Picture Books…with a Twist


A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This recommendation came from one of my coworkers, who passed the book around to everyone working in the Central Youth and Family Services office. It does not have the type of art that usually draws me in, but it had a story that did. The plot is exactly what the title suggests. In a room with a hungry lion, many animals begin to disappear. The suspense builds to a sinister moment…and then something unexpected happens. The story is goofy, it uses suspense in surprising ways, and it makes good use of alliteration, repetition and black/blank pages. Before I read this book, my coworker gave me reading advice for this story that I thought was a spoiler. Since it ended up not being a spoiler, and instead just a keen observation, I am going to give the same advice to you: watch the turtle.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Creepy Carrots knows how to set a mood. With black and white art, it is easy to tell this book wants to set a creepy, eerie tone. One of my coworkers recommended Creepy Carrots, and I definitely appreciate the suggestion because this book shows that young children’s literature and horror is a possible combination. Jasper Rabbit greedily eats masses of carrots from Crackenhopper Field. That changes when Jasper notices some of the carrots might be following him… What happens as Jasper reacts to the creepy carrots is shocking, and makes every moment of this book worth reading.

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

Interstellar Cinderella rhymes. Aside from the vocabulary, rhyming is the most notable feature of the book. Creative vocabulary choices include newly invented tools: cosmicalipers, ion tethers, googol gauges, Herschel converters, flux compressors and many more examples, found inside the story and on the inside cover pages. While it is obviously a Cinderella adaptation, the repurposing of the plot points are so clever that the inclusion of the Cinderella name is almost unnecessary. This Cinderella story is in outer space. Cinderella herself is a talented engineer who fixes spaceships. The art is fantastic and suitable for the science fiction environment. If you enjoy reading fairy tale adaptations, this story is weird in many places, but ultimately worth your time.

Spider-Man: Homecoming & Beyond

I see a lot of movies in theaters. And when the movie in question is a Marvel movie, I’m probably going to see it on opening weekend. Spider-Man: Homecoming was no exception. Below is a mini review, my ranking of the mainstream Spider-Man movies (because everyone is doing a ranking), and some comic book suggestions for those who want something beyond the movies. Continue reading “Spider-Man: Homecoming & Beyond”

Interactive Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
More than anything else, I wish I thought of this idea first. A picture book with no pictures is probably the only children’s story I could write due to my lack of artistic ability. Even so, it is fine that B.J. Novak thought of it before me; I was very impressed with how he used this concept. I incorrectly assumed there would be some sort of abstract art in the book: shapes, splotches, splashes of color. This book really is true to the title; it is only words. Nothing else. The words alone convey action in ways I rarely see in picture books. The physical words change fonts, styles, sizes and colors. Sound effects and nonsense words are cleverly utilized. The words contain a back and forth conversation, and it is clear who is speaking each time even though the narrators are never defined. This book, to my complete surprise, is one of the best children’s books I ever read. I hope to read it many times again.
Continue reading “Interactive Picture Books”

It’s the Week of Comic-Cons…

The annual San Diego Comic-Con is coming up, and as always I find myself wishing I had the money and purchasing speed needed to spend a few days getting the scoop—in person—on my favorite TV shows and movies while nerding out with other fans.

Last May I got the closest I will ever be to SDCC by attending one of Hampton Road’s local versions of the event. Tidewater Comicon and Hampton Comicon are annual events; this year I finally made my way to Tidewater Comicon. Continue reading “It’s the Week of Comic-Cons…”