Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bedtime Resistors--UNITE! Penguin and Tiny Shrimp DON'T DO BEDTIME! by Cate Berry


Penguin and his sidekick Tiny Shrimp may be dressed to doze, but don't be fooled by their clothes. Sure, Penguin is rockin' his stripey PJs and Tiny Shrimp's got his nightcap at a jaunty angle, but that doesn't mean that nighty-night snoozin' is part of their plan.

Forget it with the bubbly tub and the yellow rubber ducky. Kick the cushy bed and poofy pillow. Penguin and Tiny Shrimp are pullin' an all-nighter!



No way these two are gonna hit the hay. The two bedtime resistors decide to try the scene on the Serengeti savanna for a run with the lions, and go for a rumble in the jungle. swinging with the monkeys on their vines. They board a boat and float into the deep sea to sail with the sharks.

Penguin can't resist doing a little stand-up to see if his anti-sleep co-conspirator is still on his toes:



By this time they've acquired quite a retinue--a water buffalo, a lion, a uni-hippo, and an octopus--but by now, even the fireworks aren't keeping their eyelids from drooping, and the uni-hippo is yawning. And since he's the last one standing, he gets the last line.


Cate Berry's brand-new Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime! (Balzer and Bray, 2018) introduces an intriguing odd couple of anti-bedtime buddies, determined to party all night. Ever since Robert Louis Stevenson's little bedtime rebel lamented "Bed in Summer," kids have sought ways to avoid turning off the light and saying "nighty-night." Penguin and Tiny Shrimp are just the latest resistors who daydream about avoiding dreamland for real.

And a rowdy and comic romp it is. With the story told in speech balloons, noted artist Charles Santoso takes up the challenge to keep this story moving all the way to the final page--in which nature has its way with Berry's lovable little bedtime dissenters and all comes to rest. "A buoyantly subversive antibedtime tale," says Publishers Weekly.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Swim Fins Recommended: How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace

How do you catch a mermaid?
You must be very clever.
With mirrors, crowns, and pearls galore.
This quest can't last forever.

For one thing, these kids can't hold their breaths underwater that long!

But kids who have taken on the detection and capture of the Tooth Fairy, a Christmas elf, a unicorn, a leprechaun, and the odd monster don't easily quit their quests.

But it's not easy. The M.O. of mermaids is little known, and outside of a predilection for sitting on rocks, singing, strumming lyres, and an admiration for fine jewelry, the habits and behavior of mermaids are not exactly common knowledge.

You don't learn this in school.
We'll need to build a gentle trap
And start near the tidal pool.

They come in peace to the tidal pool, hoping to befriend the finny beauty, but their soft seaweed lasso fails to hold the seemingly sturdy mermaid. The old sparkly-necklace-inside-the-fake-clamshell trick fails, too. It's time to try some technology.

But their submarine with robotic arms is too slow for the swift mergirl, and their cleverly rigged treasure chest only attracts an unwanted underwater bad guy!


The tables are turned. The would-be captors are now about to become shark snacks, and they have to rescued by what turns out to be a friendly mermaid after all, one who is pretty tough on her own turf, er, surf, in Adam Wallace's brand-new How-To Catch book, How to Catch a Mermaid (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2018). Author Wallace follows his familiar rhyming formula as his young heroes attempt to trap yet another mythical being. With their skills honed on catching unicorns, leprechauns, and Santa's little minions, this lighthearted quest nevertheless ends with the score Kids 0, Mythic Critters 7 in some buoyant high jinks, illustrated admirably by artist Andy Elkerton, whose mermaid is both comely and brainy and proves herself as totally in charge of the situation in her exquisitely illustrated under-the-sea domain.

Better luck next time, kids. Halloween is coming, and there are still plenty of spooks out there to be snared.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

School Rules: We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Penelope Rex was nervous.

It's not every day a little T. Rex starts to school.

She's got all the necessary school gear. Mom's got her a new backpack and a cool Little Pony lunchbox, packed with 300 tuna sandwiches and a box of apple juice, and she's pretty in pink in her new overalls. But still Penelope worries.

"What are my classmates going to be like? How many teeth will they have?"

But it's Penny's classmates who should be worried. They are all children, and Penelope already knows one thing about children. They are tasty.

So she ate them!

Oops. Her teacher, Mrs. Noodleman, catches her in the act, one Kindergarten-sized shoe still dangling by its shoestring from her mouth.

"Spit them out," she orders firmly.

"We don't eat our classmates!"

A soggy group of kids, dripping disgusting pink-ish dino drool, re-appear, looking piteously at Mrs. Noodleman. Their parents apparently didn't warn them about being eaten for morning snack time.

Penelope pitches in to be a good sport at recess, but the sight of her, mouth wide open, at the bottom of the twisty slide, doesn't inspire confidence in her classmates. She finds that no one accepts her invitation to sit next to her at lunch. So far, making friends isn't on her menu.

After school Penelope reports sadly that no one at school would play with her.

"Sometimes it's hard to make friends, especially if you eat them," Dad points out.

That night Penny snuggles under her beloved pony coverlet (Ponies are tasty!) and thinks about her dad's advice.

But new Kindergartners often find it difficult to curb their impulses, and the new day doesn't start well.

"Mrs. Noodleman! Penelope ate William Omoto again!" someone tattles.

Understandably, the kids keep their distance from Penelope Rex. Lonely, she wanders over to where the class pet, Walter the Goldfish, is swimming happily in his bowl. Maybe at least Walter will be her friend. Penelope sticks one finger into the water.

Walter CHOMPS!

"WAAAHHH!" cries Penelope. "He's EATING my finger!"

Suddenly Penelope discovers the true meaning of the golden rule, in Ryan T. Higgins' latest giggle fest,We Don't Eat Our Classmates (Disney Hyperion Books, 2018). Higgins' best-selling pictures books are small masterpieces of dramatic pacing and ironically hilarious illustrative style, and Penelope is a totally cute little T. Rex, a somehow sympathetic character despite that one bad predilection, and kids' tickleboxes will turn over as Walter the Goldfish pointedly delivers the denouement. School rules were never more fun.

Ryan T. Higgins is also the author of the top-selling hits, Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce (Mother Bruce), and Bruce's Big Move (Mother Bruce) (see reviews here).

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ad Astra! Astrophysics for Babies by Chris Ferrie

He's kidding, right?

Why is author Chris Ferrie touting the periodic table while babies are still figuring out gravity by pushing their rattles off of their high chairs?

Ferrie sincerely believes that all that experimentation with falling bodies proves that humans are all born scientists, and in this just-published book in his popular Baby University series, Astrophysics for Babies (Baby University) (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2018), he doesn't hesitate to take his precocious tots and their doting parents ad astra, to the stars. You're never to young to begin, and Ferrie's lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek text begins with the ball, the basic shape of the planets and stars.


Ferrie explains atoms and how they combine to produce energy, which is source of light and heat and how they use basic elements like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. He explains how stars collide and how matter forms. And he touches on how we ourselves are a part of all that.


With simple illustrations Chris Ferrie and Julia Kregenow introduce toddlers and preschoolers to the concepts and vocabulary of astrophysics, while their parents get a good review themselves. Other books in this series include the top-selling Quantum Physics for Babies (Baby University), Newtonian Physics for Babies (Baby University). and Ferrie's delightful science spoof of a nursery classic, Goodnight Lab: A Scientific Parody (Baby University) (see review here).

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Puppy Prep: The Everything Book of Dogs and Puppies

So you want to get a dog?

You've got a lot to learn!

And Dorling Kindersley Publishers have a brand-new book tailored for elementary graders who have a bad case of puppy love and can't wait to have one of their own.

But, wait! You need to ask yourself some questions first. What kind of dog do you want? Do you want a BIG dog, a small one, or one in the Goldilocks middle? Do you want a dog who is energetic enough to go strong all day and never tire of playing, or do you want a laid-back dog who doesn't need a daily mini-marathon to keep happy and healthy? Do you want an introverted dog who enjoys being left alone to nap, or do you want one who needs lots of affection and sticks to you like jelly to peanut butter?

Do you want one with an easy-care coat, a scant shedder who doesn't need anything more than an occasional bath, or do you want the iconic shaggy dog? (Beware! That lovable, funny-faced sheepdog is going to need daily brushing, lots of baths, fairly frequently, and perhaps professional grooming). Do you want a prestige pup, an unusual breed, or is a one-of-a-kind rescue mutt what you prefer?

For help in deciding, DK's new The Everything Book of Dogs and Puppies (Dorling Kindersley, 2018) is a very useful nonfiction choice. The editors provide a substantial history of the dog, with a list of their ancient ancestors on each continent. Sections with tidbits of dog lore, like Little or Large, Doggy Design, Family, Pooch Parlor, The Nose Knows, Ear Emotion, and Tell-Tail offer an amazing amount of information about dog physiology and psychology that every novice owner needs to know. Canine Characteristics points out the differences in habits and behavior bred into the different types of dogs--working dogs (rescue, military, detection and police dogs, herding and shepherd dogs, and hunting dogs), special types whose behaviors are somewhat baked in by their breeding.

There is ample advice about dog care (Day to Day), equipment and supplies (Pooch Palace), and feeding (Doggy Dinners), as well as a section on behavior training and dog tricks. As DK always does, there is a useful and thorough glossary and index provided to help young canine fanciers through the process of becoming dog owners. This book is a good start for young independent readers and can be adapted as a read-along for younger kids, comprehensive but not intimidating, and very appealing, filled as always by DK's large color photographs offered in their trademark spot art style. A real tail wagger for puppy lovers.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

All Wet!: Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise by David McPhail

"What a good idea, Rat," said Bear. "I do love a picnic. What a special day!"

"Indeed," said Rat. "Today is someone's birthday! It's yours!"

"Really?" asked Bear. "How do you know?"

"I remembered from last year. Birthdays are always on the same day.

"Amazing," said Bear.

Bear is pleased that his friend Rat has made him a birthday lunch and has a surprise present for him.

"It begins with B!" Rat hints.

Bear hides his eyes, and while Rat rummages in the hamper for his gift, a loose rowboat floats down the river and bumps into the bank beside the two picnickers. Bear opens his eyes and the first thing he sees is the boat. Excitedly, Bear thanks Rat. Saying it's just what he's always wanted, Bear jumps on board and mans the oars. Protesting that the boat is not his gift, Rat has no choice but to jump into the boat, too, as Bear declares that he is going to row upstream and return the boat to its owner.

Before they get too far, a straw hat and a fishing pole also come floating down the river. Bear claims them, claps the hat on his head and declaring that he loves to fish, he tosses out the line while Rat takes over the rowing. But Bear has hardly deployed his bait before they meet a burly man floating dejectedly downstream on a log.

"Hey! That's my hat you're wearing!" the man shouted.

And as Bear tosses him the hat, the man notices that Bear also has possession of his boat and fishing gear, too. Bear offer both to him, but when the man clambers onboard the little rowboat, it starts taking on water, and soon the vessel is swamped.

Rat and Bear and the boat are sunk.

Is Rat's birthday celebration for Bear all wet?

But the party is not a washout after all, in David McPhail's latest in series, Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise (reader) (Green Light Readers Level 2) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Back on the bank, Rat's hamper is still high and dry, and inside is his gift, a BALL. He presents it to Big Brown Bear apologetically.

"It's not much of a present. Not compared to a boat," said Rat.

"Boats are all right," said Bear. "But they sink."

David McPhail is the unabashed baron of bear stories, and this one in his beginning reader Big Brown Bear series is as sweet and droll as his previous ursine entries. McPhail's unlikely buddies, Big Brown Bear and Rat, are reminiscent of Arnold Lobel's timeless Frog and Toad early readers, and youngsters just venturing into independent reading will enjoy the easy-going back-and-forth dialog, reinforced by artist McPhail's inimitable illustrations that offer clear sight clues for the text.

The first book in this popular beginner series is Big Brown Bear (Green Light Readers Level 1).

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cetacean Census: The Orca Scientists by Kim Perez Valice

Orcas are curious about humans. Some swim over to check out orca scientist Ken Balcomb's 19-foot boat.

On occasion, he says, some whales come over to inspect him while showing off their new calves. "Obviously they can tell the sound of our boat. Even if other boats are around, they come to us as if to say, 'You're here again!'" When Ken peers down over the side, a bull (adult male) stares up at him. Often the two will lock eyes until the bull decides to swim away. There's no mistaking that curiosity is an indication of the depth of the orcas' intelligence. Science necropsies show that the the large brain of an orca contains cortical thickness, a physical trait associated with consciousness, memory, attention, language, and thought.

We humans share that curiosity, fascinated by those large-brained, socially-adapted mammals such as whales, dolphins, elephants, and the great apes, that despite our obvious physical differences, share many of our characteristics. And this is absolutely true of the striking black and white orca, the largest of the dolphins.

Kim Perez Valice's The Orca Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) portrays the curiosity we humans share about the magnificent orca and their amazing lives in the sea. Like elephants, whales, and others of the dolphin family, the orcas have a matrilineal family social order, often guided by the oldest female, (one leader is even nicknamed "Granny") who presides over the pod, several generations of children and grandchildren, passing down their particular "dialect" of verbal calls that constitutes the orcas' language and their knowledge of where to find food and safety. Child care is a specially curated skill among orcas as well. Family members help feed expectant and nursing mothers and pass down pod culture in distinct calls and a body of hunting skills to young ones.

A Chinook salmon jumps out of the water. When it plunges back, eleven-year-old J-41 (Eclipse) and her one-and-a-half-year-old son, J-51 (Nova), are now near the boat. Eclipse swims to the fish, clamps it in her jaw, and then lets it go. Nova chases the fish, clinches it, and then loses his grip. Eclipse lunges down to the back of the boat, where the salmon is hiding under the motor. With a quick pop she hits the fish with her head to stun it. Eclipse corrals the stunned salmon, moving it closer to her son, who grabs it and bites down.

Since this pod of salmon-feeding orcas have been declining in numbers and in body size, the scientists are keeping close tabs on their well-being, utilizing a wide array of equipment and techniques, from drone flights, fast cameras to capture above and below water activities and the annual mug shots used to keep count of the pods' population, blubber biopsy specimens, blood tests to measure hormones and toxic pollutants, and sonar recorders to catch the orcas' calls, as well as such low-tech means as scat-scenting detector dogs, trained dolphins who act as stand-ins for their cousins in experiments on the amount of energy required in vocalizations, and the human brains who memorize the different dorsal fin and saddle markings of each individual orca for quick identification

With vivid and detailed descriptions, author Valice and photographer Andy Comins take readers along with real orca scientists on the boats in Puget Sound in the chilly northern Pacific to observe the ebb and flow of life among these incredible animals who are so important to the ecology of the oceans of the world. With hundreds of color photos of everything--from breaching matriarchs to orca poop-scoopers--with this book in HMH's peerless Scientists in the Field series, aspiring scientists share the sights, smells, and sensations of doing animal science at very close range to their large marine subjects.

Appended are several useful sections--"How to Get Involved and Stay Involved," a glossary, a list of selected sources, bibliography, author's note, and index--to serve the needs of young research report writers.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ole'! All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle

We have a gift and we have a cake.

And today we're driving all the way to Havana to see my new baby cousin on his zero-year birthday.

That's the plan, anyway. The thing is, it's a long way to Havana, and the family's old Chevy, nicknamed "Cara-Cara," is what euphemistically might be called unpredictable.

Some of these elegant old cars purr like kittens.

But ours is so tired that she just chatters like a chicken--Cara cara, cluck, cluck cluck!

Papa's repair box gets a full workout as he tries to get Cara Cara patched up with "wire, tape, and mixed-up scraps" for the journey, and after several tries, she finally kicks off, not with a roar, but a rumble. The whole family piles in, and the narrow way winds along the coast road, beside the sea walls in the sun, and Cara Cara bumps along merrily until the kids begin to see more and more old cars on the road, painted in bright colors of red, and pink and purple.

Some with fins like a shark!

And soon they are in the city of Havana. Drying laundry floats like flags from the balconies and people are everywhere, and soon Papa steers Cara Cara into a parking space where a party is about to get underway.

They have a gift and they have a cake, and there's a new baby cousin to welcome into the world!

Margarita Engle's All the Way to Havana (Henry Holt, 2017) portrays a picturesque tale of a possibly perilous trip in their beloved old blue Chevy, but all's well that ends with a celebration at Abuela's house. It's an unusual story of a different place, but a visit with cousins ready to play all day is the same everywhere, and a good time is had by all. Mike Curato's charming paintings portray the scene in old Havana, with the colorful old cars almost becoming characters in the story with a warm palette that reflects the joys of family life. "A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail," says Kirkus.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Back to School! Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown's got MAIL, and Duck delivers the letter, some of it written in orange crayon.

Dear Farmer Brown,

Please be our guest at our Farm Day lunch tomorrow.

Bring the animals, too!

Dinkelmeyer Elementary School
P.S. What's your favorite color?
P.P.S.: How old are you?P.P.P.S.: We have a turtle.

It's been quite a while since Farmer Brown has been to school. He's honored, and he wants his farm animals to make a good impression.

But when he tells them about their visit, they begin to cluck, and moo, and oink excitedly. Farmer Brown lectures his livestock sternly.

"School is very serious," he tells his hens. "No CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCKING!"

"School is very calm," he tells the cows. "No STOMPING, CLOMPING, AND MOOING."

"School is very quiet," he tells the pigs. "No HOOTING, HOLLERING, OR OINKING."

Now it is time to lay down the law to Duck, who is always up to something. But Farmer Brown finds her meditating solo, seated on her yoga cushion, eyes closed, breathing slowly in and out. She doesn't register any reaction to his words, but he warns her anyway.

"Try not to be--Ducky,"

With his critters properly chastised, the next morning Farmer Brown loads his subdued livestock up in his truck and drives them to the elementary school. Strangely, when they arrive at Dinkelmeyer Elementary, there are no signs of a gala Farm Day celebration under way in the schoolyard. But at least his charges are following the rules. No one is mooey, clucky, or oinky, and Duck still seems to be concentrating exclusively on her deep breathing. The whole building is just as a school should be-- quiet, calm, and serious.

And then the bell rings.

Suddenly the schoolyard explodes with noisy energy as the kids run outside for recess....

Squeaking and squealing...

Zooming and zigging....

And Farmer Brown's animals quickly revert to type and join the kids in their free-for-all of chattering and yelling. The cows are mooey, stomping and clomping, the pigs are oinky, wallowing and hollering, and the chickens are cluckey, snapping and clapping. It seems the critters fit right in with the kids.

But where is Duck?

Duck is being--Ducky, seated in the school office at the Principal's desk, perhaps writing some new school rules with an orange crayon:

Be kind. Be helpful. Be honest. Be safe.

Respect one another, and don't eat the paste.

For a quick review of school rules, Doreen Cronin's new beginner reading story, Click, Clack, Quack to School! (A Click Clack Book) (Atheneum, 2018) is just what the teacher ordered. Duck is up to her old tricks, this time with a little forgery and finagling, and illustrator Betsy Lewin's unique and quirky characters are more charming than ever, if possible. For more take-your-critters-to-school fun, pair this one with Cynthia Rylant's and Arthur Howard's delightful Mr. Putter and Tabby Ring the Bell (see review here).

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sleeping Under the Stars: Llama, Llama Goes Camping, an Anna Dewdney Book

"I'm excited!

Llama Llama had never camped overnight before.

Neither had Nelly Gnu, Luna, Gilroy, or Euclid.

"It will be super fun," Mama Llama says.

Llama Llama had been outside lots of times, but he'd never really been outdoors--in the Great OUTDOORS.

But with the van full of equipment and essentials and with Mama and Grandma Llama as guides, Llama and friends are off for their first overnight campout in the woods. Everyone is supposed to be traveling light, but Euclid's idea of essentials is devices, lots of devices--a whole backpack just for gadgets.

The kids help set up the tents--without Euclid's digital measurement gismo--and the gang is a off for a hike before dark falls, listening for forest sounds.

"I want to make a recording," says Euclid.

"Let's just listen hard," says Mama Llama.

Back just in time, Mama and Grandma help the kids build a campfire, without fire-starting devices, and Grandma has them each find a long and strong stick and peel off the bark for--toasting marshmallows!

Finally it's time to crawl into their tents and let the night sounds sing them to sleep, sans gadgets.

Soon the sun wakes up the campers and they get to make their breakfasts on a fresh campfire. Euclid offers his portable waffle make, but no one is interested. Instead, everyone congratulates Euclid on making it through the night without using a single device.

"It was a fun challenge," said Euclid.

It's a different experience for the older and wiser Llama Llama and his buddies, in Llama Llama Loves Camping (An Anna Dewdney Book) (Penguin, 2018), as Llama and his school buddies have a new experience in sleepovers. Anna Dewdney's familiar characters and narrative style are in evidence in this episode from the new Netflix series of preschool adventures, based on Dewdney's beloved picture book series begun with Llama Llama Red Pajama (See reviews here.)

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Time for Beddy-Bye! Goodnight, Curious George


Even naughty little monkeys need to go to bed.

But Curious George doesn't hurry to that good night. First he carefully puts his toys away, even his beloved red ball. The Man with the Yellow Hat makes him a warm bubbly bath to get him clean from toes to nose. Then--it's time for PJs!

There's a bite to eat for bedtime, and then teeth to brush, and then a big hop into bed with just enough time for a story book or two before a last lullaby song lulls George, snuggling his Teddy, to sleep.

With added illustrations by Greg Paprocki, Good Night, Curious George padded board book (touch-and-feel) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) is a soothing way to say goodnight, with plenty of touch-and-feel and lift-the-flaps fun for youngsters along the way. With the iconic illustrations of Margret and H. A. Rey, Curious George leads the way to sweet dreams.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Our Space Place! I LOVE the Earth by Todd Parr

How do I love the Earth?

Let me count the ways.

There is a lot to love--trees, fish, polar bears, snowman that don't melt too soon, walking shoeless in soft new grass, seeing the stars come out.


In Todd Parr's I Love the Earth (Little, Brown and Company, 2018), kids can count up ten ways they themselves can begin to take care of the earth and all upon it.

There are simple things that a child can do any day, from turning off lights when they leave a room, being nice to worms, planting trees, using both sides of a piece of paper, and making sure the refrigerator door is closed.

Todd Parr's positive and exuberant books for preschoolers share a comfortable hand-feel with jolly and inviting childlike black-line illustrations and bright primary colors, with a heartfelt appreciation for what kids themselves can do to help keep life on earth livable. Some of Parr's favorite simple concept books include The Family Book, The Peace Book, The Feelings Book, and The Goodbye Book.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mummies and Monsters and Zombies--Oh, My! Super-Dooper Spooky Doodle Book by Ryan Sias

Despite the hot and steamy dog days of summer, Halloween is drawing near, and children's minds will soon turn toward the spooky season.

What to wear? Witchy hats or wizard's cloaks? What to be? A big black bat or a scary cat?

But while they're waiting for that time to roll around, Ryan Sias has his new Super-Duper Spooky Doodle Book (Super-Duper Doodle Books) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), packed full of comic scary characters--Victor the Vampire, Grik the Goblin, Zoey the Zombie, Wanda the Witch, Wayne the Werewolf, and Gus the Ghost, et al. Each one gets his or her own double-page spread with drawings to complete, scenes to fill out, and story starters to get kids sketching and writing.

Like man-made monsters? There's Frank N. Stein and the chance to create his whole family and his, er, manufactured pets. If zombies are your yen, Maya the Zombie has some missing body parts to complete. There are hidden pictures to find, and if creativity fails, the drawings make for some fun coloring or even tracing activities. Good for quiet times during hot mid-days or rainy afternoons, and sturdy enough backseat fun with no more than a box of colored pencils required, Sias's latest in his Super-Duper Doodle series, even offers puzzles and games, and for the youngest users whose drawing abilities are still developing--STICKERS!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Line UP! Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

A piece of charcoal in the hands of a small boy becomes the means to adventure.

He first draws a straight line along the ground, and then, growing bold, begins to draw circles and curlicues and circles, as his glee is reflected in the wash of yellow and lilac around him. But in moving left to right, turning around to produce swirls, the charcoal stick flies out of his hand as he backs into---another boy with a drawing stick approaching from page right.

It's a collision! The two boys, reverse images of each other, stare in surprise as the background colors deepen. The second boy picks up the line and trails it above his head like a prize streamer as he runs off page right. The first boy's feet are entangled in the line, and as he falls, he grows angry as the background wash darkens to purple and black.

It's a tug of war! The line breaks.

A crack opens in the ground between the two.

Can the chasm be bridged?

Line is one the primary elements of art, but it also expresses symbolic meaning in Kathryn Otoshi's Draw the Line (Roaring Brook Press, 2017), as a simple line becomes both a division and and then a connection between the two boys who must figure out a way to bridge the break in the line between them.

In this wordless book, artist Otoshi plays with the possible meanings of the line, using color to represent emotion, in a way that young readers will instinctively intuit. A single line tells it all. As Kirkus Reviews says in their starred review, "Otoshi's fluid watercolors are sheer loveliness, surpassed only by her ability to communicate big concepts with no words. A simple, beautiful concept whose reach grows with each rereading."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Follow Your Passion! Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes



And immediately Cece had follow-up questions:



And a scientist is born.

She asked her teacher what would happen if everyone jumped up and down together.



Cece's teacher tells her class about the scientific method used to investigate phenomena. What questions do we ask, in what order, and how do we interpret what we observe? she asks. Along the way students also learn about famous scientists and the branches of science in which they work.

The class chooses an investigation: Do dogs eat vegetables? Do some of them love fruits? What food do they like best? How about cats? If you mix vegetables with their cat chow, what will they do?

Cece reports that her dog Einstein loves banana smoothies but her cat eats the kitty kibble and leaves the vegetables and fruit at the bottom of the bowl. Hmmm! The data are not so conclusive. Ms. Curie points out that some of their results may require them to think outside the (cat chow) box.

Kimberly Derting and Shelli Johannes' just published Cece Loves Science (Greenwillow, 2018) points out how curious kids can find answers--and also new questions--in science. And that's the fun of it, as Cece pours heart and soul into the next question, as scientists do. Cece is a likable leader, illustrated with some charm by Vashti Harrison with a bright palette and with digitally drawn kids looking for the illusive answers in science. Author Derting offers an appendix of Cece's Science Facts, a glossary with biographic entries to familiarize primary students with some famous scientists. "A fun way to introduce scientific methods," says Booklist.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

WAIT FOR IT! Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed To Open This Box by David Goodner



The box is s-o-o nifty. It's perfectly round, it's sorta pinkish, and it has a tag on it. What's not to like?

But what's in it?

Ginny's just itching to get her little green hands on that box.. But Mom and Dad just stand there, watching... watching... and thinking....

"What if we put the box way up?"

Now the box is way up on a high shelf... and Ginny is green with curiosity. What if she pushed that chair....

Stop! That's not allowed. She's got to wait ALL day--till dinnertime.

To make sure she waits, the box goes on a shelf in a locked room. HA! A locked door never stopped a ninja with a grappling hook with a rope to climb....

No. Parents do that.

But Ginny doesn't give up. There are WAYS.... A catapult--YES! But her best design poops out on Ginny when she aims herself at the castle tower where Mom and Dad have put the cake. SMACK!

But Ginny has plenty more plans. She can chop down the forest, build a battering ram to breach the gates, and craft a ramp to drive her scooter to the top of the tower, where....

Whooops! What goes up can come down--fast! And hard!

Ginny Goblin isn't allowed to just walk away, is she?

Can she do that?

Yes, she can, in David Goodner's forthcoming Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed to Open This Box (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).

If I don't get to find out what's in that box, I'm going to EXPLODE.

By this time, even Ginny the Goblin's sly narrator is dying to see what's in that box, while Ginny plays it cool, sweetly washing up for dinner without being told.

Ginny is a cute little goblin with two fangs, tiny horns, and one raggedy pointy ear, one who barely endures the suspense until it's time to open that mystery box. By the time that Ginny finally eats all her peas to earn the right to open that box, nobody is going to be too surprised by what she finds what's inside. But the fun is in getting to that first bite of birthday cake, in this quirky little critter tale of a tot who'll do a lot to collect her cake, and nobody goes home without having had a good time. Charming comic pictures by illustrator Louis Thomas capture the fun of this story of anticipation and gratification delayed.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Reminders: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal

Dear Girl,

Make you room awesome. Make it YOU!

And while you're at it, make your bed!

There are plenty of things we want to say to a beloved child, things we hope are helpful, memorable, and hopeful. There is a world of good counsel here--like "Know when to say NO," or "You won't be invited to every party," or "It's okay not to feel sparkly all the time." If you need to cry, go ahead. You can color outside the lines if you like, but don't forget to clean up your room. You need friends, but you also need to be alone sometimes.

There are no rules, but... I'm giving you some points to remember, just in case. Listen to your heart, be brave when you can, and when you can't, I'll be there for you.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter Paris Rosenthal had created a little book for daughters or granddaughters or any much-loved girl, Dear Girl, (Harper, 2017), filled with all the things we want to say to a child, those truisms that rarely get said. Artist Holly Hatam adds spare but expressive illustrations that flesh out Rosenthal's sweet text with free-flowing action. A fine gift for a special girl, and a first choice for library shelves.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Spot's Got Game: Spot Plays Soccer by Eric Hill

Spot's having a super summer. He's gotten in the swim with his pals at the local pool, and now he's ready to take to the sunny field for more sports fun.

"Let's use our backpacks as goal posts!" says Tom.

They've got a field, they've got goals, and soon all the friends are ready to get in the game.

Will Spot make his shot? Will he score?

On that great big field, with everyone running around and balls flying and bouncing here and there, some kids find their first time in the game a little intimidating, but starting out with your best buddies in a pick-up game is the way to get your kicks in the game. All it takes is a ball and two feet and they've got what it takes. And soon Spot, Tom, Steve, and Helen are showing all their young fans how it's done, in Eric Hill's board book, Spot Plays Soccer (Frederick Warne, 2018). Little Spot shows youngsters the way to play in this ever popular preschool series. To warm up and cool down with the sports-loving Spot, pair this one with author-illustrator Hill'sSpot Goes to the Swimming Pool (review here).

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