Saturday, December 15, 2018

Join the Search? Where's Santa Claus? by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Santa seems to be everywhere at Christmas, but it is still fun to try to spot him, along with the usual snowbound Christmas crew at the North Pole.


There he is, hiding behind that bright red felt flap!

Now, can we find a jolly SNOW MAN? Where can he be?

And then Santa must have an elf or two hiding somewhere there. Where can she be....?

And now it's time to find the jolly guy in the red suit. WHERE, OH, WHERE... do we look? Maybe behind that soft green Christmas tree?

Introducing very little ones to the symbols of the season can be lots of fun in Ingela P. Arrhenius' newest, Where's The... board book, Where's Santa Claus? (Where's The) (Nosy Crow, 2018). The latest in this board book series for the very youngest features liftable flaps made from soft colorful felt that are easy for even babies under a year old to manipulate, with bright and colorful discoveries hiding under each one. And that other important person in the scene, the little reader, gets to lift the flap and see--himself or herself in the MIRROR on the last page. Who's that?


For the very youngest Christmas celebrant, this jolly little toy-and-movable book is just the stocking stuffer for a first Christmas.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

With A Little Help From My Friends: The Polar Bear Wish by Lori Evert

Long, long ago, so high in the mountains and close to the stars that on a clear night you don't need a lantern, lived an adventurous girl named Anya.

It is almost Christmas, and little Anya wishes for a sled for her dog Birki to to take her to the big Christmas party, which promises games and dances and treats. And when her cousin Erik appears with his sled pulled by his dog Bria, Anya happily hitches Birki up with Bria, and the two are off through the snowy Scandinavian scene. But a sudden blizzard strands the two children, where they are led by friendly wolves to shelter overnight in the storm.

To add to their problems, a little polar bear named Tiny appears, lost from his mother, and Anya and Eric are diverted from their journey to reunite the little bear with his family, a magical trek through fantastic icy fjords to a ice palace where they rest overnight. But can they find Tiny's mother and still make it to the Christmas party?

In true fantasy fiction style, they do. Mother Bear and Tiny are reunited, and Anya and Eric feast and dance through the long Arctic night, in Lori Evert's second book, The Polar Bear Wish (A Wish Book) (Random House, 2018). Although Per Breiehagen's striking Nordic photos of his and Evert's own daughter are as charmingly appealing as in their earlier The Reindeer Wish (Wish Series), there's a bit of cognitive dissonance between the realistic photos and the fantastical storyline--offset a little by the trusty old ambivalent ending in which Anya awakes in her own bed ... wonder if it all was a dream....

And for those who dote on truly snowy Scandinavian Christmas images, share this new one with Jan Brett's famous folkloric artwork in her The Three Snow Bears and The Wild Christmas Reindeer.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Don't Be Naughty? Don't Push The Button-A Christmas Adventure by Bill Cotter




Larry, our little ambivalent guide to good advice, can't resist the come-on.


And in Bill Cotter's little Christmas confection, his cute little purple gremlin touts the fun to follow by pushing that Christmasy red button.


And that's just the beginning. Larry becomes evergreen Larry, decorated with lights and ornaments. Future button-pushing episodes turn him red-and-white striped like a candy cane, make snow flakes begin to fall on his head, and summon Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Quick! Push the...


But even Santa Claus is pleased to have Larry's help in making the Yuletide merry and bright, in Bill Cotter's fun little metafiction tale, Don't Push the Button! A Christmas Adventure (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2017). Fans of Cotter's Red Button series, will love this romp through the tropes of the holiday season, right down to hitting the starter BUTTON for Santa's sleigh!


ONE... TWO...

You know what to DO!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

In the Room Where It Happens! I Am Cindy Lou Who by Tish Rabe

The inhabitants down in the little valley hamlet known colloquially as "Who-ville" have awakened to the horror of a cheer-free holiday.

Gone inexplicably from their homes are all vestiges of festivity and generosity. The foods on which they had planned to feast were feloniously purloined from their fridges. Their holiday decor had been stripped from their dwellings--lock, stock, and Yule logs. The toys so kindly collected under the Christmas trees had vanished, along with the very trees themselves.

The populace was devastated. There was not a clue to the villain who would perpetrate such a vile deed.

--Except, it seems, for one eyewitness...

I am Cindy Lou Who.

I am two.

Stop the presses! The news flashes through the town:

Eyewitness of Christmas Eve
Home Invasions Comes Forward

And there is one suspect who certainly has motive and means:

All the Whos like Christmas a lot

But the Grinch on Mt. Crumpet?

He really does not!

What to do to rescue their Yuletide from the greenish clutches of the Grinch? The Whos do know what to do. They hold hands and sing, sing, SING! in Tish Rabe's board book re-telling of the Dr. Seuss Christmas classic, I Am Cindy-Lou Who (Random House, 2018). In this version Cindy Lou Who plays the lead for tots too young to attend to the complete picture book or the seasonal movie. This little book is a preview of the famous story of how, as another classic Christmas tale* tells, "yearly, newly, faithfully and truly" somehow Christmas always comes. Pair this one with its companion board book, Tish Rabe's I Am Max, for the companion story of the Grinch's innocent co-conspirator and unwilling antler-wearing canine.

*The Year Without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Memory Magic: The Broken Ornament by Tony DiTerlizzi

Jack wanted this Christmas to be the best Christmas ever.

"I want MORE ornaments!

Let's get a bigger tree!"

To Jack, more is better, and truth to tell, a bigger tree mainly means more room for Santa to leave presents for him underneath it.

Mom and Dad chuckle and their holiday decor outdoes any previous Christmas, but Jack still wants more. He finds one dusty ornament box in the closet and hurries to add one more to his tree.

"Not that one!" Jack's mother gasps.

But Jack yanks the old ornament from the box and drops it. It breaks on the floor. A glance at his mom shows her beginning to weep softly.

"We''ll get another one," he says.

"We can't!" his mother says softly.

And as Jack glances at the pieces of the ornament, he sees a tiny fairy appearing from the shards. She says her name is Tinsel and asks Jack for his Christmas wish.

"The best Christmas ever," he replies.

And Tinsel summons up a magical display of Christmas plenty--glittering trees, prancing reindeer, marching elves, and snowmen tossing snowballs. It's everything that says Christmas to Jack. But then Jack asks Tinsel if she can restore his mom's ornament.

"No can do!" Tinsel tells him.

But the fairy can summon up a vision for Jack--a vision of his mother's grandmother giving his mom her precious ornament from her own childhood Christmases past. Suddenly Jack understands. Christmas isn't about more. It's about the love and beloved memories that we bring to it. And now he knows just what to do.

And it is the best Christmas ever, one to remember forever, in Tony DiTerlizzi's magical Christmas tale, The Broken Ornament (Simon and Schuster, 2018). Author DiTerlizzi, creator of the quaint and beloved Spiderwick Chronicles series and the Caldecott-winning book, The Spider and the Fly, touches the heart with her soft and lovely illustrations and theme of beloved family traditions as part of the real magic of Christmas. Says Publishers Weekly, "The author delivers a sound, easily relatable lesson about the perils of greed—and the essence of Christmas—as Jack devises a way to make amends in the story’s heartwarming finale."

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Santa's Snack! Cookiesaurus Christmas by Amy Fellner Dominy

Santa will be here soon.

Look! The cookie plate is empty!

The big guy should have the best cookie to get him home to the North Pole, and that means me, Cookiesaurus Rex!

Tyrannosaurus Rex is accustomed to being at the top of the food chain, and he believes he and only he should be served up for Santa on his Christmas Eve circuit of deliveries. But when Cookiesaurus plants himself in Santa's plate, he's summarily removed!

It's not fair! Dinosaurs have Christmas spirit, too!

But Cookiesaurus can't seem to convince everyone that there's a place for dinos as Santa's snack. The Baker certainly doesn't seem to think so! He scoops up Star Cookie and plops him onto the plate in place of Cookiesaurus, but Cookie slyly removes him. When Baker gives Bell the spot of honor, Cookiesaurus accidentally on purpose knocks over Santa's glass of milk all over Bell. Sorry, Soggy, old chap!

But Baker has other alternatives more appropriate for Santa's snack. Baker cleans up the mess and this timed his spatula scoops up jolly Gingerbread Boy and drops him on Santa's plate.

Cookiesaurus sulks.


But there is a higher calling in store for this apex raptor cookie on the tree, in Amy Fellner Dominy's and Nate Evans' tempting new holiday tale, Cookiesaurus Christmas (Cookiesaurus Rex) (Disney Hyperion, 2018). Who knew that cookies were rivals for a place on Santa's plate? Authors Dominy and Evans have stirred up a tempting Christmas tale with a happy ending and all the toppings that will likely prompt a bit of  cut-out cookie baking for the family tree. Artist AG Ford follows through with detailed tasty illustrations that add to the fun of the festive season. As Kirkus says, "[this] cheeky dino is full of personality and spunk, and his facial expressions are priceless."

For another funny tale of rivalry between Santa's helpers, share this one with Aaron Blabey's popular, Pig the Elf (Pig the Pug).

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

SnowPig! Merry Christmas, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

Clad in matching green and red plaid, Mama and her little piglet are keeping watch by the window. Two things are about to happen, and Mama Pig can't wait to introduce Pookie, her cute little porker, to both of them.


Pookie puts on his snowsuit in a trice, and Mama promises that a walk in the fresh snow is magical! But Pookie finally admits that it's also freezing!


Mama Pig agrees that they don't want their snouts frozen, and the two head inside, where there's more seasonal fun on the schedule--starting with making some Christmas garlands and putting out some bright holiday lights. Then there's just time to pop some special cookies in the oven. They are just smelling yummy, when... Pookie hears the doorbell!


The halls are decked and it's time for some FA-LA-LAs with a family-and-friends sing-along. Pookie loves the celebration, but all too soon he's a pooped little piglet, and soon it's time for his piggie pajamas and a cozy long winter's nap.

And, of course, in the morning there will be presents to unwrap, in Sandra Boynton's newest Pookie Pig tale, Merry Christmas, Little Pookie (Little Simon, 2018). This brand-new Boynton board book for little readers is a perfect early stocking stuffer for prepping youngsters for some of the big doings of the holiday season as they share the sweet seasonal events of December.

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Look Who's Here! Merry Christmas from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


And guess who's here? It's the Very Hungry Caterpillar, who for once is not hungry. But he is a curious caterpillar who wants to find out what all these busy doings are about.

With Eric Carle's captivating tissue-collage art and with Caterpillar as their guide, youngsters get to take part in the fun of Christmas preparations, in the famous author-illustrator's little picture book of Christmas doings.

What's this we see under the tree? Gifts are chosen for giving lovingly, wrapped prettily, and received with joy.

There may be new sights to see-- the bright star on top of the tree!

There may be snow to make their sleds go!

It may be too chilly for Caterpillar, curling up warm by the tree,
But then he's the one, when Santa comes, to be the first to see...

... what little ones are waiting for! With all the magical moments that Christmas brings, Eric Carle's Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar (The World of Eric Carle) (Grosset and Dunlap, 2017), this lovely little book even come wrapped in its own endpapers in repeat prints of bright presents and opens to reveal the love and fun of the season. This little book of Christmas beauty is a gift in itself for little ones just learning about the holiday. Share it with Carle's companion book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123. (see review here)

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Excavators Xmas! Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas? by Brianna Caplan Sayres


How do big construction machines spend Christmas?

After a year of excavation, big machines are ready for some celebration.

Forklifts lift tons of toys and treats, and food trucks morph into menus for Christmas eats.

And where there's some holiday ice, Zambonis make it smooth and nice.

And every tiny tot wants to know...


What do diggers do? Just what we do at Christmastide, in Brianna Caplan Sayres jolly new Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas? (Random House, 2018). Author Sayres offers up warm servings of Yuletide quatrains about big machines having holiday fun, while noted artist Christian Slade provides the charming Christmasy caricatures of construction equipment in their holiday habitats, in a picture book with scads of kid appeal, especially in the closing in which the big machines morph into their toy versions waiting under the tree for those little fans of things that go VRROOOMMM! VRROOOMMM! Pair this one with Sherry Duskey Rinker's newest best-seller, Construction Site on Christmas Night, (recent review here) for a timely twosome for a little motorhead lover's Christmas stocking.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Yo HO HO! If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate To Meet Santa... DON'T by Elise Parsley

If your dad says you're going to meet Santa, he means the bearded guy with the red suit with the bag full of treasures.

He doesn't mean that pirate guy!

When her dad takes her to meet Santa Claus, the last thing Magnolia dreams of doing is to shiver Santa's timbers. After all, he's the Christmas saint that kids await--good kids, that is, kids who are NOT on the NAUGHTY LIST. But Magnolia has a tendency toward, shall we say, gullibility? And when she meets a bearded guy in a red suit who wants to join the waiting tots, she decides to give him a cut in line.

Of course she does!

Dad tries to warn Maggie that pirates are pretty much ALL on Santa's naughty list, but she cross-her-heart promises she want let the pirate pillage or plunder at Santa's meet and greet. In fact, she turns down the elves who offer candy canes and warns the waiting kids of ...


But this crusty old pirate has other ideas. He sings bawdy buccaneer songs instead of "Jingle Bells" to the kiddies. He bellows at the timid tots who can't come up with a smile for the photo-elf's camera. Like Santa's dastardly doppleganger, he totally takes over St. Nick's wheelhouse.

And before you know it, Santa Claus will be walking the plank.

Yes, Santa takes a short walk on a short plank right into the mall fountain, but the pirate gets his comeuppance when he is forced to let the horde of sticky, cranky kids who missed Santa sit on his lap.  Will Magnolia ever learn to curb her impetuous urges?  In Elise Parsley's latest in series, If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don't! (Magnolia Says DON'T!) (Little, Brown and Company, 2018),  bossy Magnolia never seems to learn, and in artist Parsley's riotous illustrations, there are plenty of pirate sight gags to keep kids merry in this Christmas season. Says School Library Journal, "You don't need to be a pirate aficionado to enjoy this outrageously naughty addition to the holiday shelves."

Others in this top-selling series are If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't! (Magnolia Says DON'T!), and If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't! (Magnolia Says DON'T!). (Read all reviews here.)

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Counting the Days! Pete the Cat's 12 Groovy Days of Christmas by Kimberly and James Dean

Youngsters waiting for Christmas to come are always asking, "How much longer will it be?"

And Pete the Cat, well-schooled in counting, is only too happy to count down the time. For starters, Pete loads up his surfboard and a fresh-cut Christmas on top of his one-of-a-kind VW bus and heads off somewhere.

On the first day of Christmas Pete's giving a Christmas road trip to the sea!

And Pete takes along his friends, each one of which has something to add. Some are, well, rather inventive.

Alligator quips that he is bringing...

Five onion rings!

Turtle offers eight guitars, all strumming a Christmas tune, we presume, and Owl suggests they can't forget nine ugly holiday sweaters!

And all agree that the twelve days of Christmas aren't complete without all twelve buddies rockin' out a Christmas song, in Kimberly and James Dean's salute to the famous folk tune in their Pete the Cat's 12 Groovy Days of Christmas (Harper, 2018). This one is a great sing-along for young children, with a bit of counting practice, as Pete the Cat gets all wrapped up in the holiday season.

And for a swashbuckling version of the old Christmas song, pair this one with Philip Yate's A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas (read review here).

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Grumpy Grinch! Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce was a bear who didn't like the holidays.

He used to stay in bed all winter and skip right through the whole business.

But that was back in the good old days before Bruce involuntarily became Mother Bruce Goose, foster parent to three goslings with other ideas about ways to while away the winter.

The goslings and their critter friends demand a cozy holiday family togetherness that is just what Bruce doesn't want for the winter. His goslings had already gotten busy decking the halls, while the mice stirred up some tasty eggnog. What fun! What cheer! What a beautiful Christmas tree!

Bruce didn't like fun. Bruce didn't like cheer.

And he didn't like cold weather. Bruce pulled out his long red flannel underwear and sleeping cap.

Big mistake!

"Are you SANTA CLAUS?" asked a big-eyed little 'coon kid.

And before he knows it, the goslings had lined up the moppets and Bruce was taking little bunnies and raccoons on his knees, listening to their silly Christmas wish lists. To get rid of them, he promised them whatever toys they asked for.

But at last the talkative tots left and Bruce was just headed for his cozy bed when ...

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK! All the parents wanted to thank Bruce for his Christmas spirit. They left, shouting with glee.

Bruce didn't like glee.

But what about the poor little disappointed children?

The goslings and the mice insisted that Bruce cannot disappoint all the children. Will Santa Claus Bruce make his midnight ride?

BAH! HUMBUG! was the word, as the goslings got in harness, flapping wildly, and the wagon on skids lifted off with Santa Bruce reluctantly aboard, in Ryan T. Higgins' latest in his Mother Bruce series, Santa Bruce (Mother Bruce Series) (Disney Hyperion Books, 2018). There's a plentitude of slapstick sight gags, as Santa Bruce get stuck in chimneys and chars the seat of his red underwear pants on the way down, and plenty of dry humor as the goslings ensure that nobody has a niggardly Noel despite their curmudgeonly Father Christmas, Santa Bruce.

Other books in this not-to-be-missed, top-selling series are Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce (Mother Bruce), and Bruce's Big Move (Mother Bruce) (see reviews here).

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Monday, December 03, 2018

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew! Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Once upon a time, when Fox was visiting Christmastown....

... All was quite merry and bright with jolly decorations already in sight....

Fox, too, is looking festive, in his red scarf and knit cap. But for Fox the main attraction is not the scenery, nor the greenery bedecking the halls, but the sweet smell of ... goodies.

A little cookie, still warm from the oven, burst out a front door and boasted, "I'm a sweet cookie!"

Cookie teases Fox with the traditional taunt!

"Run, run, as fast as you can!

You can't catch me--I'm the sugar cookie man!"

And the chase is on! Unfortunately, this cookie is not as fast as he thinks he is. Fox soon overtakes him and goes for a bite, but the flavor is not what he expected.

"Blech! You taste awful!"

Fox spits him out and frets that he's fractured a fang on this tough cookie!

Cookie is a bit down, too. His self-image is in question. It turns out he's not a tasty tidbit at all, and he's certainly not fast! But then he discovers exactly what he was shaped for! He's a Christmas tree ornament! He takes his true place high on the town Christmas tree!

In a timely twist on the trim-the-tree tale, this funny fractured fairy tale pokes some fun at the traditional Gingerbread Boy trope in Edward Hemingway's new Christmas offering, Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story (Henry Holt and Company, 2018), even providing recipes for both tasty Christmas cookies and their tree-hanging look-alikes. Adds Publishers Weekly, "Hemingway bakes up a clever case of mistaken identity in this holiday treat–inspired tale. . . The author’s snappy pacing and silly scenarios keep the giggles coming."

Share this one with Laura Murray's and Mike Lowery's The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas (see review here).

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Sharing and Caring on Site! Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherry Dusky Rinker

It's a starry and snowy twilight down at the new construction site. What can all the big work vehicles be building on Christmas Eve?

The last big project of the year;

The team slamming into gear.

The pressure is on. A building is going up, an important building for everyone in the town. Can the crew come through?

Bulldozer's deadline is almost here.

He has a lot of ground to clear.

But Bulldozer's a pushy guy. He knows the whole crew has to wait until the site is smooth and clear. And as he finishes his shift, he finds a huge gift--a custom-made carbon steel blade.

But as Bulldozer heads to the barn, Excavator rolls onto the scene to dig the foundation, soon completed with elation! But as he heads for his berth, what meets his eyes is a big surprise--a new yellow scoop!

Cement mixer speedily putt-putts in, ready to pour concrete for the floor, and as it sets, he finds out what he gets--a gift! Who from? It's a spanking-new drum! And with a VROOM, Dump Truck hauls in bricks and mortar to build up the walls.

His tires are shot, but he gives it all he's got.

And before he retires, he gets the gift of new tires!

Then Crane Truck takes over to top off the building, and he finishes just in time to put the star on top! And best of all, his gift is a red and green wrecking ball.

The machines come through with their gift to the city--the town has a brand-new fire station with berths for fire engines and emergency vehicles. The construction site crew have come through together, in Sherry Duskey Rinker's latest, Construction Site on Christmas Night (Chronicle Books, 2018). A sweet holiday salute to work and cooperation, Rinker's rhythmic, rhyming storytelling is a satisfying tale of the values of work and joyous giving just right for this holiday season. AG Ford capably steps in to fill the big shoes of artist Tom Lichtenheld who illustrated her best-selling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site (reviews here) with lovely snowy evening scenes in familiar style, right down to the big Star resting in little Excavator's bucket. This story is a special gift to Rinker's young readers....

For all that's given and received,

And all that blessed this Christmas Eve...

A happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight--from the Construction Site.

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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Lost Sock? There's a Witch in My Dryer by Linda Lee Cross

There was a little girl who would sit quietly on the floor and watch her mother tend the laundry.

"The dryer never loses anything!" she said.

But where do those missing socks go? And the little girl also wonders what makes those strange metallic clangs and clickety sounds coming from the dryer. Her mother says they were just lost pennies and nickles stuck in the dryer, but the girl isn't too sure about that. She asked why she never sees any nickels and pennies when she opens the dryer door. Could there be something like a witch hiding there?

"I remember when I was a little girl I would ask your grandmother the same questions," her mom replies.

And when Grandmother comes for a visit, the little girl tells her about the mysterious sounds, and her grandmother smiles and pulls an old flashlight out of her bag.

"This magic flashlight will only work for those who truly do believe."

That night the little girl can hardly wait. When all is quiet, she turns on the flashlight and tiptoes downstairs to the dryer.

There IS a witch in there, a nice witch all dressed for Halloween, and the little girl notices that she is wearing one of those missing red-and-white striped socks, in Linda Lee Cross's There's a Witch in My Dryer (iUniverse, 2018). Borrowing from the old house elf stories of folklore, author Cross has a modern story with her little trickster hiding, not in a cabinet or pot, but in the dryer. Youngsters MAY be inspired to investigate those strange sounds in their own dryers!

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Transitioning...: Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts by Dianne White

There are many ways
Of letting go.

With each goodbye,
A new hello.

It's a paradigm and a paradox.

In life change is a constant.

For kids the changes come fast. Some can come hard, like the first day of school. Some can be liberating, like big kid shoes.

Loop the laces.
Knot the bows.

So long.
Velcro covered toes!

Chunky crayons held in a chubby fist give way to penciled letters sitting right on the line. The door to home closes, the school bus door opens with a shooosh, and the school doors wait to be opened with the whole world inside. Leaving safety behind sometimes means finding new adventures.

Ringing bell.
Preschool trike.

Wind in your face,
Big-kid bike.

Changes, changes! Dianne White's Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) promises that when one door closes, another opens, and this positive take on the changes life brings is happy, positive look at the challenges in early life.

It's easy to chuckle at childish fears, but changes can be scary at any age. Some are a little sad; even ditching a favorite but outgrown pullover or a much loved Teddy for something new is hard, and truth to tell, change often requires leaving something behind to embrace the unknown. Along with White's perky rhymes, artist Daniel Wiseman's illustrations capably hint at how hard it is to give up one safe place for one unknown but likely worth it in the long run. Facing firsts, like the first day in a new school, takes courage, and this comfy read-aloud book can help kids go forward.

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