BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, May 29, 2015

All For One! Brothers by David McPhail


MOST OF THE TIME THEY GOT ALONG.

SOME OF THE TIME THEY SQUABBLED.

It's inevitable that siblings are going to disagree. Some days big brothers won't share, even if little brothers ask (nicely). No fair!

Sometimes they decide to take turns.

And then they can't agree on whose turn it is.

Sometimes one says it's the other's fault. Sometimes one nicely assumes part of the blame.

"IT WAS MY FAULT, TOO!"

After all, you never know when you might skin your knee and need a ride home for first aid.

When they happen to like to do the same thing, brothers sometimes come up with an idea how to have it their own way.

THEY BOTH LIKE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM, BUT ONE LIKES IT IN A CONE,

WHILE THE OTHER INSISTS ON A CUP AND A SPOON.


In his charming board book edition of Brothers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), there are good things and bad things about having a brother around, and artist David McPhail's tender and empathetic illustrations show both sides of the trials and triumphs of sharing everything--from one bike to part of the blame for a broken lamp to one bed when a scary nighttime thunderstorm blows in. It's nice that McPhail finally got around to creating a companion book to his still popular Sisters.  And parents of a pair of each, brothers and sisters, had better have a copy of each, just to be fair.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not Small! There's No Such Thing As Little by Le Uyen Pham

EVERYONE SAYS I'M LITTLE.

I REALLY DON'T AGREE.

IF ONLY THEY COULD SEE WHAT I SEE

WHEN THEY LOOK AT ME.

A pair of kids with rising expectations set out to show that size is definitely relative: a single candle may seem small, just a little light,
but a close look through it shows that it can be as big as a lighthouse.

A small seedling tree in a pot can grow to be a generous tree.--with apples for all. A little goldfish might look small in its bowl, but also become part of a huge, shark-shaped school of fish. And a small squiggle on an artist's easel can easily become part of a large painting at the museum--when you really look into it!

LeUyen Pham's latest, There's No Such Thing as Little (Alfred A. Knopf Books, 2015), uses clever die-cut pages and jolly cartoon kids that show that little things do grow, just like the narrators of this enticing toy and movable book, in which little things, seen in small cut-out circles can turn into big things with just a turn of the page.

LITTLE?

NOT ME!

Labels:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cretaceous Caretaker: Rex Finds An Egg! Egg! Egg! by Sten Weinberg

When this goofy-looking baby dino finds a large spotted ovoid, he assumes it's an egg. He's quite taken with it and carries it carefully toward his own nesting area.

But prehistoric times are fraught with danger. A nearby volcano begins to rumble and spout, and Rex realizes he has to do something to save himself--and his egg.

"RUN! RUN! RUN!"

Rex makes a run for it, unfortunately right over a cliff and into the cretaceous sea, swimming with a variety prehistoric critters. Luckily, Rex lands on the back of one sea monster and seems temporarily safe.

But, NO! A pterodactyl swoops to scoop up Rex and egg. Rex slides down the sea monster's back and scurries back to the safety of his own nest. Whew!

But when the volcano again begins to shake the earth, spewing steam and lava, little Rex drops his prize. It cracks open, and Rex realizes that he's been nurturing, not an egg at all, but a rock! Rex is briefly brokenhearted. Is this the sad end to a possible lovely friendship?

Little Rex is an appealing little predator in Steven Weinberg's jolly T. Rex romp, Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg! (Margaret K. Elderry Books, 2015. Weinberg's easy text will have tots chiming in on the thrice-repeated refrain and older preschoolers will soon be "reading" this one themselves, while his bright palette shows off his cute little T. Rex character with plenty of charm and verve.

But Nature will out, as caretaker turns carnivore when Rex gets a bit rumbly in his tumbly and spots potential herbivorous prey:

"LUNCH! LUNCH! LUNCH!"

As Kirkus Reviews adds waggishly, "Young dinosaur fans will like this solo debut for Weinberg a bunch, bunch, bunch."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Even a Mouse.... Such a Small Mouse by Alice Schertle

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MEADOW, UNDER A CLUMP OF DANDELIONS,
WAY DOWN DEEP IN THE HOLE
LIVES A MOUSE.
SUCH A LITTLE MOUSE
WITH HIS SMART GRAY COAT,
WITH HIS EARS PINK AS PETALS,
WITH THREE TWITCHETY WHISKERS ON EACH SIDE OF HIS NOSE.

And such a providential mouse he is, too. Every morning of spring he pokes his nose out and scurries off to gather seeds and fresh greens--unfurling ferns and clover blossoms, dodging but greeting the busy bees.

Summer finds him selecting fresh watercress and chatting with a toad sheltering from the sun under a flower's broad leaves. He gathers small twigs for the beavers' new dam, and at sunset home he goes home with his cress and more seeds to stock his storeroom down deep underground.

Autumn comes. The little mouse scoots out and about beneath the falling leaves.

"RUSTLE, RUSTLE, RUSTLE" GO THE LEAVES.

HE WATCHES THE GEESE OVERHEAD.
"HONK! HONK! HONK!" THEY CRY.
"WINTER IS COMING!"

And the thrifty little mouse hauls home dozens of fat acorns to tuck away in his pantry. His cozy hole awaits, with a downy bed for sleeping, well-stocked larders, and a well-appointed kitchen, all below the frost line.

A thoughtful provider, this is a foresightful little mouse who can feast in fine form and sleep snugly through stormy, snowy nights.

The celebrated Alice Schertle's latest, Such a Little Mouse, (Scholastic Press, 2015) is a story which takes time to smell the roses, so to speak, to savor the seasons and share their bounty with the neighbors out in the wide world of the meadow.

Artist Stephanie Yue's gentle, old-fashioned pencil and watercolor illustrations catch the sweetness of each season, even winter, as Mouse simmers his dried watercress-and-seed soup, reading and resting up for the next growing season. Children will warm to author Schertle's gently repetitive narration and Yue's soft, detailed pictures, from the sun-shy toad in his hideout to Mouse's cozy kitchen with alphabet-block counters and a tiny tea-light candle's yellow illumination. Among the many books about the joys of the seasons, this one is definitely a standout.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Mightiest Mollusk The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of the Mollusk by Sy Montgomery


With their superhuman strength, seemingly magical skin, and eerie intelligence, octopuses have inspired artists, storytellers, and even religious leaders from coastal cultures around the world.

Octopuses are infinitely intriguing because, let's face it, they are just so amazingly weird!

They are mollusks, but they have no shells. They have eight arms, two of which have their own brains and hearts. and all of which can regrow themselves. They walk on their arms, zoom through the water jet propelled by water-pressure jets. and their sense of taste is located in their suckers. They have only one "tooth," a beak powerful enough to crack a crack a crab or amputate a limb.

Shape-shifters who can squeeze through tiny openings, their blood runs blue and their skin can transform from an shapeless mass of pimply, putty-colored papillae to an iridescent, shimmering mass of glowing blue or orange, a total stop-light red meant to give predators pause, or perfectly mottled camouflage matched to any background--all in the blink of an eye. They are smart enough to recognize familiar human faces for years and remember whether they were gentle or threatening, and neat enough after eating to arrange their empty crab shells and legs in neat stacks like china plates and silverware after a dinner party.

Surely a creature with a claim to being the most alien of the animal kingdom is well deserving of scientific study in Sy Montgomery's forthcoming tomorrow, The Octopus Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015).  In this title author Cy Montgomery has the enviable assignment of shadowing a team of ocean biology scientists on the tropical island of Moorea in French Polynesia, where most of the diving is in shallow water and requires only a snorkel and mask and the main hazards are knees skinned on shallow coral while scanning for the octopus dens.

No octopuses are taken as specimens; only their neatly piled "middens," are collected to document their diets. Researchers do administer personality tests to their subject to measure how bold or shy the cephalopods may be.  Octopus psychologists may recognize some similarities to human patients: shy ones cringe and withdraw when poked, while bold ones grab the pencil and try to pull it out of the researcher's hand. Really annoyed octopuses shoot a blob from their sand funnels at the investigator, and desperate ones depart in a cloud of black ink.

Replete with gorgeous underwater photos of multicolored tropical fish and corals, giant clams and crabs, buff-colored sea cucumbers and black-tipped (non-man-eating) sharks, swim-finned students, and teasing glimpses of tropical shores, this book follows the disappointments and discoveries, the discipline of taking endless notes underwater and the discomforts of crawling over dead coral and swimming through algae with the texture of Brillo pads, but especially the joys of adding to the knowledge of this little known but wondrous animal. As always in Houghton Mifflin's notable Scientists in the Field, series, a bibliography and detailed index add to the usefulness of this entry. "Science in the field at its best," says Kirkus Reviews.

For even more psychological octopus oddities, pair this one with Sy Montgomery's just published The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Calling All Lions! Lion Lion by Miriam Bush

"LION!!!"

A boy steps out of his house and calls loudly, but when a real, full-grown lion answers his call, he looks very surprised! Clearly, this isn't the Lion he expected.

Lion says, "What are you doing?"

"Trying to find Lion. What about YOU?" the boy answers.

"I am looking for lunch."

Coming from a lion, that sounds ominous. Trying to look unflustered, the boy looks around for lunch possibilities.

"Care for some grass?"

The Lion ventures into the grass, but a snapping turtle grabs his foot.

The Lion declares the grass too "snappy." Offered some mushrooms, he steps on a prickly hedgehog snacking on the 'shrooms and declines the offer as too splintery.

The berry bushes are stinky from some skunks who have been sampling the fruit. Flowers, maybe?

The Lion points out that a hummingbird has gotten there first.

"Feathers make me sneeze!"

Aha! Suddenly the boy's anxious look changes to a crafty one. Hmmm! He has a plan. If he can make the Lion sneeze....

AH--AHH--AHHH...
CHOO!

Miriam Busch's Lion, Lion (HarperCollins, 2014) has a surprise ending (with a happy MEW from the boy's rescued cat Lion) that close readers may have already figured out, involving feathers and the big red flashlight in the boy's back pocket.Illustrator Larry Day is in on the joke, of course, and offers visual clues that foreshadow the happy reunion, not to mention the little mouse on every page. (Note: No hummingbirds, skunks, hedgehogs, turtles--or cats-were harmed in the making of this story!)

The Bulletin for Children's Books call this one downright "Sendakian," and Kirkus says, "The grand joke comes at the end, when the clever boy forces the lion to sneeze, and there is another play on the same theme on the very last page. Sly, dark humor for little ones—at its best."

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bottom-Up Birthday: The Backwards Birthday Party by Tom Chapln and John Forster


ON MY BIRTHDAY MORNING
THE SUN WAS SINKING LOW.

I PUT MY CLOTHES ON INSIDE OUT
AND DOWN THE STAIRS DID GO.

We've all heard of retro parties, but this is ridiculous!

This go-with-the-flow birthday boy takes it all in stride, though. The banner suspended across the living room reads "!SNOITALUTARGNOC" The guests say goodbye and wave as they walk out the door.

But not to worry. The party's not over. It's just taking place in reverse. They guests appear with a magical page turn, where the good-natured host re-wraps his opened gifts and presents them to his guests as they enter. Then, in a crowd-pleasing choice, they eat the cake first.

THE ICE CREAM WAS HOT.

THE CANDLES WERE NOT!

The blindfolded donkey pins the tails on the kids, with the usual hilarious results. And the longer the kids party, the earlier the day becomes, with the hands on the clock going counter-clockwise until it is the wee hours of the morning, and the party turns into a de facto sleepover. It's actually the perfect birthday, and there's a bonus when at dawn the still sleepy host finally pushes the party goers out the door...

I WAS ONE YEAR YOUNGER
THAN I WAS THE DAY BEFORE.

Recycling their 1994 children's song, Tom Chapin and Chuck Groenink's brand-new collaboration, The Backwards Birthday Party (Atheneum Books, 2015) uses clever page design strategy to highlight the premise, with letters turned around and one page actually reading bottom to top. Refrains recur frequently to give listening kids a vocal role in the fun. Illustrator Chuck Groenink plants humorous sight gags aplenty on the pages, and the authors even append the words and music as endpapers. It's all there except a warning that the unimaginative reader might turn the book upside down and read the story back to front! Otherwise, as the creators put it, this one is "the partyday birthwards back!" !!YADHTRIB YPPAH

Labels: ,

Friday, May 22, 2015

Count on It! Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure by Derek Anderson

ONE PIG,

ONE VERY HAPPY PIG.

THIS BATHTUB IS PERFECT

FOR JUST YOU AND ME!

It's shiny, and slippery, and sudsy, and just the right size for one pink pig and his little rubber ducky.

Ahhh! he settles down, neck deep in the warm bubble bath and closes his eyes.

But then Pig Two suddenly shows up, ready to hit the suds.

TWO? TWO??

THIS TUB IS TOO SMALL

FOR A DUCK, TWO PIGS,

AND A BOUNCY BEACH BALL!

And the pigs keep counting up, along with their gear. First a pig in swim fins, one in a pirate hat, then a pig tooting a tuba, and one launching his big boat. The pigs count up, the bubbles pop and the bath water slops. Pig Eight brings a sand castle, while Pig Nine wedges himself into the suds with his fly rod and bait.

Is there always room for one more? It's a big pig cram-jam as Pig Ten and his surf board get ready to hang ten!. Surf's up?

TEN pigs in a tub? But before an all-out water fight begins, one pig spots something coming, and it's not Pig Eleven!

WHAT'S THAT?

In a hurry and a flurry the tub empties as pigs peel out, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2...., and scurry away, page right. What do they see?

ONE WOLF!

Savvy youngsters will spy the zipper down the front of that wolf suit and guess just which pig is inside, in Derek Anderson's jolly new counting book, Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure (Orchard Books, 2015). Comic critters and rollicking rhymes are author-illustrator Anderson's specialty, and this pink, impolite, and portly porker tale is no exception. Even the rubber ducky's eyes help tell the story, right up the the happy ending, when the "wolf" settles back down in his bath, just the right size for ONE PIG and his yellow floaty pal.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ex Libris: The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

THE THETA PROJECT: Lab Note #318
Prepared by Dr. Xiang Libris, PhD., DLit.

I am thrilled to report that after an exhaustive search, I have found the ideal subject for our first field test, which will commence as soon as Billy G., a twelve-year-old male with a very vivid imagination arrives on-site.

His mother will be busy. His father will be away. He will be bored. In short, Billy G. will be perfect.


When his mom informs him that she needs some time away from his dad, Billy's internal alarms start to go off. And when they arrive at their lake cottage, loaned for the summer by her mathematical mentor, Dr. Libris, the situation goes from worrying to wretched. The cottage is nice enough, with a log cabin exterior and a modern interior, but Billy is not fond of aquatic activities and the place is strictly lacking in digital attractions.

It was pretty much a bust.

No TV, DVD layer, or XBox. No computer whatsoever.

There was, however, a framed needlework sampler on the wall.

A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
--Carl Sagan

Billy is also a bit spooked by the security cameras everywhere, even in his bedroom. He tosses his unwanted swimsuit over it and heads outside to look around, stuffing his iPhone in his pocket.

Bad moves. In short order, Billy meets another summer kid, the wimpy Walter, drops and breaks his phone, and meets up with the island's own bully, Nick Farkas, and his two henchmen. Spotting some Space Lizard comics in Nick's bike basket, Billy experiences a brief moment of hope that he'll be invited to play the video game with Nick's crew, but Farkas quickly disabuses him of that idea. His parents are breaking up, his summer is a bummer, and the local bully is itching to beat him up. Great.

But curiosity wins out, and when Billy explores the cabin's lower floor, he finds a strange library, with many familiar books locked behind glass doors. No key is in evidence, but there is a riddle, which Billy quickly solves, and he locates the key in record time. He takes down a book, the Labors of Hercules, and smiles at the bookplate inside:

EX LIBRIS X. Libris

Dr. Libris may be a weird guy, but he does have a sense of humor.

Billy starts to read about Hercules' challenge of Antaeus and realizes he's hearing yelling and curses coming from somewhere. It's outside, and when he leaves the cabin, he realizes that it's coming from the island in the center of the lake, the location of Dr. Libris' fortress-like study. Billy can't believe his eyes. The two combatants seem to be Hercules and Antaeus. After a bad night of mythic dreams, Billy resolves to try a more sedate book. Mom recommends her favorite, The Adventures of Robin Hood (Puffin Classics). But when his curiosity overwhelms him, he gives in and decides to row over to Dr. Libris' island.

And what he finds there is indeed a world ex libris, a world populated by Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Hercules shows up, and after a bit of combat with Robin, capitulates and squeezes into what seems to be Little John's old uniform to become one of Robin's "Merry Persons." In short order, Walter has to see what's going on and joins Billy in the mixed company of Poseidon, Pollyanna, Tom Sawyer, Jack and his Beanstalk Giant, even The Three Musketeers and assorted literary monsters, including even the Space Lizard of comic book fame. Things are looking quite Grimm for Billy, Walter, and their fictional friends.

How could he defeat the Space Lizard? Even Hercules was not strong enough.

"Ho, lads and lassies!" said Robin Hood. "All is not lost."

"I'm not Little John, or you, Maid Marian. I'm not a hero. I'm just a kid who can't even save his own family...."

"Nonsense," said Maid Marian.

"Each of us can choose what or who we shall be. We write our own stories every day."

And with a little help from the formidable Nick Farkas' Space Lizard Cheat Sheet and Jules Verne's time machine, Billy does it all, managing the monsters and even arranging a quick trip for his parents back in time to the day they first fell in love, in Chris Grabenstein's newest literary romp, The Island of Dr. Libris (Random House, 2015), working with references and classical characters from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (I Can Read It All by Myself) to To Kill a Mockingbird, from The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again to Holes.

With a breezy, spoofy style that goes down easily for summer reading and with a promising premise that kids can choose how they help write their own life stories, Grabenstein works fifty famous novels (titles appended), into this book-boosting novel, which joins his freewheeling fantasy best-seller from last summer, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Chris Grabenstein polished his literary acumen on his many middle reader mysteries and his comedy chops as co-author of James Patterson's I Funny series.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Maybe He Just Forgot to Shave! Gorillas in Our Midst by Richard Fairgray

You know how it is. You get gorillas on your mind and you start seeing them everywhere!

GORILLAS ARE HARD TO SPOT.

THEY'RE MASTERS OF DISGUISE.

That fuzzy-faced guy behind the newspaper on the subway? Can't be!

But just in case it's a good idea to keep a banana or two with you at all times.

Don't say you weren't forewarned!

GORILLAS OFTEN GET JOBS THAT LET THEM WEAR MASKS.

So, see, you've got to watch out for astronauts, scuba divers, surgeons, ninjas..., especially if they're kinda on the, um, burly side.

You may not spot them at the supermarket, but in the fresh produce section, if the sign on the banana bin says SOLD OUT, you-know-who has been there!

GORILLAS HAVE BEEN IN OUR MIDST FOR A LONG TIME.

SURELY YOU'VE HEARD OF GORILLIAM SHAKESPEARE?

OR APEBRAHAM LINCOLN?

But if you think you spy a gorilla, look again. It's probably just an orangutan.

THEY'RE TERRIBLE AT HIDING.

Richard Fairgray's gloriously tongue-in-cheek Gorillas in Our Midst (Sky Pony Press, 2015) offers kids the secret scoop on spotting undercover apes, while illustrator Terry Jones' artwork aids and abets the author's deadpan delivery and preserves the putative great ape's deniabilty with a nod and a wink to savvy readers. Only grown-ups of a certain age can be expected to get the pun in the title,* but although Jones' droll blackline illustrations tell the story well, older kids (those who have at least heard of William Shakespeare, for example) will especially get the wry humor in this one and ape-preciate its sly sophisticated wit.


*Dr. Dian Fossey's classic nature memoir, Gorillas in the Mist.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whozzat? Smick by Doreen Cronin

GOOD, SMICK!

STICK?

Smick's off-page owner points out a stick (surprisingly, a digitally offered image of a real stick) and big, droopy-eared Smick is up for a game of throw-and-fetch--until a small Cluck is heard.

What? It's ... a CHICK?

What should Smick do with that? Fetch it like the stick? His human nixes that move quick!

There is a better way to play with a chick, and Smick and Chick soon figure that out, as Chick rides along on Smick's head as he fetches the stick. Chick is more fun than a stick. Chick is a sidechick! No, wait! He's a...

SIDEKICK!

And Smick's little sidekick chick sticks it out and earns a lick from Smick's long tongue in the latest preschool pleaser from Doreen Cronin (of Click Clack Moo fame).

Veteran wordsmith Cronin's Smick (Viking Press, 2015) shows again why she's a best-selling writer who knows how to use simple text to charm readers and to inspire illustrators to remarkable heights. Juana Medina's Smick is big, goofy white dog, outlined in thick, amorphous blackline, ready for anything, and his new friend is a bright-hued collaged leaf-shape with minimalist features and skinny bird legs, whose expressions extend Cronin's equally spare text. Dogs just wanna have fun, and with this playful pair, the author's slick rhyming vocabulary will have preschoolers "reading" their way through this delightful romp in the park. "This clever and appealing glimpse into the start of some delightful friendships is one doggone good time," says School Library Journal's starred review.

For more odd-couple pairings, share this one with Jennifer Sattler's Chick 'n' Pug or sequels. (See reviews here.)

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sinister Plush Stalker? I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell

It's a picture-perfect beribboned present just waiting for Adam. He goes for it, unties the bow, opens the box, and quails at what's under the tissue:

ADAM DOES NOT LIKE KOALA.

HE IS THE MOST TERRIBLE TERRIBLE.

It's his eyes--yellow-orange, slightly cockeyed, staring.

Koala is freaky spooky.

Adam's parents are appalled when his first reaction is to throw the plush animal across the room. That's not the way to act about a nice gift....

"I DON'T LIKE KOALA," ADAM SAYS.

Those eyes seem to follow Adam wherever he goes. Koala is just creepy.

Nobody understands. Each night before he goes to bed, Adam tries to get rid of Koala. He sticks him in his mom's big purse. He hides him at the bottom of the clothes hamper. He stuffs him under the sofa.  But when Adam opens his eyes each morning...

KOALA IS ALWAYS THERE.

IN BED. ON HIS PILLOW.

CLOSER THAN CLOSE.

AAARRGGHHH! Adam can't take it anymore. He decides that Koala needs to go on a long, long walk to nowhere. With Koala crammed in his backpack, he hikes high into the hills and leaves Koala leaning against a tree, his yellowish eyes staring off into the opposite direction. Adam hightails it back home without a backward look. Mission accomplished.

Or NOT.

AND THERE IS KOALA!

Okay.  This is clearly freaky deaky. It's clearly not Mom, tidying up before bed, putting Koala next to him every night. Adam lies in bed, trying not to look at Koala staring at him, and tries to be brave. But now even the shadows of the leafless tree outside his window seem sinister.

Surprisingly, Adam finds he is kinda glad to have Koala on watch with him.

MAYBE KOALA ISN'T SO TERRIBLE AFTER ALL.

But when his fond parents peep in on him, snoozing comfortably with his plush pal, Mom smiles tenderly at the cozy sight. Dad, though, suddenly gets a gander at Koala's weird eyes glinting back at him in the moonlight.

"I don't like Koala!." he whispers to Mom.

Sean Ferrell's I Don't Like Koala (Atheneum, 2015) is a sly, layered story that requires just the right illustrator, and artist Charles Santoso is that man. Into his quintessentially homey setting, Santoso's colored pencil drawings subtly juxtapose Koala, superficially a cutesy stuffed animal whose gaze is both goofy and somehow sinister, but with just enough of the look of the horror movie dummy Chucky to plant a humorous sleeper of a gotcha ending for savvy readers. Some kids may be all too happy to close the cover on Koala, but fans who savor Jon Klaas's wickedly funny books will wish Koala a rapid return appearance to the picture book page.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Laddies and Ladies, Hare They Are! The Bunny Rabbit Show! by Sandra Boynton

WE'RE TEN TERRIFIC RABBITS

AND WE LOVE TO DANCE AND SING
!

Bunnies hop on stage, and sashay through their routine.
They tap dance, high kick, twirl; then they all start to sing.


Hares can be real hams in Sandra Boynton's latest board book box office blockbuster, The Bunny Rabbit Show! (Workman Press, 2014).

With a downloadable song waiting in the wings, and a chorus line of cute cottontail chorines, all star-struck tots, whether they are hoofers, crooners, or divas, can take their turns in the spotlight, belting it out along with the cast of Boynton's rabbit revue.

So shuffle on down to Buffalo
And take your seats right in the front row.
With Boynton's All-Bunny Chorus Line,
They're bound to stop the show!



Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sleep Tight! Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox


"I COULD STROKE YOUR SILKY HAIR.

I COULD SIT YOU ON MY KNEE.

I COULD SING YOU ALL THE SONGS MY MOTHER SANG TO ME."

Beloved author Mem Fox captures that magical moment when baby is sleepy and just right for a bit of cuddling before bed. Toes are kissed as Fox's loving mother rocks her baby in her arms and her babe yawns widely. Artist Emma Quay provides soft purple and lavender elephants as storybook stand-ins for a human mother and child, as with gentle endearments baby is moved toward sleep.

Together Mem Fox and Emma Quay give readers one of those fleeting magic moments of parenting.

"I COULD GAZE AT YOU ALL NIGHT."

Read this one with Mem Fox's best-selling Time for Bed.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 15, 2015

From A Tiny Acorn.... As An Oak Tree Grows by G. Brian Karas

ON A SUNNY LATE SUMMER DAY, A YOUNG BOY PLANTED AN ACORN IN THE GROUND.

As the proverb goes, mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow. And when a pre-colonial Indian boy plants his acorn, he unknowingly chooses well, sending his influence down through the centuries.

On the sunny hillside, a little oak sapling grows and stretches up toward the light.

EACH FALL IT SHEDS ITS LEAVES AND EACH SPRING NEW ONES WILL GROW.

And as the oak tree grows, it changes the little world around it. Squirrels and birds make their homes there, and in time a settler comes and builds a small house nearby to enjoy the sun and the shade, the soil and the sight of the water sparkling below in the distance.

Time passes and the tree grows mighty, a giant in its own landscape. Below the hillside, farms, bridges, and piers appear to serve the ships that sail by and dock there. A bustling town develops, first with horse-pulled wagons, and then with trains, busy cars and trucks on the road. Tall-sailed ships yield to steamships and then sleek, fast pleasure boats as the bustling city grows. The little farm changes, too, as the little house is expanded to suit the styles of the times, and different children are born to build tree houses and dream in the oak's shade as they watch the passage of the ships and the passage of time.

And then a storm hits, a mighty storm, mightier than even the great oak itself, and a blast of lightning brings it down. Its mighty limbs and trunk are trucked away to be recycled into lumber and mulch, but one of its small acorns is left behind on the now-barren hill, ready to recycle itself, too.

ONCE AGAIN THE GROUND IS WARM AND WELCOME AS A NEW OAK TREE GROWS.

In his As an Oak Tree Grows (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014), noted artist G. Brian Karas juxtaposes the changes brought by time and human activity against the constancy of the natural world, represented by that icon of sturdy long life, the oak tree. There is an unspoken message that perhaps the natural world is also the driver of all that bustling building--the sunny hillside, the fertile soil, the waterway beyond that connects it all to the world--they, too, are what makes it all happen.

Karas' charming illustrations of children working and playing as time changes around them gives young readers an understanding of the sweep of time, a conception of the fact that where they live hasn't always been the same and will not always remain as they know it. Karas uses the same device of a central image remaining while all changes around it that Virginia Lee Burton used in her classic Caldecott book, The Little House. and his message is the same, that some things change and some things endure.

There are many ways this book can be used in a teaching setting--as a bit of American history or even as an introduction to a nature study unit on trees, for which the author contributes an appended "Some Facts About Oak Trees." As School Library Journal points out, "This fascinating time capsule will spark nature and history discussions.” But like Burton's seminal work, Karas' detailed illustrations and lyric narration have the power to take youngsters beyond their immersion in themselves and their own present and see their world from the broader perspective of the flow of time.

Makes you think, doesn't it? That's what great picture books do.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Pox On It! Leopardpox by Orna Laudau

SADIE SAID, "I CAN'T GO TO KINDERGARTEN TODAY."

"WHAT'S THE MATTER?" MOM ASKED.

"I DON'T KNOW," SAID SADIE. "I JUST FEEL FUNNY."

Sadie's little cough roughens into a sort of rumble, her fingernails tingle and grow long and longer. And before she can say more, her teeth begin to grow sharp and sharper. Spots appear all over.

"A LEOPARD!" CRIED MOM.

SADIE HAD LEOPARDPOX!

The good news is that Sadie is now feeling ready to romp. The bad new is that she quickly wrecks her room and moves on to the living room.

"I'M NOT SURE THEY WILL LET HER INTO KINDERGARTEN LIKE THIS," (SAYS HER BROTHER, WITH SCARCELY VEILED IRONY.)

A trip to the pediatrician turns out badly, when the doc suggests they try a veterinarian. The veterinarian pronounces Sadie a very healthy young leopard, as she bounces around the exam room, but wonders aloud why anyone would bring in a healthy cub.

"THERE ARE LOTS OF LITTLE GIRLS, BUT THIS IS A VERY CUTE AND SPECIAL LEOPARD," HE REMARKS.

Brother Ben suggests that they try the zoo, but the sight of Sadie in the big cat compound is more than Mom can bear.

So Sadie, still as bouncy and rambunctious as Tigger, goes home, where plenty of motherly TLC seems to begin to work a cure. Sadie loses her spots and her claws. Her teeth do seem to look less sharp, and Sadie soon begins to look like the cute and special girl her mom knows her to be.

So all's well that ends well? Not exactly.

As Mom and Sadie snuggle down together at bedtime, Mom says...

"YOU KNOW WHAT? I FEEL KINDA FUNNY...."

Orna Laudau's Leopardpox! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) is a rollicking fanciful romp through a very unusual sick day. Omer Huffman's illustrations pick up all the nuances of this comical tale, from Sadie's older brother's annoyed looks, to the befuddled pediatrician, reluctant to admit he hasn't a clue, to the vet who insists that Sadie is perfectly fine just the way she is, right down to the zookeeper, delighted with the idea of a fine and free new exhibit. A fine sick day read for  a young patient, and sure giggle bait for early graders, read this one with David Small's classic, Imogene's Antlers (Reading Rainbow Books) and Florence Parry Heide's terrific tongue-in-cheek oldie but goodie, The Shrinking of Treehorn, (illustrated brilliantly by none other than Edward Gorey) for some deliciously silly sick-day stories.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Complementary Colors: Aqualicious by Victoria Kann

I WAS COLLECTING SHELLS. I FOUND A SHELL AND HELD IT NEXT TO MY EAR SO I COULD LISTEN TO THE SEA.

ON HEARING THE OCEAN, I HEARD A LITTLE VOICE INSIDE THE SHELL.

"PUT ME DOWN! I'M TRYING TO NAP!"

If anyone is going to find a miniature mermaid inside a conch, it's going to be Pinkalicious.

Pinky is amazed to see a merminnie, who introduces herself as Aqua and volunteers that, although she likes Pinkalicous's pink beach attire, she prefers blue. This is a find that Pinkie just has to share with her little brother Peter!

Peter and Pinky are inspired to build a lavish sand castle for Aqua. To return the favor, little Aqua offers to teach the two to surf, but before they can venture out to the breakers, a seagull swoops down and scoops up the tiny merminnie. It's up to Peter and Pinkalicious to do something!

"HURRY,,, BEFORE SHE IS MERMINNIE MINCEMEAT!" CRIES PINKALICIOUS.

But all's well that ends well, as Peter snatches up a mussel and throws it at the gull, in Victoria Kann's just published latest in her top-selling series, Aqualicious (Pinkalicious) (HarperCollins, 2015). A day at the beach and a mermaid encounter is sure to be a hit with fans of Pinkalicious and her doughty brother Peter, especially when the story is packaged in a sparkly, textured cover and includes a visit to an aquarium where Aqua performs as a star of the bareback seahorse act. As always, Pinkalicious sees the world through rose-colored glasses, and it's a sunny finish to another engaging fantasy tale just right for beach time.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Getting to the Bottom of It! Monsters Love Underpants! by Claire Freedman

MONSTERS THINK IT'S MONSTROUS FUN.

TO CREEP AROUND, ALL SCARY.

BUT THERE'S SOMETHING THEY
LOVE MORE

THAN LOOKING MEAN AND HAIRY.

Aliens do it; pirates do it; dandy dinosaurs and cavemen do it.

Even Santa doesn't eschew it.

Do what?

Why, wear underpants, of course, in Claire Freedman's brand-new, derriere-wear story, Monsters Love Underpants (The Underpants Books) (Aladdin Books, 2015). Author Freedman goes way back in the history of booty lit, and her publishing record shows that she gets it that underpantses get the glances.

After all...

ALIENS STEAL 'EM!
PIRATES REVEAL 'EM.
DINOS DON'T CONCEAL 'EM.

MONSTERS? DON'T FEAR 'EM.
THEY JUST WANNA WEAR 'EM
.

In her latest in her top-selling keister-cover series, Freedman shows her shaggy, horned and fanged little monsters cavorting in caves, clomping in chains, sweating in swamps, icing up in polar places, and partying hardy in their pantaloons. Her colleague in funny undies, artist Ben Cort, displays once more that he is totally top-drawer at drawing drawers, nattily attiring his monsters in dandy duff designs. Even the, er, endpapers feature even more colorful boxers and briefs. See Freedman's other guaranteed giggle-getting stories of aliens, pirates, and dinosaurs, in her incom-pair-able Underpants series.

Labels: ,