I hope everyone is going into the best freaking weekend ever. I’ll be working both days, but tonight will be a Miyazaki night!!!!
This’ll be a twofer Top Five Friday because I was a bit miffed at myself for missing that one T10T about binge-worthy telly.
1. Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock
Synopsis: —It’s Mouse’s first night at Miss Moon’s Moonlight School, but Mouse is shy—too shy to even say hello. Luckily, with help from Miss Moon and her new friends Bat, Cat, and Owl, a game of hide-and-seek makes Mouse feel right at home.
Review: Another picture book that lured me in with its absolutely presh cover. Animals trotting to witch familiar school, lil bows on their tails and satchels in their lil paws? Reader, I’m d-e-d dead from the cute. So in love with the color palette // cool blues and purples and pops of color in accessories and decorative flag strings and paint cans and teeny desks for the animal students. And such a sweet design for the witch teacher, star showered pointy hat wreathed in herbs. They play hide and seek (to give Mouse a chance to show some courage) and omg Battie, you silly, I love her!! Her spectacles and the fact that she tried to hide behind a fishbowl #myoblivioustwin Just a very cute lil day-in-the-life story and another example of a “life should be this spoopy way” book.
(Although I’m wondering how the animals feel about the animal ingredients lining the bookshelves?? (Eyes of newts and toes of frogs?? Ethically sourced/donated??))
2. Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton
Synopsis: Henny is a chick who’s just a little different from everyone else in the barn; and who learns to embrace her special gift in this whimsical and charming picture book debut from Elizabeth Rose Stanton.
Henny doesn’t look like any other chicken she knows. Instead of wings, she has arms!
Sometimes Henny likes being different: she enjoys the way her arms flutter like ribbons when she runs; but other times, not so much. She just can’t do things the same way as the other chickens.
But doing things the same as everyone else is overrated, as Henny comes to realize in this warmhearted story, sweetly told and illustrated with fresh, expressive artwork that celebrates the individual in everyone.
Review: This is one of the most awkwardly cute things I have ever seen. The author saw those birds with arms pic/memes once upon a time and freaking ran with it. What endeared me to this book was partly Henny herself – so optimistic and pure – and partly the writing, which is very much tongue-in-cheek and full of puns and just clever. Clever AF. This could have been a weird one, and it absolutely is, but it works, and makes my heart flutter like Henny’s arms flying behind her as she runs pellmell into a happy future.
You just gotta see it to understand:
3. Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
Synopsis: Combining humour and surreal fantasy, Shaun Tan pictures a summer in the lives of two boys. Each spread tells of an event and the lesson learned. By turns, these events become darker and more sinister as the boys push their games further and further.
Review: One of the most surreal and utterly beautiful picture books I’ve ever read. And it just sucks you in like the best summers do. So much lush texture in each painting, you just want to fall into them. This might not be a picture book for small children – depends on the child – but for older elementary kids, for adults, for kids at heart, the artwork in this book is entrancing. Two brothers are caught up in the malaise and adventure and rules and fantastical freedom of summer. And there’s a story beneath all of the eerie nevers // that your sibling/friend will be there for you, even after the spats, the failed projects, the “broken rules.” I lovelovelove this picture book with all of my spooky heart. There’s a bit of Jumanji and Hayao Miyazaki and Edward Gorey in the artwork. And all of it makes me want to be a kid again. Summers have a way of quietly crescendo-ing to a bittersweet, beloved end, and this book is the perfect way to revisit that feeling.
Some of my fave pieces:
Never be late for a parade // Never leave the back door open overnight // Never give your keys to a stranger // Never leave a red sock on the clothesline // Never drop your jar
4. Ghost Cat by Eve Bunting
Synopsis: Miss Maggie McCullen has been the keeper for the Port Carrick lighthouse for many years. She has never missed a night, keeping the big light going. And while the people in Port Carrick are grateful to her, they worry about her lonely life at the lighthouse. But they don’t know that she has her cat, Sailor Boy, for company. Because Sailor Boy is no ordinary cat. He’s a ghost cat. He can make himself visible or invisible, especially when visitors come to call and he wants to be mischievous. But when a fierce storm comes and Miss Maggie needs special assistance, Sailor Boy proves his worth.
Review: Sailor Boy is the name of a beautifully drawn, swirly-whirly furred cat that lives in a lighthouse with the caretaker Miss Maggie McCullen. When Sailor Boy dies, he decides to stay on as a ghost kitkat to continue to be with Miss Maggie and to continue caring for the lighthouse and all the boats that travel through the often choppy waters. HOW FREAKING CUTE. It’s such a simple story really, but the artwork, the colors, the character design, and the sweetness of the landscapes and effective use of light, brava, I highly recommend this heart and hearth-warming story.
5. The Town of Turtle by Michelle Cuevas
Synopsis: In Turtle’s shell there’s room for only one. But in Turtle’s heart, there is room for everyone! This tale of a lonely turtle who comes out of his shell to find friendship and community celebrates diversity and inclusion.
When a solitary turtle decides to make some renovations to his shell, he doesn’t have a blueprint, only a dream for a better life. He starts by building a deck—though he figures the deck could use a fireplace. And a fireplace needs wood, so naturally, he plants a garden. But it isn’t really a garden without a pond . . . Soon, Turtle can barely recognize his own shadow.
Finally satisfied with the intricate world upon his back, word begins to spread of the magical “Town of Turtle,” attracting newcomers from far and wide. All are welcome in Turtle’s town, where life is a little less lonely, if only you come out of your shell.
Review: Sooooo this is partly The Little Prince and partly Discworld and all very much AMAZING and sweet. What a dream! Turtle lives all alone on his planet and he gets to work building and building and building and once he’s done, his mind dreams up some friends and OH MY GOODNESS. There are so many lovely lines in this picture book, including “The dream, feeling brave, ventured out into the world.” I think you owe it to yourself to spend a few minutes in this brilliant little world. This turtle god — (and all of his shell friends, there’s a bear!) — is certainly one I’d like to meet.
I hope everyone is taking some time just for themselves this weekend! That’s one of the reasons why I’ll continue to share these picture books because they’re a lovely little escape for myself. Tiny bites of childhood and sweet truths. ❤