Books by Janie Bynum

Released: Sept. 1, 2006

An elephant is as good as a teddy bear, maybe even better—especially if he wears Superman pajamas. The problem is that this elephant gets lonely when the girl leaves for school. Then, he "goes out and brings home an elephant friend." The elephant's sociable behavior continues over time as the seasons pass and the girl takes part in various activities. Elephants join her as she goes shopping, takes a swim, has a ballet lesson, goes to the movies, plays dress up, hosts a tea party, goes sledding and takes a bath. By the time there are nine of them hanging around, the girl has had enough! The elephants are bussed off to the zoo. But when she goes to visit them and give them some snacks—perhaps a questionable choice as popcorn and pizza are not necessarily appropriate food for zoo animals—she gets lonely and makes a new friend. A sequel with monkeys may be on the way. Crisp, rhyming text and warm, appealing illustrations will make this counting book a favorite with the very young. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

The setting is Moosejaw County where two neighbors have nothing in common. Nutmeg is a vivacious red squirrel; she's loud, sociable and dances each night to evening music. Barley, a gray mouse, is contemplative, an avid gardener, solitaire player and sips his tea alone. He enjoys music for relaxation. In two words, they are the "odd couple" of animal land. Nutmeg finds a gift of flowers on her doorstep and visits Barley to thank him. She misunderstands his squeaky, sneezing voice and returns to her tree miserable for days. She visits again only to find Barley ill and feverish. In the switch to caregiver, Nutmeg also discovers the source of her dancing music and the key to learning how to get along with others. Bynum's lush watercolors are textured with soft pencil lines and pastels; she uses fall hues beginning with acorn and oak-leaf endpapers and abundant small details. The universal need for flexibility in successful relationships is the core of this simple colorful story. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
HOKEY POKEY by Lisa Wheeler
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

Barb the hedgehog loves to dance. Cushion the porcupine loves Barb, but he can't dance a step. Cushion sets out to find someone in the petting zoo who can teach him a dance he can do. Tally-ho's foxtrot lesson ends with a squashed tail; Clover's bunnyhop tutorial ends with a flattened foot; Biddy's funky chicken class ends with quills in her back. Poor Cushion is despondent until the object of his affection offers lessons. Of course, she has just the right touch to teach him four dances culminating in her favorite: the Hokey Pokey. Wheeler and Bynum have crafted a winning sequel to their Porcupining (2003). Bynum's digital watercolors and pastels, some spot, some full-bleed, soften this prickly tale of friendship and the dance. Cushion's rhymed song, which he sings with each dancing lesson, will have the audience humming along. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
SLIPPERS AT SCHOOL by Andrew Clements
Released: July 1, 2005

In this third offering about Slippers the puppy, the appealing pooch slips into a backpack for an unauthorized visit to his young owner's classroom. The little girl, Laura, doesn't realize her puppy has joined her, and Slippers manages to explore the school and climb back into the bag for the ride home without Laura ever discovering her puppy's presence. In a series of clever word plays, Slippers is noticed by one person and then just barely avoids detection by another. The storyline is simple (and sometimes a little stilted), but Bynum's illustrations present an additional layer of warm humor, with an engaging cover illustration of Slippers with a pencil in his mouth, all ready for his big day at school. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2005

A frisky pup creates havoc—unnoticed, evidently, by his adored human family—in this companion to Slippers at Home (ISBN: 0-525-47138-3). Restless, Slippers goes out into the garden to "help" Mommy with some pulling and digging, samples milk and cereal left unattended in the kitchen, then finds and chews on a sneaker, a cap and one of Daddy's work gloves—all of which leaves him ready to nap just as Mommy and little Edward are getting ready for a walk. Young readers will enjoy this dog's-eye view of the world, as presented in Clements's brief, simply phrased text and Bynum's floor-level scenes of a contented-looking, snub-nosed puppy. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
GET BUSY, BEAVER! by Carolyn Crimi
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

A family of eager beavers learns there's more to life than building a bigger, better dam. Young Thelonious Beaver is definitely out of sync with his industrious family who spend every waking moment "busy, busy, busy," rebuilding their dam and competing with their neighbors. By day, the dreamy Thelonious watches cloud shapes and dragonflies. At night he gazes at stars and fireflies. His family constantly nags him to "get busy" and stop daydreaming. But when the aesthete Thelonious engineers his own show-stopping creation, he inspires the hard-working beavers to abandon their construction frenzy and literally sit back and smell the roses. The text, along with the humorously detailed line and pastel washed illustrations, contrasts Thelonious's pastoral pleasures with his family's frenetic chomping and chopping. A charming salute to the creative dreamers of the world—including Leo Lionni's classic, Frederick. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
PIG ENOUGH by Janie Bynum
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

No matter what he does, Willy the guinea pig can't seem to fit in. When he joins the Pig Scouts he thinks things will change; he is a pig, after all. But all the other pigs turn up their snouts: "You can't be a Pig Scout . . . You don't even have a tail!" In a series of humorous watercolor vignettes, Bynum depicts the pigs as they partner up for a hike. Everyone looks happy, except for Willy and a pig named Peyton. But when the two fall down a well, Willy employs a special skill peculiar to guinea pigs and ends up saving the day. While the ending is a bit too good to be true, it's still a nice little lesson about pride and prejudice that speaks to kids in a way that's easy to understand. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
ROCK-A-BABY BAND by Kate McMullan
Released: May 1, 2003

Ten babies boogie down in McMullan's ebullient offering. But it's a multicultural quartet that takes center stage ("Charlotte plays the rattle, / Denny plays the drum, / Bip and Ling have bells to ring. / HERE THEY COME!"); raucous "backup babies" accompany them. McMullan's snappy verse is full of action words. The chorus—"Oh, shake it, baby, shake it, / Shake it if you can. / Shake it, baby, shake it / with the Rock-a-Baby Band"—will have listeners bopping along. Bynum's full-bleed illustrations are just as captivating. Created with digital watercolors, and employing a springy palette, the images are trimmed with strong black lines, which make them appear animated. Author and illustrator are well matched here, and the result is a rockin' choice for preschool partiers. But be warned—according to Bip and Ling, "Rockers don't take naps." A CD is included. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
PORCUPINING by Lisa Wheeler
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

A banjo-strumming, blues-singing porcupine (named Cushion) searches for someone who does not find him too prickly to love. A petting zoo is hardly the place for a porcupine, especially a lonely one. With his habitat plastered with "No petting" and "Do not touch" signs, it is no wonder that this barbed but lovable creature is in need of love. Attempting to find another who is unafraid of his quills, he sets out, banjo in paw, to try and woo a mate. Cushion tries hard to interest one of the rabbits, but his verse "rabbits aren't too icky" doesn't do the trick and results in some verbal insults and a few carrots thrown his way. The pigs and the beavers are equally unimpressed with his lyrics. Spying a pen with signs similar to the ones posted outside his abode, Cushion peers in at the inhabitant. A sweet and shy hedgehog named Barb smiles out at him and invites him in a bit closer. Her harmonica-playing and equally prickly coat make them a perfect pair. Amusing watercolor and pastel illustrations perfectly accompany this silky smooth romance. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2001

A jaunty pair of bunnies embarks on an adventure exploring opposites. Like Goldilocks, the curious duo samples things that are at each extreme before discovering a happy medium. Minters's (Sleepless Beauty, 1996, etc.) spare text is composed of contrasting word pairs that cover familiar concepts for the very young: high/low, fast/slow, etc. The brief statements are woven together into simple rhymes, creating a singsong rhythm that is eminently suitable for read-aloud sessions. "Too dark / Too bright / Just right / Too heavy / Too light / Just right." Bynum's sparkling watercolors clearly convey the concepts expressed, featuring scenarios that toddler's can readily recognize; e.g., a trio of slides—one towering, one squat, and one bunny-height—illuminate the difference between high and low. The antonym pairs are accompanied by an individual illustration for each word and followed by a full-bleed, two-page spread depicting the duo engaged in activity that is "just right." The comical drawings of the nattily attired rabbit couple—he in a snazzy bow tie and she in pearls—and the addition of a small, purple mouse companion add to the whimsical charm of the illustrations. Not too long and not too complicated, this cheerful little picture book is just right. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

That Bynum comes up with so many lines to rhyme with "Altoona Baboona" deserves some kind of acclaim, even if the rhymes make readers laugh and groan at the same time. Altoona Baboona is an ape that "gets bored on her dune-a," hops a "hot air balloon-a" and goes south to "Calcun-a." On her hot air travels Altoona meets up with a loon-a and a racoon-a, who come back to the dune-a for an evening bonfire and roasted marshmallows. Bynum's watercolors have a breezy ocean air feel to them, as light and buoyant as her simian heroine. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >