Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3 awesome books with illustrations, for ages 7 and up

Mr. Popper's Penguins by the Atwaters: An adorable, totally wholesome story about Mr. Popper, a humble house painter with humongous dreams of being an Arctic and Antarctic explorer. When, in response to a fan letter, Mr. Popper's favorite explorer promises a suprise over a radio broadcast, Mr. Popper's life is changed forever by the delivery of a penguin of his very own. Now charged with caring for the strange bird, Mr. Popper finds all means and manner of solutions, and eventual showmanship with his ever-growing flock. Hilarious, and so cute it's almost physically painful, Mr. Popper's Penguins is a perfect book to read aloud to younger kids and for kids to read on their own. Because, really. Who doesn't like penguins?

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman: Join a boy (aptly named Odd, Gaiman has a way with names) on an adventure with three very cranky Norse gods who, thanks to Loki, have been turned into animals and robbed of their powers. This is the newest children's book from Newbery winning Gaiman, and as usual he is able to delivery snappy dialogue, individualistic protagonists and a thoroughly comical view of famous mythological deities. Unlike The Graveyard Book and Coraline, this book has plenty of adventure without being too scary for younger readers. It can also serve as a really great intro to Norse mythology for the younger set. Personally, my favorite part actually came at the end of the book, and isn't even a part of the story (but is rather the about the author, clearly written by the author) which is not to say the content is fantastic fun... it's just that that's a really good about the author.
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon: Chester Cricket arrives in New York quote by accident by way of picnic basket. But once he settles in, he finds all the Big Apple has to offer: friendship (with an adorable cat and mouse pair, yeah, they're friends, things work differently in the city, they tell Chester) music and even fame. Despite a pretty outdated depiction of an older Chinese gentleman (writing in dialect doesn't help anyone...) this book holds up pretty well, with enough adorable to give you diabetes. The illustrations by Garth Williams (who also illustrated Charlotte's Web) punctuate the book nicely. A generally lovely little book.

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