Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FLASH REVIEWS: Dot by Patricia Intiago & Flood by Alvaro Villa

With the reintroduction of Toddler Storytime and Storyhour this week at BCPL, I thought it would be a good idea to explore some recent additions to our children's picture book collection. Here are my thoughts on two titles that recently caught my eye:

Dot by Patricia Intriago
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Preschool–Kindergarten
Genre: Picture Book/Concept Book

This book is a restful and appealing way for young children to explore the concept of opposites. There are occasional splashes of color—such as with the red "Stop dot" and green "Go dot"—but most of the work is in black and white, placing greater emphasis on the simple, side-by-side juxtapositions. For example, one left page shows a a large black dot with concave indentations suggesting a bowling ball. The text labels it as "Heavy dot." On the right-side page are "Light dots," differently sized circles—sketched out in thin black lines drawn with a white center against the white page—all floating near the top of the page to resemble bubbles. For me highlights include the humor-laced images depicting a dot with a bite taken out of it ("This dot is yummy") and its opposite, a similar dot with the removed portion discarded to the side as if spit back out ("This dot tastes bad"). All in all, this is a clever and well designed book that encourages children to explore an important concept and sparks imaginations. The simplicity of the design and the many opportunities for reader interaction are somewhat reminiscent of HervĂ© Tullet's fabulous Press Here.

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Kindergarten–Grade 2
Genre: Picture Book/Wordless Picture Book

Flood begins with an idyllic two-page painting of two children playing outside with their dog on the water's edge, a lovely cottage looming large in the foreground. But then the clouds roll in, bringing a sense of menace. Interior shots show the family gathering information and discussing the incoming storm before eventually shoring the house up and evacuating. The storm then comes in full force, devastating the land and house despite the precautions taken. A bird perched on a broken branch—perhaps the same bird seen flying overheard in an earlier illustration—seems to be the lone survivor. When the family returns, their grief is clear, but with the help of the community everything is rebuilt, allowing a return to a new idyllic world. Often, the appeal of wordless picture books is lost on me, but this is a gripping story of loss and regeneration featuring beautiful illustrations that skillfully relate the story, no words required. Flood provides many opportunities for children to interpret and discuss the family's emotions, and parents may also want to introduce the subject of persevering after an unexpected loss or setback.

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