Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Lucy and Company tells three sweet stories of friendship

lucyLucy and Company, by Marianne Dubuc, (Sept. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771386623

Recommended for ages 2-5

A young girl spends time in a forest with her animal friends, where they share food, celebrate a birthday, and help a bunch of baby chicks in three separate stories by author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc.

Marianne Dubuc’s books are loaded with special little elements for readers with a sharp eye. Here, it’s more an attention to detail rather than little winks here and there. The animals’ tiny playing cards are clear; the map in the beginning of the book matches up with a map detail in The Treasure Hunt. The animal companions are adorable and fun to spend time with, as is their human friend, Lucy. The stories are sweet and beginning readers and parents will love cuddling up together at storytime. Display this one with Little Bear and Winnie the Pooh to attract readers who love animal and human adventures. The shorter stories make this easy to split up for shorter storytimes and mix-and-match themes.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Marianne Dubuc retells the story of Noah in The Animal’s Ark

animals arkThe Animal’s Ark, by Marianne Dubuc (Apr. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771386234

Recommended for ages 3-6

It’s raining! The animals huddle together to try and stay dry, but the rain keeps coming and the land is filling up. Thank goodness, a nice man named Mr. Noah shows up with his boat and lets the animals on, two by two, to stay warm, dry and safe. At first, the animals cuddle together and sleep, play games, and get along, but the rain keeps falling and things start to get a little cramped. When are they going to find dry land?  When is this rain going to stop?

This is an adorable retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark by an illustrator with a gift for telling entire stories within her art. Marianne Dubuc is wonderful with putting little winks and nudges to readers in her illustrations: she told us the story of Little Red Riding Hood in The Bus Ride, where we saw a little girl riding a bus to her grandmother’s house; in Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, she told us the story of a postmouse making his mail delivery rounds, while her illustrations told us the stories of all the animals who lived in the forest. Here, we see little touches that tell us volumes about life aboard the ark; predator and prey all living together and having fun at first, grateful to be out of the rain. We see a chameleon blending into a tiger, attached to his hind quarters while the tiger naps; snails draw mazes with their snail slime; the elephant helps bail out the ark when a leak springs up. We also see what happens when a hedgehog’s prickles get… prickly, and a cat sharpens her claws in a very inconvenient spot. The animals’ postures go from relaxed to combative, and a crocodile is ready to snap! Ms. Dubuc’s pencils and crayons provide a soft, colorful story that kids will love to read and have read to them, over and over again.

While The Animal’s Ark is a retelling of the biblical story, this is a book that can be read to all audiences. Noah is a kind man with a boat, offering to shepherd the animals through the storm. The rain and flood are just a heavy storm. It’s a good introduction to the story for Christian readers; parents and teachers can lead children into a deeper discussion at their leisure. This makes the book work well for public storytimes with diverse audiences; kids love animals stories, and that’s exactly what this is.

Get out your stuffed animals and make your own story arc around the carpet or the bed. Talk about what animals you’d let board the ark – would you let an alien board the ark? What about animals like the dodo bird, or a dinosaur? And what other things did the animals do on the ark? Did the chickens lay eggs and the bees make honey to help feed everyone? Get creative, and let the kids get creative; you can turn this into a lesson on animals or you can turn it into a wacky storytime. It’s up to you.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds is an adorable Fall read!

mr_postmouse_s_roundsMr. Postmouse’s Rounds, by Marianne Dubuc (Aug. 2015, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771385725

Recommended for ages 4-8

Mr. Postmouse loads up his wagon and goes on his delivery rounds. He visits all the animals on his route, from Mr. Bear, who’s having lunch with Goldilocks, to a special delivery at the end of his route. Each animal household is loaded with fun glimpses into their lives: the Rabbit family grows root vegetables on their roof, so they can just pluck them from the ceiling when they’re ready to eat; they have a warren below the house that includes multilayered bunk beds and a toilet; Magpie’s home is loaded with stolen goods, evidenced by the “Wanted” poster on the tree to his home and the “Lost” poster bearing a ring that looks just like one in his home; Pigeon’s planning his next trip and has luggage stamped and ready.

Marianne Dubuc’s artwork is wonderful for young readers because of all the elements she includes in her pictures. Her book, The Bus Ride, was loaded with little winks and smiles to careful eyes, and Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds is just as rich in visual detail. The animal homes are drawn in cross-section, allowing readers a tongue-in-cheek peek into their homes. Some, like the Birds, are naturally located in trees, but the Fly family is located in what appears to be a giant animal dropping. Mr. Octopus lives in a shipwreck, and the Penguin family lives in an igloo. Mr. Bear has a beehive on his roof, with a pipe that delivers honey straight to his kitchen, and the Yeti knits hats and socks to keep warm in his icy mountain home.

This is a fun way to introduce the idea of animal habitats into a conversation. Start with fiction, and work your way to the actual facts, comparing and contrasting the elements Ms. Dubuc brings into play with Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, and ask children to talk about their own habitats. Have them draw a picture of their room, for instance.

Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds is an adorable book that will appeal to younger readers. It’s a fun read-aloud, but will be even more fun for readers to curl up with and discover Ms. Dubuc’s little gifts on their own.

Posted in Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

The Bus Ride by Marianne Dubuc is a fun read

the_bus_rideThe Bus Ride, by Marianne Dubuc (Mar. 2015, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771382090

Recommended for ages 3-7

A little girl rides the bus to grandma’s. It’s her first time by herself, and she’s all packed for the ride: she’s got a snack and a sweater, in case she gets cold. The Bus Ride is a sweet story about a little girl’s bus ride with a group of animal passengers, including a goat who offers her a flower, a little wolf with whom she shares cookies, and a pickpocket fox. There are little visual winks to sharp-eyed readers, including changing newspaper headlines and quirky passenger behavior, which always make for a fun, participatory read-aloud. Kids will love catching these little elements, and the largely wordless text will encourage you and your readers to tell big stories about each passenger on the bus.

The bus interior features on each two-page spread of the book, really letting the art breathe. Let the kids in your life discuss or illustrate their own bus ride to grandma’s – what would they see? Who’s on the bus with them?

The Bus Ride is a fun addition to storytime collections. Read it along with the fairytale classic Red Riding Hood and see if kids can spot the similarities!