Board Book Review: 50 Below Zero


50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko (Illustrations)

Age Range: 2 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: Annick Press; Brdbk edition (June 13, 2013)
Series: None
Genre: Board Book  
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Another bestselling Munsch classic, now available as a board book.

dad sleepwalks and ends up everywhere… except in his own bed. All
night long, Jason gets woken up by strange noises that lead him to find
his dad in the most unexpected places–from on top of the refrigerator
to the freezing cold woods outside his house. In order to finally get a
good night’s sleep, Jason musters up all of his resources and comes up
with a most unexpected solution…

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Robert Munsch was born in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Fordham University in 1969
with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and from Boston University in
1971 with a Master of Arts degree in anthropology.

He studied to
become a Jesuit priest, but decided he would rather work with children
after jobs at orphanages and daycare centers. In 1973, he received a
Master of Education in Child Studies from Tufts University. In 1975 he
moved to Canada to work at the preschool at the University of Guelph in
Guelph, Ontario. He also taught in the Department of Family Studies at
the University of Guelph as a lecturer and as an assistant professor. In
Guelph he was encouraged to publish the many stories he made up for the
children he worked with.

Munsch’s wife delivered two stillborn
babies in 1979 and 1980. Out of the tragedy, he produced one of his
best-known books, Love You Forever. This book was listed fourth on the
2001 Publishers Weekly All-Time Best selling Children’s Books list for
paperbacks at 6,970,000 copies (not including the 1,049,000 hardcover
copies). The Munsches have since become adoptive parents of Julie,
Andrew and Tyya (see them all in Something Good!)

Munsch has
obsessive-compulsive disorder and has also suffered from manic
depression. In August 2008, Munsch suffered a stroke that affected his
ability to speak in normal sentences. He has recovered enough that he is
able to perform live, but has put his writing career on hold until he
is fully recovered.


About the Artist:

Before he became a children’s book illustrator, Michael had already
launched a successful career in advertising. Fortunately for fans of
children’s literature, the Annick Press publishers and Robert Munsch saw
Michael’s work—a scene in a park featuring pigeons equipped with
landing gear—at a graphic arts exhibition, and felt that anyone with
such a playful imagination should illustrate children’s stories.

Since 1980, the year he worked with Robert on The Paper Bag Princess,
Michael has illustrated over 30 books for children and has exhibited
his work throughout North America. He won the Ruth Schwartz Award for Thomas’ Snowsuit in 1986, and has won additional awards for design and illustration.

To celebrate the publication of The Paper Bag Princess twenty-five years ago, Annick Press published The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition (2005) which has the complete storybook, how the book came to be, and never-before published original sketches.
Michael’s has also collaborated with Loris Lesynski on Shoe Shakes (2007), a zany blend of story-poem and toddler-friendly rhymes. They also worked together on “I Did It Because…”: How a Poem Happens (2006), a unique collection that blends “best of” with “how to.”

Growing up in a small town north of Paris, France, Michael loved
comic books and learned a lot about visual humor from watching cartoons.
He moved to Canada when he was seven. By high school Michael knew that
he wanted to make art his career. Upon graduation from the Ontario
College of Art in 1966, Michael began working in commercial art. He was
the creative art director for TDF Artists in Toronto until 1993.
Michael’s other love is aviation art. He spends most of his time
illustrating in his home studio.

Michael lives in Toronto with his wife, Patricia.

Annick Press 

My Thoughts:

This was one of my favorite books when I was little and I am so happy to
see that it still holds up so well all these years later.  I’m really
glad this is now a board book, because it is one of those classic
stories that no child’s library should be without.

I read it to my kids several times. They could easily pick up on the
humor without any prompts from me, which doesn’t happen as often as
you’d think. The illustrations are fantastic. Michael Martchenko has a
great style for storytelling. He is able to portray the scene without it
being too simple or overly complicated. The pictures themselves are
quite funny and had my kids pointing and laughing at each page.

Since this is the board book edition, the text and artwork have been simplified and edited.  Even so, I feel like it holds up very well.  This is definitely a good addition to your baby’s library.  They will like the pictures while they are young and enjoy the story as they become a toddler.

Disclaimer: I received access to a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Reply
    Amy Johnson
    September 19, 2013 at 2:49 am

    We just read this for the first time this week! My kids loved it.

  • Reply
    Renee C.
    September 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    This is one of my favorites. That Munsch/Martchenko collaboration is one of the best I've seen in children's picture books. Thank you for including snippets from Robert Munsch's bio – he has a really interesting history. We just love, love, love Munsch in our house. We've even been to see his plays three times! They are hilarious!

  • Reply
    Adriana Garcia
    September 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I've never heard of this one but I have heard about The Paperback Princess! I can imagine this book being just as great. I really like how it's the son who helps the father out. So sad to read about Munsch's inspiration for Love You Forever. It gives the little book a whole new meaning.

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