Tuesday, December 30, 2014

440-442 (2014 #68-70). Three Picture Books

Karen Patkau's Who Needs a Desert? is a basic introduction to desert ecosystems.  Double-page digitally-rendered illustrations feature desert plants and animals with text that will encourage readers to find the one described.  The best ones are those in the section on "Living in the Desert" which move through a day from early morning to late at night.  A little more information is provided about each plant and animal in four pages near the end of the book.  This section would have been better with larger illustrations, perhaps paired with actual photographs.  The glossary on the final page is a plus.  This is one of six books in the author's Ecosystems series.

Edie's Ensembles, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, has wonderful, colorful illustrations, but I'm not sure what the point of the story is.  It seems to be saying "clothes do not make the [wo]man" when Edie realizes she "had been lost underneath all those clothes," but on the very next page, she once again goes "to school in one of her most daring outfits."  It's not clear to me that Edie learned anything.  Two-and-a-half stars for the cute little anthropomorphic animal characters and the vibrant "ensembles."

Edgar is a barnyard rat who thinks he's being followed by an earthworm. This is a cute story with a surprise ending, which may or may not be as good for re-reads, depending on the audience.

The unbound advance reader edition I received, translated  from French, doesn't have a statement as to the type of media used in the vibrant illustrations, but author/illustrator Jean-François Dumont has stated in a July 2014 interview that he paints "with an acrylic resin or oil pigments." Dumont's book A Blue So Blue won the 2004 Prix Saint-Exupéry, an award given annually to the best illustrated picture book in France.

Dumont also says, "Edgar the rat is my favourite character, I do not know exactly why. He is the first character in the series of the farm that I created, and he has a bad temper but he is nice to draw." Some of the other books in his barnyard series, also translations from French, are The Chickens Build a Wall, The Geese March in Step, and The Sheep Go on Strike.

© Amanda Pape - 2014

[I received hardbound copies of the first two books through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  They have both been added to my university library's collection.]

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