THE AUTHOR: Mac Barnett, with pictures by Adam Rex
THE BOOK: “Oh NO! Not Again (or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) (Or at least my History Grade)”
THE AUTHOR: Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat
Being an educator for such a long time gave me the chance to see and to read literally thousands of books to children. It is so exciting and so rare to find a fantastic new children’s author who is filled with energy, enthusiasm and amazing talent.
Last weekend my husband and I attended the Decatur Book Festival where Mac Barnett, the author of the two books I’m reviewing this week, spoke before children at the Children’s Stage, and then to separate group of adults. He spoke on the importance of picture books, and he truly impressed me with his knowledge, talent and humor.
The first of his books, “Chloe and the Lion,” for children ages 4-8, written by himself with pictures by Adam Rex, is creative and eye-catching. This book would appeal to both boys and girls and does such an amazing job of explaining the making of the story and delivering the actual story of “Chloe and the Lion.”
Chloe, the main character in the book, is drawn in an animated style. Mac, the author, and Sam, the illustrator, are designed as clay-looking animated characters, and tell the process of how they wrote their book as they tell Chloe’s story.
The story is fantastic and the illustrations are outrageously well-done and funny. Children will love it! Barnett and Rex dazzle us with their creativity.
The second book I selected is a sequel to Barnett’s “Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World !).” The sequel is titled, “Oh NO! Not Again! (Or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) (Or at least My History Grade).” This book is written by Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat.
Chloe, still our main character, misses one answer on her history exam and receives an A-minus. She finds this unacceptable and sets out to correct the problem by building a time machine to change history and make the answer that she missed into the correct one.
Although I believe children ages 4-8 would enjoy the story to a certain extent because the illustrations are so dynamic, I really think that children ages 8-12 would actually understand the content of the story more. Remember picture books are not just for children anymore. I believe that even an adult would get enjoyment from this picture book.
Chloe designs the elaborate time machine and takes us all back in time to the time of the cave men, where she begins to redraw time. Once again the story line is new and exciting and the illustrations are outstanding. The story brings history alive for everyone who reads the book, and allows each person to see what ripple effects can do to history when you change only one thing.
Chloe takes us back to the Belguim in 25,000,000 BCE, 1815, and finally to 33,000 BCE. She meets up with cavemen who she attempts to make draw on cave walls using her unique ideas. She soon decides that she’ll simply have to do it herself, and then discovers that the cavemen have been playing with her time machine while she was busy.
You will have to read the book to discover what happens to Chloe, to see whether she ever gets her history grade to meet her standards, and to see if she gets her time machine back so that it can return her to modern times. The outrageous story and evolved illustrations bring history and the story to life in a beautiful way.
You can learn much more about the other books that Barnett has written and his ingenious picture books by checking out www.macbarnett.com. His bio alone is worth the price of the book; he is a hilarious guy who I watched the children at the Children’s Stage laugh at and enjoy very much. You will also be able to learn where to find out more about his illustrators.
I was also very impressed that not only the cover of “Oh NO! Not Again” grabs you so quickly, but that when you look on the inside of the cover, he has provided a neat poster for the children to hang up or enjoy too. I had never seen this done before so you can tell he is a true forward thinker.
Enjoy both books. They will make excellent back-to- school books that children could have their teacher share with their class, or even for you to store away as Christmas gifts. These books deliver fun and fancy!
These books receive “4.5 tiaras for their zany and unique perspectives.
Blessings and happy fighting wild lions and flying to far away places.
Buice, a Carrollton resident, writes a weekly book review column for the Times-Georgian. anitabook.com