#153 – Stubby Pencil Noodlehead by Kevin White

 5 Stars

Back Cover:  When Stubby Pencil Noodlehead is forced to stand in front of his class to explain why he is late for school every day, the resulting tale is more than the teacher bargained for.  Stubby’s story of pirates, pygmies, mastodons, and more, turns classroom order to chaos, and has yhe teacher begging for him to stop.

Stubby Pencil Noodlehead is late for class once again.  The teacher, fed up with his tardiness, punishes Stubby by making him tell the entire class why he is always late.  Stubby turns things around by telling a whopper of a tale.

The main reason Stubby is always late are the surprise visitors who arrive in the mornings while he is trying to get ready for school.  Stubby tries to get the visitors to leave but is never very successful.  First, a dragon arrives, then pirates who make him walk the plank.

Stubby’s bath is invaded, his breakfast eaten, but not by Stubby.  When he finally leaves for school, wouldn’t you know it, there was a hippopotamus stuck in the door.

The teacher goes from being in control and commanding, to tearing out her hair, and  fitted for a straightjacket.

The story is funny and celebrates the imagination of childhood.  The illustrations add ten-fold to the story, which is written  in rhyming verse that loses its cadence only once or twice .

When reading Stubby Pencil Noodlehead, make a point of looking closely at the illustrations.  There are little surprises on most pages.  Stubby’s eye-patched dog (Lucy),* tries to take on the dragon, and becomes fearful for Stubby, while watching him try to lose a game of checkers against a giant condor known for its temper.

The teacher’s frustration with Stubby, as he stands on her desk, causes the perfectly round, red apple to fall onto the floor, right in front of a hang-in-there-cat poster.

I really enjoy this book.  Stubby Pencil Noodlehead makes a wonderful bedtime story or afternoon pick-me-up.  The illustrations are the best part of this picture book.  At one point, while not a part of the text at any time, a goldfish in a small bowl laughs at the situation playing out in front of him.

Special touches such as the goldfish, ups the humor, and guarantees your child will be right beside you, as you read Stubby Pencil Noodleheadmany times over.

Stubby Pencil Noodlehead is what a picture book should be:  captive, imaginative, and original.  Kids of all ages will adore this book by brothers Kevin and Rex.  I do not keep the great majority of books reviewed here, but this one I would love to have on my shelf.

*Lucy is not Stubby’s dog.  She belongs to the illustrator.

Illustrations courtesy Chimeric Press & illustrator Rex White

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Stubby Pencil Noodlehead

Author:  Kevin White   blog
Illustrator:  Rex White   website
Publisher:  Chimeric Press   website
Release Date:  April 26, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-9847122-1-2
Number of Pages:  32
Ages: 4 +
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Kevin and Rex White's next picture book is called Chasing Watermelons. .To help them get the book to print goto either Indiegogo or Kickstarter. ..

Here is the book trailer for Chasing Watermelons. I hope to.. review this soon.
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#372 – The Dragons of Pan Gu by Kevin White

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The Dragons of Pan Gu

by Kevin White

Rex White, illustrator

Chimeric Press

4 Stars

////////////Short Review (click here)

Website:  Light and dark, hot and  cold, wet and dry, male and female, perhaps even  intelligence and imagination… seemingly at odds from the dawn of  creation… dragons embodying the endless struggle for control… and finding  that, in  struggle, balance is achieved… and somewhere in the mists of time  and  wisdom, a grandfather discovers that balance is a gift best given.

First Sentence:  Long ago, Pan Gu walked in the void of the heavens.

About the Story:   The Dragons of Pan Gu is the story of Earth’s creation.  Pan Gu is a lonely man, all alone in the universe.  He decides to plant a seed on which he pins his joy.  The seed becomes Earth, but it is barren.  Pan Gu realizes Earth needs a source of power and he creates the Black Dragon.  This dragon pulls a cloak of darkness as it travels passed Earth.  The cold, frost, and snow the dragon produces makes Earth cold, dark, and barren.

Pan Gu thinks again and creates the White Dragon.  This dragon causes light to shine upon Earth as it passes by.  The smoke and fire from its breathe causes scorching winds that burns all it touches, and the Earth remains barren.  Pan Gu calls both dragons over, but they could not get along.  The Black Dragon chased the White Dragon, who chased the Black Dragon.  A great power struggled ensued and Earth clashed with the dragon’s abilities.  Pan Gu needs to find a solution, else Earth will never be his seed of joy.

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What I Think:  I had to read this a couple times to understand the gist of it all.  I like the little Buddha man Pan Gu.  Pan Gu reaches inside himself and his mind to create the seed, and then into his vast knowledge and logic to form one dragon; his ideas and dreams to create the other.  I think the author is saying Earth was not a random event, but rather a thought–out event, created to please the creator, and part of the creator.  The Black Dragon represents darkness and cold, while the White represents sun and warmth.  I think kids will easily understand this even at an early age.  I think this story is an interesting way to explain the creation of Earth to a generation raised on knights and dragons.  Kids will quickly recognize these objects even at an early age.

I liked the image of the Black Dragon chasing the White Dragon, who chased the Black Dragon, circling around and around the Earth.  They are our 24-hour day, as they chase the tail of the other.  Maybe, when one or the other actually bites a chunk of the other’s tail, a vicious storm pours down upon Earth, or extremely high temperatures develop.  It is just a thought.

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The Dragons of Pan Gu is an imaginative story.  The illustrations show Pan Gu, lonely and sad, having never smiled.  He stands among the stars, but an outline in the heavens, deciding how to soothe himself.  Pan Gu’s emotions are easy to read for a line drawing.  That is how good the illustrations are in this book.  The two White brothers make a good team.  Their other picture book, Stubby Pencil Noodlehead (review is HERE), was the beginning of this team’s collaboration.

I believe kids will enjoy this story of Earth’s creation and even learn from the elements (no pun intended).  The fanciful dragons will catch youngster’s eyes as the dragons fight and clash against each other.  The Dragons of Pan Gu would find many uses in the classroom, from a study on Chinese lore to the relationships between young and old.  The Dragons of Pan Gu is also a beautifully illustrated story that will be appreciated by those who collect children’s literature.

To read Short Review click here

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The Dragons of Pan Gu

by Kevin White    website    blog   facebook    twitter

Rex White, illustrator     website    blog   facebook    twitter

Chimeric Press     website    blog   facebook    twitter

Released 2013

ISBN:  978-0-9847122-6-7

44 pages

Ages: 7 to 10

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© 2013 by Chimeric Press, used with permission

Text:  Copyright © 2013 by Kevin White

Illustrations:  Copyright © 2013 by Rex White

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DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY

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pan gu

We Believe in Pictures Books!

Candlewick Press launched a year-long tribute to the picture book beginning this month.  Every day for the next year, a new video will highlight authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, readers, and YOU!  Yep, that’s right–YOU!

If you love picture books and believe they have a purpose in young reader’s lives, or in your own, you too can make a video and have it shown on the Candlewick Press site called Reading Starts Here  If you are interested in submitting a video, look at the end of this post for details.

This is also Candlewick Press’ 20th Anniversary!

Do you love picture books?

If you have been following this site, you know I LOVE picture books.  I love the bright illustrations that can tell a story without words.  I love the bouncy text that rolls off my tongue.  I love the feel of the picture book.  I love holding a picture book and turning the large pages in anticipation of the next spread.

Not everyone likes picture books for their kids.  According to a New York Times article, picture books are on their way out of the pre-schooler’s reading life.  More and more parents, mainly to keep up with educational demands, are not only encouraging their three and four year old to read chapter books, they are demanding it.  From the New York Times article:

.......Some parents say they just want to advance 
.......their children’s skills. Amanda Gignac, 
.......a stay-at-home mother in San Antonio 
.......who writes The Zen Leaf, a book blog,
 ......said her youngest son, Laurence, 
.......started reading chapter books when he was 4.


...Now Laurence is 6 ½, and while he regularly tackles 
...80-page chapter books, he is still a “reluctant reader,” 
...Ms. Gignac said.


.........Sometimes, she said, he tries to go 
.........back to picture books.


...“He would still read picture books now if we let him, 
...because he doesn’t want to work to read,” she said, 
...adding that she and her husband have kept him 
...reading chapter books.
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According to the Times, parents are pressuring their kindergarten and first graders to leave picture books on the shelf and instead, read chapter books, many of which are  more appropriate for ages 9 to 13.  Most blame the demanding standardize tests as the reason.

With all due respect to Ms. Gignac, who I’m sure has only good intentions, I believe pushing kids to read something they do not want to read, or may not be ready to read, will make the child a reluctant reader.

Picture Books often use big words,  words that can be difficult for a ages 4 to 6 to understand.  For Example:

cauldron and whimsical - Into the Pumpkin,
tendency and pitiful - Laverne,
mundane and absurd - Monkey of the Month, or
preposterous and recite - Stubby Pencil Noodlehead.
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Picture Books are more than just a few pages of pretty pictures and a few words.  They are important beginner books, starting when parents and others read to the young child, garnering interest in books and the adventures inside them.

If you want your child to read and read at a high level, it is no secret you must read to them when they are young, take them to the library, and help them read that early book— picture books.

I hope Candlewick Press, who takes pride in their picture books and the large selection printed each year, is successful in this year’s We Believe in Picture Books campaign.

Don’t forget to check out the new video each day at Reading Starts Here. If you would like to contribute your own video and tell the world why you believe in picture books, the information is in a pdf found HERE.

There is a special giveaway on The Nerdy Book Club. If you like winning stuff, check it out.  I received an email from them, which started this post.

In the coming year, Kid Lit Reviews will be reviewing some of the best picture books and some of the newest from Candlewick Press and other publishers, authors, and publicists.

For more information on We Believe in Picture Books Event,

Contact: Sean at Candlewick –  anniversaryvideo@candlewick.com

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Why do you believe in picture books?