Harper Collins Childrens books contacted me recently and asked me if I would be willing to review some of their children’s books. Since Sean and I had recently decided to read through the entire list of Newbery books (that’s around 300 books if you keep track of that sort of thing) I said yes, I would love to, and I sent them my wish list.
They sent all of the books I requested and a few others. I will be reviewing those books here over the next several months as we get them read.
They also asked if I would review a picture book. Even though my kiddo is eight and has moved well beyond the genre of picture books, I still love picture books. As an artist I love the illustrations, and as a writer I appreciate the skill that it takes to distill a story into a few precise lines per page rather than to write big fat juicy paragraphs. Less is more, but it is definitely not easier. At any rate, I told them to send me any old picture book and I would review it.
When the book arrived, Sean — my eight-year-old who loves reading about boys surviving on their own in the wilderness – immediately ran off with the picture book about a little chick who wants to fly, and quickly read it. When he came back, I asked him what he thought of it. He said he really liked it and thought “little kids” would like it too.
Since I am somewhat of a little kid, I read it, and I have to agree with Sean, I like it too. I just wish he was still small enough to fit on my lap so I could read it to him.
The story is about a little chick named Peepsqueak who wants to fly. He spends his day launching himself off of various things hoping to take flight, but with no success. All of the other barnyard animals are quick to remind him that he can’t fly but Peepsqueak doesn’t listen, he just keeps movin’ along. When he finally gives up, his mother is there to console him, but along comes a big gray goose who hoists him onto his back and takes him for a ride way up in the sky.
Here’s what I loved about this book: I love the simplicity of the story and the message. I love the simple and bright illustrations. I love the short sentences and big bold print on each page which is great for older parents (like me!) or grandparents with poor close vision as well as for children who are learning to read. So many children’s authors make the mistake of cramming too many words in a too-small font on a single page and those are the books I discard because it tells me that author doesn’t read to children.
On the whole, Peepsqueak! is a sweet simple secular story. But when I went to the author’s website, I found that there was another story behind the story in book that made me love the story even more.