Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cogitation Motivation: Sarabella's Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner

Sarabella had no time for small talk.

In fact she never talked much at all.

Because she was too busy thinking... about ants and uncles and the doodles of poodles.

Her head is certainly full of a number of things...... maybe even cabbages and kings, and her teacher Mr. Fantozzi is filled with admiration for her constant cogitation. He's pretty sure Sarabella's cerebellum and cerebrum are full of intelligent thoughts and eloquent perorations. Still waters run deep, he knows.

BUT--he's her teacher, and he's got to have a concrete product--a hard copy of her thoughts, so to speak, in order to make an evaluation of what she actually knows and can do. And Sarabella is just not articulating, loquating, or expostulating.

Her teacher, Mr. Fantozzi, had a knack for knowing what Sarabella wasn't thinking about... SCHOOL WORK.

But Mr. Fantozzi comes up with a fabulous plan to get get Sara to put her thoughts down in black and white--or green and red, or blue and yellow, with a project assignment that she can't resist:

To share it,

You have to wear it.

Sarabella comes to school wearing her own design, a extravagant, gigantic, and fantastic thinking cap, one with words and drawings that speaks for her, with a tassel and a passel of illustrations of her imaginings and orations about each of them, in Judy Schachner's latest, Sarabella's Thinking Cap. Schachner's Sarabella is not rebellious, but winsome and sweet rather than moody or sulky, and Mr. Fantozzi is a fantastically empathetic teacher, just what young daydreamers need to start to get those ideas out. “Sarabella’s ideas, seen through Schachner’s dazzling illustrations, are presented as wonderfully imaginative,” says School Library Journal.

Judy Schachner gets her wonderful imaginings out as the noted author of the best-selling Skippyjon Jones books, including the 2014 hit, Skippyjon Jones Snow What and the rollicking and  ever-popular parody, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie (Picture Puffins).

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Oh, What Fun...." Jingle Bells by Susan Jeffers

"Jingle Bells!"

Curious cows watch from the barn as a rosy-cheeked sister and brother hitch their white pony to a bright-green open sleigh. load up their little white terrier and a gaily wrapped present, and are soon off.

Dashing through the snow, they head out through the fields of snow, over hill and dale through the woods. But they are not alone as they leave their sleigh tracks behind in the hills.

A fox and then a rabbit spy on them as they pass, and the little terrier spots the rabbit, too, leaping from the sled to join the the chase with the fox until the bunny vanishes down his hole.

The kids stop their pony and clamber out to catch their runaway dog, as an otter in his white winter pelt slips into the pond and a snowy owl is startled out of his daytime nap, and a group of swans, also in winter white, momentarily corral the bouncy terrier. Where has that silly dog gone? The children drive on, just missing their pet with each page turn

And what do they see as a cozy cottage comes into view? Reindeer?

Who else can be visiting Grandma?

And inside they find Mr. and Mrs. Claus having tea and cookies, with the terrier already there on Santa's lap!

Oh, what fun!

There might be some presents for the kids as well, in Susan Jeffers' new artistic seasonal treat, Jingle Bells (Harper, 2017).  In her classic, old-fashioned paintings, done without a bit of digital media, Jeffers gives the youngest readers a taste of the joy of a sleigh ride through the winter woods, well portrayed with all the wildlife in their wintry garb along the way. She even adds a final touch, adding labeled thumbnail paintings of all the animals seen along the way in a double-page appendix. This newest holiday book joins Jeffers' evergreen Caldecott Honor book, The Nutcracker, her striking edition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, and her lovely version of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.. All are lush and visually delightful, and this latest Christmas gift from a talented national treasure is a must-have for holiday collections for youngsters.

"A perfect choice for reading or singing on wintry nights, says Kirkus Reviews.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Follow the Winter Trail: Winter Wonderland by Dawn Sirett


An emperor penguin lives in a cold place called Antarctica.

With loops, swirls, zigzags, and familiar shapes, Follow the Trail: Winter Wonderland (Dorling Kindersley, 2017) entices youngsters with assisting adults to trace the track to lead the fluffy penguin chick where he needs to learn to go--down a snowy slope to slide into the sea for his first swimming lesson, along the way providing lessons in penguin parenting styles.

But what's that in the die-cut opening at the top of the page?

It's an Arctic fox, and it is time to trace the fox kits, whose coats turn white in winter to conceal them in their snowy landscapes. Youngsters are encouraged to use their fingers to trace the lumpy, bumpy, glittery, and shiny trails that deliver the young foxes, polar bears, and reindeer who need to learn where and what to do in winter. Plenty of tactile and visual experiences are to be found in this third title in DK's Follow the Trail series, even offering an exit exam in which young readers follow the correct trail to each animal's destination, whether it be the sea, the bears' cave, the foxes' den--or the reindeers' mossy grazing grounds--and perhaps a place with a sleigh that needs pulling?

Others in this charming board book series include Follow the Trail: Farm, Follow the Trail: Trucks, (DK Follow the Trail) Follow the Trail: Baby Animals, Follow the Trail: Baby Dinosaurs, and Follow the Trail: Bugs for preschoolers on the grow and on the go.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Snowbells Ring! Olaf's Frozen Adventure: A Holiday Surprise by Megan Roth

The courtyard was filled with townspeople, waiting for Anna Elsa, and Olaf to ring the Jule Bell. The people were celebrating their holiday traditions.

Everyone in Arendelle had traditions but Elsa and Anna.

And of course the goofy but goodhearted snowman Olaf has to do something to fix that situation. He sets out on a mission--

--to find the best tradition and bring it back to the castle!

Olaf knocks on cottage doors, and kindly people open up their homes and are happy to share their favorite holiday doings--taking saunas, giving away candy canes, and .... fruitcakes, of course--but as usual, Olaf's plan goes downhill--fast!

But meanwhile Anna and Elsa search their castle and finally find a little wooden box with just what they need, and Olaf is happy (although perhaps stuck with a few fruitcakes).

"It's you, Olaf!

You're our Christmas tradition!"

With Megan Roth's little snowflake-shaped toy and movable book, young fans of the Frozen princesses get to spend another holiday season together with their favorite frosty tradition--Olaf and the Frozen princesses, in Disney Olaf's Frozen Adventure: A Holiday Surprise (Disney Enterprises, 2017), with plenty of sparkly snow, silvery icicles, and a beautifully frosted castle window to look through with Anna and Elsa, provided by artist/designer Kara Kenna, in a jolly stocking stuffer book.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

What Winter's Nap? A Loud Winter's Nap by Katy Hudson


Bears aren't the only ones who hibernate in winter, you know. But when Tortoise hangs his DO NOT DISTURB UNTIL SPRING, sign he overlooks another posting lower down on the tree.

His Winter Nap To Do List, dutifully checked off, Tortoise has just settled down for a long... well, you know... when of all people--Robin, that habitual harbinger of spring--appears to invite him to the winter woods singing class. Why isn't he down South already? And since when did robins need singing lessons?

Well, tortoises definitely DON'T!


Tortoise grumpily packs up and heads out of earshot of all the Fa, La, La, La, Las, puts up his tent, and crawls inside. But Robin is determined that Tortoise is going to see what is welcome and wonderful about winter. How about joining him in an ice sculpture or two, he chirps? Tortoise repeats his mantra and moves off to hang his hammock between two snow-laden saplings when Squirrel appears to invite him to join in a snowball fight. No, and NO again!


Tortoise moves again, this time with a tall ladder, and ascends to the top of a tall tree to start his long-delayed winter hibernation.

But he forgets about Beaver, always busy felling trees in the forest, and his arboreal bed comes down with the rest of the tree.


Is there no rest for the weary anywhere in these woods?

No one is going to bet that Tortoise's hibernation happens this winter, in Katy Hudson's new story of the season, A Loud Winter's Nap (Capstone Books, 2017). Hudson, the author of the Caldecott Honor-winning Too Many Carrots, has a winning wintry picture book with her latest, with her own illustrations of the carrot-swiping critters in her first book back again in this slapstick-funny story of an all-unwilling wide-awake tortoise in winter. Kids will be chiming in on Tortoise's oft-repeated lament, and they will cheer at the rousing ending in which Tortoise scores in a somnolent and impromptu slalom down the slopes after all. It takes all kinds, and just as there are two kinds of people--winter welcomers and winter avoiders--Hudson's little forest animals stand in as winsomely annoying snow day lovers in this delightful winter's tale.

Share this new one with Jane Yolen's classic Bear Snores On (The Bear Books), and for more winter animal lore, her Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep (see review here).

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nibbles! Baby Chipmunk (Finger Puppet Book)

Baby Chipmunk's little pink nose crinkles as she sniffs the morning air.  Her little pink-lined ears wiggle. She can't wait to start her day.

She scampers off to find some breakfast, and her little nose takes her straight to some seeds, which she nibbles and then chows down on.

Mama Chipmunk has to find food, too, some to store for the winter, but she stops to give Baby Chipmunk a nuzzle. Baby Chipmunk comes along to explore the floor of the forest with her.

But babies need naps, and soon Baby Chipmunk heads home for hers.

She curls up in her cozy burrow.

And when she wakes she follows her nose again. Scurrying over the fallen leaves and scampering up a tree, she comes upon a cache of nuts! It's time to call Mama back to help stash them in their snug hole.

It's all in a day's fun, in Baby Chipmunk: Finger Puppet Book (Little Finger Puppet Board Books) (Chronicle Books, 2017), and it's all in good fun with this tiny board book with a plushy three-dimensional chipmunk's face for parental fingers to manipulate to tell the story throughout the book. Well-made and sturdy, grownups will have fun making Baby Chipmunk nibble and nuzzle and nap for the very youngest book fans.  Just right, this new little "toy and movable book" joins the Chronicle Books Library of little animal books which are interactive, touchable, and lovable for little ones having their first book experiences.

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Just Do the Right Thing! BB-8 On the RUN (Star Wars) by Drew Daywalt and Matt Myers

It was scary.

The little droid BB-8 has never been sent on a mission of his own, and now separated from his friend Poe, who has always shown him what to do. Poe had told him to run far away, and BB-8 moved as fast as he could, but there was a great explosion back where he'd left Poe.

It is very scary.

Now it is up to him to get the top-secret map to Resistance so they could find Luke Skywalker. The Droid Ship is preparing for launch and he must be there soon! How will he know what to do?

BB-8 remembers one important thing Poe told him:

Buddy,  you do good things and good things will come back to you.

But there are many dangers on the way to making the lift-off. BB falls into a deadfall trap,where he discovers his friend Fez is also a prisoner. His captors cackle that they will sell him part by part, but BB-8 helps his friend Fez to escape, and they race across the desert, pursued by angry Steelpecker birds. BB-8 runs across a starving scavenger family and makes a side trip to get them medical care. Time is short. Will he get to the Ruins and get aboard the Druid Ship before it leaves?

Noted author (for best-sellers The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home et al, (see reviews here) and admitted super Star Wars fan, Drew Daywalt, puts together the hairsbreadth escapes and good deeds along the way in little BB-8's Jukka Desert race to rescue Luke  Skywalker, in Star Wars BB-8 on the Run (Disney Lucasfilm Press, 2017), as artist Mattt Myers provides the dramatic far-away galaxy landscapes as little BB-8 tries to do the right thing and save the galaxy. Primary grade Star Warfans will feel empathy with the little droid all on his own as he does his best to save the rest.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Self-Awareness: Why Am I Me? by Page Britt



A boy and girl see their city from the windows of an elevated train, with many people doing the things people do, strolling, walking dogs, playing in a small park, eating, talking and laughing with each other.

Independent of each other, they ponder the same universal questions in their minds:


How are they different from each other? There are many differences. Some are tall; some are not. Youngsters play together, and older people sit and talk or read to themselves. They have different skin colors and different ways of dressing. They are boys and girls, men and women, people of all kinds. Are they different in every way? Or are some things about them the same?

Asking questions about identity comes naturally to children as they discover a little at a time that they share some characteristics and not others. And this discovery is the theme of Page Britt's Why Am I Me? (Scholastic Press, 2017). Artists Sean Qualls and Selina Alko's cover illustration, done with the boy and the girl's faces portrayed as a Venn diagram point to the basic question of identity. What is different about me and you, and what is the same--what things do we share? And how do we find out what those things are?

In this story author Britt has the two children begin with a simple "Hi! Qualls' and Alko's illustrations are simple, done in soft, contrasting pastels, with the lively people standing out against the rectilinear shapes of the cityscape behind them. Britt's book offers a good way to start a conversation about being yourself, recognizing differences, and yet being aware of the commonality that we experience with others. "The interplay of art and text will invite the book's audience to grapple with themes of individuality, diversity, universality, and what it means to be human." says Horn Book's, starred review.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving! Give Thank You A Try by James Patterson

Every morning Dad always says, "Thank you for being Emma and Olivia.

Thank you for being Jimmy!"

It's always good to think about being thankful, and Dad's words inspire Jimmy to comes up with two things to be grateful for right away--his parents (of course) and PB and J sandwiches in their PJs!

The kids at the table brainstorm things to be thankful for--raindrops on their heads and the petting zoo, and of course, Christmas mornings, and people who remember to say "thank you" and "please" back to them!

And there are lots of little things that make life more pleasant--like a night light at night, a furry kitten to cuddle, some strong shoulders to sit on at the parade, clouds with shapes, and all those happy family moments.

Then there is the teacher who thanks each child for working hard as he says goodbye for the day.

It's never too soon to learn to be thankful, in James Patterson's little manual on manners, Give Thank You a Try (Give Please a Chance) (Patterson Books, 2017), especially when the learning to say and appreciate the emotion of gratitude is the focus.  Being truly thankful is the goal, and this little book may at least give that hope a try.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It Takes All Kinds! Good Night, Families by Adam Gamble

Good morning, Mommy and Daddy!

It takes all kinds to make a world, and it takes all kinds to make a family, in Adam Gamble's little board book that celebrates all sorts of families and what they do together, in Adam Gamble's Good Night Families (Good Night Our World) (Good Night Books, 2017), as little ones wake up to an assortment of families.

Families vary. Some kids wake up to two parents. There are families with just one child or just one single parent. There are families with many children, and families with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins galore.

There are adopted kids, step-brothers and step-sisters, half-brothers and half-sisters that come with step-moms and step-dads, even step-grandmothers and step-grandfathers, cousins-in-law, great-aunts and great-uncles--the combinations seem almost endless, but all of them have one thing in common--they are those who thankfully come together to care for and love a young child.

In this little board book author Adam Gamble and illustrator Mark Jasper  try to portray all the kinds of people who come together to make a family, and Jasper's homey illustrations make everyone feel at home in their own sort of family.

Good night, different kinds of families, all filled with love.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Strangers in Paradise: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

We were just having a normal December, and I was really looking forward to Christmas. But Mom and Dad were getting all stressed out. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to. I'm sure we could have gotten our act together in time for Christmas. But one night an ad came on TV. The commercial was for this place where Mom and Dad went for their honeymoon.

The reason I know is because every time an ad for that place comes on TV, the two of them get all kissy-faced.

The night after that ad came on, Mom and Dad announced that THIS year, we were gonna SKIP Christmas and all go to Isla de Corales instead.

It was to be the Great Holiday Getaway, but for the Heffleys' ventures, Murphy's Law is way ahead of even the law of gravity.

It's way below freezing when they leave home, with Rodrick dressed for the tropics, so Greg gets to schlepp the bags from the economy lot, finishing last in the run for the gate, where they find the dreaded traveller's notice:


After all the indignities of a delayed pre-holiday flight (including Greg having to charge his phone in the only unused socket--in the entry to the women's bathroom), they arrive at their vacation paradise with someone else's luggage. Ever-positive, Mom declares that they'll just wash they are wearing every night. But Greg has a close encounter of the arachnid kind: he says something no tourist ever wants to have to to say... There's a giant spider on the underside of the toilet seat!

So the marbled bathroom is pretty much unavailable to him for any purpose... and so are most of the all-inclusive fine-dining spaces, since their traveling clothes don't pass the dress code, especially Rodrick's bare chest and shorts. Their diet is limited to beating the birds, bugs, and slugs to their burgers and turista-safe sodas in the outdoor "family dining" area.

Greg has iguana encounters, Dad comes down with Montezuma's Revenge, Rodrick, having found a girl to smooch with in the Teen Zone pool, gets a second-degree sunburn, and Manny, mostly corralled in the "Pirate's Playhouse" toddler zone, nevertheless manages to capture a deadly box jellyfish in his little sand pail and clear the pool in an instant. Their inflatable banana boat trip is a bust (literally), but Greg does make the best of an aborted snorkel cruise to swim with the dolphins, the top item on his bucket list.

And through it all, Mom relentlessly pursues the only thing that will make all of this worthwhile, a photo of a fun-in-the-sun family vacation for next year's Christmas card. (See Exhibit A below)

You'd think that after their last family vacation, hilariously chronicled in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Greg's family would not have fallen for the siren song of a tropical paradise vacation, but author-cartoonist Jeff Kinney's latest in his top-selling series, Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 12) (Amulet Books, 2017), is another winner for the Wimpy Kid, slayer of the best-selling list, a gentle, laugh-out-loud trip through the foibles of family life, in which author-artist Kinney is the phenomenally funny master of mirth for anyone of almost any age.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

SPLOINK! Peanut Butter and Jelly Aliens--A Zombie Culinary Tale by Joe McGee


It wasn't always so. When the Zombies first invaded Quirkville, they shambled through the heretofore quiet streets, arms stretched before them--in search of (YIKES!) brains. But one young zombie--Reginald--was a more adventurous eater, one who actually craved exotic food, namely Abigail Zink's peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and soon all the zombie invaders turn into PB and J fanciers. Now at lunchtime the busy streets of Quirkville are filled with various people and zombies, all happily in search of that classic sandwich.

But now there are new invaders in Quirkville, a small squadron of space aliens equipped with blasters, and all are clearly looking for lunch in all the wrong places!

But what?




Firing their blasters, the aliens storm through the town. At the Downtown Grill Greta hastens to flip grilled cheese sandwiches for them, but the aliens fire back with cosmic grape jelly. Icky-sticky!

SPLOINK! SPLOINK! they demand! What can they want!

It's Abigail and Reginald to the rescue, as they figure out that the aliens are there to find the missing ingredients they need to go with their cosmic grape jelly, in Joe McGee's latest, Peanut Butter & Jelly Aliens: A Zombie Culinary Tale (Abrams Books, 2017). Humans and zombies UNITE in serving up the necessities for Quirkville's signature sandwich at the newly christened SPLOINK CAFE, and again all is well in Quirkville.

It's a silly story, as befits one with kids, zombies, aliens, and sticky sandwiches, in this sequel to McGee's 2015 hit, Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale (review here). As in the first book, author McGee gets a major culinary and artistic assist from illustrator Charles Santoso, whose comic drawings offer more fun with food for the primary reader. Kids who favor fantasy stories about aliens and zombies may want to get their sticky PB and J fingers on this one.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Birdwatching! Max and Bird by Ed Vere



That's the way it usually is. Nature takes its course.



Bird may be a fledgling, but he wasn't born yesterday. Being a potential cat treat is not on his bucket list. And besides, he's never even learned to FLY. He observes that eating each other is not part of being friends, either. Bird launches into a lesson on how friends help each other. As a diversion tactic, he slyly suggests that Max give him flying lessons. Max is intrigued, but his knowledge of the principles of flight is pretty paltry.



So far, so good, thinks Bird. At the library they make their way to the section on flight, but there's a problem with this delaying technique. There are a lot of books, but Max is a quick study. He boils the principles of winged flight down right away:

3. FLAP!

Max tries to demonstrate, but does not achieve lift off. Neither does Bird. At the end of the day they are too tired for any chasing games. The next day Max's flaps are still unproductive. Bird, however, has (as Pooh's friend Owl wisely pointed out) "the necessary dorsals," and eventually his practice is rewarded with a short solo flight. Max is a changed kitten. He's truly proud of his friend and finds he has no desire to eat him.


In Ed Vere's latest story of his adorable little black kitten Max, nurture trumps nature in Max and Bird(Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2017). Friendship changes everything, and Max and Bird look forward to lots of happy future fun. Ed Vere's artwork is deceptively simple, placing his little black bird and his little black cat front and center, spot-art style, against bright backgrounds, directing the eye to his two very different youngsters working out how to be friends. Vere's illustrations make use his characters' big round eyes to portray most of their feelings, with just a touch of body language in Max's tail and Bird's little wings to tell the story, making this funny tale perfect for preschoolers still trying their young wings in beginning friendships.

Ed Vere's other Max books are Max the Brave and Max at Night (see reviews here.)

Says School Library Journal, "This book is a fun read about forming meaningful friendships and learning from others."

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lost and Found! Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

There once lived a mother fruit bat and her new baby. Oh, how Mother Bat loved her baby.

"I'll name you Stellaluna," she crooned.

Each night, Mother Bat would carry Stellaluna clutched to her breast as she searched for food.

The little bat, lovingly named "Stars and Moon," meant everything to her night-flying mother. But even the most loving mother cannot elude all dangers.

One night, as Mother Bat followed the sent of ripe fruit, an owl spied her.

In the struggle Stellaluna loses hold of Mother and falls, her baby wings useless.

But as she falls into the forest of trees, she just manages to catch a branch by one foot. When she grows too weary to hold on, she falls, down, down--but happily she lands in a nest of new-hatched birds.

When Mama bird returns with early breakfast of bugs for her brood, Stellaluna is too hungry to be a fussy eater.

She climbed into the nest, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth.

Plop! in dropped a big green grasshopper.

As time goes by, the little bat learns the ways of birds, sleeping at night, and waking at dawn. She thrives on Mama Bird's provender, but she still sleeps hanging upside down by her feet. One day the nestlings decide to try sleeping Stellaluna's way.

"Eek!" cried Mama Bird. "You're going to fall and break your necks!"

Stellaluna has to obey the rules of the nest, and as she and the baby birds grow bigger, the nest grows full and fuller. But the little birds seem to know just what to do. One by one, Flitter, Flap, and Pip test their wings and then fly away. Flapping like her adopted siblings, Stellaluna discovers that her now strong wings work, too.

She tries to join the fledglings on a branch, but her feet seem not to be made for perching. She flew as long as she could, and still trying to follow the rules, compromised by hanging by her thumbs to rest. Stellaluna is sleeping soundly when loud voices wake her. A group of young bats are gathered 'round to see the strange bat hanging what to them seems upside down.

Stellaluna told them her story.

"You ate b-bugs?" stuttered one.

"Wait!" A big bat pushed through the crowd. "You are my baby, Stellaluna!

The lost-and-found bat is back, wrapped in her mother's welcome wings, in Janell Cannon's classic story of the foundling bat with two families, Stellaluna (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) in its small-hand-sized board book format.

Cannon tells a heartwarming story of the love of a mother and child, with the added message that adopted siblings have a loving bond as well. There is plenty of humor as the little bat tries to imitate the baby birds, and they in turn try to imitate her, and at the happy conclusion, Stellaluna can't wait to share her newly discovered sweet fruit treats with her adopted feathered nestlings. Cannon's illustrations are both lovely and softly realistic, in a narration with a warm salute to mothering, however it happens, a worthy edition for new listeners and fledgling readers alike.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Logophiles, UNITE! Mouseling's WORDS by Shutta Crum

Every evening I woke up surrounded by words. Aunt Tillie collected them from the Swashbuckler Restaurant, where words were SPECIALS OF THE DAY. Then she brought them to my family's nest--along with bits of food.

"Noodles," I said, puckering up my mouth, as I pulled a scrap if paper from the nest. Aunt Tillie had taught all of us mouselings to read.

It's a cozy nest beneath the restaurant, with tasty tidbits and new words to learn from the menu. Mouseling is happy to snuggle down with his word scraps with his family each night.

When one by one, his mouseling siblings begin to leave the nest to find adventure, Mouseling remains, happy with his family nest and his favorite words. But his parents have other ideas.

"You need to get a job," Father said. "You need to find your path in the world," Mother said, pointing to the passageway through the walls.

Then Aunt Tillie promises that there are many new words out there in the big world. Mouseling pulls out a word--if--out of his word pile. What if? He is intrigued. Then Aunt Tillie draws him a map, with a big X marking where home is, some of the new things he will see, and a scary critter labeled "The Beast!" A CAT! She says she put it there so he will know to beware out in the world.

At last Mouseling decides to venture out, with the map, through the passageway to outdoors. The first thing he sees on the outside is a word, blowing by in the wind. SING! Mouseling figures it out all on his own.

Then and there I decided that discovering words would be my job.

And Mouseling hits the jackpot. He wanders into a big brick building. It's nice and quiet, and there are rows of blocky things on shelves and signs with words in big letters:



But there is also something else in the quiet building. He recognizes it right away from Aunt Tillie's map. It's a cat! Mouseling knows he has to beware. But one day when he's tiptoeing past the napping cat with a new word, the cat wakes up and stares at him, twitching his tail.

Quickly I mashed that word into a ball and threw it at him. The cat pounced and batted it with his paw.

Maybe the library cat is not such a beast after all. And one night he jumps up on one of the shelves and knocks one of the blocky things out of its place. He swipes it open with his paw.

What was this? Words--so many, many words--words inside all these things?

Mouseling realizes that the cat wants to hear this story about a mouse and a lion, and the little pilgrim has found his path in the world after all, in Shutta Crum's new Mouseling's Words (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion Books, 2017), a charming story about the power of words to charm any beast, or at least a bibliophilic cat, illustrated appealingly by Ryan O'Rouke, who sets up cozy scenes and humorously matches the words Mouseling finds to the action on the pages, fittingly adding illustrations from Aesop's fable of the Lion and the Mouse to the final pages as cat and mouse settle down to share the story together. A dandy story which hits the marks for preschool and primary picture books--homey, funny, sweet--and educational!

Share this one with Bonnie Becker's Mouse and Bear story, A Library Book for Bear.

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