Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Comedy Times Two

For those who have read a book aloud to one or more listeners and the response is laughter, there is truly little, if anything, better in life.  Once the laughter starts, it is contagious, spreading from person to person, until the entire room is enveloped in merriment.  Even after the story is complete, and each participant leaves, the shared happiness remains, tucked away to be remembered when it is needed the most.

At times, a single word can carry humor to fun-filled heights.  In Chick Chat (North|South, January 19, 2021) written and illustrated by Janie Bynum, a baby cannot stop talking during any waking moment of their day.  As you might expect, this talking is done through a single sound, repeated profusely. 

Baby Chick has a lot to say.

She peeps so much at the breakfast table; an older sister wishes the chit-chat would stop.  She's already exhausted from hearing the constant noise.  Mama and Papa are much too busy with their own tasks to listen.

Pulling a trusty red wagon loaded with prize possessions, Baby Chick tries one more time to lure Sister into a discussion.  Too busy reading, she tells Baby Chick to play.  The little chicken finds a likely spot to stop and starts digging with her trowel.  Suddenly,


Baby Chick finds an egg.  It's big.  It's round.  And it is silent.  Unable to leave the egg all by itself, it's loaded into the trusty red wagon.  Concerned, a sibling and parents convince and ask Baby Chick to return the egg.  Back at the hole in the dirt, she provides the egg with all the comforts of friendship, safety, warmth and conversation.

She falls asleep there and is taken home.  As the sun rises, the ever-talkative bundle of fluff hurries to the egg.  After a startling discover, a pleasant surprise awaits the gregarious Baby Chick.

With limited sentences, descriptive and declarative, author Janie Bynum introduces readers to a lovable character who resides in an equally affectionate family.  A pleasing blend of narrative and conversation add to the comedy.  Punctuation after the multitude of peeps furnishes readers with emphasis and meaning.  Here is a passage.

Peep.  Peep.  Peep?

"Not now.  I'm working,"
crowed Papa.  "Talk to Sister."


On the open book case, a robin's egg blue is the canvas.  On either side of the spine the image shows Baby Chick pulling her trusty red wagon loaded with her treasures.  She pulls it with one wing.  In the other wing she holds her trowel.  On top of the watering can is a tiny beetle.  The line drawings here, and throughout the book, are detailed and colorful.  On the back, the left of the open book case, is text one might find on the front flap of a dust jacket.

A grass green hue covers the opening and closing endpapers.  On the first set are the tracks of Baby Chick.  On the second set another set of tracks accompany those of Baby Chick, referencing her newly hatched friend.

On the title page, the title text is placed within a speech balloon.  Beneath this, Baby Chick is leaning into a hole saying---


The sizes of the illustrations vary from marvelous two-page pictures to full-page pictures or several visuals on a single page.  The alternating sizes contribute favorably to the wondrous pacing.  Readers will be charmed by all the tiny appropriate elements in each illustration.  Baby Chick is eating a bowl of worms for breakfast.  Her Mama wears an apron and Sister is wearing a tied scarf.  Later, Mom gathers beetles in a basket.  Sister is reading a book titled A Coop of One's Own.  

Careful readers will see that Baby Chick never wanders far from the coop.  You can see the coop from where Sister is reading against a tree.  The egg is found near the tree with Sister seen reading in the distance.  Readers will enjoy seeing how Baby Chick keeps the egg safe, warm, and company.

One of my many favorite illustrations, a full-page picture, is after the sun has set.  Sister finds Baby Chick with the egg.  The egg is wrapped in a blanket.  Baby Chick, covered with another blanket, is on top of the egg.  She is holding her purple stuffed toy elephant.  She is down in the hole with a grassy slope behind her.  There are two sheep there and Sister.  The other items Baby Chick has with her in the hole are enchanting.

Get ready for readers to peep, peep, and peep some more when listening to or after reading Chick Chat written and illustrated by Janie Bynum.  Cheerful is the word to use depicting this tale of friendship found.  All the peeps welcome participation by readers and listeners.  If you are looking for laughter, this book is for you, either on your personal or professional bookshelves.

To learn more about Janie Bynum and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  The book, Chick Chat, has its own site here.  There are interior illustrations found at the publisher's website and at Simon & Schuster.  The publisher has an interview with the creator here.  Jamie Bynum has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  The blog tour for this title starts at Good Reads with Ronna with links to the other stops.

CHICK CHAT the Picture Book (trailer) from Janie Bynum on Vimeo.

The patience of parents is tested more than once on road trips with children.  After endless games of I Spy, There's A Flag, 50-State License Plates, Bingo scavenger hunts, and boredom from coloring and puzzles sets in, the bickering begins.  Siblings who tolerate each other outside a car tend to become bitter rivals when confined to the back seat inside a car.  Squish Squash Squished (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, February 16, 2021) written by Rebecca Kraft Rector with illustrations by Dana Wulfekotte is hilarity multiplied.  Fantastic wordplay paired with whimsical images of animals and humans living together in a small community fashions a textured tale of you never know how good it is until it isn't.

"Hurry-scurry, kids," called Mom.
"Let's jiggety-jog into town in our
gracious-spacious automobile."

As soon as the sister and brother get inside the car, the pushing and shoving commence.  One leans into the other and vice versa.  Mom has a solution.  She invites a father, Peter Jeeter, and son, pigs, to join them. Brother and sister yell in unison about the more crowded backseat.

Mom replies with the same phrase,

"Too tight for two?
I know what to do."

She welcomes Dolly Waddle and two ducklings to join the passengers in their automobile.  Now the siblings are more squished and squashed.  

As the yelling from Max and Molly gets louder, Mom makes another stop.  Four more creatures enter the car.  There is more shouting, oinking, quacking and woofing.  Mom slows her automobile near the largest of animal friends they've yet to meet.  Their numbers are greater than any of the other guests.  Do Max and Molly keep yelling?  What do they do next?  

A school, pond, and the market supply answers.  Max and Molly have discovered a valuable truth about the definition of squish and squash.  Their perspective on the family car might have changed.

Rhyming, alliteration and repetition of key phrases are a wonderful, winning combination penned by author Rebecca Kraft Rector in this rollicking tale of complaints versus cleverness.  The use of dialogue and text is fabulous as is the rhythm they create.  With each new encounter of an animal family on the road, the laughter factor grows.  Here is a passage.

Two ducklings 
flit-feathered onto Molly's head,

and one piglet on Max's lap
oink-oinked right in his ear.

"Mom!" Max and Molly yelled.
"We're squished and squashed!"

You can't help but laugh out loud when you look at the matching dust jacket and book case.  The animal friends are having the ride of their collective lives.  Mom is calm and cool as the proverbial cucumber.  Max and Molly are not happy.  They look right at us in discomfort and frustration.  The facial expressions on the characters here by artist Dana Wulfekotte are priceless.  The hill you see going up on the right, front of the jacket and cover, continues on the other side of the spine.  Just left of the spine is a large tree, fully leafed.  Another darker hill with a barn at its top, extends from the middle of the first hill to the far-left side.  A pigeon wearing a hat stands on the ISBN with its suitcase.  Perhaps, it is a homing (carrier) pigeon.

On the opening and closing matching endpapers, done in two tones of teal with black outlines, we see each of the four animal families displaying a variety of activities and positions.  You can't look at these without smiling or giggling.  The double-page picture for the verso and title pages features a low rolling hill with the road along the bottom.  A giraffe in jogging gear is placed on the left.  On the right, Inch Pinch and her three backpack-wearing puppies are riding a bicycle built for four.  

In illustrations, 

rendered in pencil and then digitally colored

and shifting in size from double-page images to full-page pictures or single, double, or triple fine-lined-framed geometric shapes on a single page, each one generates superb pacing.  Readers will find more playfulness in the attire worn by the passengers and the objects they carry.  These elements seem to indicate the ultimate goal of each family as shown at the end of the story.  One of the funnier scenes is for Scooter Mooter and his calves.  The calves are wearing pink tutus.  One is also wearing glasses and reading a book.  The gathering of animals and people of mixed races and ages at the market is perfect.

One of my many favorite illustrations is one of three on a single page.  It is a rectangle-shaped picture.  It is a close-up of the faces of Molly and Max, open-mouthed and yelling.  Max has a missing tooth.  Dolly Waddle is to the left of Molly.  Her two ducklings are quacking on top of Molly's head.  The upper portion of their bodies break the frame.  To the right is Max with the piglet on his right.  At this moment, the piglet has paused its oinking and appears to be peeking around the corner of the border.

This book, Squish Squash Squished written by Rebecca Kraft Rector with illustrations by Dana Wulfekotte, is pure delight.  The cadence of the words and the comical visuals will have readers laughing and giggling long after the last word is read.  There will be requests of read it again.  I know you'll want a copy for your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Rebecca Kraft Rector and Dana Wulfekotte, and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Rebecca Kraft Rector has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Dana Wulfekotte has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view the endpapers.  There are posts about this book and interviews at Kid Lit Village and Kathleen Temean's Writing and Illustrating.

No comments:

Post a Comment