Monday, September 8, 2014

Julia's House for Lost Creatures and The Zoo Box

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Review by Lauren

Source: review copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn't a problem anymore for Julia...but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!

Review: I decided to review both of these picture books at the same time, as they are both from the label First Second books (known mainly for their graphic novels). Julia's House of Lost Creatures is a cute little story about a young girl named Julia who lives in a house all by herself, yet hates how quiet it can be. Therefore, she puts up a sign to welcome lost creatures to come and stay with her.

Of course, they start to show up and begin to make a nuisance of themselves, so Julia decides to hand out jobs for everyone to do. This allows the house to run more smoothly and everyone is happy.

I like how the book could be used as a tool for getting children to do chores, as the book shows how a house works better when everyone helps each other out. The illustrations are a bit muted, more like colored pencils than paint. I think it worked well though. It kept the book from looking too much like a cartoon or overdone.

The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke

Review by Lauren

Source: review copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When Erika and Patrick's parents leave them home alone for the night, they head straight to the attic to explore. When they open a mysterious box, hundreds of animals come pouring out! Soon the town is awash in more and more zoo animals, until Erika and Patrick discover that the tables have been turned... and the animals now run a zoo full of humans!

Review: The Zoo Box's look is completely different from Julia's House of Lost Creatures. Everything is bold and bright, and the drawings definitely resemble a children's cartoon. I think it works overall for this type of story though, since the book is all about real life animals coming out of a box and Erika and Patrick finding themselves in a world where humans are in the zoo and the animals are the ones going to watch them. It's fun and fantastical, and I think the illustrations work well for that.

One aspect of the book I was a bit confused on was how the kids were left home alone. The parents are out for the night, which is how the kids find the box in the attic. Their ages aren't mentioned, but as the daughter is obviously the older child, it seemed strange that she would be old enough to babysit but young enough to wear animal costumes and play with her little brother. It's a not a huge deal, and most younger kids probably wouldn't even think about it, but I figured I'd share nonetheless! I know Julia in Julia's House of Creatures lives alone, but that story reads more like a fairytale than this one, which has more of a real life feel.

Anyway, the overall story is cute, but simple. It does leave the kids a bit nervous to visit the actual zoo at the end of the book though, so if you're kids are afraid of animals or the zoo, this would definitely not be a good book for them. Other than that, I think children would find it amusing, especially before a trip to a zoo where they can see the real animals close up.


Kindlemom said...

The illustrations are super cute and I bet you are right, since this is geared towards younger children they probably wouldn't notice that they were home alone, but then again you never know!

Tracy Terry said...

These sound like wonderful reads with gorgeous illustrations. As a girl I'd love to have been friends with these children, especially Julia.

Andrea Thompson said...

Oh, I think my daughter would love these! She loves animals and other creatures more than anything! I've always been troubled by books in which kids are left alone or allowed to go out alone, so I understand your hesitation.
Thanks for the reviews!

Brandi Kosiner said...

Hey, any book that encourages chores sounds great to me

Candace said...

The first book sounds great! I think the kids being left home in the second book might bother me a little too, but I guess maybe she's like 11 or 12? I don't know, it would be a bit tough to know. Oh well, sometimes we just have to let things go, lol.

Melliane said...

I read 3 books by Ben Hatke and I really enjoyed them and I confess I'm quite curious about this one as well. Love the illustrations.

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

These both look adorable and I love the illustrations. I am sure my five and three year old kids will love them.

Tanja - Tanychy said...

LOL Julia reminds me of Pippi somehow :) I really love the sound of that one and it seems like a great read. The Zoo Box seems less magical to me but still it seems interesting. Great reviews :)

cleemckenzie said...

Adorable stories and I loved the illustrations. I'm always looking for good books to give the young readers in my family. These look perfect.

Zoe N. said...

One word: absolutely adorable! ♥ From the illustrations to the concept, I am sure this is going to be a hit with it's intended younger audience. Glad you enjoyed it Lauren! <3 Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

Medeia Sharif said...

I enjoy picture books and these look charming.

kimbacaffeinate said...

Lauren both of these seem adorable, and I love the illustrations for both. It is great that they have lessons weaved into the story..I love that.