Justine: On Saturday, Mom and Dad announced we were going to the library again. Or rather, Mom announced and Dad went along with it. They took us to the bigger location Mom only goes to when she has “additional adult backup.”

Jayce: Something about two mobile twins in a large public space and being out-numbered. Nonsense, all of it.

Justine: Dad let us play with the toys while Mom pillaged–and I mean that quite literally–the shelves. Here are our thoughts, grouped loosely by category this time!

Opposite Books

Justine: I am presenting two titles in this category. Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy and Opposites by Sandra Boynton.

First place goes to Mike, who manages to construct a complete narrative using only a pair of opposites on each spread and accompanying, humorous, story-heavy illustrations. Not only have we added this title to our personal library, but it has gone on the gifting list for other small readers.

No hard feelings, Sandra. You get points for clever rhyme, but the cat and dog antics of above beat out your vaguely-mammalian critters.

10 out of 10 pacifiers for Mike, 7 out of 10 for Sandra.


Jayce: I am presenting this award to Mark Teague for his title, Pirate Jamboree. A dashing young swashbuckler not unlike myself is transported away on the heights of imagination, where bedrooms become feared pirate ships and pillow fights are battles to…well, not the death, but defeat. The rhymes and illustrations support a delightful story. 10 out of 10 pirate pacifiers, Mr. Teague!

Justine: You can’t give an award in a category with only one entry.

Jayce: I believe I just did.

Justine: Very well…


Justine: In my solo category, we will be nominating A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen. This picture book is lengthy, for its genre, and tells of a man and his dog swept away by a series of increasingly unfortunate events on their camping trip. The rhymes are the best kind–funny–and the pictures have a 3-D, computer-generated quality about them. I felt like I was watching a Pixar short in book form.

10 out of 10 pacifiers. A slam dunk for camping enthusiasts, especially of the RV persuasion.

Animal Picture Books

Jayce: We picked Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denney, and Mike by Cynthia Rylant because we thought the title hinted at a funny story. We were not disappointed. Fab fish friends show off their beloved tank, ignore the snail, suffer an unceremonious chore, and are ultimately rescued from a tight jam by an unexpected ally. If you want to know what all that means, pick up the book!

Verdict: 8 out of 10 pacifiers.

Justine: Some picture books are funny. Others showcase beautiful art. Others are pleasing combination of words and images. A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer is the latter.

Although you would not print out the pages and hang them as art, the pencil (or watercolor?) illustrations are pleasing, staying mostly in the green/brown color palette. The story is not complicated–a toad travels by various means of locomotion from Point A to Point B–but the words that get him there are lyrical. Heavy use of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and adverb/adjective combos make this a literature professor’s dream.

Verdict: We are not the worse for having this book among our national literature, but we are also not particularly much better. 6 out of 10 pacifiers.

Jayce: Boy, did we have mixed feelings about this next title.

Justine: Ten Little Dinosaurs is a good object lesson in the importance of vetting your illustrators carefully. What could have been a delightful, rhyming, picture book that combines dinosaur names with counting turned into a literal wide-eyed display that frankly will probably give me nightmares.

Jayce: Each illustration of the dinosaurs shows them with disproportionate faces and huge, bulging eyeballs. The only people with eyes that wide are the heavily caffeinated and the sociopathic.

Justine: Amazon tells me this book is meant to be equipped with wiggly eyes, which does explain the fixation, but the effect is lost in library copies lacking said accessories.

Verdict: Only read to your children if you want to scare them into sleep. 2 out of 10 pacifiers.

Justine: We have saved the best for last! Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leanard Hill is our new favorite!

Jayce: Little Ava counts sheep every night because she has such a difficult time winding down for sleep. When the experience drags on and on and on, the sheep demand the right to quit!

Justine: Their efforts to secure a replacement for themselves prove trickier than they expect. Pick this book for the pictures and the animals who give it their best to get over that fence.

Verdict: 10 out of 10 pacifiers. Nothing sleepy about this book!