Focus-Group Member Turns Five, Celebrates with Two Picture Books

BookendsLynn: Henry turns five this week. To mark the big day, we’re sharing two picture books that are his recent favorites—we’re sure you’ll see why these received two thumbs up from the birthday boy.

First, is Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise (2015), by Sean Taylor. It begins with Hoot Owl reassuring us he is no ordinary owl:

Hoot owlEveryone knows

owls are wise.

But as well as

being wise,

I am a master

of disguise.

The rotund little owl is very cute—all eyes, shaped like an egg, and perched on tiny little feet. He is also hungry, and, being the “master of disguise,” is confident he’ll get something tasty. Spotting a rabbit, Hoot Owl disguises himself as a carrot. The rabbit doesn’t fall for it, but Hoot Owl is undeterred. He sees a lamb and a pigeon and despite his clever camouflages, both somehow evade his capture. How can this be? Never fear, Hoot Owl triumphs in the end with a victim no one will miss.

Sean Taylor’s over-the-top text is hilarious and perfect for reading aloud. Jean Jullien’s large, bold-stroke illustrations are made with strong black outlines, simple shapes, and bright colors. His drawings capture the humorous tone of the text exactly and had both Henry and me in giggles throughout. It’s a real hoot! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

superpowersThe protagonist of Michaël Escoffier’s The Day I Lost My Superpowers (2015) is just as confident as Hoot Owl, and the humor in the story has the same wonderfully oddball feel to it. The narrator, a masked and caped toddler, confides in the reader:

The day I discovered I could fly,

I knew I was special.

Illustrator Kris Di Giacomo’s crayon-style drawings reveal that the girl can fly because an adult is playfully tossing her up in the air. Oblivious of the origin of her superpower, this unique heroine goes on to tell us that she started working to develop other powers after that: walking on the ceiling, disappearing things (cupcakes), and becoming invisible. The ongoing contrast between the little girl’s declarations and the reality behind them is hilarious. There’s a nice reversal at the end, when Mom reveals her own superpowers by swooping in with a magical, mending kiss. Adults will be familiar with these charming, hyperbolic claims from their own little heroes. Kids, like Henry, will love the fun.

Don’t forget to keep a little cuddling in your summer agenda. These picture books are perfect for just that!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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