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The Picture Book Buzz

It's NOT Little Red Riding Hood and Where's Our Library - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

A quick aside. The winner of the giveaway of Beth Anderson's "Smelly" Kelly and His Super Senses is:

Patricia Tilton

Now onto the #PPBF post. I think we could all use a reason to laugh and little humor right about now. So, this week, I have an unusual offering. A sneak peek at TWO books. Josh Funk has two fun picture books releasing on October 27th and rather than pick between them, I'm going to give a glimpse into both of them. One is rhyming, one is lyrical prose, but both are very humorous. Both quintessentially Josh Funk!

It's NOT Little Red Riding Hood

Author: Josh Funk

Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor

Publisher: Two Lions (2020)

Ages: 5-8



Fractured fairy tale, diversity, and humor.


Little Red likes to play by the rules. So when the narrator comes along and asks her to follow the story set out in her fairy tale, she grabs the basket for Grandma and goes. After all, she loves her grandma. But unfortunately, none of the other characters are quite what they’re expecting.…

As Little Red attempts to follow the narrator’s directions (which, frankly, seem kind of dangerous!), she is beset by fill-in characters, confusing instructions, and even a fierce battle! Will Little Red ever make it to Grandma’s house? And who will she find when she gets there? Complete with some unusual “guest appearances,” this laugh-out-loud Little Red Riding Hood retelling will have kids giggling all the way to Grandma’s house! Ding-dong!

Opening Lines:

Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood lived with her

family in a cottage on the outskirts of the woods.

"Hey! Someone's talking about us!"

What I LIKED about this book:

First of all, unlike most fairy tales where the characters present white, Edwardian Taylor portrayed Red's family with brown skin and places her sister, Little Blue, in a wheel chair.

Text © Josh Funk, 2020. Image © Edwardian Taylor, 2020.

In this fractured tale, as with the previous two in this series, Josh Funk engages in a metaphysical retelling with an exasperated narrator. After all, even though Little Red Riding Hood doesn't argue (as much as Jack) with the narrator, she does wear her sister's blue cape, there's a "Big Bad . . . Hook," Pinocchio fills in for the Woodsman and immediately goes off script, and Grandma contributes to everyone's sweet tooth. And ultimately, it has a much sweeter ending than the original tale.

Text © Josh Funk, 2020. Image © Edwardian Taylor, 2020.

Employing different typefaces, colors, and speech bubbles, for all the characters and the narrator, Josh and Edwardian have created a fun reading adventure that encourages adults and maybe older kids to join in and make up voices. The bright, colorful illustrations play along with the text's jokes. For instance, when Little Blue whines, "But you said we'd play ROLLING STONES with the BEETLES." Little Red replies," Sorry Sis. We can toss rocks down insect hill another time." You'll notice that Little Blue sits with a lap full of rocks and a mini beetle band play guitars & drums next to her wheelchair.

The illustrations expand on the humor - wait to you see the faces that Grandma's photo makes as Little Red plays with and damages her red cape. And the illustrations add to the humor - just look at the ugly duckling above . As well as tucking tons of treasures in the story - hunt for other fairytale characters and/or important props throughout the pages (such as Humpty Dumpty, Jiminy Cricket, the Queen's mirror & Aladdin's lamp).

In addition to the humor, this version is a bit thought-provoking. While she never outright argues with the narrator, Little Red does muse about why she walks (versus taking a carriage) through the woods, alone, with a basket of treats & is then sent through the woods after flowers (when the narrator knows she isn't sure of her way). Over all this is a creative, righteous jaunt through the fairy tale with a perfectly sweet ending and perhaps a hint of the next book in the series.


- can you create a different ending for a fairytale you like?

- who else would you have fill in for the Big Bad Wolf? Make a list of draw a picture.

- make some paper bag or finger puppets ( and create your own fairytale(s).

And the second book is:

Where is Our Library?: A Story of Patience & Fortitude

Author: Josh Funk

Illustrator: Stevie Lewis

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (2020)

Ages: 4-8



Libraries, rhyming, and New York City.


Where Is Our Library? is a companion to Lost in the Library and our second picture book in partnership with the New York Public Library.

Curious Patience and steadfast Fortitude wait every morning to greet visitors of the New York Public Library—and slip away every night to read in the Children's Center.

But one day, Patience and Fortitude find the Children's Center empty! The two lions set out into the city to locate their missing books and encounter some literary landmarks along the way.

Josh Funk's clever rhymes and Stevie Lewis's vibrant art take young readers into the heart of New York City in this latest adventure.

Opening Lines:

Just after midnight, as New York dozed,

Silently dreaming in bed,

The last of the shops and markets had closed,

When Fortitude lifted his head.

What I LIKED about this book:

Continuing where they left off in the first book, Lost in the Library, the book-loving stone lions which guard the New York Public Library wake one night and head into the children's section to read.

Text © Josh Funk, 2020. Image © Stevie Lewis, 2020.

But all the books are missing!

Text © Josh Funk, 2020. Image © Stevie Lewis, 2020.

Patience and Fortitude scour the city. After being dazzled by Broadway, they head for Central Park, in search for a wise man in a hat.

Text © Josh Funk, 2020. Image © Stevie Lewis, 2020.

Craft note: Josh does good job with the cadence and rhyming couplets, including some fun, unexpected rhymes - "dozed/closed," "routine/foreseen," & "desk/statuesque." As well as using some delicious words and phrases - gallantly, mistaken, stealthy, torrent of speed, and despair. If you're looking to write a rhyming picture book, this would be a good mentor text.

In addition to getting to portray Patience and Fortitude admiring Broadway, Josh's lovely rhyming text allowed Stevie Lewis to explore the New York Skyline, the zoo, famous statutes, and a number of NPL branches. With the help of some friends, Patience and Fortitude not only expand their knowledge of New York and 'their' library, but they . . . well, I guess you'll have to read the book.

Stevie did such a remarkable job with the illustrations. Bright colors, expressive lions, and fun landmarks fill the pages. Be sure to check out the front and back end pages, which beautifully bookend the story. I love the Family Circus type of map which shows not only their journey described in the text, but other important areas & sights in Central Park. In addition, both Josh and Stevie "pay homage to many other books created by NY authors and illustrators and books about NY." The backmatter note describes many of the sights the lions encountered. It's a fun adventure story and a wonderful ode to New York City.


- how many books and stories do you recognize "hidden" in the story?

- write a story, or draw a picture, of Patience and Fortitude's next adventure.

- how many branches does your library have? When it's safe to visit, check out some you've never visited. How are the children's sections different? How are they the same?

If you missed them, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Josh Funk (here) and Tuesday's interview with Stevie Lewis (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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