The title promises a trip back in time, a mystery, and that’s exactly what’s delivered in this story poem tale with its mystical, magical illustrations.
We’re invited into an old house and on each page, we learn a few more things about the house, on a hill. All the items of the last owner are still in their place, as told my favorite line:
Who was this someone
who left without packing
someone who’s gone
but is still everywhere?
Two children are the house explorers, but not the main characters. The illustrations feature the main character, the house and all its contents. Readers learn much from a yellow mustard jar, an artist’s palate, and photos on the wall. The author draws us into the story when she wonders who may have lived there, and where they may have gone. After what must have been several hours, the children return home and the illustrations show they returned with a few treasures.
This is the kind of story poem that takes readers to a special place and will entice readers to return into the story’s feeling again and again.
Catch that Cookie! is a mystery and humor book rolled into one. It opens with Marshall, who starts out a firm skeptic about the idea that gingerbread men (g-men) could run away, like the folk tale says. But he joins in with his classmates to make and bake his own g-man. When they gather around the oven to remove the cookies, they find an empty oven! A note sends them looking; another note sends them looking again and again, until they all become stumped—except for Marshall. Working the clues, he comes up with an idea of where the cookies could be, and leads everyone to the g-men! Now Marshall is a firm believer that g-men can run away, and when he gets in the car, he orders his father to lock the doors to ensure his g-man gets home.
The award-winning artist, David Small, has created illustrations that jump across each page. To an already good story, he adds mountains of humor, action, joy and fun. It’s easy to follow the many emotions the children display as they discover the missing g-men and follow the clues.
Review originally published in San Francisco Book Review.
By Mordical Gerstein
Roaring Brook Press, 2009
Amelia Bloomer Award
The story begins with wondering what it would be like to live in a book; a fascinating concept for a young child.
Over breakfast, we meet the family members who live in the book and discover their story; but the youngest, a little girl, does not have a story. Mother Goose appears and points out that everything the little girl says is seen by “the reader”. Spotting the “huge…blobby thing” looking at her, embarrasses the little girl and she hides behind the goose. The goose takes her through her land of folk and fairy tales, where the reader can enjoy identifying each story. Her dog, with a detective, tries to help; her fish, who has joined a band of pirates, tries to help; and her brother, now an astronaut, makes suggestions, but these stories are not the little girl’s story. At dinner she knows what her story is and announces it to her family. They all cheer for her. After dinner, she writes her story. The book ends with the little girl lying in bed asking the reader to please close the book so she can sleep.
Imagining what it would be like to live in a book woven together with the young child searching for her story makes this a compelling story for young readers.
By Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young
Little Brown and Company, 2012
2013 Children’s Choice Book Award
It’s midnight. A little ninja appears. He enters the house. He creeps in silence, he listens in the shadows. He takes out his tool…when suddenly lights flash on and a figure looms above him. This delightful story has the mystery and suspense—in kid’s terms—that every young ninja seeks, as well as the love of a patient parent.
Let your ninja live in the mysterious—yet safe—illustrations depicting night, created by award winning artist Ed Young, and the understanding, loving words of Barbara DaCosta. For the youngest ninja lovers.