It is official: I think I have finally read too many picture books! All of them seem to blend together with story lines and themes which makes them seem weak and watered down. At least to me. Does that mean I am going to stop reading picture books? Heck no! Just because both The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood (illustrations by Hannah Marks) and Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon by Rebecca Van Slyke (illustrated by Anca Sandu) were not my cup of tea, does not mean they are not someone’s cup of tea.
Starting with Hopkins The Panda Problem. I have enjoyed other books by them (such as Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat, or Here Comes the Easter Cat) and want to read others (such as Interstellar Cinderella) but this time our Panda friend going along with the breaking the fourth wall was too much. There was nothing new about this style. The Panda was not interesting to me. Kids, however, will most likely enjoy the antics of a Panda with no problems, who becomes the problem, finds out adventures to meet penguins might be fun, but there is no bamboo there and along the way, learning what makes a book work. Yet, it was only Marks illustrations that kept me going. The simplicity of them was charming. The touches of color in the right place works.
Now moving onto Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon. Sadly, I do not think there is one thing about this book I liked. Yet, the theme of “being you” will appeal to the modern reader: Lana learns that no matter how much she wants to stay up late, howl at the moon and not be a sheep, she is a sheep who likes to have a sip of water, a nibble of grass and howl at the moon. I never felt a connection to the characters and the “surprise” at the end was flat. The almost abstract art of Sandu was off putting. There is lack of bold colors, like the text, it feels muted. Because of this, I will not be actively looking for other books by either Van Slyke or Sandu.
If anyone does find the opportunity to read either, I would love to know what you liked or disliked about them!