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The Umbrella: board book Board book – February 17, 2011

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The Umbrella: board book + The Mitten
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jan Brett, well-loved for her ornate, Scandinavian-themed picture books takes her talents deep into the Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. A tropical twist on The Mitten, this story chronicles the antics of myriad animals that make themselves right at home in the handcrafted leaf umbrella that Carlos has left at the foot of a giant fig tree. As the tree frog, toucan, kinkajou, tapir, quetzal, monkey, and more pile into the umbrella, Carlos, who is visiting the cloud forest expressly to see these animals, doesn't see a single one. Things heat up when the impulsive monkey hurls the umbrella into the river: "'¿Qué pasa? What is happening?' Froggy asks as water starts to pour into the umbrella." Jaguar jumps in, adding to the confusion, but it's the addition of the tiniest of hummingbirds that causes the big "KER-SPLASH!" Brett's gorgeous, detailed watercolor and gouache illustrations steal the show here, from the exquisite endpapers to the vine-encased leafy side panels that reveal the tree-climbing boy on the left side and a sneak preview of the next umbrella-dwelling animal on the right side. Not Brett's best-crafted story, but her fans will want this lush offering anyway. (Ages 5 to 8) --Karin Snelson

Did You Know?
Fun Facts about Jan Brett

  • Each book begins with the art first.
  • Jan likes to listen to audiobooks while drawing--usually thrillers!
  • Each book takes about a year to complete.
  • The pages of each book are not created in sequence (she saves the front materials and endpapers for last).
  • Each book is carefully researched--she created The Umbrella after a trip with her husband to Costa Rica.
  • Jan prefers to use her memories of a place to create her art, rather than relying on pictures.

For Young Writers and Artists
Tips from Jan Brett

  • Want a reality check on your artwork? View your work in a mirror.
  • Be honest with yourself, and get comfortable with personal and private writing. Write in a notebook that no one sees but you.
  • Remember the things that happen to you now. It's okay to feel things strongly as a kid. You can use your emotions as part of the recipe for something later.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4–Young Carlos hopes to spot certain animals in the nearby rain forest but is disappointed when no living things appear. Dropping his umbrella made from leaves, he climbs a tree for a better view. Meanwhile, one by one all of the creatures the boy hoped to see settle into his umbrella, arguing over available space until the weight of a hummingbird tips the whole thing over. The story line, which mimics Brett's The Mitten (1989) and Pamela Allen's amusing Who Sank the Boat? (1983, both Putnam), is a trifle overambitious and seems to sink, like the umbrella, under the weight of its components. The animals lapse into Spanish often enough to perplex readers, since the words and phrases aren't always clearly translated. The text fails to improve on earlier versions of this tale. However, the watercolor-and-gouache illustrations are stunning. Lush vine-framed paintings show a leafy world where countless shades of green are illuminated by tropical flowers and exotic animals. Each spread provides an enticing glimpse of the creature that will appear next and thus an entertaining visual puzzle for children. Despite the narrative's weaknesses, this book can be used as an introduction to the rain forest, and the illustrations alone make it worth owning.–Susan Weitz, Spencer-Van Etten Schools, Spencer, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Board book: 28 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; Brdbk edition (February 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399255400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399255403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jan Brett is the author of the New York Times bestselling Gingerbread Friends, The Three Snow Bears, and The Mitten, as well as many other classics. She lives in Norwell, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Tina Heller on December 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both my 4 year old daughter and I love this book! The pictures are gorgeous, the unusual animals are beautiful and interesting and the simple story is alot of fun! I enjoy how the story builds up and then brings itself back around to a similar place from which it had begun. I love the frog's spanish text. I didn't think it was confusing at all as one editorial reviewer mentioned above. I am buying another copy as a Christmas present for my 8 year old niece. If your child is interested in animals and forests, as mine is, I'm sure he/she will enjoy this book.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By P. D. on January 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Spectacularly beautiful illustrations make this book a joy. The familiar poem has a gently rocking rhythm, and the pictures have a flow of their own. My 18-month-old daughter likes to find the flower, the yellow fish, the cat and the owl on each page. The quiet familiarity of the poem calms her down during the nighttime crazies (that spurt of energy toddlers get just before they collapse into a puddle). I recommend this book for a soothing, visually delightful experience.
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74 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had read this book as a child, then recently came across it again as an adult. Although the story itself is simple, the moral is timeless and holds the characteristics of a downplayed fairytale. As a horse lover, I feel that there are not enough books out there which center around the majestic beast. Fritz is akin to Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. A not so beautiful, diamond in the rough, heart of gold pony who will fill readers' hearts. This book has incidentally inspired me to try my hand at writing children's horse stories as well. I recommend it to anyone who wants to teach children the importance of all too rare goodness which needs to be duplicated time and again.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Fritz is not beautiful, but he is gentle and kind and hard working. He rescues the children when the beautiful horses would not. This story, like all of Jan Brett's books, is wonderfully illustrated and teaches a lesson while showing the joys animals bring to a child's life.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By breyergal on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful story about Fritz, a short, shaggy pony who lives his life in the shadow of the tall, sleek horses of the kingdom. His life changes, however, when this little "nobody" prances forward to rescue the children when the "beautiful" horses cannot.
An endearing story which teaches children that true beauty is found inside. As with all Jan Brett books, the charming illustrations will captivate even the smallest of children.
Add this one to your child's library ... it's sure to quickly become a favorite!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Saraj H. Cory on January 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only a wonderful, heartwarming story for any age of horse and childhood lover, but the illustrations stand completely on their own. We have two others books by the same illustrator / author and are actively seeking more. A must have for all children's and pen and ink art libraries!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on August 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
(NOTE: This is my third in a series of reviews about rain forests by children's authors. My point is to show visually how divergent talent can be concerning the same topic--in this case, the rain forest, which needs to be protected and preserved. The other two books are Rain Forest (Kingfisher Voyages) and The Living Rain Forest. These three together would make a great teaching unit.)

Jan Brett is one of my favorite children's author/illustrators. Her work is so imaginative and vivid. "The Umbrella" is certainly no exception. Open to the first two full color pages and look for all the hidden and semi-hidden rain forest animals. You will meet them in the story.

Little Carlos tells his father on the first page he plans to go into the rain forest (cloud forest, he calls it) to spy a jaguar, a monkey, a toucan, a kinkajou, and a tapir. His umbrella is really one he made of broad leaves. His papa's farm is filled with domestic animals: cat, cows, goat, chickens. In a Jan Brett book, one must look at everything, because there is so much to see. The illustrations are lush and green--this is a rain forest!

Now, this is how a Jan Brett book is arranged: A scenario is to the left of the two-page spread and it introduces part of the story. In this case it is a close-up of the umbrella tossed to the ground. To the right is another advance of the story. The big picture shows Carlos about to climb a vine into the trees. The right picture contains a tree frog who jumps into the collecting water in the boat of the upturned umbrella.
Read more ›
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Koppel on December 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
In Annie, as in The Mitten and others, Jan Brett tells a fun children's tale while gently showing how a children's actions affect the world around them. Just as the boy in The Mitten winds up scaring all of the animals that then crawl into the mitten, Annie's actions also have wide repercussions.
Annie has a cat. One day she notices the cat does not want to play, but tries to hide in odd places. Annie keeps finding the cat so the cat tries the outdoors. This makes Annie lonely as she wants to have a pet around the house.
She bakes corn muffins to leave outside in the snow to attract a new pet. But Annie gets more than she bargained for as first a giant moose and then a bobcat shows up. Annie makes more muffins and more animals show up.
But eventually the corn meal runs out at the same time as the warm Spring winds begin to blow. Without any muffins, the animals leave and the cat is free to come back. By following the illustrations in the borders, we know what the cat has been up to and what prevented its return.
The only downside of this book (at least in my daughter's eyes) is that there is no mention whatsoever of a parent. Are we to believe that Annie is living at the edge of the woods all by herself? But still, it is a beautiful book and a fun story. A must read for fans of Jan Brett's other books.
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