Book Review: 50 Below Zero

27 Sep

Today’s book review is for 50 Below Zero (board book edition), written by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko, published by Annick Press Ltd. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a board book adapted from Munsch’s 1986 bestselling picture book by the same title. While I have never read the original book, I found that I enjoyed the board book a great deal. 50 Below Zero is about a boy named Jason who has a sleepwalking father. Throughout the night, Jason hears noises, gets out of bed, and finds his father sleeping in the most unexpected places–including outside, against a tree, in the bitter cold. Eventually Jason grows tired of sending his father back to bed and comes up with an ingenious solution.

Munsch’s sense of humor wonderful. He delights in the absurd and recognizes that it’s a type of humor that will appeal to toddlers as much as to adults. His writing is clear, simple without being bland. It’s easy to see why his original volume was so popular.

Martchenko’s illustrations are equally entertaining. He does a fabulous job of capturing the emotions of his characters through facial expression and body language. The style of the illustrations feels slightly dated–although the details do not. Through heavy use of blues and grays, Martchenko creates a strong night time environment.

The book is nicely designed. Bold, easy to read text is placed on white background with facing page illustrations. On the pages where Jason discovers his father there are wavy strings of blue “zzz”s and the exclamation “Papa, wake up!” is highlighted in red. One children are familiar with the story, this can easily serve as a cue for them to participate by joining in with Jason’s call.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because I really enjoyed it. It made me chuckle as I read. Even more than that, it’s a bit different from most of the fare I see in board books. A lot of board books are playful, but far fewer are actually clever. It’s nice to see a bit of variety for our youngest readers.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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