We Found A Hat: A Review

We Found A Hat, Jon Klassen, 2016

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This absurdist three-act drama explores the desire for and impermanence of relationship, existence, and a flattering hat. When two turtles find a hat in the desert, an internal struggle ensues. They’re forced to determine whether they’ll ignore the hat or  allow its presence to fracture their friendship.

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Is Jon Klassen the Samuel Beckett of children’s authors? If the way m. reads We Found A Hat is any indication, all signs point to yes. I anticipate that she’ll perform it as a one-woman show at the next Fringe Fest. It’ll be a challenge because there are two main characters, but I think she’s up to it.

5doggies

5 out of 5 doggies

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The Great Paper Caper: A Review

The Great Paper Caper, Oliver Jeffers, 2008

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This book has everything: mystery, intrigue, a court scene featuring animals, and most importantly aviation-based redemption. I can’t get enough of it.

I’d say this book is a classic whodunnit, but if you’re paying attention the “who” is pretty obvious from the start. I can’t say how I’d do under the pressure of a pig cross-examination, but the Perry Mason/Matlock-esque quality of the bear’s confession indicates that the pig prosecutor must be one of the best!

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Jeffers has a knack for including fantastic detail in every picture, although d. thinks the nose on the boy looks like there’s a hot dog stuck on his face. A petty concern, would it not be for d.’s love of hot dogs. Speaking of aesthetics, the bear would fit well in Halifax’s north end with his hipster hat, axe, and love of paper airplanes. The only thing he’s missing is a pair of beaten up Blundstone boots and a local micro-brew kombucha.

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I’ve learned a lot from this book: even pigs love bacon, people will help if you ask, and most importantly, d. really loves hot dogs.

5doggies

5 out of 5 doggies

 

First Snow: A Review

First Snow, Bomi Park, 2016 (US Edition)

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The days are lengthening, birdies are singing their morning songs, and m. & d. keep talking about Winter as if it’s almost a distant memory. Unfortunately, the weather says otherwise. We might be springing forward this weekend, but Spring has not arrived. I didn’t think I’d still be reviewing snow-related titles, but here we are.

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Fortunately, First Snow, a beautiful South Korean book, manages to make the coldest heart melt. A small child delights in the first snow fall by going on an evening adventure- rolling a snowball with her puppy. They go fast, fast, fast and slow, slow, slow through town and country, until arriving at the most wonderful, serene party. That’s how I like to party- serenely. The simple, repetitive text emulates the soft, falling snow.

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Bomi Park’s art does most of the narrative work. She makes use of pencils, acrylic paint, oil pastel, and ink sticks on richly textured paper. The illustrations are wonderfully high contrast, oscillating between the darkness of night and the blinding white snow. Within these pages are wonderful details waiting for the reader’s closer inspection.

I’d love to sneak out at night to build snow-people, but I still need to figure out how to get out of my crib and past the baby gate. Plus, there’s the issue of getting into the snowsuit and boots by myself. Until then, I’ll just have to rely on d.

5 out of 5 doggies

 

My Heart Fills With Happiness: A Review

My Heart Fills With Happiness, Monique Gray Smith & Julie Flett, 2016

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The past month has presented us with some disappointing and frustrating news. Two Canadian courts handed down verdicts that re-affirmed our legacy of colonial prejudice and oppression, and Americans continue to “debate” gun control in the wake of another school tragedy. Given the current state of the world, My Heart Fills With Happiness offers a wonderful reminder to consider the aspects of our lives that make our hearts joyful.

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Monique Gray Smith has truly identified some universal happiness creators: singing, dancing, listening to stories, and being in the presence of those we love. And, Julie Flett, who’s a household favourite illustrator, puts this happiness into perspective by presenting it as experiences shared with family and friends. Reading this book is a little ray of sunshine to warm all of us.

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A good read fills my heart with happiness, and this is the book we all need.

Now, I’m going to go fill my belly with bannock… if dad left me any.

5doggies

5 out of 5 doggies

 

Tar Beach: A Review

Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold, 1991

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I was born to fly.

I’ve been flapping my arms vigorously, but haven’t yet mastered this particular skill. So, when I read Tar Beach I immediately fell in love with the main character who flies freely over New York. What’s even better is that she does so while correcting social ills like racial intolerance in the union system, class division, and the horrible absence of ice cream for dessert. I hope one day to fly like she does, guaranteeing ice cream and social justice for all!

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The art in this book is spectacular and the narrative was originally a story quilt  completed 30 years ago. Faith Ringgold’s original quilt forms the borders on each page framing the paintings she completed specifically for this publication.

While the book isn’t entirely autobiographical, Ringgold drew from memories of her childhood in Harlem. Her protagonist, Cassie, is a powerful African-American female who possesses the ability to liberate her family from injustice. Someone we can all look up to… and not just because she’s flying over the city.

5doggies

5 out of 5 doggies