More Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina and Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer

Published: 27th October 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Illustrator: Esphyr Slobodkina
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the perennial favorite Caps for Sale with this never-before-published sequel to the beloved classic! In this first posthumous book from Esphyr Slobodkina, those mischievous monkeys are at it again, bringing laughs to a new generation of readers. The sequel, More Caps for Sale, picks up right where Caps for Sale left off, as the peddler comes face-to-face with those monkeys and their funny business yet again.

This sequel comes long after the publication of the first one in 1940 and is official in the sense that according to the authors note Slobodkina told Mulhearn Sayer to continue her work after her death and apparently they worked on this book together.

This story continues on immediately after the interaction with the monkeys in the first book as the peddler contemplates what occurred and how upset he is at not having sold any caps that day.

Once again the narrative uses repetition and mimicking in the monkeys actions and the peddler’s, and once again the peddler gets angry at the monkeys, somewhat incorrectly this time as they are less of a hindrance this time and more harmlessly mischievous.

The style of writing is similar to the first. The short sentences, the repetition as mentioned, and the basic story all feel like the original style Slobodkina wrote in. The illustrations are the same with the same basic but detailed style and if you combine the two together they could almost be the same story, a longer picture book with no deviation of story whatsoever.

The narrative asks questions to the reader which is engaging, just like the first story, and no doubt the antics of the monkeys will entertain kids. The monkeys have a larger role this time and do more than simply thievery in the first which is entertaining, especially given the peddler’s reaction and the impact that involvement has.

I don’t feel like the first book is ruined by this, it remains one of my favourite children’s books, but I do think it doesn’t hold the same standing. Whether that has to do with the additional author, the different era, or it was always going to be that way I don’t know. It’s a fun addition and with so many similarities it is still just as good as the original I think I’m always wary of posthumous sequels to famous books so long after the fact I probably go in unjustly sceptical before I start.

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Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Published: 1st September 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Illustrator: Esphyr Slobodkina
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Caps for Sale is a timeless classic beloved by millions…one of the most popular picture books ever published! Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers. This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and also teaches children about problem and resolution.

I love old books that describe what the story is about in the subtitle so you know going in this is about caps and monkeys and monkey business but the story is delightful all the same. I’ve loved this story since I was a kid and it’s as fun now as it was then. There’s joy in seeing the peddler navigate the town with his caps, and his confrontation with the monkeys. Slobodkina’s writing is simple but amusing and it’s a nice adventure in the day of the peddler.

There’s repetition in the narrative and humorous gesturing in the illustrations when the peddler interacts with the monkeys and it’s great seeing even the simplest illustrations depict this gentleman stamping his foot in frustration at thieving monkeys.

The illustrations are simple but entertaining. The sight of the man with his numerous caps on his head is delightful and while the colours aren’t overly bold or bright the images reflect what is being described on the page.

The story isn’t overly complicated, nothing happens of consequence yet it’s cheeky and enjoyable to read and one kids could have fun with. I’m curious about the cover because at no point does he get in the tree, but it’s alluring at best if you want to give it a go.

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The Couch Potato (#4) by Jory John

Published: 3rd November 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Illustrator: Pete Oswald
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The Couch Potato has everything he needs within reach of his sunken couch cushion. But when the electricity goes out, Couch Potato is forced to peel himself away from the comforts of his living room and venture outside. And when he does, he realizes fresh air and sunshine could be just the things he needs…

Readers of all ages will laugh along as their new best spuddy learns that balancing screen time and playtime is the root to true happiness.

I am a huge fan of Jory John’s books and the Bad Seed series is one I’m growing to love because they are a clever and fun set of books that highlight different behaviours and situations that don’t feel like readers are being preached at yet a good message still comes through with brilliant humour and great illustrations.

This is book number four and as per usual the humour, the puns and play on words are divine. The different variety of potatoes are on show as Couch Potato tells us about their family and introduces us to their life. We’re told about the fabulous set up they have and the inventions and contraptions that means they never have to move from their spot on the lounge.

John never makes Couch Potato into a bad person (potato) for enjoying his life doing nothing but looking at screens all day, but through creative storytelling and a change in circumstance shows us that there is a better, more balanced way to live your life. I really enjoyed how through the whole story it’s Couch Potato’s own choices that change his circumstance. It isn’t his mother pestering him, or anything shameful, it’s his own realisation that maybe being inside all the time isn’t the best thing to do.

Key highlights are of course the potato based television shows including MadYam, Fries, and M.A.S.H.E.D. Oswald’s illustrations are once again filled with humour and help visualise John’s narrative and I absolutely loved how well the jokes worked for the potato world.

You can purchase The Couch Potato via the following

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Mrs Honey’s Hat by Pam Adams

Published: 1st June 1980Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Child’s Play International
Illustrator: Pam Adams
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

One of a series of humourous tales about the misfortunes of Mrs Honey, the lovable grandmother. Why is everyone staring at Mrs Honey’s Hat? This classic story with clear text, repetitive refrain and a strong emphasis on days of the week is ideal for early readers.

I love this story. I read it as a kid and I always think about it. Through the course of a week Mrs Honey’s beautiful hat slowly gets transformed as things get stuck to it, fall onto it, and are replaced.

The story is structured around Mrs Honey’s daily activities on Monday through Sunday and how her hat is transformed day by day. On Monday the feathers are swapped with bubblegum and by the end of the week there is nothing of the original hat left except an interesting new creation.

It is a simple story but it is fun too because we follow Mrs Honey as she goes about her business, and then see the cause and reason why items on her hat disappear.

Adams’ illustrations are bright, bold and colourful. They are simple but do the job of depicting the scenes and various activities. This is a fun story about Mrs Honey and her hat as well as the personification of the animals around her who interact with her hat.

You can purchase Mrs Honey’s Hat via the following

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Shrek! by William Steig

Published: 1st September 1993Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Illustrator: William Steig
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Shrek, a horrid little ogre, goes out into the world to find adventure and along the way encounters a witch, a knight in armour, a dragon, and, finally, a hideous princess, who’s even uglier than he is!

The story is relatively simple, being a fairy tale and a picture book this isn’t surprising but there is still a great story being told. Steig’s given Shrek a fairy tale story of his own which involves leaving his home, a prophecy of sorts, and many encounters along the way to find a princess.

Through the narrative we learn about who Shrek is and what he is capable of. He is portrayed early on as incredibly ugly, but as the story goes on we learn he is a gruesome character; he has an odour, abilities magical and poisonous, and eats lightning.

The illustrations are great, they may not be intricate or overly artistic but they convey Shrek’s ugliness and the ugliness of his parents, as well as depicting what is happening through the text.

The whole book is not told in rhyme but there are riddles and rhymes in fortunes, signs, or conversations which play into the fairy tale genre and the mixing of talking animals, fairy tale creatures and humans is well done.

The movie obviously took this basic story and key components and ran wild with it to great success but this story isn’t lacking either. There is a great backstory to Shrek and his own adventure that stands on its own away from the film. Steig has taken on the fairy tale genre and created a story with a unique plot and given a story to an unlikely creature usually not given a protagonist role in fairy tales.

You can purchase Shrek! via the following

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