BooksForKidsBlog

Saturday, October 21, 2017

There's a Word for That? Big Words for Little Geniuses by Susan and James Patterson

arachibutyrophobia: (n.) an alarming fear of peanut butter sticking to the top of your mouth

It's no wonder that a best-selling author like James Patterson has a case of logophilia (n. a love for words). After all, doesn't a chef love food or an artist love colors?

But kids love words, too. Ask any teacher, who probably says "No talking," too many times each day.

And James and Susan Patterson's alphabetic compendium of deliciously long words, Big Words for Little Geniuses Little, Brown and Company, 2017), is a funfest for juvenile logophiles. If you have a secret language for encoding those words, what you have is idioglossia. There is even a power word for having goosebumps all over your person (horripilation) or flowing sweetly (dulcifluous) or possessed of loveliness (pulchitrudinous).

And if your pedantic logophilia leads to a love of books, what you've got is bibliomania!

But big words don't all come with pedantic Greco-Latinate roots. There are also some playfully goofy words to love just for the sound of them--like nincompoop, flibbertigibbet, gobbledygook, whirligig, and kerfuffle, words that sorta sound like what they are, words that feel good rolling off the tongue, but (to bring us around full circle), are not recommended to be attempted with a mouth full of peanut butter.

When it comes right down to it, all kids are geniuses when it comes to words, considering that they easily learn thousands and thousands of them in their early years. The Pattersons' Big Words for Little Geniuses, illustrated by Hsinping Pan with verve but not necessarily verisimilitude, is a book with brio that brings out the logophilia in all of us, regardless of age, even if we don't have xenoglossia! (Look it up!)

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Scary Skeletons? Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Bones by Gabrielle Balkan

In the spooky season, skeletons are in style, giving parents and teachers an occasion to slip in some sneaky science.

And Gabrielle Balkan's Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals (Phaidon Books, 2017) is many things, one of which is an anatomy lesson on how animal skeletons display the maxim that "form follows function." Balkan makes good use of this chance to explain how giraffes' long necks help them reach high in the trees for a tender, nutritious diet, how snakes' many spinal vertebrae help them slither silently and swiftly, and how a spiky spine makes the regal horned lizard a bad choice for a quick bite to eat.

And the author sweetens the science lesson with her "Guess Who" game format which teases the young reader into turning each page.

Who has the biggest bones?

(The Blue Whale)

Balkan has a little fun with some tricky page turns, too.

Who has the fewest bones?

(A hammerhead shark?)

What? The hammerhead looks like it ought to have the usual, extra-bony fish skeleton, but animal anatomists know that sharks mostly have cartilaginous skeletons rather than bony ones. And there is more tricky and tasty trivia here--e.g., that the smallest bones in the world are the three middle-ear bones, the malleus, incus, and stapes) of the pinky-nail sized Etruscan shrew! Who knew?

Artist Sam Brewster is on the team, offering stunning white illustrations of the ten record- breaking skeletons, done in embossed, touch-and-feel fashion and set brilliantly against black pages which make the pictures pop. In more good design, the text is done in bright white to carry through with the high-contrast format. Author Gabrielle Balkan also adds a useful glossary to the backmatter to round out this book's scientific chops, making it a good choice for skeleton season that will be sought out even when the treats are all eaten. "A stylish introduction to how specialized and different bones can be," Publishers Weekly points out. "A rib-tickling gallery." quips Kirkus Review.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways: I Love You More Than The Smell of Swamp Gas by Kevan Atteberry

Little Monster is enjoying a take-your-monster-kid-to-work-night with Papa, which means they are skink-hunting deep in the stinky swamp. Papa Monster sings his happy song:

"I LOVE NOTHING MORE
THAN A MIDNIGHT ROMP,
WHILE I CHASE A SKINK
THOUGH THE DARK, STINKY SWAMP."

Nothing more? Little Monster is suddenly worried.

"DO YOU LOVE ME AS MUCH
AS THE SKINK YOU CHASE?"

Well, when he puts it like that, Papa revises his earlier versification. He loves Little Monster more, he proclaims, even more than bloodsucking ducks! Now that's high praise for his little impling, but Little Monster has to up the ante just a bit. So Papa rises to the challenge, proclaiming that his little one is sweeter than a big whiff of swamp gas.

From a guy who knows a thing or two about monsters, Kevan Atteberry's newest, I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas (Harper, 2017) takes a spoofy but sweet swipe at Sam McBratney's classic, Guess How Much I Love You, in a silly story in which parental love is rated right along with mummified bass and oozing mud between the toes. Tickle boxes will truly turn over, as Papa counts up the many ways he loves his little "stinkling" boy. Artist Atteberry gives the read-aloud parent some fun, too, as Papa and Little Monster take a cheery stroll through the graveyard among tombstones for the likes of Long John Slither, Winnie the Boo, and Little Skunky Foo Foo. Atteberry's monsters are abstract and not the least scary, and his illustrations are indeed quite pleasing to the eye, as Papa pledges to love his little beastie boy "monstrously." As Kirkus jokes in their review, "Perfect for those parents who are sick of the treacly "how much do I love you" books and who want something with a little more ick."

Share this swamp monster saga with Atteberry's Tickle Monster and Halloween Hustle.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ding Dong! Who's There? Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete--A Lift-the-Flap Book by James Dean

Pete the Cat is excited to go trick or treating in his superhero costume.

Pete likes everything about Halloween--except the possibility that he's going to see something truly scary.

"Don't worry," says Pete's dad. We have our flashlight!"

But it's dark outside and the wind is going "Whooooo!" and something is rustling those dry leaves in the trees.

Oh, look! It's just an owl. That's not too scary!

Pete's trying to be brave and fearless, as behooves a superhero in a cape, but there are a lot of spooky possibilities on Halloween night, which give author James Dean a lot of ways to use the flaps in this inexpensive holiday paperback to suggest what may be lurking behind each well-placed flap. When he rings the first doorbell, Pete hears scary noises coming from behind that door. Who's there?

It's just his school friend Callie Cat, costumed as a witch. Not scary!

Callie tags along as Pete approaches the next house. But what's that tall figure moving in the yard?

Look! It's a scarecrow!

"Phew! That's not too spooky!"

And approaching another door, Pete spies something glowing with a flickering light and frightening faces. Look!

"Cool!" says Pete. "Jack O' Lanterns!"

But behind him! What's that? A dog in a tutu? Silly, not spooky!

"Oh! Just my friend Emma!"

There's even Grandma in a ghost costume to discover, as Pete meets and greets all the usual suspects out for trick-or-treat fun, in James Dean's Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete (HarperFestival, 2017). Dean's inexpensive little paperback is a fine treat for preschoolers who are still not too sure about venturing out in the dark, as it introduces youngsters to all those sights and sounds that abound on the trick-or-treat route. Dean's Pete the Cat is a popular guide for preschoolers and primary school kids wherever they go, and this one should be read soon to would-be Halloween goers.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Santa Claus Snacks around the World: A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E Furman

All around the world Christmas is a time for giving.

"Faithfully, truly, yearly, newly, somehow Santa always comes,"* to bring gifts to children everywhere. And kids have long loved being able to give something good back to Santa.

In North American, youngsters are likely to leave a couple of chocolate chip cookies and a small glass of milk. Santa's never complained, but elsewhere in the world, youngsters have their own favorites to offer the Yuletide saint.

Who gets the first visit from Santa? Christmas day first dawns on Christmas Island, Kiritimati, near the International Date Line, in the South Pacific, where kids have plenty of coconuts for their chewy macaroons. In New Zealand his reindeer get carrots and St. Nick gets Anzac "biscuits." In Australia, where chimneys are few, he has a master key for each front door and gets fruity cookies and cold milk or perhaps beer.

Across Asia there is a slice of cherry cake in Japan, and in the Dutch-influenced Sinterklaas tradition in Indonesia, the Saint finds a pineapple-topped nastar cookie. In India children leave spicy chai with crispy kulkuls to munch. In South Africa Santa finds Dutch chocolates and hertzog cookies, and in Malawi kids show their appreciation with ombatata, sweet potato cookies. And in Bethlehem, the treat is ma'moul, stuffed with dates, honey, and nuts.

Crisscrossing Europe, Santa is coming down the home stretch. In Russia he even has a minion, Snegurochka the Snow Maiden, to deliver the goods, and she gets the hot tea and honey spiced pryaniki cookies. Scandinavian youngsters leave risalmande pudding, and in Germany he gets a choice--Pepparkkakor or Springerle. Naturellement, French chefs go all out with dessert buffet and fine wine. In Spain it's Turron, a nougat-and-nuts dulce, while the British Isles offer mincemeat cookies and, of course, a spot, of Earl Grey tea.

It's a long haul over the Atlantic, giving Santa time to grow hungry enough for the fruity pan de pasequa, a fruit-filled sweet bread in Chile, and of course, familiar Mexican wedding cakes, with, for a nice change, a cup of cinnamon-flavored hot chocolate. With stops across the two westward continents, Santa's sleigh makes the long flight to one of his last destinations, Hawaii, where he puts his sleigh in park while he surfs to the beach and chows down on tropical pineapple-macadamia cookies.

Santa lovers all over get a chance to sample holiday treats wherever the Saint is welcomed, in M. E. Furman's festive new A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

It's a wonderful world-wide custom to share with Santa and others at Christmastide, one which gives kids a chance to give back to the Christmas saint of children. Furman's book offers a smorgasbord of Santa's snacks, offering a buffet of the various customs and Christmas cuisine of 32 places--from Sri Lanka to Ukraine, along the way. The author provides a sampler of some recipes from all around the world, from familiar Mexican wedding cakes to the exotic Basque almond tile cookies, all easy enough for kids, in the best tradition of Christmas, to share in the making. Artist Susan Gal's illustrations fill the pages with Christmas cheer, jolly children giving their homemade goodies up for Santa's refreshment. This book is a first purchase for libraries and for the home-baking bookshelf.

* The Year Without a Santa Claus, by Phyllis McGinley.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Boo Time: Eek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton

THE CHICKENS ARE NERVOUS.

DO YOU KNOW WHY?

Well, who wouldn't be?

It's dark, dark night. Strange figures glimmer into sight.

Pumpkins flicker, nose and eyes alight.
Pumpkins with glowing grins! Can that be right?

A mouse, more ginormous than he ought to be.
A witch and a wizard? Oh, Golly, Gee!

Who are these strange creatures? What will they do?
Suddenly the hens start to get a clue.
A pudgy shrouded shape, moaning BOO?

Now they know WHO!

Before the chickens totally chicken out, Pig sheds his spooky sheet.

Now they know what all this must mean. It's...

HALLOWEEN!

Sandra Boynton's holiday board book, Eek! Halloween! (Workman Publishing, 2016), is a treat (just the right size for that plastic treat pumpkin) for the youngest book lovers. Boynton sets off her familiar silly chickens and portly pig in bright Halloween colors set against black backgrounds that make them pop from the page, in this rhyming story which sets the stage for Halloween fun. "Kids anticipating their first Halloween will be easily convinced that the upcoming holiday is full of spooky fun," says School Library Journal.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Worry-Warts, Unite! Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems

Sam was scared of anything and everything.

Really. The PLINK of a raindrop scares him stiff. A tiny spider scurries away out of Sam's sight, but he's still terrified. Even the Pigeon driving the school bus spots Sam and snarkily says SHEESH!

Sam is the world's biggest scaredy cat, all right. Everything frightens him....

Except for his friend Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.

Leonardo is a terrible monster, scarcely scarier than the raindrop, but he tries his best. Sam may be the biggest scaredy-cat known to man, but he's not afraid of Leonardo. (Nobody is, but still....) But it seems that Sam is not the ONLY scaredy-cat of note in the neighborhood.

One day Sam made a particularly scary discovery.

He and Leonardo meet up with a girl named Kerry and her feline monster named Frankenthaler. (Kerry was the second most scaredy-cat kid in the world.) Of course, Sam and Kerry are terrified.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

Both of the kids hurl themselves to the ground and curl up, teeth chattering.

But strangely, Frankenthaler and Leonardo hit it off right from the start. Sam and Kerry, on the other hand, are scared spitless--but not of each other's monsters!

They are scared of strange KIDS! They are afraid of EACH OTHER.

But this time their monsters have had it with their scaredy-cat charges. Leonardo and Frankenthaler buddy up and head off, page right, for some fear-free fun on their own.

"FIGURE IT OUT!" SAYS LEONARDO.


It's time for some tough love from Sam and Kerry's mild-mannered monsters, in three-time Caldecott winner Mo Willems' latest, Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World: A Leonardo, the Terrible Monster Companion (Hyperion Books, 2017). In this companion book to his hit, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, Mo Willems doesn't abandon his cowardly kids, even slyly giving them a chance to join forces to turn the tables on their monsters. Overcoming fears of the unknown is a popular theme, and in this one Willems adopts the wide-open style of its companion title, using muted colors, spare text, and hand-lettering to good advantage to tell his tale of finding some social courage. "Visually and narratively, this story is a lovely bookend to Leonardo," says Publishers Weekly.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Do Touch! I Dare You! by Nicole Maubert

LOOK AT THIS HAIRY, SCARY SPIDER!

See me? FEEL me? Double-dog dare you to!

Who is brave enough to touch a large, hairy spider, hanging from his web?

How DOES it feel? (Fluffy and fuzzy, actually.)

Okay. That wasn't so bad. Now I dare you to touch the sticky, pink tongue of a slinky snake.

OOOH! It IS sticky! Maybe even YUCKY!

Would you tickle a monster's scaly belly?

Not so bad! (A bit like sandpaper, really.)

How about lifting the covers and see what kind of critter is hiding under that bed?

I Dare You! (Chronicle Books) by Nicole Maubert tests the daring of youngsters in her Touch & Feel book, which delivers some pretty memorable tactile experiences. The best one is a a pop-up double-page spread with a wolfish creature with a toothy snout which, when the book is partly opened and closed, is capable of giving a reader's finger a tangible cardboard chomp. Maubert's supposedly scary critters are quite inventive and her feely surfaces do not disappoint, but she saves her last surprise for a double-page spread which offers, she says, the last big scary dare--three mirrors for the young reader to see how TRULY scary he or she can be.

DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU!

This popular "toy and movable book" offers a good lead-in to the stuff of the scary season ahead of us, and the book itself makes a great treat alternative for the treat bucket.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Avast, Ye Scurvy Mates! Trick Arrr Treat by Leslie Kimmelman

A pirate chief's mom calls a meeting.

"Ready for some trick or treating?

Be home by dark and watch the sun.
When it goes down, this gang is done!"

The pressure is on. The young pirates are ready to romp and raid. Led by their tough captain, Charlotte Blue Tongue, powered by a blueberry lollipop, her gang of hearties--Peg-Leg Pete, Glass-Eyed Gabby, Dreadful Davey, Rude Ranjeet, and Toothless Tim--hit the street.

"Give us loot" says Charlotte Blue Tongue.
"Pieces of Eight!" says Rude Ranjeet.

"Treasure!" orders Dreadful Davey.
"We be pirates! TRICK ARRR TREAT!"

Charlotte's motley crew storms through the town, demanding tribute in the form of treats, and then they cast off, weighing anchor for a triumphant privateer's sail about the harbor before the sun sets. Just in the nick they return to their redoubt to party hearty, and count their loot and bootie, until Halloween is o'er for another year, in Leslie Kimmelman's new paperback edition of Trick ARRR Treat: A Pirate Halloween (Albert A. Whitman, 2017 (pb. ed.). Pirates arrr very popular on All Hallows' Eve, and this jolly crew take the town by storm as is their right on this spooky night. Kimmelman's punchy rhymes earn plenty of Yo-Ho-Hos, and artist Jorge Monlongo's illustrations are appropriately frightful, with blue-black nighttime tones and a diverse bunch of scowling mateys with license to run amok for a joyful hour or so; even his edgy cover title is all sharp angles and wild energy. "A first-choice purchase for a different spin in Halloween-themed storytimes," opines School Library Journal.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Feel the Fun! Halloween (Baby Touch and Feel) by Dawn Sirott

PEEK A BOO!

Who's that looking back at you?

It's a small black kitty with a welcoming MEOW, peeping out from behind that smiling Jack O' Lantern! How does he feel?

Soft and furry!

And then there's a little witchy doll with long yarn hair, stirring her green brew in her black cauldron. How does it feel?

Sticky and lumpy!

Bats fly through the silvery moonlight. How do they feel?

Fuzzy and velvety!

Here are some holiday treats. Bright candy corn kernels! How do they feel?

Smooth and sparkly!

How about this cute little wizard in his cape? How does his beard feel?

Slippery and silky!

Dawn Sirott's little baby board book, Baby Touch & Feel: Halloween (Dorling Kindersley, 2017), treats baby spooks with a soft and padded cover for little hands and features a jolly Jack O' Lantern with a grin, welcoming little ones to some of the fun symbols of Halloween. With bright-colored photos set spot-art style on bright white pages and question-and-answer design by Elle Ward with each page turn, this little touch-and-feel book offers the sights of the spooky season and tactile and coordination experience for the little Halloween fan. Make the gift of this one baby's first treat!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

R.S.V.P.? Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner by Julie Gassman

IT'S A SPECIAL OCCASION. IT'S TIME FOR A TREAT.
TIME TO DRESS UP AND GO OUT TO EAT.

But despite how much you love your, er, pet, most of them are not an asset to a special dinner party at a restaurant. And of all those special family "friends," one high on the list to leave at home is your dragon!

Dragons are not dedicated to dainty dining etiquette!

A WING IN YOUR FACE! A TAIL IN A DRINK!
AND WORST OF ALL, THAT DISTINCT DRAGON STINK!

Dragons are also prone to slurp and burp at will. Their incredibly messy eating and rude noises are disgusting enough to clear the restaurant so effectively that your dinner party soon becomes a private party. But maybe there's a better way to celebrate.

If you party at home, the dragon can be helpful. He can light all the birthday candles with one breath! Then you can all exhale and enjoy the meal. Maybe your dragon will even learn some table manners--like using his napkin to wipe his mouth instead of the whole tablecloth, eating with the appropriate silverware instead of his claws. and when to say "Please" and "Thank you!"

PRACTICE THIS OFTEN AND YOUR ETIQUETTE BEGINNER
WILL SOON BE TAKING YOU OUT TO DINNER!

Julie Gassman's Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner (Capstone Press, 2017) slips in a small lesson in manners along with her comic description of the dangers of dining out with a dragon. The author favors jolly rhyming couplets, which scan more neatly than her protagonist eats, and her rhymes and rhythm make this one a pleasure to read, aloud or silently. Taking a page from Jane Yolen's and Mark Teague's How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Book & CD), (see review here), Gassman's newest puts in a plug for proper table manners by slyly pointing out the gross-out factor of bad dining habits, all the while keeping kids in stitches, gleefully chiming in on the tag line, "DO NOT TAKE YOUR DRAGON TO DINNER!" The broad humor here is helped greatly by artist Andy Elkerton's exaggerated sight gags of the downside of dining with dragons. Share it with Sally Lloyd-Wright's Being a Pig Is Nice: A Child's-Eye View of Manners for a funny take on the downside of dining without rules.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ninja Trap: How To Catch A Monster by Adam Wallace

School is done; I'm heading home.
It was such an awesome day!
I got the role of Ninja Master
In this year's school play.

So now I'm feeling brave and strong,
And full of courage, too!
But if I'm going to be a HERO,
There's one thing left to do!

Like most youngsters, our newly minted Ninja Master has an issue with that SOMETHING in his closet. This Monster has kept him half-scared for a long time with his spooky bumps in the night, and with his new title, Ninja Master is ready to take on the challenge of trapping this closet bogeyman once and for all. He gets into his ninja gear and gets Mission Closet Monster underway.

There's no doubt that Monster is in there. He lets out a ROAR!

Ninja Master pulls out his wind-up shark and sends him in to maul the Closet Monster, but he comes out with his snout out of joint. He tries a sticky ninja net spray, but Monster escapes. Ninja Master sends in his robot, who succeeds in capturing the Monster in his cage. Success!

But Monster looks all sad and crestfallen. He apologizes for being scary and explains what he really wants.

It's hard to to play when you're asleep.
I want you wide awake!

Ninja Master and Closet Monster strike a truce, and each gains a secret late-night playmate, in Adam Wallace's latest How-To story book, How to Catch a Monster (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2017) which, with artist Andy Elkerton's engaging and funny cartoon illustrations, joins the Wallace-Elkerton team's series of popular seasonal stories, How to Catch an Elf, How to Catch the Tooth Fairy, How to Catch a Leprechaun, and How to Catch the Easter Bunny. (See reviews here.)

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Monday, October 09, 2017

OOPS! WHOOPS! SPLAT! ACCIDENT! by Andrea Tsurumi

OOF!  OH NO!

People who live in houses with white furniture should not drink juice.

Lola trips her way across the living room with a whole pitcher of orange juice, and the lovely white armchair suddenly blooms with an abstract expressionist design worthy of Willem de Kooning.

Lola is horrified. What has she DONE? It's fright and flight as she flees the scene of the crime, racing down the street toward the center of town.

"I'll hide in the library, They have books and bathrooms. And I'll stay there until I'm a grownup!"

As Lola runs she spots a chubby bear who has just, er, overestimated the strength of the swings in the park.

"DISASTER!"

He joins Lola in search of sanctuary, just as they pass a young rabbit whose hedge shears have just cut through a garden hose, spraying water everywhere. The three take it on the lam, that is, until they collide with an anteater and her shopping cart, launching a bunny into a trajectory which ends in the baker's cake on the way to a party. What else can happen?

Oh, much more, Lola, MUCH, MUCH MORE!

The neat little town seems to be piling mishap upon misfortune. A bull is being ejected from a china shop amid assorted shards of the merchandise. A deer steps into a potted plant, a blender blows up in somebody's face just as a baseball goes through a window, and a barber is about to give a bovine a very bad hair day. And that's just the beginning.

The whole town is to wrack and ruin, from MISADVENTURE to MESS to MISHAP to MAYHEM, from CALAMITY to CATASTROPHE to CATACLYSM, as Lola and her hard luck gang head up the library steps, a trail of disaster in their wake. But even in that sanctum of order, FIASCO flourishes. As the bad luck kids dash inside, they bring down the precise row of stacks like a house of cards. Book trucks careen into librarians and patrons join the books flying through the air, their leaves flapping like wounded eagles.

What is the word for all this woe?

"ACCIDENT!

As a philosophical red bird points out, accidents will happen. There's nothing for it but to clean it up, fix it up, make amends, and apologize, in Andrea Tsurumi's delightful just-published debut, Accident!(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). With a spare but elegantly chosen vocabulary, artist Tsurumi lets the misfortune spread in their wake as the characters make a run for it, with the action rapidly moving left to right and new debacles unfolding at each page turn.

Sharp-eyed young readers will rejoice in predicting the series of unfortunate events as disaster snowballs through the city. And though there's a community spirit of all's well that ends well, with everyone pitching in to restore order, Lola arrives back home, repentant, a roll of paper towels still trailing from her tail, just in time to find her father falling, one foot in the waste basket, in a coffee-spilling BOO-BOO in their er, redecorated, living room. And the illustrator is not done with us yet, as in a final messy metafictional snafu, Lola crashes head first through the endpapers.

This tour de tragedie is a real tour de force for author-illustrator Andrea Tsurumi, who not only writes and illustrates the whole comic tsunami of devastation, (which by the way, begins on the title page) but provides the hand-lettered text and speech balloons for the story, wrapped up with the sweet premise that to err is human and to forgive is divine.

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Open With Care! There's a Monster in Your Book! by Tom Fletcher

OH, NO!

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK!

At this time of year, it seems that monsters are everywhere, but this young monster has even dared to take over a bedtime story.

Oh, he's cute enough, (adorable actually) with his big eyes, his little striped shirt, and his tiny pink horns and pink-tufted tail, but his behavior is far from lovable. HEY, YOU! Stop running amok and ripping my book!

The narrator urges the young reader to help.

SHAKE THE BOOK! TURN THE PAGE!

But the toddler monster just giggles, bares his baby fangs, and lets his "wild rumpus" begin with reckless abandon. He dashes from page to page. The narrator exhorts the reader to tilt the book from one side to another. The monster loses his footing and clings perilously to the edge of the page. The narrator suggests giving the book a jiggle and a wiggle--with no luck. Finally he suggests a fast spin for the whole book.

Whoa! The little monster is reeling! He's too dizzy to do any damage for a moment. Now's our chance! Make a scary big NOISE!

Oh, no! Where did he go? This isn't working out as planned. Now he's on the loose in the bedroom--at bedtime! That's even worse!

CALL HIM BACK!

A toddler monster on the loose is way worse than one in a book, in Tom Fletcher's There's a Monster in Your Book (Random House, 2017). In a jolly and funny tale of a metafiction monster, with shades of Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are, the young reader gets the upper hand over his monster, too, even seeing him off to sleep, snuggled between the pages, for a good goodnight after all.

Gary Abbott's winsome little monster is endearingly energetic and a fine alter ego to the toddlers for whom this book is written, as the author and illustrator let him romp and riot for a bit before settling down to "enjoy" this clever bedtime story in the way the parent would prefer. Youngsters will find fun in the gyrations of Fletcher's and Abbott's book and may even take to a bit of a monster hunt in their own bedrooms as well. Says Kirkus in their review, "Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy--a raucus storytime hit!"

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Tonight Is The Night!: Boo! by Leslie Patricelli

It's Baby's first Halloween!

It's his first time to visit the pumpkin patch and pick a perfect pumpkin. Should it be very small? Or very large?

No! It should be...

JUST RIGHT!

Dad steps up to do the carving. Carefully he slices the stem end off. Baby is ready for this next and very important job.

"THE INSIDES!"

It's a gloriously messy task, but Baby, dressed for the job in a dapper diaper, has a blast scooping out the lovely, gooey insides of the pumpkin. What fun!

But now it's time for a big decision. What kind of face shall Baby's Jack o'Lantern have! Dad shows the choices: Mad? Goofy? Fangful? Snoozy? Maybe even a Halloween Kitty-Kat?

Baby selects a face with a great big grin. A grinning Jack o' Lantern is just the thing!

Now it's Mom's job to help come up with a costume. Baby helps her go through the trunk, first trying on some Groucho glasses with mustache and shaggy eyebrows! So giggly! But it's so hard to choose. Vampire fangs look like fun. Should he perhaps give a pirate's patch a try-on or a tutu a twirl? What about a whiskery black cat?

But finally he settles on a classic. Baby grabs a ghost costume that covers him--all but his little bare tootsies. Now it's time to take a look in the mirror. He's so spooky he scares himself!

W-W-W-WHAT'S THAT?

ME?

But all these joyful preparations are just preface to the big event, as Ghost Baby trots up the steps next door to ring his first doorbell!

Ding Dong! A WITCH with a big bowl opens the door! Gulp! But, hey, the witchy woman scoops up a big handful of candy and drops it into his little plastic pumpkin! Wowsie!

It's Hurray For Halloween! in Leslie Petricelli's adorable little board book, Boo! (Leslie Patricelli Board Books) (Candlewick Press), in which a young mom and dad experience the fun of their little one's first Halloween outing. Petricelli's Baby, with his own jolly Jack o' Lantern grin, is undeniably too cute for words, and this tale of his first venture out on Halloween is perfect for doting grandparents or aunts, uncles, and cousins to drop in their favorite baby's trick or treat pumpkin.

Leslie Petricelli's other board books for the very young include Fa La La (Leslie Patricelli board books) Fa La La (Leslie Patricelli board books), Yummy Yucky (Leslie Patricelli board books), and Potty. (Leslie Patricelli board books).

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Friday, October 06, 2017

Stayin' Alive! Trickiest! 19 Sneaky Animals by Steve Jenkins

Survival can be tricky.

For most animals, finding food and avoiding danger is a full-time job. A few of them survive by being bigger, stronger, faster, or fiercer than other creatures.

But many animals use tricks to catch their prey or outsmart a predator.

For many animals, trick or treat is the story of their lives. If they're lucky, they trick hungry predators. If they fail, they will be some critter's treat!

Being big and strong and bold has its good points. But maintaining those impressive physiques and power takes a lot of work, and some animals have evolved less taxing ways to avoid danger and perhaps get a square meal at the same time.

That's where being tricky comes in handy.

What if you are a tiny little tree lizard--easy pickings for a big snake or a bird? But if your tail looks looks like a ragged brown leaf, you can hunker down on a tree and blend right in. That's how the diminutive satanic leaf-tailed gecko of Madagascar gets by without getting eaten. The leafy sea dragon, a species of sea horse, uses a similar trick: his shaggy green shape looks just like a piece of floating seaweed. And the western hognose snake takes the trickery even further. He rolls over to play a disgustingly stiff dead snake, even adding a convincing little trickle of blood from his open mouth to gross out a predator.

Looking non-edible works for those guys, but other creatures disguise themselves as something no sensible predator would dare to eat, like the harmless wasp beetle who looks much like a real wasp. Other sneaky animals disguise themselves, not to avoid being a meal, but to get one. The green vine snake twists around a branch like, well, a vine, to fool birds who need a break into becoming a tasty dinner.

And some crafty critters are getaway artists. The squid and octopus disappear in a cloud of black ink. The blue-tailed skink drops part of his bright-colored tail, leaving it wiggling persuasively just long enough to keep a hungry predator busy while the business end of the skink escapes. And some animals find ways to prey on other critters while keeping themselves well out of the way of danger: the archerfish shoots a mouthful of water to bring down a insect on the wing, and the bolas spider, no doubt an inspiration to Spider Man, downs a bug with a sticky strand of web he shoots out to reel his prey right in.

Artist Steve Jenkins gives nineteen sly and sneaky creatures their due in the latest in series, Trickiest!: 19 Sneaky Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Done up in his eye-catching trademark paper collage illustrations, Jenkins' slyly humorous text offers diagrams comparing each animal with human size and a world map showing its habitat, and he also appends a glossary, a web of his subjects arranged by shared traits, and a bibliography of additional readings for nature science research.

For animals more deadly than devious, read this one with its companion book, Deadliest!: 20 Dangerous Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.)

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Beware! Deadliest! 20 Dangerous Animals by Steve Jenkins

Danger!

For millions of years, animals have been killing and eating other animals.

Luckily, most animals don't want to eat us. But if we are not careful, many of them can still be deadly.

Take, for example, the Kodiak bear--ten feet tall and capable of consuming most of a full-grown deer in a day and not opposed to stalking a human if necessary. But unlike his paler cousin, the polar bear, the Kodiak is limited in range to a few islands off Alaska.

But the equally dangerous bull shark is found in shallow fresh or ocean waters along most of earth's coasts. What does he eat? Anything he wants!--from old tires to seals, bottles to sea turtles, and the bull shark is responsible for mostof the shark attacks on humans worldwide. Still, this big boy trails the saltwater crocodile, a seeming leftover from prehistoric days, at nearly twenty feet long and 1,500 pounds, a formidable hunter who is known even to attack small boats. Fearful as they can be, though, Kodiak bears and bull sharks together annually count for less than two annual human deaths worldwide. The monstrous and poisonous Komodo dragon, the saltwater crocodile, and even the tiger are less of a danger to people than hippopotamuses, who kill 300 to 500 humans annually, and King cobras, whose yearly toll is around 1,000.

Deadliness comes in smaller sizes, too, with the venomous box jellyfish, stonefish, and sea snake, the poisonous dart frog, blue-ringed octopus, and stonefish lurking about in exotic locations. But these heavy hitters in the animal kingdom are minor threats to humans compared to (wait for it!)--dogs and mosquitoes! Yes, feral dogs can kill 55,000 people a year, and mosquito-borne diseases kill more than a million of us annually.

In his book in series, Steve Jenkins' just published Deadliest!: 20 Dangerous Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) reveals a score of pretty scary creatures, with plenty of "Hey, look at this!" appeal. Along with his strikingly realistic paper collage illustrations, naturalist Jenkins details both the physical characteristics and natural habitat map of each animal, with scale drawings of each animal compared to a human. These deadly animals are appropriately intimidating, but Jenkins' detailed thumbnails and glossary provide some reassurance that most of them are limited to very small ranges on earth.

Still, there is just enough scare-factor to whet the appetite of young naturalists to seek out more information on their favorite deadly critter, and for that this author-illustrator also provide a handy bibliography for both recreational reading and those sure-to-come research reports. Along with its new companion book, Trickiest!: 19 Sneaky Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) these short, inexpensive, and irresistible natural science books should be first purchases for school, classrooms, and home libraries.

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