children’s picture book What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by Arthur Dorros.

What Makes Day and Night is a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book, which explains that the Earth is round, and rotates once a day, causing the apparent movement of the sun across the sky, and therefore causing day and night. This explanation is accompanied by great illustrations, as well as a beautiful photograph of Earth, taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, which help make these basic science facts accessible to the young reader.

I’d highly recommend What Makes Day and Night for young children. It encourages curiosity and a rational view of the world, excellent accomplishments for any children’s book.

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