March 2013 Short Book Reviews

Amazing Mrs. Pollifax

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax #2)
by Dorothy Gilman

published in 1985/2011
6:34 hours

When Emily Pollifax answers the phone that Sunday morning, she quickly forgets all about her Garden Club tea that afternoon. For the voice on the other end belonged to a man she had never seen, a man from the CIA who asked her if she could leave immediately on a mission that would take her halfway across the world! What could Mrs. Pollifax say but yes? [Goodreads]


I just love Mrs. Pollifax. In this book, she is sent to Turkey.

There were cool passages on the country of Turkey, on the Gipsy community, and of course all of Emilie’s adventures trying to rescue another agent were worth the trip…

by David Wiesner

published in 2006
40  pages

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

Each of David Wiesner’s amazing picture books has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening–a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. In this Caldecott Medal winner, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them. [Goodreads]


This was so very beautiful! The illustrations, watercolors, are really awesome, with lots of details and gentle colors. And it was cool to see how the artist treated each page: full page, or 2 pictures, or 3 or more, and how they were organized; he tried all kinds of settings throughout the book.

And I really loved the story about connection and adventures. By the way, there is not  a single word used in this picture book, but really no one needs words when you are that gifted with pictures. They do speak volume by themselves. Whatever your age, if you love art, you have to look at this book.

You can see several pages of this book on the first rows of pictures here.


Picture Books: Short Book Reviews

I started 2013 by reading several Picture Books, which is unusual for me: as I have neither children  nor grand-children, it’s a genre I usually ignore. But I ran into blogs highlighting a few beauties. So here they are:

Henri's Walk to ParisHenri’s Walk to Paris
by Leonore Klein/Saul Bass

published in Feb 2012
48 pages

Henri’s Walk to Paris is the story of a young boy who lives in Reboul, France, who dreams of going to Paris. One day, after reading a book about Paris, he decides to pack a lunch and head for the city. 
“Like many of us Henri wants to see Paris.
In Paris, there are thousands of buses. In Reboul, where Henri lives, there is only one bus.
In Paris there are many parks and rows and rows of trees. The park in Reboul has only five trees. In Paris there are many zoos full of animals for the people to see. 
So one fine day Henri packs up some lunch and starts off to see all the things he had read about.” 
Along the way, Henri gets tired and falls asleep under a tree. And this is when the story gets really charming. What Henri sees, we see, in a flowing panorama of pictures conceived by the eminent graphic designer Saul Bass.. [Goodreads]


This is a real cute story about discovering the world, discovering people around us, and ultimately about home. I love the minimalist illustrations, with very plain colors, very little text, just enough to convey the point. Different. Original. Worth having a look.
Quote: ” Do you know something? I am just as much at home in Paris as I am in Reboul. What do you think of that?”
Actually Brain Pickings picked it as #1 in the best picture books f 2012. You can see lots of illustrations of this book in their post.

Darth Vader And SonDarth Vader And Son
by Jeffrey Brown

published in April 2012
64  pages

What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if Luke, I am your father was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith. Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!), and the special bond shared between any father and son. [Goodreads]


This was hilarious! If you are a Star Wars aficionado, you need to look at this short book. In a modern style drawing, you will recognize your favorite characters, and go beyond the story you know to imagine what could have been… You will see Darth Vader as a real dad, playing Lego with his son, etc! Really funny!

Press Here

Press Here
by Hervé Tullet

published in March 2011
56 pages

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages. [Goodreads]


This is a cute interactive book, in a very original or ancient interactive way you may even have forgotten existed! Those French can  really be inventive!

Chu's Day

Chu’s Day
by Neil Gaiman/Adam Rex

published in Jan 2013
32  pages

Meet Chu. Chu is a small panda with a very big sneeze. When Chu sneezes, you REALLY don’t want to get in the way. But a whole day of adventure will test Chu’s sneeze-resisting powers to the limit – there’s the library (dusty books!), the diner (pepper!), and then the circus (all those animals!). How big can a sneeze really be? Just wait and see . . . [Goodreads]


This is definitely my most favorite of the 4 picture books presented here. I have heard a lot about Neil Gaiman, but have not yet dared the plunge in his novels, so I thought I might try this picture book! The story is cute, you will have to laugh at some quirky reactions you did not expect at the turn of a page, and the  rascal look in Chu’s eyes sometimes.

But what really fascinated me were the gorgeous gorgeous illustrations. I love details in painting, and there are plenty here. I went  many times over, and tried to look at each animal in each scene, trying to find the turtle in the library, then at the circus or at the bar. Really fun and extremely beautiful. If you hate Mondays, think maybe it is Chu’s Day, and that will lighten up your week.  Again Brain Pickings has several pages for you to see on their site, with even a book trailer!