Thursday, January 5, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]


There are Monsters Everywhere, by Mercer Mayer, 34 pages.
Every child knows that every house has at least one monster – and probably many more. After all, there are so many places for monsters to hide: dimly-lit corners, closets, hallways, attics, basements and especially, under beds. It’s obvious that they could be lurking just about anywhere, especially at night.
The little boy in Mercer Mayer’s newest picture book is certain that monsters inhabit his house inside and outside, but his parents seem completely oblivious. They don’t see the creatures hiding in his closet or under his bed. They don’t hear the loud breathing of the monsters in the basement and they’ve never clued in to the beasts that hang around in the attic, behind the shower curtain or by the trash cans outside. Neither do they appear to take their son’s fears very seriously.
The little boy is tired of being afraid and of sleeping on the top bunk bed to avoid the beasts (which don’t climb ladders). Enough is enough, and he has a plan that he thinks just might scare the monsters away once and for all!
Will it work?
Fortunately, it does, and the little boy, by taking matters into his own hands (in a rather unexpected way), gains self-confidence and ultimately loses his fear of the creatures.
Some of Mercer Mayer’s previous picture books (There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, There’s an Alligator in My Bed and There’s Something in My Attic) also address the classic preschool fear of “things that go bump in the night”.  Mayer, who has been writing for 35 years (and is the author of the popular Little Critter books), addresses the issue of monsters effectively, using humorous illustrations and stories that will inspire confidence in young listeners.
** Recommended for ages 3 to 6 years.

The World Champion of Staying Awake, by Sean Taylor, 38 pages.
It was bedtime for Stella, but neither she nor her stuffed animal friends were at all tired. How could she fall asleep when Cherry Pig was bouncing on the bed, Thunderbolt the Puppet Mouse was squeaking and Beanbag Frog was hopping around?
Stella and her animal friends each declared that they would be the “World Champion of Staying Awake”.
It was up to Stella to try to put her animals to sleep.
First, Stella placed her stuffed animal friends on a pillow, and they pretended that it was a ship sailing on the gentle waves. After a while, Cherry Pig fell asleep. Next, they imagined that a shoebox was a midnight train racing through the night. Thunderbolt nodded off almost right away. And when Beanbag Frog and Stella sailed off in a hot air balloon (a.k.a. a toy basket), Frog eventually fell asleep.
Stella tucked her friends into bed.
Since she only wasn’t asleep, Stella supposed that she was now the World Champion of Staying Awake.
Or was she?
This gentle and amusing story, with illustrations by artist Jimmy Liao, is a testament to the power of a child’s imagination.  
** Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years.
These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on January 5, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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