Picture a Laugh

I was talking with a friend yesterday about children’s books, in particular, Robert Louis Stevenson, which reminded me that I haven’t done many picture books lately.  This week I’m mentioning three picture books I recently read.  I love reading such books, in part because they remind me to stay young at heart.



A charming depiction of the bond between mother and child.


Hand in Hand

Rosemary Wells

Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Consider this book to be an Ode to Motherhood as Ms. Wells’ illustrations show us the things mothers do for their babies.  The illustrations are endearing with vibrant colors and whimsical scenes.  The reader sees Momma Rabbit and her child from the baby in a bassinet.

The next picture is the two of them sitting on a swing under moon and starlit night. That painting is reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night. Along with the next illustration of Momma and baby shopping in a neighbor’s garden, the message to the reader is that the baby’s world revolves around its mother.  We see Baby learning to talk and walk with Momma’s help. She also feeds and reads to her baby.  The illustration for the page about reading is adorable. One page is devoted to teaching her baby good manners, and the next is to being brave.  That illustration is a nod to the wonderful Maurice Sendak. All-in-all, this book is a winner for the read-to crowd.

BIBLIO: 2016, Henry Holt and Company, LLC/MacMillan Kids, Ages 3 to 5, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-62779-434-3



If you like whimsical stories, you’ll love this one.


This Book Is NOT About Dragons

Shelley Moore Thomas

Illustrated by Fred Koehler

The rat who narrates this story is convinced there are no dragons in this book.  He walks into the forest and sees not a single dragon.  So, he tells the reader there are no dragons.  Of course, the reader sees shadows of dragons lurking behind the trees and breathing smoke out of caves.  Rat sees a rabbit, but no dragon.  He sees a red truck by a cabin, but no dragon. Even when the dragon catches the truck on fire, the rat doesn’t see the dragon.  Nor does he see the dragons in the sky, only clouds.  The moose sees the dragons and runs to the city, followed by the dragons and the oblivious rat.  Rat sees only pizza, but the chick sees the dragons and tells the naysayer to look more closely. Oh yes, there are dragons, much to Rat’s dismay.  In the end, he has to change the name of the book and take out the word NOT. This cute book encourages children to be observant and look for the whole picture.

BIBLIO: 2016, Boyds Mills Press/Highlights, Ages 4 to 7, $16.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-62979-168-5




The illustrations are wonderful in this book.  I got quite a chortle out of it.


This Book Is Out of Control!

Richard Byrne

Illustrated by Richard Byrne

What fun book this is!  Ben gets a new toy which he takes to show his friend Bella.  The new toy is a remote-controlled fire engine.  But when he starts poking the buttons to get his fire engine to do what he wants, the fire engine just sits in front of his friend’s door, doing nothing.  On the other hand, Bella’s dog, against his will, does what the control button commands. Up into the air he goes. Then he spins in the air. When Ben pokes the siren button, Bella’s dog howls.  When Ben pokes the voice button, the dog shouts, “Help! This book is out of control!”  Poking the turn button causes Bella and Ben to join the dog on the ceiling, all of them upside down.  Bella asks for the reader’s help. After pushing almost all the buttons to no avail, finally Ben and Bella poke the power button, which causes an enormous a power surge, before allowing the remote to set everything right.  Once kids and dog are where they were meant to be, the dog pokes the up button and up goes the fire engine’s ladder.  The illustrations are cute and the dog is fully involved in the story.

BIBLIO: 2016, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 5 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-62779-933-1


Until next week. Sarah


2 thoughts on “Picture a Laugh

  1. “This Book is Out of Control” sounds very playful. Unexpected fun! Love that. “This Book is Not About Dragons” is cute too. Even though this is not part of the book, my mind connected with adults not being able to use their imaginations to see what young children often say they do. Another book, for another day! Keep those reviews coming!

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