Author: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrator: Mike Wohnoutka
Published: April 2nd 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Sent for honest review
Description: Kito wants to be just like his papa, the protector of the pride. Throughout a day and night on the savanna, the cub imitates the way his father roars, swings his tail, shakes his head, and pounces. Kito may be too little to catch a wildebeest, but he is brave enough to succeed in his own hunt. Someday he will be King, just like Papa.
I Give This ...
Interesting that this book is published by Disney-Hyperion because its so reminiscent of The Lion King that its impossible not to draw comparisons. All the story was missing was Scar.
In all reality though, this was a nice little picture book. The illustrations were fantastic and one of my favorite things. I felt like they really captured the image of the story. The story felt oddly nonfiction with less of a flow than some children's stories have. I've noticed that pictures book tend to be very heavy in rhyme and this one just doesn't have that. It trips me up a little when I read it out loud. But, I like that it might teach something as well.
My little reader really enjoyed the story. I wish school was in session to see how my preschoolers would like to it. It's always a good judge of a book to see how the respond in circle time. But, it will have to wait until fall. That is if I can convince my little one to give it up!
Toni was kind enough to write up this guest post on reading out load. As a preschooler teacher this is something I do daily, so I deeply appreciate a book that is engaging that they want to hear again and again!
Yesterday, at a book signing at the fabulous Bestsellers Café in Medford, Massachusetts, I had the pleasure of reading to eight-month-old Janie. As I did, I was reminded of the power of illustrations, of voice, of cadence, of the absolute musicality and wonder of books that appeal to little ones from birth through the preschool years.
Janie’s eyes and attention moved from my face to Mike Wohnoutka’s bright illustrations, to her mom’s face for her response, and back through the circle again and again. Oh, she loved the looking and the listening! Of course, at eight months old, Janie didn’t hang in for the entire book. I knew when the larger world had become too tempting to resist and we stopped, but wow! Five double-page spreads engaged her and kept her sweet attention.
So what does it take to capture the wandering attention of someone eight months old, or two years old, or four-going-on-five years old? It’s as simple and as complicated as you might expect.
First, a fabulous young picture book should be the perfect combination of simple, yet fetching art and lively, memorable text. One of the things I especially love about Mike Wohnoutka’s art for Just Like My Papa and Stay Close to Mama is his careful attention to accuracy in portraying the natural East African savanna environment of the two stories without sacrificing the friendliness of the animal characters. Because I’ve been to Kenya twice, I’ve been able to provide lots of feedback and photo references at the sketch stage, helping Mike to ensure that our little readers/listeners will get a true picture of animals they’ve likely never seen in their natural habitat. Mike’s art is wonderfully warm and engaging. As to the memorable text, my years working as a public children’s librarian and then school librarian keep me true to the need for lively text.
Second, a successful young picture book must be MEANT to be read aloud—full of delicious words and phrases that will roll off the tongue and beg to be repeated by the young listener. Repetition, alliteration, rhyme, and animal sounds all contribute. For example, Just Like My Papa opens with the roar of Papa Lion and the first appearance of two repeated refrains:
A warning echoes across the plain.
Yellow moon peeks over the horizon.
Kito peeks too.
His Papa paces and roars again:
My pride is here. Stay away!
I am the protector and King.
The savanna falls silent.
Kito adds his warning:
I am here too.
Just like my Papa, the King.
Finally, and best of all, if the book speaks to the littlest reader’s experience, it will be a favorite book. That is precisely what I aim for in my young picture books. In Just Like My Papa, I chose every young child’s longing to be just like his father (or mother). What young child hasn’t emulated a parent in an effort to be just like him (or her)? Young readers/listeners respond emotionally to the story because they know just how little Kito feels!
While I do also write for slightly older picture book readers, I continue to find tremendous joy and satisfaction in creating the perfect story for little ones with their wide sparkling eyes and zest for fetching characters and stories.
Toni Buzzeo is a former school librarian, so she comes by her love of books and kids quite naturally. In fact, it was while teaching at Longfellow School in Portland, Maine that she began to write for children, right after her first trip to Kenya in 1995. She has published nineteen picture books thus far, with two more under contract, including My Grandma Always Remembers. Toni’s book One Cool Friend, illustrated by the distinguished illustrator David Small, won a 2013 Caldecott Honor. Many of her other books have garnered award attention as well. Toni and her husband live in Buxton, Maine from May through December, where she writes in a lovely writing cottage above the brook. But just after the winter holidays each year, she high-tails it down to sunny Sarasota, Florida where she can listen to the birds singing outside her office window during the day and zip over to walk the beach at sunset.
Find Toni online at www.tonibuzzeo.com and watch the video of that sweet writing cottage being built!
*Be sure and visit the last stop on the tour
Once Upon a Story - http://www.
Once Upon a Story - http://www.