Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicken Cheeks

Chicken Cheeks
by Michael Ian Black
illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1416948643

Warning: If you are the type of person who doesn't believe the word "bum" belongs in a children's book, then read no further. This book is not for you. Trust us. However, if you are the type of person who couldn't help but snicker or at least grin when you read the word "bum" a few seconds ago, then welcome to the coop, dear friend! Because we chicks find bums pretty darn funny, and the kids we hang out with think they're even funnier.

Chicken Cheeks is a fanny extravaganza, a delightful romp of rumps throughout the Wild Kingdom. From the cheeky chick on the cover to the moose caboose inside, each animal modestly displays his or her backside in an attempt to reach...oops, never mind, we don't want to ruin the surprise (rear) end! Master illustrator Kevin Hawkes never fails to deliver, and children's book newcomer Michael Ian Black slings around his synonyms so effortlessly that old Roget would be green with envy. Plus, it turns out Michael Ian Black is really one of us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wordless Wonders

We love words. That's probably a very good thing since we are, after all, writers. Fluffy yellow writers with a jones for bean dip, true. But writers nonetheless.

However, we have decided that the problem with words is that they make you want to flip the page to find out what happens next. That's what they are supposed to do and it's a wonderful thing, don't get us wrong. But sometimes, we want to enjoy a book so slowly that we forget to turn the page. We love books that invite us to pour over the illustrations at a snail's pace, taking in and savouring each and every picture like a treasure map. Full of possibility and excitement and intrigue.

We Chicks have personally spent hours (okay years) of our chickie lives analyzing that dog party in GO DOG GO and trying to decide how we would spend our time if we were lucky enough to be invited. (Still waiting for that invite, btw, Mr. P.D. Eastman. And NO, being dead is not an excuse.) In case you're wondering, we are torn between between playing on the trampoline, eating cake and being shot from the cannon.)

But we digress . . .

The point is this. We love books with intricate, detail-filled illustrations that carry the narrative with a minimum of words or even without any words at all. We call them wordless wonders. (We were going to call them Usually Wordless Wonders but that wasn't catchy.) And it's true that GO DOG GO doesn't really qualify because learning to read the words is the point of the book, but you get the idea. And truly, we love that picture! It has cannons AND cake!

So, here are some of our favorites Wordless Wonders. What are yours?

by Marc Rosenthal
Joanna cotler Books
ISBN: 978-0060752484

A bored (and thus by our definition a boring) kid complains that nothing exciting ever happens. Of course, in his bad mood, he kicks a can into the air and yells, "Phooey!"

The can hits a sleeping cat which freaks out and gets chased by a dog into a zoo. The mahem includes pirates, elephants, keystone cops, housepainters, and pie throwing.

Where is the Cake?
by T.T. Khing
Abrams Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0-8109-1798-9
A cake thief sends everyone hunting through the woods, over hills, and hither and yon. Read our previous review here.

And tomorrow, we'll tell you about our new favorite wordless wonder! See you then!

Sunday ...

Book reviewed from abrams about the cake

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tough Chicks

Tough Chicks, by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber
Clarion Books
ISBN 0618824154

Okay, if you thought we could pass up a book titled Tough Chicks, well, then, you really don't know us very well. Plus, this book is fun, lively and has a message we embrace. This is definitely up our Chick Alley! Kudos, bean dip and chicken feed to Cece Meng and Melissa Suber!

"From the moment Mama Hen's eggs burst open, she knew she was dealing with some pretty tough chicks. Penny, Polly and Molly shook out their wet fluff and immediately began to strut their stuff. Peep, peep, zoom, zip, cheep!"

Oh, how we love the image of three tough, strutting chicks! These new heroes of ours wrestle with worms, race with bugs and check under the hood of Farmer Fred's tractor. They love the mud, they love to rope roosters and they love to hitch a ride on the cow's tail. Folks, these are not your average cuddly-duddly chicks, and we adore that about them!

Unfortunately, the other animals on the farm are not pleased with their rough and tumble ways. "Make them be good!" they insist. "But they ARE good!" Mama Hen tells them.This answer isn't good enough, so the animals give them lessons on how to be behave like proper chicks. They try teaching them to scratch for feed, build a nest, and cluck in a calm manner. But the chicks keep stirring things up with their wild and raucous ways.

"You are little fuzzy-headed chicks. Be cute. Be quiet. Be good," says Farmer Fred.

Grrrrr! say The Three Silly Chicks. Luckily, Penny, Polly and Molly stay true to themselves, and when Farmer Fred's tractor starts rolling down the hill towards the farm, these tough smart chicks know exactly what to do!

Melissa Suber's illustrations are bright and bursting with energy, just like the chicks themselves. We love the refrain, "Peep, peep, zoom, zip, cheep!" and think that kids will love repeating that during Spring storytimes. A positively chickalicious book in every way!

Monday, February 02, 2009

In the Coop with Jeff Kinney!

You might not be able to tell it by looking, but we are actually wimpy chicks. It's true that we can lift large bowls of guacamole with our feathery wings without much trouble. And we've been known to leap tall buildings for a great bowl of bean dip. But let it be known that when push comes to shove we do what any self-respecting wimp does. RUN!!!
So it is that we love Jeff Kinney's books about fellow wimp, Gregg Heffley, who might not always do the right thing, but who always does the thing right.

We are very excited that Jeff stopped by the Coop on his way hither and yon to talk about The Last Straw, the brand new installment of the Wimpy Kid Series. Though, of course, we hope it's not the Last Straw! By the way, check out the blog of Book Designer Extraordinaire, Chad Beckerman, who has some great pics of Jeff in action at a recent book launch.

Welcome, Jeff!

1. When you create a book, do the pictures or story come to you first?
The jokes come first. Once I’m done writing jokes, I try to string them together into a narrative.

2. How do you know when what you write is funny??
If I don’t feel embarrassed by the joke, or if it isn’t clich├ęd.

3. Do you have any tips for writing funny books?
Yes…. Write lots and lots of material, and then throw out the worst 90%.

4. Are you in any way like Greg or any of the other characters in Wimpy Kid?
Sure, Greg is an amplification of my worst points both as a kid and as an adult.

5. Has being funny ever gotten you into or out of trouble?
Once, my Algebra teacher, who had recently shaved his beard, told the class his wife said it was like sleeping with a different person. I said, “How would she know?” It got a laugh from the class, but not from the teacher.

6. What are some of your favorite funny books?????
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume, and the Calvin and Hobbes books.

7. If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?
In an alternate universe, I feel like I’ve already lived in my books

8. Do you prefer The Marx Bros or Three Stooges?
The Marx Brothers.

9. What was your best Halloween costume ever?

10. What is your Dream Job for a Day?
To have any one job instead of the three that I have!

11. Clown V. Mime Deathmatch.? Pick your winner.
Mime, because they must have thicker skin.

12. Funniest dead person you'd like to meet
Dead people aren’t funny… what are you trying to pull here?

13. Do you keep a diary of your own?
I used to, but then I realized I was spending more time chronicling my life than living it.