Picture Book Blog 3: Behavior and Responsibility

pictuebookblog3I LOVE picture books! So this year, I’ve decided to start at A and work my way through the picture book section of our local library, I’m choosing around 5 books a week (maybe a few more) from each shelf and then writing a blog with my thoughts on each book.

This is Emma Apple’s Picture Book Blog: Shelf 3. You can also read along on goodreads.

My Choices This Week

In A Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

At first, I didn’t love this book. I thought it was a mother giving in to a child’s sleep avoidance, then I felt like it was a mother giving a child sleep aids when all she needed was the light turned off, then I decided that the mother probably didn’t realize that that’s what the child was asking for when she asked for a blue room. With all that aside, the illustrations are beautiful and emotive, it’s a gentle bedtime story and I like that it plays on a child’s language. Children often express things in unexpected ways, it’s one of my favorite things about being a mother, and in the book, we aren’t sure what Alice means until her mother turns off the light. I won’t give it away, because I do recommend getting this out of the library or picking it up for your home library. I love how we end up, on the last page, just looking at a tiny Earth – our pale blue dot – and Moon, it’s a beautiful evolution of the story. After the second read, I forgot all about my initial dislike.

4/5 I liked it, especially the end.

Except If by Jim Averbeck

The second book on this weeks list is by the same author as the first, and I really started to get an idea of his style, which I really like. It’s another story that takes you to an unexpected place in an unexpected way. This time we are presented with an egg and taken through a series of suggestions about what the egg could be (except if it’s… something else). We go through snake, lizard, dinosaur, fossil, and so on, until finally it ends up being a bird (of course). Like the twist that I didn’t give away in In A Blue Room, you don’t realize where you’re going until you’re there, when you’re there it all falls into place. It makes for a really enjoyable and fulfilling read. I love how it teaches a science lesson, but you don’t even know it.

4/5 A fun, subtly sciencey read.

Dream Something Big: The Story Of Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston with Collages by Susan L. Roth

I’ve seen the Watts Towers in a documentary before, so I knew of them, but didn’t know much about them or the man behind them. This story is from the perspective of a girl who grows up next door as they’re being built. She talks about the eccentric Uncle Sam (Simon Rodia) and how he spends his time collecting bits of broken garbage and turning them into something beautiful. She admires the process and the builder, and through her, we do too. It’s a heartwarming story that allows us to look at the human behind the art, and not just as a mysterious eccentric artist. It’s illustrated with collage, not my favorite style, but fitting for the subject. At the back is a short authors note telling the story of the Watts Towers and Simon Rodia, and then a crafting activity you can do yourself. Definitely worth reading and especially as an educational book.

3.5/5 We enjoyed the culture/art lesson and how it was presented.

The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, Pictures by Jerry Pinkney

The space nerd that I am, I absolutely LOVED this book! We join a family as they wait for the TV broadcast of the moon landing in 1969. The illustrations are incredible, the story is emotive, I actually felt the excitement, emotion and intrigue of the moon landing! I adore the fact that the moon landing is told through the eyes of a black family (and particularly from the point of view of a young, black girl), not a narrative you often see. I adore the generational gap illustrated in the story. I just adore this book. What else can I say? Read it!

5/5 I loved this book!

Desmond and the Naughty Bugs by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Anik McGrory

This book, I didn’t love, unfortunately. The illustrations are beautiful, the idea is cute, I get where the author was trying to go with it, but I believe in taking responsibility for your actions, and teaching kids to do the same. Having said that, I also do agree with separating naughty behavior from who the child is as a person, so I see how the author is using the bugs as a metaphor for that. Still, I couldn’t shake the whole responsibility thing. This story tells us about Desmond, who is a very good boy, usually, but then naughty bugs arrive and his behavior takes a turn for the worse when they tell him to misbehave and he does what they say. There are so many different interpretations of this book that I can come up with, but ultimately, I probably wouldn’t pick it up again. It is a beautiful and well written book though.

2.5/5 I felt it was just slightly off in its message.

Bonus Book (Not from the Shelf)

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt

I love scaredy squirrel! He’s an anxious squirrel who goes to ridiculous lengths to keep himself safe. In this story, he wants to go to the beach, but since the real beach is so dangerous, he makes his own beach by his tree. It turns out he needs a seashell so he can hear the ocean, so he has to go to the real beach anyway. More ridiculous lengths to keep himself safe, and while there, he unexpectedly enjoys himself! These books make great use of diagrams and they are visually a lot of fun to read as well. I think these books are very clever, especially if you have an anxious child, they can be a fun and funny way to talk about safety and bravery.

4.5/5 Fun, funny and useful!

Emma Apple

Emma Apple

Author-Illustrator at Books by Emma Apple
Emma Apple is a Chicago based children’s author-illustrator and designer from New Zealand.

She is author of How Big Is Allah? and How Does Allah Look? and founder of Creative Muslim Women.

Emma converted to Islam as a teenager and currently lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter, son and Ash the parrot. She only reads books that have lots of pictures, loves to look at planets through her telescope and is a big fan of yellow and Star Trek.
Emma Apple

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