In this house we read a lot, especially picture books. I'm sure it has nothing to do with having a three-year-old and a sweet little baby. So trips to the library (Penny's favorite place ever) always end with stacks upon stacks of picture books. Usually I have to sneak some back on the shelf because our book bag will be overflowing. I'm not sure when the library added a New Books section for picture books, but the discovery has yielded a happy preschooler. More books! While I get to keep up with new titles.
I'm also trying to Read like a Writer, and since picture books are too easy to read carelessly and cast aside, especially when a certain tot often loses patience with a book after the first few pages, I'm going to record books as I read them and share my (I'm sure brilliantly insightful) thoughts here. Starting with...
Jampires! Sarah McIntyre/David O'Connell, 2014
Can I just say I love love love weird books like this? The illustrations are zany, frolicking, fun (not to mention delicious), and the story is surprisingly satisfying for a picture book.
I hate writing, "for a picture book," because picture books should have stories. You know, with beginnings and middles and endings. The really great ones do. Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are. But too often it seems picture books are given a pass. Anyhow, I'll rant about that another day. Right now I'll comment on the elements of Big People Books that this picture book shares, that make it good.
1. A sympathetic protagonist. Sam is cute as a button, has personality, and shows efficacy - he solves the problem and rescues the world from jamlessness!
2. A plot. I feared, especially when I saw the rhyme, that the book would be a sing-song little story about creatures who eat jam. And while it is about Jampires, it's mostly about Sam saving his donuts and returning the little lost Jampires to their home (the latter was the one element I thought could have been developed more. But hey, we're talking about a few hundred words so...).
3. A really awesome setting. The Jampire's world is so, so, so YUMMY! I want to live there, like right now, with my afternoon coffee. Honestly, I can see a movie springing from this book. If it did, I'd be first in line to see it.
So that's that. I could go on about rhyme (pretty good), and the use of color to evoke mood in the illustrations (really lovely), but maybe next time. I'll just say, I want a Jampire of my own. I also love the word Dodgers.