The Stray – Picture Book Review

Story and Illustrations By: Molly Ruttan
Published On: May 19, 2020

In The Stray, a family is out for a walk when a spaceship crashes nearby. There amongst the rubble is ‘the stray’. He’s a cross between a slug, a dog, a frog and maybe a few other things. One thing is for certain: he is a cutie! They decide to take him home and give him the name Grub. They give him lots of love and make him part of the family. They even try to teach him a few tricks, but soon they realize that perhaps he has a home somewhere else that he misses.

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Going Up! – Picture Book Review

By: Sherry J. Lee
Illustrated By: Charlene Chua
Published: April 7, 2020

Party on the 10th floor! Olive is having a birthday party and has invited all her friends. In a building that reminds me a little of the Wayside School building where each floor is only one room, we see all of Olive’s friends get on the elevator to take them up to the the party.

The story starts with a picture of the invitation inviting Leonard (dad) and Sophie (young daughter). Together, the two bake cookies for the party and go to the elevator where she gets to push the button. The elevator starts to go up, but doesn’t go too far before it stops on the 2nd floor where two brothers get on – the Santucci brothers, who are dressed like they might be part of a biker gang (or maybe they’re Rockers?). Again the elevator goes up only to stop at the next floor.

This elevator is magical. At the end of the story, I counted 21 people, 2 dogs, and a bass and clarinet all fitting into the elevator. Even the people in the elevator laugh about whether the elevator can hold them all. The neighbors in this building all appear to be friends with each other, but what I love is the wide range of diversity they bring to the story. Not only multi-cultural it includes neighbors with different interests and different ages. I mean, how many picture books include two brothers in biker gear?

This is a cute and happy picture book that will be sure to please readers and listeners of the book.

Rating: 5 stars

Description:

Today is Olive’s birthday party, and Sophie and her dad have baked cookies. Sophie’s dad holds the platter so Sophie can push the elevator button for the tenth floor. But on the way up, the elevator stops to let the Santucci brothers get on. Then on the next floor, Vicky, Babs and their dog, Norman, get in. And as the elevator ascends, it keeps stopping, and more neighbors squeeze in to the crowded space: the Habibs, the Flores family, Mr. Kwan, Vi Tweedle with her Chihuahua, Minx. Everyone is going to the party!

Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children’s universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee’s picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua’s illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren’t in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book’s tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.