AWB (Award-Winning-Books) 2015 Books GB Challenges It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes Throwback Reads and Hot for Cybils!

[Monday Reading] Boys in 2014 Picturebooks – From Ninja to Troublemakers, Kid Sheriffs and Messed Up Stories, Plus Bad Byes Too


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.


Here is the sign up page and the January-February linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly, courtesy of Pansing books. Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.
Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.

Part of our current reading theme includes giving love to CYBILS (Hot for Cybils!). I am also very privileged to be among the second round judges for the Fiction Picture Book category along with other fellow kidlit enthusiasts.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 4.52.17 pm

Second Round Judges for Fiction Picture Books 2014

Julie Larios
Books Around the Table

Dawn Mooney
5 Minutes for Books

Jennifer Reed

Julie Rowan-Zoch
Julie Rowan-Zoch

Several weeks back, I shared girls, art, and ingenuity in 2014 fiction picturebooks. This time around, I am excited to share predominantly-boy protagonists in books published in 2014.

IMG_9559A Perfectly Messed Up Story

Written and Illustrated by: Patrick McDonnell
Published by: Little Brown and Company, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I loved hearing my 13 year old girl laugh out loud while in the library as she read this story. When I read this book, there was something about Little Louie, indeed, in his neat Once upon a Time world and his tra la la la la sang with so much gusto that appealed to me too.


He seems to be a good-natured little chap. Until, gooey ozzing stuff starts messing up with his perfect little world:


Don’t you just love mixed-media and the wonders of technology? Something as life-like as this would hardly have been possible a century ago in children’s book publication. This capacity was exploited in gorgeous disarray by Patrick McDonnell who demonstrates how “the WORST THING EVER” can happen despite one’s good intentions, and how one’s happy ending may be a choice, notwithstanding life’s chaotic mess.

The TroublemakerIMG_9589

Written and Illustrated byLauren Castillo
Published by: Clarion Books, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

A family on a picnic just outside their home: mother setting the table, father tending the garden, sister quietly by mother’s side, and a bored boy with nothing to do. Sounds like the ingredients for a full-on mischief? Well you got that right.

This sneaky young boy gathered all the stuff that he needs to make that quiet day quite an adventure for him – except that he got busted by a crying sister and a scolding mother, and someone more sneaky than him decided to play a trick on him! 


Loved the art in this book with its heavy lines, earth-colours, and the simplicity of the text that I feel will never grow old with young kids.


Written and Illustrated byArree Chung
Published by: Henry Holt and Company, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Any young reader who is fascinated with the stealthy sneaky tumbling moves of a ninja would enjoy this fun book. I loved the illustrations and the comic panels bursting with quiet mischief and make-believe. A celebration of what it’s like to head into ‘enemy territory,’ how to recover from a huge dishonour, and what it’s like to catch an unsuspecting victim in full surprise.


Kid Sheriff And The Terrible ToadsIMG_9593

Written byBob Shea Illustrated by: Lane Smith
Published by: Roaring Brook Press, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

When I talk to my book club kids about books, I tell them that books have a distinct voice. This is one classic example of cowboy-drawlin,’ misspelling thieves and pretending-to-be-daft underage young sheriffs who have a penchant for paleontology, and who takes his sweet, good-ole time riding off into the sunset or solving crimes in the most ingenious way possible.


The illustrations of Lane Smith, as usual, are superb. Paired with Bob Shea’s playful storytelling, this is a winner.

IMG_9552Bad Bye, Good Bye

Written by: Deborah Underwood Illustrated by: Jonathan Bean
Published byWalker Books, Ltd. 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Told in startlingly-spare text, this picturebook is a distillation of what it means to be uprooted from one’s home, your life’s possessions jumbled up in assorted boxes. The gnarled feelings of uncertainty, resentment, and eventual sadness are captured in just four words per page.


Jonathan Bean’s layered art: from the jagged, uneven pain to the darkened gray skies of long drives complement the sparse narrative in such a powerful manner. Here is a sample of a full-page spread that made me marvel at the choice of colours, the subtle restraint in the art, and the coded imageries that capture painful transitions.


This book IS poetry – probably one of my favourites from Deborah Underwood. Jonathan Bean is a visual poet who is able to evoke textures and nuances through lines and colours. A not-to-be-missed picture book.

Currently Reading…


There is possibly nothing more satisfying than reading a book about a certain place and being in exactly the same place. I arrived in Istanbul last week and brought the snow with me. Apparently it only snows around four or five times a year, and it happened exactly the night before I arrived to welcome me.


View from right outside my hotel window. I spent my first day indoors because of the heavy rains and the furious snow flurries – which remain such a glorious experience for me, daughter of the tropics that I am.

Since I have been conducting teacher-training here and my host has been extremely kind to give me a personal tour of this beautiful city, complete with brilliant commentary about the places that we visited, that I barely had time to read my Istanbul book. I am glad to share though that I plan on finishing it on my flight back to Singapore today. Istanbul is Love.

11 comments on “[Monday Reading] Boys in 2014 Picturebooks – From Ninja to Troublemakers, Kid Sheriffs and Messed Up Stories, Plus Bad Byes Too

  1. Your trip to Istanbul sounds wonderful, Myra. What a lovely thing to be able to do! I’ve only read A Perfectly Messed Up Story, know of all the others but still haven’t got them-a must! Thanks for sharing so much about them. We’ve had a big snow finally in Denver-need it, unlike in the east US, but it is cold. Now I’m hoping for warm days again! Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A Perfectly Messed-Up Story looks like a very fun picture book! Sounds like a fun trip to Istanbul. That is a city that I would love to see some day. Thanks for sharing about your award-winning books challenge. I missed it earlier this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kaymcgriff

    Enjoy your stay in Istanbul. It looks beautiful! All of these picture books look good, but I really want to read about the Sheriff and the Terrible Toads.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The photo of Istanbul is gorgeous. What a wonderful experience. I also adored Bad Bye, Good Bye. It is such the perfect merging of image and sparse text. I read Troublemaker to groups of K1/2’s last week and we all had fun with it. I’ll have to find A Perfectly Messed Up Story for our school library. I keep hearing so much good stuff about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Troublemaker looks absolutely adorable! I must keep an eye out for that one. Kid Sheriff is SO popular at my library. It’s stayed checked out since we got it. The kids think it’s so funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a gorgeous view out your hotel window! I hope you enjoy your time in Istanbul–and the fun of winter! I am crazy about Jonathan Bean’s artwork Bad Bye Good bye–I think it’s perhaps the most distinguished artwork I saw in a picture book in 2014. Sad that it didn’t receive any awards!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love those retro-looking picture books, Myra! It gave me chills to see the view from your window alongside the Pamuk book – what an amazing adventure for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We love the pictures of Istanbul – It is so wonderful to read about the places you visit. We hope you have a wonderful trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not sure where to start – the book stack, the picture books you described, your photos of Istanbul . . I love it all!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How exciting to be able to travel! You have some really great picture books this week (some of which I’ve read – like Terrible Toads) and some I definitely want to grab (Bad Bye, Good Bye and Ninja!)


  11. Hope you had an amazing time in Istabul – such a fascinating city! These books look great – starting up a boys’ reading/writing group, so may have to purchase a few!


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