“Boat of Dreams”

Rogerio Coelho is an internationally known illustrator of children’s books.  In 2015, he won Brazil’s Jabuti Award for the best children’s illustrations for his book “Boat of Dreams.”

Eighty pages in length, “Boat of Dreams” is a wordless children’s book that will appeal to a wide range of juvenile readers. The story probably asks more questions, at first read, then it will answer.  Since the story is told visually, the first step for the reader is just to look at all the intricate illustrations, which the author/illustrator has done using a limited palette of blues and sepia shading.

After this first look, the reader can return to the first page and begin to interpret the drawings and create a narrative.  Perhaps, 9780884485285_p0_v1_s192x300.jpgeven a third reading might be needed to draw some conclusions about the man and the boy.  Are they two different people or one individual?  Are they separated by only distance or also by time?  Are they dreaming of the future or of the past?

This wonderful story would be a great book for a child to be read with an adult.  As each explores the illustrations, they could create their version of the meaning of “Boat of Dreams”on their own voyage of imagination.

“Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk”

Lillian Boxfish, the central character in a new book by Kathleen Rooney, is an original.  She was born in 1899, but tells  people that 1900 was her birth date.  Why you ask?  1899 was in another century, and Lillian is definitely not an nineteenth century kind of woman.

Lillian left her hometown, Washington D.C., and moved to New York City in the twenties.  By the 1930s, she is employed by R.H.Macy’s in the advertising department.  Eventually, she becomes the highest paid woman in that9781250113320_p0_v6_s192x300.jpg field.

We learn about Lillian’s past and present in alternating chapters.  In the present, it is New Year’s Eve, 1984.  Lillian will do what she has been doing every New Year’s Eve for a very long time. She will walk from her apartment in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan to Grimaldi’s Restaurant on Madison Ave.

On this night, however, Lillian’s walk will take her to so many other places as well.  At each stop, Delmonico’s Restaurant, St. Vincent’s Hospital, a bodega in Jackson Square, and others, she will meet strangers and engage them in very personal conversations. She thoroughly enjoys meeting these people, including the three young men who try to rob her.  She learns from them and they, in turn, learn about this strong, independent woman.

Eventually after a walk of 10.4 miles, Lillianis back at her apartment.  During the walk, we will learn about Lillian’s marriage, her son, her breakdown, and all the important events and people in her life.

Author Rooney takes the reader on a physical and emotional journey with a character who faces life head on.  Even at age 85, or 86 depending on how you count, Lillian loves life and looks forward to each adventure.

“This House, Once”

The author Deborah Freedman was once an architect.  Her story “This House, Once” deconstructs a house so the reader can explore how all the elements of a home come together.9781481442848_p0_v4_s192x300.jpgBeautifully illustrated by the author using pencil, and watercolors, her drawings are soft and dreamy.

Beginning with the front door, the reader is told that the door was “once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.” And there it is–the huge colossal oak with the front door in its trunk.  From the door, the author next explains where the stone foundation comes from–deep underground beneath the leaves.

Each element of the house is discussed.  Until it rises from the page complete.  The house then dreamily remembers where each part of it came from, once.

“This House, Once” is a good choice for a one-on-one read.  Each part of the house’s construction can be discussed and then discussed again as the reader sees where in the natural world the element was found.

“Noisy Night”

Pictured on the cover of the new Mac Barnett book is a multi-storied apartment building.  “Noisy Night” explores what is happening to its inhabitants on each floor as night falls.

We first encounter a little boy in his bed.  He wants to know what is going on above his head that is producing the sounds La La La.  As the reader turns the page, he or she discovers that an opera singer is practicing his musical scales.  As he practices, he hears Ma Ma Ma, and he wants to know   9781596439672_p0_v2_s118x184.jpgwhat is happening above his head. And so it goes.  Each floor’s inhabitants produce another sound from Baa Baa Baa to Rah Rah Rah to Cha Cha Cha.  Finally, on the top floor is an older man trying to go to sleep.  He is yelling “Go to Bed!” and everyone does.

Young readers will enjoy hearing and then repeating the various sounds that each floor’s inhabitants produce.  This silly story has colorful, cartoon-like illustrations  by Brian Biggs, who lives in a three-story house right next to some very noisy neighbors.

“Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians”

Every parent has told every child to “Clean up your room.”  In the case of the young boy, whose room is covered with food crumbs, candy wrappers, etc., the plea to clean up your room should be followed with “or we will be infested with ants.”  Ants, flies, mice are the the least of this young boy’s problem.

In Jason Carter Eaton’s very funny new book “Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians” small, snack-eating pests are soon followed by huge snack-eating barbarians.  At first, of course, there was only one barbarian, but where there is one barbarian, there are many to follow.

The young boy thinks he has the problem under control, but, of course, he does not.  Nothing is off-limits to these creatures and soon his life is out of control.  Every attempt to contain these beasts–traps, scarebarians and even an exterminator don’t work.9780763668273_p0_v2_s192x300.jpgThere was only one solution left.  The young boy must clean up every crumb, snack and sticky candy wrapper he had left around the house.

This cautionary tale will appeal to all young readers.  Mark Fearing’s vivid, cartoon-like drawings add to the mayhem created by the invading barbarians.  And of course, just when things seem to be settling down for the young boy and his family, he leaves the water running in the bathtub, which leads to PIRATES.