Book Review: Bad Bye, Good Bye

I am long overdue for a review of this sweet little picture book! Here are my thoughts on Bad Bye, Good Bye.

Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Jonathan Bean

My GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Average Goodreads rating: 3.91 stars

Language scaling: A1+

Recommended audience: Children struggling with a move to a new home.

Cover of "Bad Bye, Good Bye" by Deborah underwood and Jonathan Bean
Image courtesy HMH Books For Young Readers

In-depth thoughts: The simple language Underwood uses makes Bad Bye, Good Bye an excellent choice for new learners and new readers, regardless of first language. The fact that Underwood s able to use such simple language to encapsulate all the stress of moving to a new home is a testament to her storytelling abilities. This would be a great addition to any classroom, as every teacher will encounter a “new kid” or two who still has anxieties and stress over their recent move (or a departing student who’s nervous about an upcoming relocation).

Underwood has a number of picture books under her belt in addition to Bad Bye, Good Bye. She’s also the author of The Quiet Book and its companion The Loud Book!, as well as the Here Comes Cat series, Part-Time Princess, and Interstellar Cinderella (perhaps better suited for slightly more advanced readers).

Bean’s art is also charming, with a blocky, collage-y feel that reminds me a lot of Eric Carle and Ezra Jack Keats. You can see more of Bean’s work on his website, which includes illustrations for the EmmyRunaway, and Mokie & Bik series. He is also both author and illustrator for This is My Home, This is My School, a picture book introduction to homeschooling.

Overall, I think Bad Bye, Good Bye is a great addition to any teacher’s library. Lots of kid lit ink has been spilled on the topic of moving, but sometimes the simplest story is the most effective one.

Book Review: Home

I use a lot of picture books in my work with younger learners. While it’s good to engage in age-appropriate reading material, I have to admit the simple language and gorgeous art is a nice break for me, too! And that’s exactly what Carson Ellis delivers in Home.

Author: Carson Ellis

My GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Average GoodReads rating: 4.04 stars

Language scaling: A1+

Recommended audience: Young learners and beginner English students. Fans of The Decemberists might also be interested in it, as Ellis is an artist for the band.

Carson Ellis Home
Image courtesy Carson Ellis and Candlewick Press

Plot summary: A whimsical look at the different places people call home.

In-depth thoughts: This is an adorable picture book that is sure to become a classic. I’ll let the art speak for itself, but I want to make a brief comment here about the lettering.

I’ve found that picture books, perhaps in an attempt to be THE CUTEST, often make font and lettering choices that obscure the text. This might not be an issue for native English speakers, or for English learners accustomed to the Latin alphabet, but it does needlessly complicate things for students who are still learning the English writing system in addition to the language.

Ellis’s lettering, while distinct, is nonetheless clear. This is a great selection for beginners, young learners of all levels, and anyone captured by Ellis’s charming art.

Book Review: Spot It! Find the Hidden Creatures

Spot It!: Find the Hidden Creatures is another gem of a picture book that I found at the library a few weeks ago. It was actually originally a French title (Cherche la petite bête); the English version is put out by Abrams Books.

Author: Delphine Chedru

My GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Average GoodReads rating: 3.88 stars

Language scaling: A1+

Recommended audience: Young learners and beginner English students.

Image courtesy Delphine Chedru and Aram Books

Plot summary: A series of “find the hidden figure” puzzles.

In-depth thoughts: Some of the puzzles are fairly simple, but others are challenging even for grown-up eyes! Chedru’s technique of building patterns out of simple lines and shapes make Spot It! a great companion book to lessons about shapes and geometry (as well as animals). My students enjoyed trying to stump me with their own puzzles inspired by Chedru.