Two New Picture Books From Kids Can Press

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Kids Can Press is one of my favorite publishers for children’s books.  They publish some really fun and entertaining books that both my kids and I enjoy reading.  Today I am featuring two of their new spring releases: 100 Hungry Monkeys and There was an Old Sailor.

100 Hungry Monkeys by Masayuki Sebe

Age Range: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Hardcover: 24 pages

Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2014)

Series: None

Source: I received a digital galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

This playful picture book encourages pre-readers and early readers to
explore the concept of 100. Unusual in that it is a narrative-driven
counting book, it offers a delightful and lively story about 100 hungry
monkeys who set out to find themselves some food. Once their bellies are
full, they all settle in for a nap, but then a monster suddenly
appears. They fear he wants to make them lunch, so they all run for
their lives. All ends well, however, once the monkeys realize the
monster really just wants to be their friend.

Japanese author-illustrator Masayuki Sebe, well-known for his
high-energy activity books for children, spreads every scene of the
story across two pages, with all 100 monkeys arranged in a chaotic group
in nearly every spread, making it a challenge for children to keep
track while they count them all. Though the activity mainly centers on
counting, there are also cues for children to search for specific items
within the busy artwork, encouraging a close reading of both the text
and the images, and promoting visual literacy. This book works well,
with the emphasis on 100, in the math curricula for the early grades,
and it would make an excellent tie-in for the important celebrations of
the 100th day of the school year. As well, since the monkeys are
described using a different adjective on every page — from excited to
brave to sleepy — it would also make an excellent resource for a
language arts lesson about the parts of speech.

My Thoughts:

If your kids like to search for things (kind of like in Where’s Waldo) or
do lots of counting, then give this book a try. The illustrations are
really fun and energetic, and each page spread has a small section of
things to look for. The monkeys also encourage lots of interaction by
asking kids to find things on the page or count stuff. Each page is
loaded with 100 monkeys as they all go through an adventure together.
It’s pretty funny, and kids will love searching, counting, and reading
the monkeys’ commentary along the way.

4 STARS

There Was an Old Sailor by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen

Age Range: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2014)

Series: None

Source: I received a digital galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

This playful, rhyming picture book offers a fresh and fun new take on
the song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” In Claire Saxby’s
telling, a white-bearded, big-bellied sailor sets things in motion by
swallowing a krill. He then goes on to swallow progressively larger sea
creatures, each meant to catch the preceding one. Every new introduction
is followed by a retelling of all the previously eaten animals, and “I
don’t know why he swallowed the krill — It’ll make him ill.” The
sailor’s tale finally ends when he swallows a whale, “then with a burp ?
set sail.” The burp allows all the other creatures to be released out
of his mouth and back into the sea, presenting the surprise of a happier
ending for the sailor than for the old lady in the song.

The story is perfectly complemented by Cassandra Allen’s
jaunty, simple and playful illustrations, which provide a terrific
source of visual clues for pre-readers looking to recognize words. The
rhyming and repetition will make this a favorite read-aloud choice for
storytime, as children will happily participate in reading the repeated
sections, which are so easily and quickly memorized. In addition, there
is a “Fishy Facts” spread at the back of the book that contains a true
fact about each animal in the story (including “A blue whale can eat
millions of krill a day!”), which would make for a fantastic
introduction to a discussion on the size of sea creatures and the food
chain.


My Thoughts:

This is another spin on the song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a
Fly
. It seems like it doesn’t matter how many versions of that song I
read, I still like them. This one takes on a new twist that I haven’t
seen before. The old woman is swapped for an old sailor and the farm
animals are replaced by sea life. The rhymes are pretty good the whole
way through, and the book flows easily. Nothing feels forced or awkward.

The illustrations have a lovely, hand drawn, doodle-like feel to them,
even though they are finished paintings. They also depict the sailor
actually eating the animals whole, rather than just showing the animals
alongside him. My kids laughed at the pictures of the sailor trying to
fit an whole creatures into his mouth.  If your kids like the Old Lady versions, they’ll like this one too.

4 STARS

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