I love being asked to review children's books. Sometimes the review I write will have as many words as the book I read, which is surely odd. But I'm writing to inform and guide a choice, perhaps. The author of the book is writing to teach, perhaps, and entertain.They are different functions I guess.
I love reading children's books for the change of pace - a chance to read, enjoy, and sit back with a sense of completion much sooner than I might with an adult novel. I love them too for the art - I enjoy color and shape and the many different styles employed in children's books. And I love them for the sound of the words - a good children's book begs to be read aloud, rolls off the tongue, plays music in the ears. I love them for well-chosen words, for simplicity of message and directness of meaning, and for the clean simple lines of a tale quickly told, with plenty left to the imagination.
I love writing children's books too. I wonder when my next book of animal tails will come out? Tails of Mystery has one sequel with the editor and another still dripping to the page. I love my imaginary cats and dogs.
And I love kids.
Much harder than reading those books though, and than writing the reviews, is actually remembering to post the reviews, but here's my latest collection of children's fiction, recently read, to be enjoyed with recently brewed coffee.
The Flying Frog and the Bank Robbers by David Yair is a light-hearted story of happily inventive children and a rather special frog. The characters have been introduced in an earlier book but they're quickly introduced in this tale which could easily stand alone. Kindness and inventiveness will win the day as bright illustrations complete the story and the text offers a blend of past and present tense for immediacy. Enjoy with some easy-drinking two-star coffee.
Molly the Mole by Bat Oren is a picture book for younger readers, offering a wise lesson in accepting and making friends with strangers. Some of the concepts might be a little adult, inviting questions perhaps (which might be a good thing), and some of the word choices are awkward. But the pictures have a childlike innocence and pleasing level of detail that should draw small listeners in - and maybe even encourage them to write and draw. Enjoy with some crisp mild one-star coffee.
Then there's Misty of Chincoteague by Margeurite Henry, a classic, and a truly delightful read. The illustrations are black and white sketches but, even so, they entice the reader. And the story entices with action, adventure, cool characters, and an intriguing insight into the lives of horses. Enjoy this with some well-balanced, smooth-flavored three-star coffee.