BooksForKidsBlog

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Squeeze the Day! Gator Dad by Brian Lies

COME ON-- LET'S GO!

LET'S SQUEEZE THE DAY.

This go-go dad is no gator procrastinator.

He rouses his three little gators early from their sleep, makes them perch-filled pancakes to power their day, and they're off to accomplish some errands.

Gator Dad packs his toothy trio into one of those kiddie-truck shopping carts and trundles through the aisles to fill the business end of the buggy with gator goodies.

Then they are free to roam the wilds of the park. On the run with Dad's youngest riding gator-back on his shoulders, they hit the see-saw and reach for the moon on the big swings. When Dad calls for a gator break, he's the only one who wants a rest. The three pull him up and the fun goes on.

I'LL BE YOUR RAFT IN A SEA OF GRASS,

A TREE FOR YOU TO CLIMB--

I MIGHT EVEN AGREE TO SOMETHING

THAT
MAYBE
WE SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE.

Dad takes his tykes on a tightrope-style walk, using a fallen tree as a bridge over the stream, with rather wet results.

But hey! They're gators. A little water won't hurt them. Leaving wet prints and drips behind on the city sidewalks, they head for home and more rowdy gator games. With the cushions from every chair in the house they construct the mother of all sofa forts, with its own canopy and cave nooks. And after a dress-up party and dance, they head for the suds in their own bathtub.

And as a fitting closing for a stellar day, a storm provides the fireworks display right outside their window.

I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO QUIET THE STORM,

BUT HERE IN MY ARMS YOU'LL BE SAFE AND WARM!

It's a day with Dad from which memories are made, ending, of course, in a bedtime story and one last squeeze, in Brian Lies' forthcoming new book, Gator Dad (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), just in time for Fathers Day duty. Lies' brawny Dad knows how to seize the day, to squeeze every bit of fun out of a play day with his kids.

In a departure from the Rembrandt-like chiaroscuro of his A Bat Book series, (see reviews here) his palette in this new one is a bit swamp-tinged, dark greens, browns, and grays for his gator family, albeit under a sunny sky with summery cumulus clouds. But as he does in his earlier best-sellers, Lies peppers his pages with witty visual gags. His grocery cart contains "Goat-meal" and "Mice Cream," with a safety sign that reads KEEP TAILS IN AT ALL TIMES. The bathtub has bottles of Talon Ton-R and Scale Sheen on the side and S-W-A-M-P spelled out in colored magnetic alphabet letters on the tub. And when the scene shifts to the bedroom, sharp-eyed young readers will spot the familiar covers of favorite pictures books Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Put Me In The Zoo scattered among the toys on the floor. There's everything here that Brian Lies' fans fancy--wit and whimsy, page design with a sense of movement, and a winsome story that warms even the cold-blooded heart.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Missing Meerkitty! Legs: The Tale of a Meerkat Lost and Found by Sarah J. Dodd

MIKI AND MAMA LIVED UNDER THE GROUND, WHERE IT WAS WARM, DARK, AND SAFE.

ONE DAY MIKI WOKE UP.

MAMA WAS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN.

Then he heard her voice.

"COME OUTSIDE AND SEE THE WORLD," CALLED MAMA.

At first Miki is afraid to leave the safety of their den, but Mama says she will be with him, and a kind man in red boots called a keeper is there to take care of them both.

Miki emerges into the world, where it is not at all dark. It is bright and exciting, and, also, a little scary. as the shadow of a hawk passes over them. But the den is nearby and Mama is right--the keeper is there with delicious earthworms and watchful eye on Miki. Little by little Miki ventures further and further and sees some amazing sights.

THE WORLD WAS FULL OF LEGS!

In the zoo are the long pink legs of a flamingo, the striped legs of a zebra, the wide, wrinkly legs of elephants, and the extra long legs of a giraffe. And Miki can't wait to see more of the world. He follows a butterfly and easily slips through the fence and finds himself indeed outside in the world.

OUTSIDE THERE WERE EVEN MORE LEGS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES.

Little Miki is surrounded by legs, legs in pants, legs in skirts, legs in sneakers, and legs in boots all hurrying every which-way! The tall buildings go up and up like giant legs into the sky.

"MAMA?" SAID MIKI.

Miki is lost in the big city! But then he spies one pair of legs in red boots he knows.

Miki goes home in the arms of the dutiful keeper, and all's well with this little meerkitty, in Sarah J.Dodd's Legs: The Tale of a Meerkat Lost and Found (Lion Children's Books, 2015). Meerkats are zoo critters currently popular with kids, and the familiar theme of the little runaway is told well in the text and in the utterly charming illustrations by Giusi Capizzi, who makes good use of the shifts in perspective from the little meerkat's level where he first sees only legs and at last the faces of the people and the animals that he learns to know. This is a sweet cautionary tale for preschoolers and their parents who have known the scary experience of being momentarily lost from each other in the big world.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Born Free! Bug Zoo by Lisa Wheeler and Andy Harkness

BEN LOVED BUGS.
TEENY, WINGY, SPRINGY BUGS!

And that's not all! Ben loves insects, in caterpillar and creepy or beetle-y form! He loves arachnids, eight-legged creeping, jumping, and burrowing spiders, and many-legged millipedes and centipedes.

Ben loves to collect examples of as many bugs as he can find. But to collect bugs, Ben has to become a bottle collector, too. He begs for lidded bottles and juggles stacks of jars as he hauls home to house his catches.

Ben also craves to share his affection for creepy crawlers, so he decides to show off his collections for his friends.

BEN OPENED A BUG ZOO AND WAITED FOR FOLKS TO ARRIVE.

NO ONE CAME.

Ben tries adding to his attractions. More bugs! Bigger bugs! Weirder bugs! Still no one shows up to view his exhibits. Then, one moonlit night he spots a big luna moth at his window--a show-stopper with real star quality!

"YOU'LL BE MY MAIN ATTRACTION!" BEN SAID.

But then Ben notices that the moth--and his other collectibles--don't look too perky. He places fresh, green leaves inside their jars, but still they don't look happy. In fact, they look downright droopy and sad, and maybe a little bit claustrosphobic in their little glass cages.

Suddenly Ben knows what he has to do.

In author Lisa Wheeler's and artist Andy Harkness's Bug Zoo: Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase Book (Disney-Hyperion Books, 2016), it's the creepy-crawly version of Free Willie. Ben sets all his bugs free, and he feels good as he watches them joyfully fly, creep, scuttle, and crawl back to nature. But now Ben has two new problems. He still loves observing bugs. And what is he going to do with all those jars! There's just one thing to do, and the final page tells all:

HONEY 25 CENTS

Veteran author Lisa Wheeler has crafted just the right story to set off the Emmy-winning Andy Harkness' illustrative skills. Harkness, a veteran Disney film artist from Pocahontas all the way through Frozen, shows off his Disney-style chops in this book in the Studio Artist Showcase series, a picture book right for young bug fanciers and early childhood education units.

See more of Geisel Honor Award (for beginning reader books) winner Lisa Wheeler's work here.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Quark of Rhetorical Questions? An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal

Does an ambush of tigers
quietly creep
past a bed of oysters
that snores in its sleep?

Word lovers delight in coming up with clever names for groups of living things, and many of them are already familiar....

A bevy of beauties? A gaggle of geese? A pride of lions? Sure.

But what about all those lesser-known group names?

In Betsy R. Rosenthal's catalog of collective terms, An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns (Millbrook Picture Books) (Lerner/Millbrook Press, 2015), there are all kinds of names of like things. Some are familiar, like a bed of oysters or a team of oxen. Some are more arcane, such as a a parcel of penguins. Some are quite clever and fittingly comic--an intrusion of icky cockroaches, a stench of stinky skunks, and a lounge of lizards lazing in the sun. Some are simply mystifying: why is a bunch of mallards a flush? Why not a flight or a flotilla? An ambush of tigers fits the hunting style of those big cats, a stand of flamingos fits their famous one-footed stance, and a prickle of porcupines is perfect for those quill-covered critters. But who came up with a bouquet of pheasants? Isn't that supposed to be a brace... or are they a brace only when freshly dispatched by a sport shooter? And a business of flies? Go figure!

Author Betsy R. Rosenthal, ably assisted by artist Jago, has a lot of fun with all of them in her quaint and quirky quatrains with jolly meter and unpredictable but eminently pleasing rhymes, all framed as humorous rhetorical questions.

Does a pack of wolves
load up bags for vacation?
Does a cast of hawks
get a standing ovation?

When a murder of crows
leaves barely a trace,
is a sleuth of bears
hot on the case?

Jago's illustrations--a sleuth of bears with Sherlock-like magnifying glasses and a troop of kangaroos selling Girl Scout cookies--are as whimsical as Rosenthal's verses, shown in atmospheric double-page spreads which entertain and engage young readers. Rosenthal follows up with a scholarly glossary of definitions of the collective terms used in the book.

"This crash course in juxtaposition and imagination should be celebrated with a peal of bells. An inspiring addition to any poetry collection", says School Library Journal in its starred review, and the other reviewers also awarded this one a veritable firmament of stars.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Please Feed The Animals! Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed A Zoo by Helaine Becker

It's feeding time at the zoo--and you're in charge.

If only you had a recipe book.... But wait! You do!


PLATYPUS PARTY MIX
10-15 live crayfish
1 oz. live earthworms
1/3 oz. live mealworms
1 tsp. live fly pupae
Mix all ingredients and serve immediately.

And don't let your diners dillydally, or their dinner will crawl away!

Feeding the, um, wildly disparate animals in a zoo requires a wide range of foodstuffs. Some denizens of the zoo are omnivores (bears, raccoons), like humans, and will eat almost anything that doesn't eat them. Some herbivores (elephants) are the most extreme of vegans, and some (lions and tigers) subsist solely on meat.

Some zoo dwellers are so picky they make the average kid look like a gourmand.  Koalas can eat only eucalyptus leaves (fresh-picked, please), and pandas prefer only bamboo, making them persnickety diners who expect imported food by express delivery across large land masses.

Some, on the other hand, dote on less than dainty fare. Elephants can make do with hay and many types of leaves, 660 pounds of them daily, mind you, although they thrive on choice fruits and veggies in the mix. Trouble is, elephants have a tendency to grow portly in captivity and often have to be put on low-calorie foods like celery, lettuce, and carrots that human dieters know all too well. One plump pachyderm, Shaunzi, takes the title as The Biggest Loser, shedding 1,110 pounds.

Some animals lose the mood for food when it is too easy to get, forcing zookeepers to create recipes which include ways to hide, bury, and disguise their dinners about their enclosures to make them work for their supper. Parrots prefer locked boxes that require multiple steps--locks to pick, screws to turn, and bolts to throw--to whet their appetites. And many denizens of zoos are nocturnal, needing their noshes in the wee hours, midnight to dawn. One orphaned swamp wallaby required round-the-clock babying in a special pouch with frequent feedings of wallaby formula.

Feeding every creature--from chow-hounds like the hippo to mico-diners such as the extinct-in-the-wild Partula snails, whose pureed trail mix has to be smeared on the sides of their tanks--requires a special sort of zookeeper, one with deep knowledge of animal physiology and nutrition, not to mention animal psychology, and in her just published Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo (OwlKids Books, 2016), author Helaine Becker dishes out fun and fact-filled information from zoological sites all over the world, from San Diego Zoo to Taronga Zoo in Australia and the Tiergarten Schonbrunn in Austria. Artist Kathy Boake's digital illustrations are full of kid-pleasing sight gags--nocturnal animals raiding the fridge at midnight and gorillas gobbling primate-pleasing cookies dusted with dried ants--with a special section which features a real zoo nutritionist during his work day.

This is definitely a first purchase for libraries and classrooms, with its kid-friendly double-page spreads and fascinating critter facts. With a quiz to match feedings to animals, a glossary, an index, and advice for the care and feeding of all of us earth creatures, this one has it all for young animal lovers.  The various reviewers love this one, partly for the pun opportunities--"a browsable animal book," "a surprisingly nourishing treat," "Kiddos desperate to learn more about the zoo will scarf this down."--and this is definitely a new nonfiction book which will feed children's curiosity and hone their appetites for more fascinating animal science.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Going Deep: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Today we are sixteen. Happy birthday, Eddie.

It still doesn't feel real. To me, he's not gone. My twin lives inside my head and is part of me. Sometimes, my hands and feet get extremely cold and I know it's not me feeling cold, it's Eddie, so I wrap myself up in a blanket to make sure he's okay. I suppose I eat for two.

Since Eddie's hand slipped out of hers in the shallows and a current carried him away to drown, Elsie has felt his presence with her all the time. And although it's her birthday, it's Eddie's, too. And it's not a happy birthday. Her brother Dillon is growing gaunt and distracted, her mother is drinking gin openly, and her father seems not there even when he is present, which is more and more infrequent. Since Eddie was lost in the dark waters of Black Isle, her family seems to have been holding their breath, afraid of what is not known and left unspoken about Eddie's disappearance in the sea.

Overweight and withdrawn, Elsie finds a solitary refuge in a derelict boathouse, where she can see the ocean where Eddie vanished, where she can watch her schoolmates meeting on the beach. But one day she sees the "boat boys" from the new dive shop on the pier, pushing and shoving each other, seemingly daring each other to jump into the still icy waters, and she is oddly compelled to join in.

"Chicken!" Tay calls. "Come on--it's fine. I'll catch you."

I take a step closer to the edge and watch the white foam swilling. I try not to think about the kelp down there--the worst kind, thick and slithery. The others keep calling me into the water, hollering and clucking.

I can't believe I'm doing this. But it's too late. I'm already running to the end of the wall, and then I'm flying, falling. The cold rides up my body as I go down, piercing my bones like a thousand glass splinters. The water looks black in every direction as I fall headfirst into the immense space below. There's a silence in my head, and I let the current take me.

Under the water, Elsie's mind flashes back to the day of Eddie's drowning. It seems Dillon was there and the other boys, but her father was gone from the beach where he had just been. And where was her mother? It's somewhere all there, somewhere in the dark, clear water of her memory, if she can go deep enough.

Strangely, Elsie feels that she must master free diving; she must go into the deep beyond the shore to follow Eddie, to find the answer to the unknowns about that day. After her first jump, Tay and Danny pull her from the water, but Elsie knows she must go back, she must master the art of not breathing to go deep enough, and Tay offers to teach her. Elsie finds that she has a talent for free diving and can stay under water longer and longer as she works at it. As the summer goes by, Elsie and Tay are drawn to each other, as if each is the missing piece, the part of the puzzle that will enable them to understand the meaning, the truth of that day when Eddie was lost, and they find themselves falling in love.

But Elsie's family is falling apart. Dad leaves suddenly one day, stuffing some bags in his car and gone. Dillon's eating disorder progresses to full-blown anorexia, and Mom seems to see and care about none of it. Tay goes away for a while, and Elsie emerges as the strong one, the one who has the will to find out the truth in Eddie's death that drives them apart and yet binds them together--her family, Tay, the other boys, and herself. Who among them let Eddie go, let him be taken by the rip current into the depths? Or did they all? How deep will Elsie have to dive to find the truth, and can she survive when she does?

Sarah Alexander's The Art of Not Breathing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) ably sustains the metaphor of dark secrets lying beneath the surface in a coming-of-age novel in which romance, danger, a mystery of an unexplained death, and the mystery of what is hidden deep in the mind is plumbed by a compelling main character who risks dying to find freedom in what lies below and above. Among the backwash of dystopic novels in which teen literature is awash, young adult readers will find this deep, realistic, and suspenseful story a challenging but welcome change.

. . . . suddenly longing to be back in the water, to feel the open space around me, to feel the power in my legs and the pressure in my lungs as I kick for the surface.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Get Growin'! Leaps and Bounce by Susan Hood

"Round and spotted, polka-dotted.

What will they be?

Spring has sprung, a mystery!

The pond is populated with strings of pale, soft-ish eggs, and all the creatures above the surface--dragonflies and new yellow ducklings--wonder at the new arrivals.

But they don't stay ovoid and opaque long. Soon the watchers notice that something is going on inside. The swelling dots are growing--curly tails!

Wiggle tails, squiggle tails!
Scoot around and jiggle tails!

As sure as breezes blow,
Changes come to all who grow.

And soon the wiggletail babies squeeze themselves out of their cast-off eggs. And grow those tadpoles do! Surprisingly they sprout hind legs and then front legs, and soon they are darting around under water to the amazement of sticklebacks, newts, a dabbling duck, and white herons who submerge their heads to get a better at the sight of four legged swimmers, flipping and splish-splashing like an underwater circus.

And then it's time for that great leap of faith, from their watery home to a waiting rock!

Leaping, peeping,

Hopping, bopping!

And with one first breath, there are little frogs hip-hopping and bouncing everywhere, in Susan Hood's outstanding new Leaps and Bounce (Disney Hyperion Books, 2016). Kids will giggle with the comic wigglers as they play out the life cycle of the frog, and join in on the repeated refrain, "Changes come to all who grow." Author Hood's jaunty verse has a Seussian sound to it, with couplets featuring internal rhymes to keep the metamorphosis moving at a hip-hop beat, and an apt refrain for kids to chime in with. Matthew Cordell's slapdash, splish-splash comic illustrations, with several three-page gatefolds along the way, open up the action to keep the story in motion until the big leap, where the almost grown-up tads make the jump to their grown up logs. Some creatures, like frogs, change shapes as they grow and change, and some, like humans, mostly just grow, but all living things go through changes, especially in the spring, and this amphibian story is an able adjunct to a class unit on life cycles.

Pair this one with Dev Petty's popular I Don't Want to Be a Frog
for more amiable amphibian fun.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Owl Takes Ten: Little Owl's 1-2-3

LITTLE OWL FLIES THROUGH THE NIGHT FOREST.

Little Owl is counting on seeing some familiar faces as he softly wings along through the dark trees.

There ahead is a spot of bright color in a clearing: One. One Red Fox.

The fox waves as Little Owl flies toward the stream where two beavers are working overtime on their dam. Ahead  three skunks give him a quick smile as they nibble berries.

Little Owl flies on, spotting four 'possums looking for snails, and five moths flap across after him as he spots six turtles, seven frogs, &and eight bats joining him on the wing.

Hedgehog is unruffled as he digs out nine fat mushrooms for a late night snack, while Raccoon counts the ten fish in Grumbly Cave pond.

Nights are a busy time for owls, but this Little Owl is ready for his tree and ready to close his eyes--just as soon as he counts the ten stars in the sky... 1, 2, 3....

Divya Srinivasan's Little Owl's 1-2-3 (Penguin Group, 2015) is as bright a night flight as can be imagined, done up in glowing greens set against a dark sky, an easy bedtime story that gets youngsters ready to count sheep themselves.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ball Hog: Soccer Showoff by Jake Maddox and Margaret Gurevich

Gina Gozalez noticed the sign as soon as she approached River City Middle School--HOME OF THE RIVER CITY RAIDERS!


Gina smiled. That could be my new team, she thought. I could be a Raider!

Then her stomach tightened. River City Middle School was at least twice the size of her old school.

All I have to do is make it through the day, Gina thought. Then I can go to soccer tryouts.

After school, as she gathers with the others on the pitch, Gina is feeling lucky. The other girls are friendly, and Rachel and Lara admit that they need some new players to improve their record over last year's. Gina had been a star on her old school's team, and she hopes that if she does her best, she can make the team at River City.

Coach Grant sets pairs of girls to work on passing, dribbling, and shooting, and Gina and her partner Rachel get a special "Nice work!" from the coach when Gina's strong kicks get past the goalie. Gina knows that she is a terrible goalie, and sure enough, when it's her turn she misses most of Rachel's shots. But when the selections for the team go up the next day Gina's name is on the list. Gina is sure the Coach Grant noticed her special scoring abilities, and she can't wait to have her chance to show off what she can do as a shooter.

But in the first games, Gina doesn't get many opportunities to score. It seem like every time they take the ball downfield, one of her teammates bobbles a pass or has the ball stolen by the opponents before they have it in range for Gina to score.

Gina was frustrated. All this teamwork is slowing us down, she thought.

I wish I could just run down the field myself and score a goal.

And with her team behind in the second half, Gina gets the ball and has to make a choice.

The Tiger's defenders were closing in. From the corner of her eye, Gina saw that Lara was wide open.

From the sidelines, Coach Grant yelled, "Pass! Pass!"

But Gina took aim and kicked the ball. It curved toward the goal and sailed into the back of the net. Score!

If I can just stay on the ball, we'll definitely win, thought Gina.

And the Raider's get the win, thanks to Gina's play, but the others don't seem as excited as they should. Becca complains that Gina is not the only one on the team, and instead of praising her for saving the game, without a smile Coach reminds her that soccer is a team sport. What is wrong with these people? Didn't they want to win? Gina thinks.

At the next game, Gina is determined to try to score on her own. Despite two of her teammates signaling that they are open, Gina tries to take the ball all the way down field. This time, however, the defender steals the ball just as she gets ready to kick, and the Mariners get the goal.

Gina is benched.

"This team isn't about one person!" Coach said.

One of the significant values of team sports is teamwork, and that is the theme of Soccer Show-Off (Jake Maddox Girl Sports Stories) (Capstone Books) No matter how good she may be, Gina gets it that being a ball hog doesn't pay off in the long run--in more ways than one. Gurevich paces this sports story well, with equal time for gameplay description and personal relationships within the group. Illustrated by Katie Wood's full-page black-and-white vignettes, with a glossary and field position diagram and descriptions of soccer positions, this book offers an introduction to playing the game for young players with special attention to the indescribable essence of teamwork.

Becca sighed. "We're all on the team because, duh, we all love soccer!
"If we win, we do it together."

Gina laughed. "And if we lose, we do that together too."

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Channeling Mowgli?: Wild Child by Steven Salerno

THE JUNGLE CAN BE A SCARY PLACE.

BUT THEN A NEW KIND OF CREATURE ARRIVED.

IT WASN'T THE BIGGEST OR STRONGEST.

IT DIDN'T HAVE SHARP TEETH OR CLAWS.

IN FACT IT WAS QUITE SMALL, WITH ONLY TWO TINY TEETH.

But... the Wild Child is the terror of the tropics!

It pinches and pulls. It hits and howls. It kicks and cries.

It BITES.

What to do with this little two-legs? The animals of the jungle do what they know works for them. The giraffe offers lunch--a bunch of fresh leaves from the top of the tree. The Wild Child spits them out. The Elephant gives the Wild Child a cool shower. The Wild Child wails. The Anteater shows him a juicy anthill, Hippo tries a mud bath, and Lion warms up his loudest roar.

THE WILD CHILD JUST GOT WILDER.

Then Gorilla gives it a try. She feeds it a banana. She wipes off the mud. And then she sat quietly with the Wild Child snuggled in her lap.

THE WILD CHILD STOPPED HOWLING."

THEN IT TOOK A NAP.

THE WILD CHILD WAS NOW A MILD CHILD.

Steven Salerno's Wild Child (Abrams Books, 2015) takes a new look at the Tarzan trope while poking a little fun at the way an unhappy baby can turn a household into wild scene. It's "Move over, Mowgli!" in a  clever spoof of the premise of The Jungle Book in which a new wild child comes to town. Salerno's illustrative pages are appropriately wild, done is black crayon scribbles and slashes and with the wild animals running amok, chomping, roaring, beating chests and displaying their might, and the angry baby putting all their wildness to shame. Kids will giggle as the baby romps and stomps and rules the roost, until Salerno calms the scene as a little gentle parenting soothes the inner wild child in us all.

"A two-toothed toddler needs no wolf suit to be wildest thing of all in this high-volume prequel to a certain well-known classic," says Kirkus Reviews in a tip of the hat to the master, Maurice Sendak in his Where the Wild Things Are.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Never Really Gone! The Power of Henry's Imagination by Skye Byrne

Henry's favorite toy was a rabbit called Raspberry. Raspberry was white with floppy ears and a red nose that looked just like a raspberry. Henry and Raspberry had been together a very very long time. Grandpa had given Raspberry to Henry the day he was born.

Of course, Henry loves his white rabbit and takes him everywhere he goes, especially when he goes to sleep.

But one day, when Henry wants to go out to dig carrots, he cannot find Raspberry.

Panic! Henry looks in the places where he's found a lost Raspberry before.

Henry looked in all the usual places--like underneath Grandpa, on top of the lamp, and inside pillowcases.

But Raspberry's not in any of them! Mom and Dad are summoned to get in on the search.  Parents know the dire consequences of a lost lovey, and they turned the house upside down. Under the sofa and beds, they find all sorts of lost things they'd been looking  for and all sorts of things they never knew were lost-- a chess piece, some keys, plenty of crumbs--but no white rabbit.

At last Grandpa has a suggestion:

"There's only one thing left to do.... You must imagine you have Raspberry back."

Imagine I have Raspberry back?" Henry wiped a tear away.

It seems hard, but Henry tries, and since he's done so many things with Raspberry, it's not so hard as he thought. Soon he and imaginary Raspberry  go exploring together, pretend to be pirates, hide from a storm in an imaginary snow cave and heat a can of beans over a campfire. After dinner, Henry and his imaginary rabbit lift off as astronauts flying by the stars. They complete their adventures as two dragon catchers searching for a fabled Purple Dragon.

Henry had so much fun imagining that he completely forgot Raspberry was lost. He even fell asleep as fast as if Raspberry were in his arms.

Is an imaginary rabbit as good as a real one? We'll never really know, because in Skye Byrne's
The Power of Henry's Imagination (The Secret) (Aladdin Books, 2015), there is a second happy ending when we see Grandpa steal into Henry's bedroom and place the now-found Raspberry beside the sleeping boy. Nic George's inventive illustrations play with the real and the imagined, portraying Henry's pretend adventures with Raspberry in thin, slightly disconnected black-line drawings, adding reality--in the form of leaves on the tree Henry climbs and the assorted detritus Dad digs out from under the sofa in the form of of collaged photos. The familiar tale of the lost toy takes finds a novel re-telling in this story about the power of what the poet Wordsworth famously called "that inward eye.""Choice words and creative visuals combine to celebrate and inspire the mind's eye," says Kirkus in their starred review.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tall In The Saddle! Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range by Lori Mortensen

Dawgnabbit, Dawg! What'll they think of next?

Paging through the latest Kit 'n' Kaboodle mail order catalog, Cowpoke Clyde comes across an ad for a two-wheeled velocipede. It's supposed to be fun! It promises adventure! How hard can it be?

IT WOULDN'T EAT. IT WOULDN'T STRAY.
IT WOULDN'T BUCK OR BITE OR NEIGH!

The shiny red bike finally arrives. It's everything the catalog promised--sturdy handlebars, steel body, rubber tires! Clyde is excited. He can ride any cayoose on four legs. Two wheels ought to be like a walk in the park.

But anybody who has learned to ride a bike knows it's not quite so easy. Horses don't turn over and they already know how to stop. And the range is no easy-ridin' sidewalk. There are hazards on those trails!

AS HE ROLLED, HE PICKED UP SPEED
ON HIS STRANGE, NEWFANGLED STEED,
WIBBLIN, WOBBLIN' DOWN THE ROAD,
RIGHT STRAIGHT AT A . . . HORNY TOAD!

The almost roadkill toad skitters away just in the nick of time, but up pops a jackrabbit right in Clyde's path. It's a good thing the hare is fast on his feet, because Clyde's are plumb off the pedals!

BRAKIN'? STEERIN'? HOW'D IT WORK?
RIDIN' BIKES WAS PLUMB BERSERK!

Clyde does a wheelie and is airborne as he barely misses a porcupine. He crashes the bike, gives it a disgusted kick in the fender, and dustin' off his Stetson in disgust, he and Dawg set out afoot for the bunkhouse.

But hoofin' it back, Clyde gets to thinkin'. He's busted more'n a few ornery broncos in his time. He's no cowardly cowpoke quitter, and he's gonna conquer this contraption!

Back in the saddle, he's startin' to get the hang of it. Dirty Dawg is lovin' it as he dashes up a ridge and Clyde starts the downhill run. But then he spots some critters grazin' right in his path. It's a whole herd of bighorn sheep! But daringly Dawg sprints ahead and does his thing, scattering the sheep as only a shaggy sheepdog can do.

Whee-ew!

SOON, CLYDE WAS RIDIN' LIKE A PRO
IN SOME TWO-WHEELED RODEO.

With a big YA-HOO, Clyde and Dawg are riding the range in Lori Mortensen's latest tale of the two wrangler pals, Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2016).

Kids who are just learning to ride a bike and those familiar with Mortensen's earlier Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg (review here) will chuckle at this forthcoming romp on the range, especially the final page in which they will see Cowpoke Clyde has rigged up a trailer for his new bike so Dawg can ride the range on wheels as well. Artist Michael Allen Austin is again the hired hand, back to proffer the comic artwork, done in desert duns, rusts, and tans, with perspective which works all the angles and with the lean and lanky cowpoke and his shaggy sidekick just as quirky and quixotic as ever.

Stetsons off to Mortensen and Austin, two old picture book hands, back on the trail again!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Heavy Duty: Old MacDonald Had A Truck by Steve Goetz

Old MacDonald and the Mrs. are out in their big red farm truck. Are they headin' for the general store to load up on sacks of feed? After all, as we know Old MacDonald has got quite a lot of hungry, noisy livestock back on his place.

But no. They don't turn in at the general store or the Farmers Co-op. They head down the road to the heavy machinery show lot. And in no time the deal is done and...

OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM. E-I-E-I-O!

AND ON THIS FARM HE HAD AN

EXCAVATOR! E-I-E-I-0!

WITH A DIG, DIG HERE AND A DIG, DIG THERE,

HERE A DIG, THERE A DIG, EVERYWHERE A DIG, DIG.

E-I-E-I-0

Back at the farm the excavator starts clearing the sod for SOMETHING.

A very large plot of land has been prepared. Is Farmer MacDonald putting up a new barn? A silo?

Not yet. MacDonald and his partner are off in the truck again. Soon Old MacDonald's farm has a...

WITH A SCOOP, SCOOP HERE, A SCOOP, SCOOP THERE....

...Followed by a bulldozer, a motor grader, and a ...

DUMP TRUCK (DUMP! THUMP!)... A STEAM ROLLER (SQUISH, SMASH)
AND A CEMENT MIXER (SPIN, WHIRL)

And what's shapin' up at the construction site looks to be downright different--a fer piece from a barn or silo.

MacDonald is busy supervising the hired hands, and Mrs. MacDonald seems to be soupin' up the engine and putting some mighty big wheels and tires on that red truck of theirs.

E-I-E-I-0! It looks like the MacDonald's have themselves a race track for MONSTER TRUCKS... with grandstands and concession stands all ready for the crowd, in Steve Goetz's gearhead spinoff on Old MacDonald's Farm, Old MacDonald Had a Truck (Chronicle Books, 2016). Kids who love heavy construction equipment will find their favorites, along with onomatopoeic operations a-plenty to sing about, and artist Eda Kaban uses vivid pencil and gouache comic livestock and hired hands to lend a jolly note to the construction site as well. The endpapers even sport plenty of hand tools for mechanically minded munchkins to sort out, in an altogether power-packed rebuild of the old nursery song.

"Loads of infectious fun make this a read-aloud treat," says Kirkus' starred review.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

High Crime and Misdemeanor: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.

But you may not know how it happened.


It seems a black bear woke up from a long sleep, and being rather hungry, he let his nose lead him to the loadbed of a truck. Inside were flats and baskets of delicious berries. So he ate them... or most of them.

And then he lay down right there and fell asleep.

The next thing he knew, he was in a different forest, one with tall concrete and brick cliffs. There were lots of things to climb, and the tall trees with lights on top were good for back-scratching. Someone had left big metal baskets around with all kinds of tasty treats inside.

But the bear sniffed leafy smells, and he followed the scent to a place with interesting objects to explore. Some of them could swing back and forth. Some went around and around. And on one the bear learned to slide down very fast. It was fun, but then he smelled something delicious. The smell was coming from a park bench where there was a lunchbox.

There it was.

Your beautiful and delicious sandwich. All alone.

The bear made his move.

It was such a great sandwich.

But then the bear heard a sniff and a slobbery sound behind him and decided it was time to head back to the other forest.

Blame it on the Bear?

But that's not the whole story. In fact, it's not even the story at all, as the reader learns, in Julia Sarcone-Roach's The Bear Ate Your Sandwich (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015). Author Sarcone-Roach saves the best for last, a small shaggy dog whose big fabrication becomes obvious as he tells his tale to his young mistress.

I saw it all. I tried to save your sandwich. I was able to save this little bit of lettuce here. The bear dropped it as he ran off.

I'm sorry to tell you about your sandwich this way....But now you know....

And so do we all in this doggone tall tale, one that spins out a lengthy face-saving fib for a little dog who is not going to be hungry for quite a while. But with her charming illustrations of town and country, bear and pooch, Sarcone-Roach will leave her readers chuckling and satisfied--except maybe with a sudden craving for a really good sandwich.

"Young readers and listeners will laugh out loud as they closely examine the pictures and find the jokes in this highly interactive urban adventure," says Kirkus.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Power Down--Please! Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley


THREE LITTLE ROBOTS, TIME FOR BED.

TIME TO DIM YOUR INFRARED.

A sleepy boy, already in his stripey PJs, leads his three robots toward their beds. But first, there's the nighttime ritual to get through.  They brush their rotors, shower, and, ahem! take care of toileting, making a mechanical mess along the way. The toothpaste extrudes all over the place, the sink overflows, the toilet paper unfurls all over the tiles, and the shower splashes over the rim of the tub.

The boy is clearly weary, but he piggy-backs one little robot, with the other two seemingly sleepy cyborgs behind him, toward his room, where he beds down the three.

QUIET AT LAST, NOT A PEEP.

Or not. One robot turns on the light, and they all have a complaint! One misses his coil. Another holds out his cup for a drink of oil. The last claims his sensor hurts.

The tired boy tugs his toolbox out from under his bed and takes care of their complaints, and they all settle down, or so it seems. But then...

BEEP! BEEP!

One robot waves his Saturn night light. The other two complain about a too-loose belt and a too-tight bolt. The boy sleepwalks through the various fixes. And then they three trundle back to their triple-decker steel bunk beds.  The yawning boy clambers back under his blanket.

Peace at last?

BEEP!

Apparently, all the robots' circuits are still firing, their gears grinding. The boy delivers an ultimatum!

NO MORE BLIPPING!
BLINKING-BOINKING!
WINKING-WHIRRING!
SQUINKING-OINKING!


OINKING?

They're adjusted, given oil, offered nightlights and a coil. What else would a robot want?

Oh.

A BEDTIME STORY.

It's a cyber goodnight at last, in Todd Tarpley's Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! (Little, Brown and Company, 2015), a rhyming story in which Tarpley turns the tables on the kid, giving weary parents a chance to see the bedtime shoe on the other foot. But the robots get the last whirr and wink, because it's the boy who falls asleep first, as the whole cast of characters snuggle down for a bit of co-sleeping in the boy's bed.

Caldecott-Honor artist John Rocco (for Blizzard) struts his stuff in ink-line, watercolor, and digital illustrations that are long on wit, satire, and charm. His boy plays a little grownup, tired and with his patience wearing thin as his electronic charges pull out all the usual sleep-avoiding tricks. Visual humor abounds, a robot on the toilet wound in toilet paper, and a mouse along as observer, soaping his armpits in the bathtime spillage, trudging off to the bedroom in his little fuzzy bathrobe, trying to sleep through the whining and beeping, and at last sacking out on the boys' bed with the rest of the guys. Humor, wordplay, and a clever comic consciousness gives these sleepytime resisters quite a cachet for the story circle set.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mom Knows Best: Stinky Feet the Dragon by Rhonda Stewart


ELVIN WAS A BEAUTIFUL DRAGON, WITH COLORS THAT SHIMMERED AND GLEAMED. HIS SCALES WERE LIKE PAINTED GLASS THAT SPARKLED WHEN THE SUN SHINED.

BUT ELVIN THE DRAGON HAD A PROBLEM.

No, it wasn't his fiery breath. It wasn't that his wings were too small to get him off the ground.  It wasn't that he couldn't go out to play because he had to guard his hoard in the family lair.

HE HAD.. . STINKY FEET!

Who ever heard of a dragon with stinky feet? But whenever he came down the mountain to the playground to try to make friends withe the children, they shrieked and ran away. When he dropped in on the public pool, the swimmers screamed and scampered for home.

Trailing clouds of serious stink, Elvin the Dragon was draggin' his feet toward his mountain when Mr. Leatherman the shoemaker spotted him.

"WHAT'S WRONG, ELVIN?" MR. LEATHERMAN ASKED.

"THE KIDS WON'T PLAY WITH ME BECAUSE I HAVE STINKY FEET."

MR. LEATHERMAN SMILED AND SAID, "YOU KNOW, ELVIN, JUST WHEN THINGS SEEM DARK, THERE'S USUALLY A RAINBOW RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER."
But Elvin is not buying it.  There's not a rainbow in sight as he drags his scaly tail up the winding path to his mountaintop.

But Mom has a big hug and a BIG surprise in the stack of boxes waiting for him. Inside the boxes are all sorts of shoes.

"MOM! DRAGONS DON'T WEAR SHOES!" ELVIN SAID.
"THEY DO NOW!" MOM SMILED.

Who knew that shoes and fancy socks could counter his stinky feet? It's worth a try, and Elvin, shod in his new red sneakers, tries a casual approach to the kids in the park.
"HI, KIDS!"
Nobody runs away, screaming and holding their noses. Elvin is no longer Stinky Feet the Dragon. He's just a friend come to play.

Everything's coming up rainbows for Elvin, in Rhonda Stewart's Stinky Feet, the Dragon (Inspiring Voices, 2015).  Foot hygiene is an unusual playground problem, but it seems that dragon moms are up to the challenge in this simple little lighthearted tale. Cortni Green's artwork is done up in coloring-book styled blackline outlines filled in with colored pencil for the dragon, and faux naif drawings of the children--with, of course, the inevitable child-styled rainbow at the conclusion, which may just inspire young readers to pull out their pencils and crayons and create their own adventures for Elvin the Dragon.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Arachnophobes Anonymous: I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

I KEEP TELLING MYSELF

"SPIDERS ARE COOL!"

I WANT TO LOVE SPIDERS.

I THINK IT'S WORKING...

AHHHHHHH!!
IT'S MOVING!!

SQUISH IT!!

SPLAT! Well, that's that.

THAT DIDN'T WORK OUT.

Our little arachnophobe is trying to appreciate the coolness of spiders--eight eyes, eight legs, spinning spider silk webs as strong as steel--funnel webs, spiral orb webs, sheet webs--and tiny hairs on eight legs that stick things so they can walk up walls and (OMG!) across ceilings. . . .

SMASH IT! RIGHT NOW! 

Their whole family is a gross-out group. Spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. Ick! Some of themcan make us sick! Seriously. Most of them a a trifle venomous, and not a few can cause diseases and other gross stuff.

Mind you, there are 40,000 species of spiders. Only a few (e.g., the black widow and brown recluse) can ruin your day. And many are part of that honorable group called BENEFICIAL spiders.

A SINGLE SPIDER CAN EAT OVER 75 POUNDS OF BUGS IN A YEAR!

That's all fine for me--if not for the critters that make up their dinners. And some spiders can weave a web with a heart in the center. Is that sweet or what?

Wait! What's that?

AHHHHH!

COCKROACH!

Where's that big spider when you need one?

When it comes to creepy crawly critters, it's always something, in Bethany Barton's I'm Trying to Love Spiders (Viking Press, 2015). With a nod to the inevitable arachnophiles out there, Barton's discourse on the downside of spiders is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. Her little spiders tend to be cute and comic, although the squished splats on several pages are appropriately yucky!

Along the way, though, curious kids can cull quite a few facts about the hard-to-love creatures shown in this light-hearted look at arachnids. Her watercolored drawings, hand-painted red and black text, and skillful page design add comic drama to the pages, and her similarly illustrated endpapers present more than several varieties of curious arachnids--the diving bell spider, happy face spider, peacock spider, spiny-backed orb-weaver, bird-dung crab spider, and the (Oh, my gosh!) giant golden bird-eating spider.

THINK OF THEM LIKE BUG NINJAS!

The careful curating of animal science and creepy critter pyschology make this one a natural for a readaloud for arachnid nature units and cross-the-curriculum literature and biology study for primary students. "The skillful juggling of scientific fact and emotional truth make this a winner," says Publishers Weekly starred review.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Perils of Over-Consumption! A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Commins

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A HUNGRY LION, A PENGUIN, A TURTLE, A CALICO KITTEN, A BROWN MOUSE, A BUNNY WITH FLOPPY EARS AND A BUNNY WITH UNFLOPPY EARS, A FROG, A BAT, A PIG, A SLIGHTLY BIGGER PIG, A WOOLLY SHEEP, A KOALA, AND ALSO A HEN.

Is everybody happy? Well... the animals smaller than the lion are wearing sickly smiles that are just a bit tentative.

After all, the lion is hungry, and they... are admittedly... well, prey.

HOLD ON!

With just one page turn, the assortment seems to have thinned a bit. Where is the smaller pig?

A second page turn inspires a similar question.

WAIT A SECOND!

Just one bunny? And what about the other, UM, whatchamacallems? Where are they....?

HEY! WHY IS IT SO DARK IN HERE?

The Hungry Lion pulls the string to turn on the light, revealing a huge, four-tiered cake. Par-tee! The relieved remaining animals dance and party hearty.

The lights switch off again, and when they return, the cake is intact, as is the turtle, but the only evidence of the rest of the animals is their party hats, scattered sinisterly on the floor.

And the Hungry Lion has the satisfied look of the cat that ate the canary.

WELL! LOOK WHO IS ARRIVING FASHIONABLY LATE!

Author Lucy Ruth Cummins has a critter with an even bigger appetite waiting in the wings (think big carnivorous dino with short forelegs) in her A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals (Atheneum Books, 2016). It's a sly and wry fable in the style of Roald Dahl's slightly sinister tales, not to mention a timely lesson on the serious lack of forethought in consumption of natural resources. The turtle is the presumptive survivor in this tale, in which the narrator figuratively stops the story to address the reader in the current fashion, and Cummins' faux naif pencil, crayon, and marker drawings point up the piquant humor of her first picture book.

"Hilariously dark"... says Booklist. ",,,Wonderfully, and darkly hilarious," echoes Kirkus in a starred review.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Mice? Splat the Cat: Twice the Mice by Rob Scotton, creator

DEAR BRICE,

WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT? WE COULD PLAY OUR FAVORITE GAME, MICE AND DICE!

YOUR BROTHER,
SEYMOUR

When Splat the Cat learns that his buddy Seymour the Mouse is missing his brother, he goes into instant host with most mode.

He breaks out the brie and the bleu and dons his Swiss cheese tee! He stays awake half the night trying to come up with a really wonderful way to welcome Brice!

At last he thinks he's got the perfect plan. He is sure he's got the perfect idea. It's twice as nice!

"I'LL MAKE A SCULPTURE OUT OF ICE!"

And the likeness of Brice is worth the work. Splat is ecstatic.

But the next morning, when Seymour and Splat dash downstairs to welcome Brice, the sculpture has melted quite a bit.

IT WAS NOW VERY SMALL.

And the impetuous Splat slips in the slippery ice water, Ker-SPLAT! Splat's big welcome falls flat.

But Brice is nice about his diminished likeness, declaring it the perfect size for a mouse, in the latest I Can Read Level 1 cat-astrophe, Splat the Cat: Twice the Mice (I Can Read Level 1) (Harper, 2015). Based on Rob Scotton's super-star cat, with text by Jacqueline Rasnick and Scotton-style illustrations by Robert Eberz, this beginning reader book gives early readers a workout with the -ICE sound and a new visit with the irrepressible Splat the Cat.

For more cool cat tales, pair this one with Splat's snow-job saga, Splat the Cat and the Snowy Day Surprise.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Besties! We're Best Friends by Robyn Newton and Sarah Powell

BEST FRIENDS

ARE FOREVER AND EVER.

LIFE IS BETTER

SPENT TOGETHER.

You can't have one without the other, in Robin Newton's friendly little board book, We Are Best Friends (Small Format) (St. Martin's Press/Roger Priddy Books, 2015), which celebrates the perfect pairings that make for best friends. Like the well-matched cup and saucer on the cover, there are many dynamic duos--cookie and a glass of milk, sand pail and spade, knife and fork, lemon and lime, and salt and pepper:

PAPER SAID TO PEN,

YOU ARE VERY CLEVER.

I KNOW THAT OUR FRIENDSHIP

WILL LAST FOREVER.

Sarah Powell provides the facing pages for Robyn Newton's rhyming couplets which will help youngsters to think how the duos are complementary (and complimentary) to each other, in realistic illustrations with add-on stick legs, arms, and facial features. This is clever board book that will facilitate conversations about other couplings that are different from each other but that work together well, and by inference, what makes for a best friend for humans. Pair this with its companion book, Best Friends: We Are A Family.


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Monday, April 11, 2016

Who Hooos? Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge

PEEP WAS FINALLY BIG ENOUGH TO JOIN HER BIG BROTHER, HOOT ON THE ROOFTOPS.

Hoot leads his little sister to a perch on a chimney top to show off his mastery of the owl's night song.

"IT GOES LIKE THIS!

H00000!"

PEEP THOUGHT IT WAS THE PERFECT NIGHT TO SING ABOUT THE MAGIC OF THE MOON.

"SCHWEEP!"

Nooooo! Hoot is horrified at his sister's improvisation. That is not how a proper owl hoots, he insists. Owls always say, HOOOO!! They only HOOOO! That's all they do! Hoot insists that he is the oldest and Peep must do a HOO as he does.

But Peep is having none of her big brother's orthodoxy. She flaps away to a perch on an appropriately grumpy gargoyle on the Gothic facade of a cathedral and begins her warmup up exercises.

"SCHWEEPTY PEEP!"

Hoot flies to the top of the belfry and HOOS even louder.

But Peep is determined to sing her own song.

"SCHWEEPITY PEEP000 DING DONG BONG!"

Hoot unhappily watches as his sister acquires an audience of listening church mice. If only she would listen to his owly wisdom. But Peep soars even farther away, leaving Hoot fretting on his fresco. But as he hears the distant sound of his sister's song, he realizes that it has a moonlit midnight magic of its own.

And after all, it's no fun hooting all alone.

IT WAS THE PERFECT NIGHT.

Lita Judge's just published Hoot and Peep (Dial Books, 2016) tells a sweet story of sibling rivalry resolved, but her exquisite illustrations of her funny, fussing owlets is set against a glorious night scene of slate roofs, chimney pots, and cathedral spires, done in misty muted blues, lit by moonlight that has an ancient magic of its own. Lita Judge is untouched in her comic drawings of birds (cf. her recent Good Morning to Me! reviewed here, and her humorous hooters are a comic counterpoint to her lyrically lovely midnight backdrop. This one is a satisfying read for bedtime or any time.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cat and Mouse Story. How to Catch a Mouse by Philippa Leathers

THIS IS CLEMMIE. CLEMMIE IS A BRAVE, FEARSOME MOUSE CATCHER.

SHE IS EXCELLENT AT STALKING AND CHASING--SHE'S PATIENT AND ALERT.

All good qualities for an apprentice mouser, certainly. However, Clemmie has never actually seen a mouse, which she takes as an affirmation of her mouse-deterring powers. Still, to be thorough, she consults a book, How to Spot A Mouse.

A MOUSE HAS A LONG PINK TALE.

Oblivious to the gray mouse readomg over her shoulder, Clemmie looks about for something long, pink, and tail-like Ah, there!!

As Mouse struts by with a fluffy purple yarn bunny tail tied around his middle, the kitty spots something long and pink dangling from the table. Pounce!

OOPS! A big garden hat with long chin strings fall over her. The mouse snickers.

Clemmie looks for something with round ears. Oblivious of Mouse with a pink sock over his ears, she spots something suspicious. There, under the bed! Ooops. A toy panda. Rats!

Mice have wiggly black whiskers! What's that on the shelf in the bathroom? Crash!

Ick! A long-legged spider! Run away! Run away!

Clemmie hears some crinkly noises from the kitchen. A noshing mouse messing with the family's crackers? Pounce! Clemmie's got nothing in her paws, while a giggling mouse in fake nose and glasses slips away from the scene with a snack.

Aha! Two can play at that game. Clemmie, clad in a sleuth-ish trenchcoat and fedora conceals herself among the hanging jackets on the coat rack. And what is that she sees walking confidently by? A mouse? At last a positive visual ID!

And the chase is on, in Philippa Leathers' How to Catch a Mouse (Candlewick Press, 2015). Leathers' Clemmie is about the cutest mouse-catcher kitty ever, but her prey has more disguises than Sherlock, all quite easy to see through for the preschoolers who will have plenty of fun spotting Clemmie's equally appealing Mouse on every page. School Library Journal says, "A sweetly funny tale for storytimes or one-on-one read-alouds."

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