Posted in Preschool Reads

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is an adorable look at friends and sharing responsibilities.

juliaJulia’s House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke (:01 First Second, Sept. 2014). $17.99, ISBN: 9781596438668

Admittedly, I’m a Ben Hatke fan thanks to the Zita the Spacegirl series; when when I saw that he had a picture book coming out, I jumped to review it. I knew it was going to be adorable as well as fun, and I was right – Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is a sweet look at friendship, individuality, and sharing responsibility.

Julia’s house comes to a quiet, seaside area and decides to settle in. At first, Julia enjoys the warm fire, toast, and tea, but soon realizes it’s just too quiet. So she posts a sign that states the house is for “Lost Creatures”, and in no time, goblins, trolls, ghosts, and more homeless or lost creatures show up. Everyone’s happy at first, but Julia becomes frustrated by everyone’s refusal to make a mess and leave it for Julia to clean up. When the noise reaches critical mass, Julia sequesters herself in her workshop, only to emerge with a solution that will make everyone happy.

The book delivers several sweet, but important messages – Julia offers her home to misfits of all sorts; all “lost creatures” are welcome there. It’s not an exclusive club, or a place allowing only certain types. It appeals to anyone – or anything – that’s been shut out somewhere else. And it brings home the point that everyone pitches in to make their home a happy place. Julia creates a chore chart, so all of the creatures know exactly what to do. I love these messages and I love Hatke’s art, done in watercolor for this book. It lends a soft quality to the art that makes the story even sweeter, more dreamlike. There are few, short sentences per page, making this a great read-aloud candidate. The font is usually black and fairly low-key, unless Hatke wants to make a point; then, the font is large and takes on the character of the sound, whether it’s Julia’s exclamation or the sounds of a house that needs some help.

This book is due out in September of this year, and I can’t wait to get it on my library’s shelves. I’ve already got a storytime planned around it!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Media, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

In Which I Explore an An Animated Book: Hondro & Fabian

Hondo & Fabian. Written and Illustrated by Peter McCarty. 6 minutes. DVD. Weston Woods. 2006. $ 59.95 ISBN 0-439-84909-8

Suggested for ages 3-6

When I saw the animated books at my local library, I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was I just going to be staring at a static series of pictures with a voiceover laid over the whole business? I decided to give it a shot with Peter McCarty’s Caldecott Honored-story, Hondo & Fabian. I am very happy to say I was delighted by what I watched.

hondo & fabian

Hondo & Fabian is the 2003 Caldecott Award-winning story of Hondo & Fabian, a dog and cat who live in the same household and have very different experiences one day, when one goes to the beach and one stays home with the family baby. Who has the better day?

Weston Woods produced this animated version of the book for schools and libraries, and author Peter McCarty’s soft, grey pencil on watercolor paper illustrations come to life as narrator Jeff Brooks tells the tale of the two friends who spend their day in two different ways. The illustrations are animated, allowing viewers to see Hondo’s ears blowing in the breeze as he hangs out a window, and Fabian putting his claws to work, shredding toilet paper. The story is brief, and Joel Goodman and David Bramfitt’s music adds to the beauty of the artwork, bringing with it a relaxing feeling as the story’s events unfold. Readers will enjoy viewing this story about pet friends; the option to use English subtitles will allow for new readers to read along with the narration. A study guide comes with the DVD that provides pre- and post-viewing activity ideas that can be incorporated into a storytime session, such as a discussion about pets and which animals are pets versus which are not.

This would be an interesting addition to a pet-related storytime. The DVD could break up the routine of a traditional read-aloud and attract renewed attention from attendees. The Perry Public Library’s Parade of Pets storytime theme has pet-related songs and fingerplays, and having a sing-along to an animal song-related CD, like Raffi’s Animal Songs, would make for an interactive and fun time.

The Hondo & Fabian animated book has received numerous accolades, including designation as an ALA Notable Video; Honorable Mention from the Columbus International Film & Video Festival; and was an Official Selection at the Kids First Film Festival.

The Hondo & Fabian series of books by Peter McCarty also includes Fabian Escapes.