BooksForKidsBlog

Monday, January 24, 2022

Pet Power! Twinkle's Fairy Pet Day by Katharine Holabird and Sarah Warbarton

"I HAVE WAITED AND WISHED FOR SUCH A LONG TIME,"

"FOR A SWEET LITTLE PET WHO WILL TRULY BE MINE."

Pippa waved her wand, and with flashes and sparkles a beautiful butterfly appeard. Lulu's magic wand produced a glittery lady-bug. But when Twinkle wished for a pet that could run and play, there was quite a hullabaloo.

"BANG!" "CRASH!" "BOOM!"

Purple smoke poured out of the fireplace, followed by--a little wiggly green dragon who leaped into her arms!

"FIDDLESTICKS," SAID TWINKLE! "I JUST WANTED SOMETHING CUTE AND FLUFFY!"

But Fairy Godmother pooh-poohed her complaint and invited all three of them to the FAIRY PET DAY, promising a party with prizes for all.

But dragons are hard on housekeeping. Her dragon, whom she properly named "Scruffy," was a housewrecker--tracking mud into the house, swiping her Fairy treats, and shredding her best slippers. She tried to teach him to come, and sit, and fetch, but although he was sweet, he always did the opposite of what she told him to do. Twinkle knew she needed some help teaching him to behave like the pet of her dreams.

On Fairy Pet Day, Twinkle bathed Scruffy, sprayed him to smell like a flower, and dressed him up prettily, but on the way to the Pet Fairy party, he splashed muddy water over them both. Twinkle was almost in tears as they arrived for Fairy Pet Day. Winning a magical prize was definitely not in the works for poor Twinkle! Still, she couldn't help loving her silly little Scruffy. He WAS her pet!

"JUST DO YOUR BEST, SCRUFFY," SHE WHISPERED TO HER IMPERFECT PET.

And there was Fairy Magic at Fairy Pet Day for Scruffy. In the Fairy Fetch competition, he outdoes all the others, and his little dragon wings become big and beautiful, glowing with Fairyland colors, in best-selling author, Katharine Holabird's Twinkle's Fairy Pet Day. (Little Simon Books.)

Everyone is amazed, and Scruffy wins the prize for the best-trained pet! Holabird, author of the tremendously popular Angelina Ballerina series, has a new fantasy tale, illustrated by artist Sarah Warburton, and her new character, portrayed with plenty of sparkling pink, seems to be one that her fans will want to read more about!

After all, LOVE goes a long way when training the perfect pet.

Says School Library Journal, "... the two unlikely companions bring out the best in each other.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Good Intentions Go a Long WAY! Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug by Jonathan Stutzman

Little T. Rex is feeling blue, and not just because his skin is naturally baby blue. He's blue because his friend Pointy is very sad and needs a hug, and Tiny T. Rex's arms are way too short to deliver a big hug.

POINTY NEEDS ME!

Tiny T. Rex asks his family for help. But his dad, as mathematicians often do, turns his question into a mathematical equation!

POINTY DOESN'T LIKE MATH.

Mother counsels that it's not how long his arms are, but what's in his heart.

AUNTIE SUGGESTS CUCUMBER JUICE.

Tiny T. Rex's brother and sister say he needs to practice more.

.

"I WILL PLAN MY STRATEGY," TINY T. SAID. "I WILL PRACTICE MY HUGS."

Tiny T. Rex looked around for something to practice hugging. Perhaps a tree would work. He spots something tall and green with big arms.

It is a...

CACTUS!

Not a smart strategy, considering that the spines are quite sharp!

Tiny T. decides he need some altitude to spot a more suitable tree for hugging, so he hops on a flying dinosaur, but soon slides off, sailing down, down, down, until...

CONK! He lands right on top of Pointy's head and holds on tight.

"THAT WAS THE BIGGEST HUG EVER!"" SAYS POINTY.

It seems Mother was right. It's not the size of the hugger, but the size of his heart, in Jonathan Stutzman's Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug (Chronicle Books).

As illustrated sweetly by artist Jay Fleck, Tiny T., this diminutive dinosaur certainly has plenty of heart, in author Jonathan Stutzman's book in his popular Tiny T. Rex series, starring as its undeniably charming and cuddly little hero. Other books in this series are Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine, Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark: (Read-Aloud Family Books, Dinosaurs Kids Book About Fear of Darkness), and Tiny T. Rex and the Tricks of Treating.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Friendship, Blendship! Chester's Way by Kevin Henkes

CHESTER HAD HIS OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS.

Chester and his friend Wilson were very punctilious. Chester always cut his sandwiches in triangles. He always got out of bed on the same side. He never left the house without his first-aid kit and double-knotted shoestrings. Wilson and Chester always signalled their turns on their bikes. They both never slid head-first into the plate in baseball. And on Halloween their costumes always went together, like pepper and salt shakers or ham and eggs. They did everything with each other.

"SOMETIMES I CAN'T TELL THOSE TWO APART. . . LIKE TWO PEAS IN A POD!" SAID CHESTER'S MOTHER.

His father agreed.

And then a new girl moved into the neighborhood. She did everything in a very unique way!

"I AM LILLY! I AM THE QUEEN.

I LIKE EVERYTHING!

Lilly plastered herself with bandaids so everyone would think she was very brave. She always carried a loaded squirt pistol when she left home. She talked backwards!

SHE NEVER LEFT HER HOUSE WITHOUT WEARING ONE OF HER DISGUISES.

Chester and Wilson hid when they saw Lilly coming, and when she phoned one or the other, they disguised their voices so they wouldn't have to play with her. She was just too weird for Chester and Wilson's taste.

But one day a couple of older bullies stopped them on the bike path, yelling and making fun of their precise hand signals and riding circles around them so that they couldn't move. Wilson and Chester were frightened! It was a scary situation, until...

A FIERCE-LOOKING CAT WITH HORRIBLE FANGS JUMPED OUT OF THE BUSHES....

The big boys pedaled away fast. Now who was frightened?

"ARE YOU WHO I THINK YOU ARE?" CHESTER ASKED.

Of course the fierce-looking cat with the water pistol is Lilly, and Chester and Wilson soon discover that her weird ways could sometimes be a good thing, in Kevin Henkes' classic story about friendship, in Chester's Way(Greenwillow Books).

It's different strokes for different folks, as Lilly introduces them to cookie-cutter shaped sandwiches and popping wheelies, and the boys teach Lilly the proper hand signals on her bike and how to double-knot her shoelaces. And Chester and Wilson learn to talk backwards so the three of them have their own secret language!

Of these brand-new different-drummer friends, Horn Book says, "The virtues of variety, experimentation, and friendship are deftly handled in the amusing, believable story."

Read more about Lilly, in Keven Henkes' best-selling Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.

See the Sea Monster Here! Kraken Me Up by Jeffery Ebbeler

"BRING IN YOUR PETS!" ENTONES THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

Kids with all kind of critters have come together for the competition. There's a pretty pig, a hen nesting in her owner's hair, a lovable llama, and a . . .

KRAKEN!

(GULP!)

Never mind that he is BIG! One kid recognizes what he IS. A Kraken is a sea monster from the deepest deeps of the oceans of the world!

"A KRAKEN CAN EAT A SHIP!" YELLS THE KID WITH THE LLAMA.

His owner defends her pet:

"HE'S NOT MEAN! HE IS SHY."

The girl tells how she met him beside the sea and how they became friends.

But the other exhibitors in the Pet Show are not convinced. Izzie the Kraken is not allowed to compete. He's banished to the nearest body of water, a farm pond, into which he barely fits!

"FIND A WAY TO MAKE THEM SMILE," THE GIRL WHISPERS INTO HIS, ER, EAR, (OR WHATEVER THAT IS!)

BLAH-ZOOP! Kraken rares back and sprays his purple ink all over the kids, their parents, and the M.C.! For a moment they all are too astonished and amazed to move, so Kraken demonstrates the possibilities of face-painting with octopus ink on his own face. Suddenly, the kids see the potential of their situation.

Soon everyone is finger-painting each other with purple ink and giggling. But then the sea monster begins to cough.

HACK! HACK!

"THAT KRAKEN IS HACKIN,'" SAYS ONE PURPLE-PAINTED KID.

And Kracken hacks up a sailing ship, complete with cannons, cutlasses, captain, swabies, and all! The kid with the llama has to take credit for his prediction.

"I TOLD YOU THEY EAT SHIPS!" HE BRAGS.

And the crusty old ship's captain climbs out of the ship's quarters at last.

"YAR!

"WE BE IN THAT BELLY FOR FIFTY YEARS!!"style="color: #cc0000; font-family: Oswald;

"IT'S ABOUT TIME WE HAD SOME FUN."

Kraken has cracked up the whole crew, and it's the most memorable day ever at the Pet Show, in comic author-illustrator Jeffery Ebbeler's latest graphic comic book, Kraken Me Up (I Like to Read Comics) (Holiday House, 2021). Jeffery Ebbeler's graphic storybook puts all his comic artwork experience to bear on this one with as jolly a tall ship tall tale as a kid can imagine.

Says School Library Journal, "Girl and kraken are winners in any collection, especially where graphic novels for emerging readers are needed."

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Best Buddies: Dogs Love Cars by Leda Schubert

WINDOWS DOWN, NOSES OUT, EARS FLAPPING, DROOL ON THE WINDOWS....

Most dogs are mad about cars.

Don't get me wrong. Cats are great pets. But most cats are not fond of car rides. Having wind in their fur and faces does not particularly appeal to them. (They don't drool much, however.) But if you love a pet who likes to go places and do things outside in brand new places, dogs are ecstatic! (Most cats could not care less, (unless it's their idea!)

BUT DOGS LOVE CARS!

Dogs love to go for walks with their owner on the other end of the leash. They like to meet strange dogs and exchange sniffs. Dogs like pretty much everything about going places and doing things outdoors. Or indoors will do as if that's what you've got.

DOGS LOVE TOYS.

Floppy, bouncy, rolling, chewey, new, or old, dirty and disgusting, chewed up, broken, dogs adore 'em.

DOGS LOVE CHORES.

Dogs love washing cars, and they love digging dirt for any purpose known to man. (Cats, on the other hand, only dig for one purpose, one that most owners do not care to share!)

Dogs love to eat almost any kind of food, and some things that their owners don't even consider to be food.

But the best thing about dogs is that. . .

DOGS LOVE PEOPLE!

Dogs try to love cats, but that doesn't always work out so well! But in fact, the best thing about dogs is that they love their owners. And they usually want to love everything their owners love, even if that's a cat, in Leda Schubert's joyful, just published picture book in praise of all things canine, Dogs Love Cars (Candlewick Press, 2021).

With the funny child-centered illustrations of dogs being dogs, doing their thing, including loving their owners, by Paul Meisel, this is a book that almost anyone will love.

Says Booklist, "Energetic and appealing... a doggy delight!"

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dognabbit! Interrupting Cow: New Tricks for The Old Dog by Jane Yolen

The cows were lounging around in front of the barn, when Interrupting Cow appears and tosses out an old cannard.

"KNOCK KNOCK!"

Interrupting Cow, giggled, rolling in laughter on the floor, while the clueless cows rack their brains for the meaning of that non sequitur, and an old gray dog appears in the barn door with a smug smile.

"NOT FUNNY!" REPLY THE COWS.

In a huff the cows vacate the barn. To the surprise of Interrupting Cow, the old dog giggles again, with a winner's chuckle.

For parents who've endured those "Guess What?/That's What?" jokes, look who's the one who gets the laughs now?

At least Old Dog gets a laugh out of Interrupting Cow this time in Jane Yolen's latest in her nonsense beginning readers, New Tricks for the Old Dog: Ready-to-Read Level 2 (Interrupting Cow) (Simon Spotlight, 2021). Make way for certain silliness here. It's Old Dog who scores the first giggle in this book by the noted Jane Yolen, author of the best-selling How Do Dinosaurs..., rhyming easy-to-read series.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

When Is A Hog Not A Hog? Hog Dog by Audrey Bea

Through the mist of the morning a nattily-attired little girl, in blue hairbow and red dress, spies something ahead, partially obscured in the fog.

What could it be?

IT MAY BE A HOG.

Does its head look like a hog's? It does, sort of. Does its tail look like a hog's? What about those ears? Are they the ears of a hog... or a dog? Maybe.

I THINK IT'S A HOG DOG!

Author Audrey Bea makes good use of all twenty-nine words in this beginning reader book, as her charming little character collects the clues, in Hog Dog (Reading Stars)(Xist Publishing, 2021).

The focus is on what the author considers "sight words." Words like "a" and "I" certainly can be sounded out by anyone who knows the English alphabet, whereas their curious spellings make "through" and "tongue" are clearly sight words, easy to use as reading cues from the illustrations. The bright artwork by Franko Sviatoslav contrasts with the small clouds of fog make in appealing pages for young readers to puzzle over.

For another quickie reader for rookies in the Reading Stars series, see Audrey Bea's My Ball (Reading Stars).

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

No Matter What the Weather: More Than Sunny! by Shelley Johannes

"IT'S EARLY!" GRUMBLES LITTLE BROTHER."

"IT'S SUNNY AND BIRDY" COAXES BIG SISTER."

She hustles her sibling into a spring jacket and outside beside the pond, where he complains...

"MUCKY!"

"IT'S SUNNY AND DUCKY!"...

. . . Sister counters, as a proud Mama Duck and a long line of little ducklings strut by.

And spring blows through as if on one long breezy day, until suddenly one warm sunny day, the siblings realize it's summer. Little Brother whines!

"IT'S MUGGY!" AND BUGGY!"

But as Shakespeare says, "Summer's lease hath all too short a stay."

As summer races by, the kids have fun, collecting caterpillars and worms and wishfully fishing and not catching fish, waiting out stormy, steamy, summer rain showers, suiting up in yellow slickers and boots, catching squirmy worms in the mud, and before they know it, summer melts away, to be replaced by whooshy winds and nervous, fussy, busy squirrels storing up acorns for the winter. And on one gray, cloudy day, they wave goodbye to the geese sailing by, heading south. And then it's. . .

"WINTER. AND WAITY!"

The two kids color and cut out Christmas decorations to hang from the windows with red yarn and watch at the windows for snowflakes to catch and melt on their tongues. And then it is snowy, and ready for sledding and chilling and spilling and then watching at their dark windows. . . .

And with a shushed sneaking downstairs to step out on the porch, they see... their very own falling star.

It's the grand finale of one more joyful trip around the sun to celebrate those blessed seasons of childhood, in Shelley Johannes' delightful latest, More Than Sunny (Abrams Books, 2021). It's all good weather to be together, and rain or shine, it's all fine!

Author Johannes' descriptive pairs of rhyming adjectives are as bouncy as the big sister's two ponytails, leading the way through the seasons, and artist Johannes' charming illustrations in pencil and mixed media are as lively and bright as the two young siblings in a sweet salute of the seasons, from spring glow to falling snow, late and lovely.

Says Publishers Weekly, "Breezy and buzzy/ summer and fuzzy!” transitions to “winter.../ and waity” before a sweet close focuses on a turnaround—and the night sky. Dynamic art rendered in pencil and mixed media on tracing paper and finished digitally matches the text’s energy in this charming seasonal perusal."

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Monday, January 17, 2022

There's A War On! Hetty and the London Blitz: A World War II Survival Story by Jeni Walsh

Hetty and her friend Judy were being fitted for a gas mask. Mrs. Wallace pulled on my mask's straps tighter and tighter.

"All set," she said. "Take a breath, Hetty." I did.

The rubber smell filled my nostrils. I fought for air through the filter. As the air came through, my skin was sucked into the mask like a vacuum. I didn't want to take another breath, but what choice did I have?"

Hettie felt fear when she heard her parents whispering together. With her family still grieving from the death of her baby sister, her parents seems to have a secret they were keeping from Hetty and her little brothers, Oliver and George.

But when Germany invaded Poland, her parents told her that Britain was at war with Nazi Germany, and now the mask had to go with her everywhere. When the air raid warnings sounded, her family had to cover all windows and sit together with all the lights out at night until the the sounds of warplanes overhead stopped and the sirens announced the German bombers were gone. At first the aircraft only flew over, headed for southern England, but soon the sound of exploding bombs grew closer and louder.

The family worked every day to build a dugout bomb shelter in their backyard. For Hetti, going down into that tomb-like hole at night was terrifying, but as houses in their neighborhood began to be hit by the enemy bombs, they had no choice. Some nights the Blitz came so close that they had to run for the crowded subway tunnels, the Underground, to escape the giant blockbuster bombs. Huge gas-filled barrage balloons bloomed over the school and city to prevent the enemy aircraft from being able to see their targets below. Even the cemetary nearby was hit by a blast, with rotting bodies and skeleton left scattered all around.

But then Hetty's greatest fear came true. The government had recommended that all children should be evacuated to the country to protect them far from the bombardment. Hetty and Oliver and little Georgie might have to leave their parents and go to live with strangers in the countryside.

And then a frightful thing happened.

A bomb hit the house next door. JUDY!

Mum was standing behind her, with George on her hip. She had tears in her eyes.

"It's time," she said. "It's time for you and your brothers to leave London."

Now, for Hetty, "Leaving London was my way of being brave."

And Hetty, just turned thirteen, and her little brothers go to live in the north with three strange couples, not to be with their own parents for over five years, five years of scarce, rationed food and loneliness for their home, Hetty separated from her brothers placed with two other families in a small farming town in the north of England, in Jeni Walsh's Hettie and the London Blitz: A World War II Survival Story (Girls Survive) (Capstone Books, 2021). Hetty was not to return to her parents and home for five years, but she dedicated herself to writing letters and helping her brothers remember their parents until word came that Hitler was dead and Germany had surrendered. It was V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day, and time to go home and begin to live in a new world for Hetty, George, and Oliver.

With simple but straightforward storytelling, Jeni Walsh gives middle readers, for whom World War II is long-ago, distant history, a sense and taste of the lives of the "removed" children" whose childhoods' were deeply changed during the war years, but saved to make the future in which today's children live.

Says School Library Journal, " Readers will be touched by Hettie's dedication to her family, her tenderness as an older sister, and her ability to keep happy memories alive from better times. Likewise, readers will be moved by the generosity of secondary characters in the English countryside like Hettie's foster mother who is initially cold, but warms up after sharing her own family story." With soft sepia illustrations by Jane Pica, there are also a glossary and author's notes appended.

Other historical fiction books in the Girls Survive series include Rebecca Rides for Freedom: An American Revolution Survival Story (Girls Survive), Charlotte Spies for Justice: A Civil War Survival Story (Girls Survive), and Molly and the Twin Towers: A 9/11 Survival Story (Girls Survive).

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A Little Child Shall Lead Them: She Persisted: Ruby Bridges by Kekla Magoon


Little Ruby Bridges was a farm-to-city girl. As a preschooler, she played and helped pick and prepare the food the family grew. But her parents knew she was bright and needed to go to school, so they moved from the farm to New Orleans, and Ruby had a happy year in the Kindergarten class at Lockett Elementary School Kindergarten, which was all black children as the laws of Louisiana required.

But in 1954 the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled that all public schools must be integrated.

That summer all black children were required to take a scholastic test:

The test was very hard, on purpose. The white people who designed the test to be so hard that none of the black children would pass.

But Ruby Bridges scored very high, one of only four black children who passed the test, and she was assigned to begin first grade at William Franz Elementary School. But although the school was only a short walk from her house, it had been an all-white school and parents and non-parents were very angry. On the first day, crowds of them surrounded the school, with weapons and signs demanding that the school not be integrated--ever. For her safety, Ruby had to be driven by Federal Marshalls to the school and escorted inside and all the way to her classroom--where she found herself the only student of her teacher, Mrs. Henry.

"I was going to integrate William Frantz Public School and I was going to be alone," she wrote later.

At that moment Ruby was not afraid. She was only sad that she could not be with her friends any more. At six years old she had no idea what a huge moment in history she was about to be part of.

Almost all adults and some children are familiar with the Norman Rockwell painting of little Ruby, in her little white dress, with white socks and shoes, and beribboned braids, surrounded by protective federal marshals as an angry crowd screamed and tossed ripe tomatoes at her. But Ruby Bridges bravely walked into a new world, inside to a now integrated William Frantz School. That painting, which now hangs outside the Oval Office in the White House, is an iconic symbol of the courage and determination of those brave souls who eventually overcame school segregation.

Coretta Scott King award-winning author Kekla Magoon tells the essence of the story of Ruby Bridges in language accessible for young readers in a short chapter book, describing how the six-year-old felt during that very unusual first-grade year--how Ruby sometimes hid her sandwich, hoping to get to go to the lunchroom with the other first graders and how Mrs. Henry stopped lunching with other teachers so that Ruby would not be lonely eating alone in their classroom.

Illustrated by Gillian Flint, She Persisted: Ruby Bridges (Philomel Books, 2021) is one of the books about persistent girls and women in the series She Persisted.

Beginning Black History Month with what the children know best, the schoolroom, this is a perfect read-aloud to begin February observances and activities. "A context-offering complement to Bridges’ own books for children." says Kirkus Reviews.

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Friday, January 14, 2022

The Adventures of Zip, Bip, & Chip: See Zip Zap! by David Milgrim

Zip is a space alien of the greenish persuasion, with a magical antenna which he uses to zap assorted characters when it seems a good idea--and perhaps when it's not. He first zaps up a striped bug-like critter with two antennae.

Pleased with himself, Zip then zaps up four birdlike creatures. Perhaps to show off his versatility, he zaps up Chip, a canine-ish character whose job is to applaud Zip, and then a similarly egg-headed baby alien named Bip, who seems to be moved mostly to outrun the margins prepared for his persona. Zip follows toward page right to zap up four odd birds who are so exciting that they instantly put Bip the Baby down for a nap!

Bip naps on, despite the flippant and feisty fowls, provoking Bip to wake up and Zip to use his biggest ZAP on the Big Bodied Beastie with one nose horn that he zapped up.

UH, OH. TIME TO GO!

Zap snatches up Bip as the horned Beastie closes in, and the two fall off the cliff as the Beastie skids to a zippy stop.

WHOA!

As Zip and Bip fall toward the ground below, Zip zaps up a squadron of feisty fowls in a flying formation to catch the falling figures of Zip and Bip before they go SPLAT on the flatland below the cliff.

Zip claps and claps!

[THE END]

Author-illustrator David Milgrim's extra-easy beginning reader, See Zip Zap: Ready-to-Read Ready-to-Go! (The Adventures of Zip) concentrates on the beginning reader's venerated reading tricks--rhyming words, repetition, alliteration, and easy-to-sound out words to tickle the punny funnybone and build the beginner's self confidence in this super easy reader in his Adventures of Zip series.

For more reading starters, zip down to the library or bookstore for more Zip and Bip, in Milgrim's sequels, Poof! A Bot! Ready-to-Read Ready-to-Go! (The Adventures of Zip) and Come In, Zip!: Ready-to-Read Ready-to-Go! (The Adventures of Zip).

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Would Wood? Would Could by Tiffany Stone

ONE FINE DAY, WOOD WAS SLEEPING LIKE A LOG.

Wood is a short log who pines for only one thing--a nice, long nap. And then along comes this girl with a toy rabbit to interrupt his sleep.

"LOOK, PRINCE FLUTTERBUTT! A UNICORN!"

"WHERE?" SAYS WOOD. COULD THAT GIRL MEAN HIM?

Wood was about to drift back into his nap, when the girl shouts again.

"PRINCE FLUTTERBUTT IS STUCK IN QUICKSAND!"

The girl is shouting something about a bridge. Wood COULD be a bridge, but. . . WOULD he? It was easier to drift back to sleep!

Then the girl starts calling for help for Prince Flutterbutt, who'd been snatched by an eagle and dropped in his nest, but by this time Wood is sleeping like a log again, snoring like a woodcutter sawing firewood. Would Wood help in the rescue?

Or. . ."woody knot?"

Wood awoke to roll over, deciding to help to root out the culprit.

MAYBE IT WAS TIME TO TURN OVER A NEW LEAF!

YES! WOOD WOULD!

Tiffany Stones' latest, Wood Could (Dial Books, 2021), will provide some fairly sophisticated wordplay for the picture book crowd, assisted by veteran comic illustrator Mike Lowery, who also did the jolly illustrations for Lynne Plourde's How to Talk Monster.

Wood turns out to be a good bloke, er "block" of wood, and logs a good deed, as well, in this punny funny story. Early reading should not be all work and no wordplay, and School Library Journal logs on to say, "A richly executed comedic piece, this hides tenderness in rough bark but is a real softie when it comes to charm. With funny wordplay and pacing to delight with every turn of the page, this one's a must."

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Friend In Deed: Dear Librarian by Lydia Sigwarth

MAY I TELL YOU A STORY? IT HAPPENED WHEN I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD.

MY MOM AND DAD AND FIVE BIG SISTERS AND ONE LITTLE BROTHER ALL HAD TO LEAVE COLORADO AND MOVE TO IOWA, WHERE GRANDMA LIVED.

Dad finds a job, but there was not enough room for all of them at anyone's house. At Grandma's house, there was a park but no friends. There was not enough room for all of them to stay at Aunt Lydia's house, already full of things that break, or in Aunt Lydia's cozy but tiny basement, three to a sofa and three to the bed.

NOWHERE WAS HOME FOR ME.

But one day Mom takes them to a new place.

THE LIBRARY.

There was a big sunny window with a puppet stage there and so many books. There were toys and cozy pillows for reading alone. But just up those stairs, there is a big round desk, which becomes her favorite place to be with a friend called the Librarian, someone who, with a hug, finds the perfect book about princesses and reads it to her in the special reading spot on the floor.

In these days a library with a librarian whose job is to find and read a special story for a lonely child can become a home big enough for everyone, in Lydia Sigwarth's gentle story of displaced people with a place and a space beautifully realized in the intimate artwork of Romina Galotta, for everyone, in her Dear Librarian (Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2021).

Yes, there may be a perfect book for a particular child in a library, but there is also a warm welcoming public place for everyone, each with his or her own need for a sunny, friendly spot to be alone or together. Publishers Weekly says, "A gentle ode to the effect one person can have on another, and what a library can offer a community."

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Runaway Roundup: Biscuit's Day at the Farm by Alyssa Satin Capucilli


How do a puppy and a piglet make friends?

"COME ALONG, BISCUIT! WE'RE GOING TO HELP ON THE FARM!"

"WOOF! WOOF!"

Biscuit is a natural herder, so when his girl discovers that the pigpen is empty, he's on the case right away.

Biscuit finds all the pigs and all the piglets are now in the pigpen with Mama Pig! Great! The farm helpers move along to their next chore--feeding the goats! But now....

"OH! THE PIGLET IS OUT OF THE PEN, BISCUIT!"

The piglet is at the goats" feeding trough, eating their food. This won't work! The girl picks up the piglet and carries him all the way back to the pigpen, and she calls Biscuit to come with her to the next chore.

"LET'S FEED THE SHEEP!"

Biscuit is on the job! But the runaway piglet is already in the sheep pen and on top of their hay! This is not right!

It's back to the pigpen with the piglet. Mission accomplished. But--Oh, now....!

"EVERY GOOSE IS ON THE LOOSE!"

It's a good thing our girl has a trusty herd dog along to help, in Alyssa Satin Capucilli's Biscuit's Day at the Farm (My First I Can Read) (Harper), as Biscuit helps with the last roundup of the day. Everyone is where they should be and eating their own food at last, and all is well down on the farm. but with both visiting helpers about ready for a nice nap back home!

Artist Pat Schories' soft pastel illustrations of little animals being themselves are humorous and beguiling in this action-filled trip to the farmyard, just right for preschool and emergent readers ready for a first field trip to the farm or for young ones just learning to recognize and name different farm animals.

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Sunday, January 09, 2022

With A Little Help from My Friends! Pete the Kitty, Ready, Set, Go Cart! by Kimberly and James Dean

PETE WANTS A GO-KART--THE FASTEST ONE!

Pete tries to line up parts for his go-kart. He finds a box, but when he sits down in it, he can't see over the sides. His friend Bob helps him find a seat that fits in the box. Now he sits just high enough.

"GREAT!" SAYS PETE.

But his kart is missing something important!"

"YOU NEED WHEELS!" SAYS CALLIE.

Callie finds an old wagon and she and Bob helps Pete put its wheels on his kart. Now it rolls, but not very fast!

Callie and Pete find a really high hill and Bob helps them push the go-kart up to the top. Is it ready for a test run?

No! First, Pete has to paint some cool racing designs on his go-kart.

Now it LOOKS fast, but he needs one more bit of help--A BIG PUSH from all his friends!

And down the hill Pete goes, (FAST!) in Kimberly and James Dean's Pete the Kitty: Ready, Set, Go-Cart! (Harper My First I Can Read) (Harper).

It seems that it takes a village, or at least some really good friends, to build a winning go-kart racer in this first beginner reader by that winning pair, James and Kimberly Dean, who get Pete going and over the finish line.

For young readers, this one has the right stuff- an idea, a plan, and lots of cooperation--to get their winning project over that goal.

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Saturday, January 08, 2022

It Takes All Kinds: "Happy Cats" by Catharina Amari and Anouka Han


Cats come in all kinds of colors, shapes, sizes, and personalities. There are happy cats, and then there are scrappy cats, shy cats, rarely-ever-seen cats.

THERE ARE SCARCELY-EVER-THERE CATS.

Cats in boxes, cats in trees... cats that are capricious, cats that like to please.

BLACK CATS, BROWN CATS, ALWAYS UPSIDE-DOWN CATS....

Fat cats, flat under a mat cats. . .

BARN CATS, WHEREVER-THERE-IS-YARN CATS!

Cats come in all kinds, just like their owners, but the best kind of cats are in Catharina Amari and Anouka Hans' Happy Cats (Abrams Appleseed, 2021).

Whatever you think of cats, you can't complain that they are all alike. In fact, in this quirky rhyming lexagon of cats, they are all unique cats, as created by artist Emi Lennox's in her charming illustrated catalog of curious kitties. Easy reading and comic comparisons of the world of cats, contained in a long series of clever combinations of adjectives and nouns, describe appealing felines shown in all their variety.

"Even the most resolute dog lover will be charmed by the many furry felines in this title for the very young. . . , " says School Library Journal.

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Friday, January 07, 2022

Fight to Build a Better Bridge: Change Sings by Amanda Gorman

A little girl with an enormous guitar begins it all, playing and singing, as she walks along the sidewalk (with a wall mural of Martin Luther King as her backdrop), and as she marches along, other young musicians join the the band--a small boy in a yarmulka joins her in cleaning up broken bottles and cans before he picks up his huge Sousaphone and plays with her. The two bring food to a homeless mother and child and a lonely woman with her walker, and recruit a trumpet player along the way.

Seeing a small girl isolated high on her porch, the young musicians help build her a ramp so she can join them with her drum.

I DON'T MAKE A TALLER FENCE.

BUT FIGHT TO BUILD A BETTER BRIDGE.

A young trombonist is recruited as the little band helps storekeepers along the way as they pass, and a very small girl adds her tiny tambourine.

WE KNOW IT WON'T BE LONG.

WON'T YOU SING ALONG?

In Amanda Gorman's latest plea for social change, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem (Viking Books, 2021), the author says she "takes a knee to make a stand."

In beautiful illustrations by the award-winning artist Loren Long, the creator of the inspiring young steer in the much-loved stories about farm adventures, Otis, and sequels, and Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,

The New York Time's top-selling illustrator adds gloriously glowing illustrations to join author Amanda Gordon, America's National Youth Poet Laureate.

Says Kirkus in a starred review, "Text and poetry work together to regulate a careful reading of this beautiful work. One to keep, to read, and to reread.”

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Thursday, January 06, 2022

Biscuit Babysits Biscuit and the Little Pup by Alyssha Satin Capucilli


It's time for Biscuit to play outside. He chases his little ball as it is thrown toward his dog house. But, wait!

There's a puppy already in Biscuit's doghouse!
"BISCUIT WANTS TO PLAY!"

ARF! ARF! THE LITTLE PUP DOES NOT WANT TO PLAY!"

Biscuit runs around the dog house and the Little Pup comes out to chase him.

But outside, Little Pup discovers he can go in and out of windows of the doghouse. The two dogs start a game of Inside-Outside, and the boy and girl join the hide-and-seek game by sliding in and out through the doghouse windows, too! Now everyone is inside the doghouse!

And now EVERYONE wants to play together, with Alyssa Satin Capucilli's story of how Biscuit discovers that some times HE is the BIG DOG, as in Biscuit and the Little Pup (My First I Can Read) (Harper I-Can-Read). Pat Schories' charming illustrations depict exactly how kids and dogs go about making friends. This one is perfect for the beginning reader with its charming drawings and plenty of prompts to the text. Playing is always more fun with TWO funny puppies.

Biscuit and the Little Pup (My First I Can Read) (Harper I-Can-Read Books) when Biscuit gets to the the Big Dog!

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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

What's for Lunch? Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too! by Maggie P. Chang


GERALDINE LOVES HER FAMILY. . . AND GOING TO SCHOOL. . . WITH HER LUNCH BOX (NAMED BIANDANG). . .ARE FAVORITE THINGS
.

AND THE BEST PART OF GOING TO SCHOOL IS . . . LUNCH!

Geraldine loves the stickers on her lunch box and her grandmother Amah, who always makes her a special lunch--sometimes leftovers from dinner, and sometimes a surprise, with a special note.

But this day at lunch, with yellow curry inside Biandong, was a disaster. Everything was great until...

"SNIFF, SNIFF..."

NICO ARRIVED." EW!!!"

"YOUR LUNCH IS GROSS!!"

Everyone at the table begins to hold their noses and make rude sounds. Geraldine moves as far away from everyone as she can and closes her lunch box and locks it.

That night she eats everything on the table. She asks her grandmother to make her a sandwich for lunch the next day. Amah says they are out of bread, but she'll come up with something.

The next day Geraldine confidently opens her Biandang, expecting a plain sandwich. But it's a BAO--a yummy soft-steamed bun with filling.

"WHAT'S THAT?" ASKED NICO, MAKING A FACE. "IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE A SANDWICH! EVEN YOUR SANDWICHES LOOK WEIRD!"

Again Geraldine closes her lunchbox and moves away from Nico and the rest of the kids who are making faces. She sits by a new boy named Deven at the far end of the table. And when she leaves her lunchbox on the bus, Deven calls out that she's forgetting her lunch box. But Nico yells out the window. . .

"THE SMELLY LUNCHBOX BELONGS TO GERALDINE POOO POOO!!"

The kids on the bus drive away, giggling. And when Geraldine gets home, she hurries to her bedroom and...

. . .

SLAMS THE DOOR!

Geraldine throws her lunchbox against the wall. She's instantly sorry and fixes Biandang with some glue. There's Stinky Tofu for dinner, of course. But Geraldine doesn't tell her Amah not to put it her lunchbox. What's the use, she thinks.

And at lunch the next day, she sits with Deven, and he offers her something called Stinky Toe from his lunchbox. It's a sweet and delicious fruit, and she shares her stinky tofu with Deven.

And Deven loves it!

The other kids are speechless, bit Geraldine can't wait to share lunches tomorrow, in author-illustrator Maggie P. Chang's new graphic beginning reader, Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too!: Ready-to-Read Graphics Level 3 (Simon Spotlights, 2021).

Mining those early grade comic horrors of the school lunchroom, Maggie Chang's tale has its happy ending, told delightfully in graphic novel style for early readers.

Author Chang offers novice readers a lesson on the format of graphic novel-reading, along with vocabulary such as speech balloons (for words spoken) and speech bubbles (for unvoiced thoughts), panels, and how to read the panels left to right on the page. Chang also appends a glossary of foods mentioned in the story for young readers, while grownups with more sophisticated palates reading this one aloud may find themselves longing for an actual warm, steamy bao pronto!

School Library Journal says, "Early readers will sink their teeth into this refreshing story."

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

ROY G. BIV GOES MISSING! Pete the Kitty and the Unicorn's Missing Colors by Kimberly and James Dean

At the park Pete spots his buddy, Stevie the unicorn, looking sad.

"THE MAGIC UNICORN DANCE IS TONIGHT," SAYS STEVIE.

"I LOST THE COLORS IN MY TAIL PLAYING IN THE PARK."

"I'LL NEVER FIND MY COLORS BEFORE THE DANCE CONTEST!"

Pete wants to help restore Stevie's rainbow tail colors with his Magic Brush, but he needs to know what colors to look for.

"RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO, VIOLET" SAYS STEVIE.

That's easy-peasy for Pete the Kitty. With his Magic Paint Brush, he gathers red from berries, orange from flowers, yellow from a butterfly, green from grass, indigo blue from the lake, and violet from the clouds, and zaps them into each plume of Stevie's tail.

With his rainbow tail restored to its spectacular spectrum, Stevie and Pete are ready to party down at the dance contest.

The scientifically esteemed ROY G. BIV rides again as the mnemonic device for remembering the colors of the rainbow, as Stevie the Unicorn wins the dance contest, and Pete the Kitty is proud to help his friend make a hit at the dance, in Kimberly and James Dean's rainbow rescue first reader, Pete the Kitty and the Unicorn's Missing Colors (My First I Can Read) (Harper I-Can-Read Books). This one by the prolific couple of Kim and James Dean is a great beginning reader for fans of little Pete and a rhythmic review of the colors for the preschool and primary crowd.

Find more Pete the Kitty early readers here:

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Sunday, January 02, 2022

Absentee Matinee! Fancy Nancy: Bubbles, Bubbles, and More Bubbles by Jane O'Connor

OOO-LA LA LA!

Nancy Clancy and her best friend Bree can't wait for the up-coming Bubbles Party, celebrating their science unit on the wonderful things they've learned about bubbles!

But then Nancy gets horrendous news (fancy for really bad!) from Bree: she is sick and won't be back to school until Friday. Nancy is sad that her friend will miss performing in the spendiferous bubble show in the school auditorium! Her class will be demonstrating everything they can do with bubbles. It's too bad that Bree will miss all the fun!

But while Nancy is telling her family all about the Bubble Show, she gets an idea.

"SUDDENLY AN IDEA GOES POP IN MY HEAD!"

Nancy and her class rehearse their own Bubble Party play just for Bree when she gets well and returns to class!

And the kids perform a Bubble Ballet Party to entertain Bree and help her catch up with all the splendid things to know about bubbles. Bree even asks the kids to perform the whole show again so that she can blow the biggest bubble yet!

Fancy Nancy and Friends are always happy for a chance to dress up and perform, as in Jane O'Connor's Fancy Nancy: Bubbles, Bubbles, and More Bubbles! (Harper I Can Read Level 1), combining consideration for a member of the class and showing off their knowledge of the scientific properties of bubbles. With the familiar comic illustrations of artist Robin Preiss Glaser, this one is as light as a feather (er, bubble).

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

Turnip Cake, Anyone? A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas


Pig and Mouse have volunteered to make the birthday cake!

"THE BEST EVER!"

Pig and Mouse assemble their utensils: measuring cups, a big bowl, whisks and spoons, and a big baking pan. Pig and Mouse assemble their ingredients: eggs, milk, flour and sugar. But Duck has one more.

"AND A TURNIP?"

Mouse nixes the turnip. Now they have to mix the ingredients with ...

A TURNIP?

NO. A SPOON! Mouse says.

The bakers are ready to put the pan of cake batter into the oven.

"CAN A TURNIP GO IN, TOO?" DUCK INQUIRES.

Yikes, No way, Duck! But when the fragrant cake is done, they have to put something on top of it.

"NO TURNIPS, DUCK!"

Mouse suggests birthday candles! And just in time, the birthday cake is ready. And here comes Cow, right on cue!

"IS THAT WHAT I THINK IT IS?" SAYS COW.

And, Yes, dear reader, COW means ....

The turnip, just for him!

It's different strokes for different critters, in Jan Thomas' early readers' hilarious noodle tale, A Birthday for Cow! (The Giggle Gang)(The Giggle Gang) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), in which Cow gets his heart's delight, and Mouse and Pig get to eat their own cake all by themselves. Everyone gets what they want. It's a simple story of the best birthday party EVER! With its thick blackline drawings and multicolored pastel pages, this clever noodle tale offers plenty of visual clues and repetition of key words to help beginning readers tackle reading this story all by themselves.

And now... is there leftover cake for successful readers?

Pair this classic with Jan Thomas' other delightfully silly beginner reader books, such as What Is Chasing Duck? (The Giggle Gang) and What Will Fat Cat Sit On? (The Giggle Gang)

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Friday, December 31, 2021

Pig The Pug--Deported! Pig the Tourist by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug has proved to be a pain in the patootie plenty of times!

But his putative owners and his co-pet, the timid and long-suffering dachshund Trevor, somehow put up with his pranks.

PIG WAS A PUG AND I'M SORRY TO SAY,

WHEN HE WENT ON VACATION, HE'D CAUSE GREAT DISMAY.

Sweet little Trevor is happy to travel cheerfuly in his little carrier without a whimper, probably because Pig can't pick on him there.

But Pig the Pug skips the leash to outdo himself in mayhem on several continents, leaving a swath of devastation in his wake, be it Brazil's Carnivale, the Great Pyramid and Sphinx, or the Tower of Pisa, now leaning more than ever.

He chases Queen Liz's Corgis right out of the palace, leaving the Monarch both shaken AND stirred, ALAS!

In the Amazon, Pig scoffs at the signage--"PIRANHAS! BEWARE!

So he dives into the river and gets bitten You-Know-Where!

And, dear readers, his bottom bandaged, truth to tell . . .

PIG THE PUG DOES NOT TRAVEL WELL!

In the awesome Aussie author-illustrator Aaren Blabey's tale of the terrible tourist, Pig the Pug, his Pig the Tourist (Pig the Pug) (Scholastic Press, 2019), this canine miscreant provides sight gags and rollicking rhymes to get the giggles from his many preschool and primary fans, who welcome each new entry in this New York Time's best-selling series. Blabey's latest in his Pig the Pug series is Pig the Monster (Pig the Pug)

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Have It Your Way! See the Cat: Three Stories About A Dog by David Rochelle

Back in the age of poor Dick and Jane and Alice and Jerry, if the author of their primer readers wanted them to "see Spot" or "see Jip," they had no choice. And the illustrators of their first reader series cooperated with the authors. If they wanted readers to see Spot or Jip, well, by George, there he was on the facing page. Now in these days of bossy metafiction characters, they think they run the show!

CHAPTER ONE: SEE THE CAT!

I AM NOT A CAT. I AM A DOG!

No matter how determined the author of this "see and say" primer is at describing the putative cat, the actual character maintains that he is a dog. However, although the book's narrator maintains that he is a blue cat in a green dress with the silly name of Baby Cakes, riding on the back of a pink unicorn, he maintains his dogdom.

I AM MAX, A DOG!

Surprisingly, a pink unicorn with a blue cat gallops across the putative page. Now Max's face is red with embarrassment. It gets worse.

CHAPTER II: SEE THE SNAKE!

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Max leaps up from his trusty rug, only to find a snake underneath, a very mad snake at that! Two can play at this metaphysical plotting. Max re-edits the text to read ...

"THE MAD SNAKE IS NOT GOING TO BITE THE DOG!"

Close call! At least that's the end of Chapter II. WHEW!

CHAPTER III: SEE THE DOG!

Having established his true species, Max is happy to stretch out on his rug and rest when the narrator announces . . .

"SEE THE DOG RUN AND JUMP AND . . . FLY! OR A HIPPO WILL SIT ON HIM!"

No can do. SHEESH! Max has had it with this illogical and abhorrent authorhood! He's leaving this book now! And if he does. . .

NOBODY WILL READ IT!

Aha! That hits the publisher where it hurts--the pocketbook! Stop the presses!

Author David Rochelle's clever spoof of the introductory "Dick and Jane" readers from the 1940s, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog (Candlewick Press, 2020, 2021), abetted by illustrator Mike Wohnoutka, (winner of the American Library Association's prestigious Theodor Seuss Giesel Award for beginning reader books) zestfully carries off this parody of those hoary first grade primers. While achieving their original goal to provide stories with controlled vocabulary and with drawings reminiscent of Dr. Seuss'; Beginner Books, Rochelle and Wohnoutka support the text for the beginning reader just as their predecessors intended to do.

Writes Kirkus Reviews,"Sardonic cartoon drawings and the play on words cleverly elevate the repetitive, Dick-and-Jane pattern to include humor and suspense. Children, who are frequently subject to the control of others, will delight in seeing Max mirror their emotions and turn the tables. Kids will cheer for the affronted Max in this well-crafted early reader with surprising outcomes."

.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Compare and Contrast! Black and White by Debora Vogrig

WHITE WAKES UP...

... And as dawn lightens the sky, the brightening White slips insides the sleeping silhouetted buildings, seeking her friend Black, hiding, as he often is, under the bed. White pushes under the bed, and finds her friend.

"HEY! STOP PUSHING! YOU'RE SQUASHING ME! BLACK GRUMBLES."

White has got places to go and things to do in the morning, but Black decides to trail along, turning into a dark octopus, gleefully squirting dark ink onto the spotless white!

Next he organizes the black ink to make the black spots of a speedy Dalmation running into a forest of birchbark tree trunks. White and Black are on a roll now, and together they make a white polar bear with black nose and a flock of two-toned penguins at the opposite pole.

Moving fast, White and Black form a racing herd of Zebras and a black panther in the rain forest and they go down to the sea flying the black and white Jolly Roger flag of a pirate.

And then it is Black's turn to creep into the landscape, creating those elongated evening shadows. The spiral of darkness begins to take charge.

But the two friends still have just enough light for a game with black and white chess pieces, a sing-along with the black and white keys of the piano, one more story on the black-and-white of the printed page--and just enough light from the crescent moon and a million points of light in the black sky.

It takes TWO, in Debora Vogrig's latest, Black and White (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2021).

Picture book gurus always advise choosing books for youngsters with vibrant colors, but, au contraire, this tour-de-force of picture book possibilities offers a bold sample of what can be done with black and white in the hands of an able author and an illustrious illustrator.

Working solely (but dually) with all-black and all-white pages, illustrator Pia Valentinis uses the contrasting markings of black-and-white animals to make each one easily recognizable in an eye-catching, brain-stimulating reverse-the field technique that illustrates the importance of differences, no matter how very diverse they can be.

Opposites attract, it seems, in this clever story of light and dark White and Black, working together to make their own world. "The story unfolds in short spare sentences that match the illustrations, both text and artwork presenting just enough for readers to fill in the details with their imaginations," says

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Monday, December 27, 2021

Where Do They Go?: Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

OVER THE SNOW I GLIDE.

INTO THE WOODS.

As a boy and his dad ski into the winter woods, the boy's eye catches a flash of color as a red squirrel suddenly zips from sight.

"WHERE DID HE GO?"

"UNDER THE SNOW," DAD SAYS.

Dad tells the boy that many animals keep food stores under the snow, like the red squirrel, who can forage for the scent of nuts and berries he has stored in the space between the slightly melted snow and the cold ground below. And he's not the only creature to make use of that cold locker. Rabbits and hares also visit their secret safe under the snow-- and voles, deer mice, shrews, and ground squirrels have their own larders of nuts and fruit with rinds. Some sleep most of the time in semi-hibernation. They snooze in underground nests and tunnels, where they can wake to eat from time to time from their goodies or sleep long days to conserve their internal fat stores.

As the boy glides up the hills and down, he also sees the wakeful predators, watching for any sign of an animal above the snow. Foxes and owls pounce powerfully if their sharp ears detect a sound from below the snow.

Dad shows him where the sharp hooves of deer leave their tracks behind in the snow.

UNDER THE SNOW THE FAT BULLFROGS SLEEP, DREAMING OF WHEN THEY HAD TAILS.

And down below the snow, beavers in their dens dine on carefully selected supplies of pinecones and bark in their warm dining rooms with a view of the water.

In what seems like a cold and deserted landscape as father and son ski through, forest animals are living in places hidden and unseen, finding food in the frozen stillness of winter, in Kate Messner's Over and Under the Snow.

There is much to learn from the careful ways of animals in winter in this primary lesson on animal behavior and survival in Messner's pleasantly plotted book. Artist Christopher Silas Neal's craftily rendered illustrations display the double levels of life in the winter woodlands, useful for meeting the requirements of the animal science curriculum for the primary grades.

"Beautifully rendered," writes Horn Book Magazine in a starred review.

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Teatime Catastrophe: Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea!> by Linda Ashman

PHOEBE'S AS PERFECT AS PERFECT CAN BE!

She's certainly one of the cool kids! It's quite the coup to travel in her company, and our girl hopes that everything will be a perfect as Phoebe. She even bathes her dog Louie, and prompts him to be on his best behavior. He's instructed to offer one paw to shake, and he's NOT to dig holes or jump in the pool!

NO SHEDDING! NO DROOL!

Phoebe's so clever and stylish, with plenty of smarts. She rates fine china, eclairs, and fruit tarts!

The table is set with pink tablecloth and matching flowers. It's ready ahead of time, by hours and hours. At last, says the clock, it is almost three. And right on time, Ding Dong, it's Phoebe Dupree! She greets Louie gently when first she comes in, with an appropriate little chuck of his chin. The teapot is fetched, and tea poured without a drip...

But the triple-tiered tea tray starts to slip...!

IT WOBBLES, I STUMBLE...THEN I TRIP...!

The eclairs fly through the air, Phoebe jostles a chair, and the table totters, with a tumble and a tip!

It's a teatime catastrophe, a hostess' disaster!

And then, to make things worse, Louie runs in from a dip in the pool. His shakes distribute equal amounts of pool water and... drool.

The party is a washout; is this teatime done?

"OH," SAYS PHOEBE, "THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN!"

And Phoebe IS perfect, displaying grace under pressure, as our would-be hostess with the mostest discovers, in Linda Ashman's delightful Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea! (Candlewick Press, 2021). Consoled with some slightly smooshed eclairs and cookie shards, and with the lively, comic illustrations of Alea Marley documenting the calamity, a good time is had by all in an absolutely memorable tea party.

"Funny, subtly empowering, and sweet," is the verdict of Kirkus Reviews.

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Saturday, December 25, 2021

Special Delivery! The Lost Package by Richard Ho

LIKE OTHER PACKAGES, THIS ONE BEGAN WITH AN EMPTY BOX.

A child places a carefully chosen gift inside, secures the flaps with great care and lots of tape, and addresses it with a personal message, and with a dog on leash, a boy and his mom set off down the sidewalk to the big post office, where the box is weighed and stamped and begins its travels

It moves through the wondrous process of the conveyor belt where magical devices measures sort, and route it to to the airport. But on the way, the delivery truck hits a pothole, the door flies open, and, unnoticed by the truck's driver, the box bounces out and into the puddle alongside the curb, where a curious dog is walking with a boy and his mother.

The dog pulls on his leash to give the package an investigative sniff, while the boy and his mother read the address on the label.

THE BOX WAS TATTERED BUT ITS DESTINATION WAS CLEAR.

The boy and his mom exchange surprised looks as they realize that they and the box are making the trip to the same place. The package takes its place in their moving truck with boxes of their belongings. All day they drive down the long, wet, rainy roads taking them to their new home.

And when they arrive, their first stop is at the very address on the lost-and-found box, where another surprised boy and his amazed mother open the door to find them on their doorstep.

NOT ALL PACKAGES TRAVEL THE SAME ROAD.

SOME GET LOST. SOME GET FOUND.

But this one is delivered, not by Santa, but by a really kind boy and mom, in this sweet story of a gift, lost, found, and delivered by hand by perhaps new friends, in Richard Ho's The Lost Package (Roaring Brook Press, 2021), lovingly illustrated by Jessica Lanan's rain-burnished artwork.

Says Publishers Weekly in a their starred review, "The richness of the tale lies in subtly textured watercolor illustrations by Lanan (The Fisherman and the Whale), which poignantly portray a broad range of settings, from gritty urban streets shimmering with rain to snow-swept terrains to a desolate gas station."

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Friday, December 24, 2021

This Is The Way We Go To Sleep: Good Night, Good Night, by Sandra Boynton

THE SUN HAS SET NOT LONG AGO.

A boat, not unlike an ark, loaded with a variety of animals, from bunnies to bear, puppy to elephant, sails by in the setting sun.

NOW EVERYBODY GOES BELOW.

The sun is gone, but there are still duties to be done.

The animals take a bath, dry off, and hang their towels neatly on the wall. Rhino leads the way with pajamas for all.

WITH SOME ON TOP AND SOME BENEATH

THEY BRUSH AND BRUSH AND BRUSH THEIR TEETH.

It's up a deck to huff and puff with lifts, sit-ups, rope jumping, and toe touching.

And down again to go to bed, some at the foot, some at the head.

It's "Good night, off with the light!"

THE SEA IS DEEP--

And so is their sleep!

In her 1982 revision of this longer version of The Going-To-Bed Book, Sandra Boynton's just-published Good Night, Good Night: The original longer version of The Going to Bed Book (Little Simon, 2021 ed.), the routines and rituals of bedtime provide the plot, as author-illustrator Boynton's charming and humorous illustrations feature double-page spreads with her jolly and idiosyncratic crew preparing to go gently into that good night. As always, Sandra Boynton's distinctive soothing and sweet bedtime books are in a class by themselves.

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