Last week was brutal. Here in the U.S. where tragedies are fresh, and of course around the world in places that hardly get a nod of acknowledgement from us over the violence that relentlessly engulfs them.
Wherever you are, I hope that turning to the beauty, love, gentility, and wonder that children’s literature offers, can bring a respite of peace and healing and hope to you as you share these shards of goodness with the children in your life.
You Belong Here, by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
published in 2016 by Compendium
Isabelle Arsenault’s gorgeous, whisper-lovely illustrations envelop us in beauty and hush in this quiet ode to love and belonging.
I can hear the gentle voice of a mother or father reading these reassuring, tender words to a beloved, drowsy child: The stars belong in the deep night sky/and the moon belongs there too,/and the winds belong in each place they blow by/and I belong here with you.
It’s a dream of a book to share with the little people you love, ages 2 and up, up, up.
Hattie Peck, written and illustrated by Emma Levey
published in 2016 by Sky Pony Press (originally published 2015 by Top that Publishing Ltd)
Hattie Peck is a chicken with a hugely-nurturing heart! Eggs, eggs, and more eggs captivate her thoughts day and night. Yet Hattie cannot lay a single egg of her own.
Not to be thwarted, Hattie sets out to rescue every abandoned egg she can find. What a stupendous expedition it is! And what an eclectic household Hattie ends up with, to her great joy. Illustrated in energetic, jubilant strokes, this celebration of life, love, and family will thoroughly warm your heart. Ages 3 and up.
One Hundred Bones, written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer
first U.S. edition 2016 by Templar Books
I just discovered Yuval Zommer via his extraordinary book of bugs which I reviewed here. Now I’m scrambling to get ahold of his other titles held by my library.
First up is this upbeat tale of friendship, teamwork, and belonging. Scruff is a sweet, homeless dog, and an expert digger. When his excavation work unearths a treasure trove of bones, he coaxes the neighborhood dogs into helping him out. And what do they discover? One hundred bones! Find out where those bones belong and how Scruff also finds just the right place to belong. Loads of happiness. Read it again and again with ages 2 and up.
The Storm, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
published in Japan in 2009; English translation published 2016 by Kids Can Press
Akiko Miyakoshi swept in and won our hearts last year with her lovely Tea Party in the Woods. Here’s her stunning charcoal work again, with a story set in mid-summer.
A young boy has been promised a trip to the beach tomorrow, but just now a big storm looms. As he crawls into bed, wind lashes the trees and howls. Those beach plans are not looking good. Enter his ship-of-dreams as he steers for clear skies, and find out if the real weather cooperates, or not. Masterful illustration work and a story of hope against the odds for ages 3 and up.
Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure: A Journey Through Physics, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books
If you can’t imagine a friendly, colorful, effervescent introduction to physics — I think you are in good company. But that’s exactly what this is!
Tag along with Professor Astro Cat in this engaging, highly-readable text and learn about everything from the scientific method to mass, force, gravity, motion, electricity, nuclear physics, particle physics and gobs more. Zippy illustrations and snazzy graphic design will draw you in to this fascinating material like a magnet! For science nerds ages 5 and much older.
Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books
Winner of the Biggest Mouthful-of-a-Title Award is this latest offering from the supremely-talented Emily Arnold McCully.
It’s the account of a real rhino, brought from her home in India to Europe in the mid-1700s by a sea captain. Clara became the toast of Europe, the first rhino seen by peasant or king. With her gargantuan appetite and loving temperament, she won hearts everywhere. McCully’s vibrant watercolors masterfully display Clara’s girth and warmth as well as the look and feel of 18th-century Europe. A lengthy Author’s Note and maps add to historical understanding. It’s a terrific package for ages 5 and up.
Violet the Pilot, written and illustrated by Steve Breen
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Meet Violet Van Winkle, a smart gal who loves tools and tinkering, ideas and inventing, and most especially — flying!
Watch her rivet together a hockey stick here and a spatula there, an old pickling barrel and a souped-up weed whacker and come up with The Hornet, her fantastic flying machine. Sure to win the Air Show contest, Violet thinks.
Also meet the dreadful Mulrooney twins who are quite full of lip. And discover how wild rivers, tipped canoes, Violet Van Winkle, and some precision flight skills result in a rare rescue and a reward. Girl power, adventure, and thrills star in this zesty story for ages 4 and up.
ABZzz…: A Bedtime Alphabet, by Isabel Minhós Martins and Yara Kono
originally published in Portugal in 2014; first U.S. edition 2016 by Thames and Hudson
A quirky little volume, this, with musings and directions for ambling your way to sleep through the alphabet.
C is for Cat. Can you curl up and purr like a little cat? Isn’t it cosy?
K is for Kiss. Have you kissed everyone goodnight yet? Is anyone still awake?
With it’s contemporary vibe, jaunty design, and clever questions, methinks my children would not have been lulled to sleep by this book, despite the claim that “nearly everyone is snoring by the time they reach S.” However, it’s a delightful snuggle-up and think-sleepy-thoughts book to share with wide-eyed little ones, ages 2 and up.
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers
An Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. Quite an unusual vocation, wouldn’t you say? This frowsy, unassuming fellow with his mild, homely countenance lives all alone, perched on a windswept hill overlooking the sea. From whence he keeps an eye peeled for the odd bottle bobbing on the water.
Then out he rows to fetch it, uncork it, and deliver its message, no matter the journey required.
How he longs for a message for himself. That longing, the dearth of companionship, fairly aches out of these pages in both the spare text and Stead’s gorgeous, wistful artwork. One day a most unusual message comes, and a sliver of gladness pierces the Uncorker’s world. Such an elegant, deeply-affecting collaborative effort to share with children ages 4 and older. It’s an outstanding invitation to reflect together on ideas of welcome and community.
This one hits the shelves on August 23. Look for it then or get in line at your library.
Donkey Donkey, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
originally published in 1940; republished in 2016 by The New York Review Children’s Collection
Despite Donkey Donkey’s many dear friends, and his kind master, and a whole patch of delicious thistles, he is an unhappy donkey. Why? It’s his ears. He really dislikes his ears.
He sets out to reform his looks, taking advice from others in the barnyard, but it all just makes matters worse. What will cure Donkey Donkey of his immense sadness? This classic tale from the master, Roger Duvoisin, is bursting with vintage delight in its simplicity, its lovely, sophisticated vocabulary, and the charming 1940’s illustration work. A happy read for ages 2 and up.
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books | Tagged bedtime stories, belonging, book reviews, children's literature, family, friendship, inventions, physics, picture books, rhinoceros, science, summer | Leave a Comment »
Whether it’s wilting hot or summer-stormy, these brilliant new books are up to the challenge to entertain, tickle funny bones, provoke thought, spark imagination…
The Airport Book, written and illustrated by Lisa Brown
published in 2016, A Neal Porter Book from Roaring Brook Press
Here’s a book my kids would have completely worn out during their traveling childhood days. Tag along with this young family as they pack, move through all the steps at the airport, fly, and arrive at their happy destination.
Perfectly-pitched descriptions of air travel ins-and-outs will help kids gear up for their first flight or resonate with kids who have already logged thousands of air miles. Meanwhile, Brown’s charming illustrations fill the airport with a crowd of interesting fellow-travelers and track one Very Important Passenger’s journey. There are a few famous faces to spot and a mysterious package to wonder about. Supremely engaging for ages 2 and up. Don’t forget to peek behind the dust jacket for a look at the jazzy board illustrations.
This is My Dollhouse, written and illustrated by Giselle Potter
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade
I love Giselle Potter’s work and especially the fantastic imaginations of her characters.
The little girl in this book has created her own dollhouse, crafting the house and furnishings herself using cardboard, paint, glue and copious creativity and imaginativeness. Her good friend, Sophie, has a store-bought dollhouse in which every pristine thing matches. It makes hers seem a bit shabby.
Watch what happens, though, when these two girls attempt to play with each of the dollhouses. It’s a lovely story in which imaginative, creative play triumphs and that makes my heart glad!
If you purchase the book, you’ll find lots of clever instructions on the flip side of the dust jacket for getting started with your own fabrications. As Potter has discovered, it’s often more fun to make it yourself! Ages 2 and up.
The Not-So-Faraway Adventure, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
published in 2016 by Kids Can Press
Theodora loves her Poppa, a kind, elderly man who has racked up a life time of adventurous travel, the memorabilia of which he stows in an entrancing green trunk. Theo finds his trinkets and maps fascinating and longs to be an adventurer as well, when she’s grown.
For Poppa’s birthday, Theo decides the two of them should go on a new adventure. One that’s not so faraway as those he and Nana have taken, but a delicious delight nonetheless. It’s a sweet grandfather-granddaughter story, popping with joy, gazpacho, and cupcakes, for ages 3 and up.
The Zoomers’ Handbook, by Ana & Thiago de Moraes
first published in Great Britain in 2015; first American edition 2016 by Andersen Press USA
This isn’t a handbook for zookeepers. Nor for farmers. But for Zoomers, who look after the most extraordinary kinds of beasts!
For example, the goatrilla, who swings from trees and eats 10 cans of bananas a day — he especially loves to eat the cans. There’s also the shiger, the horsodile, the girafooster, and many more. Sheer, imaginative delight, coolly-stylish illustrations, awesome Zoomer Field Notes on the endpapers — all will propel your kids to add more entries to this fetching catalog! Ages 3 and up.
Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I’ve reviewed so many titles by this husband-wife team, yet each new offering of theirs is as marvelous as ever.
This time they’re exploring the surprising ways animals move. They walk, leap, climb…sure. But animals also roll, somersault, glide, or blast off via a jet propulsion system!
And also — the ones you’d think would swim, like the common octopus, like to walk. And the ones you’d assume would slither, like a snake, might choose to fly! Egads!
Enjoy Jenkins’ gorgeous paper collage and be surprised and amazed at the mobility of dozens of cool creatures. Ages 4 and up.
Bear & Hare: Where’s Bear?, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
originally published in Great Britain in 2014; first U.S. edition 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Emily Gravett’s another of my No-Brainer authors; that’s to say, you don’t even have to wonder if you should try her new books. Just pick them up! Her Bear & Hare series is a 100% No Brainer for toddlers and up.
This time the two pals are playing Hide and Seek. Bear, being rather ample, finds it quite challenging to find an actually-hidden hiding spot. When the tables are turned, though, and Hare hides, things take a bit of a surprising and alarming turn! Gobs of loving friendship…Gravett’s warm-as-toast illustrations…perfect for ages 18 months and older.
Good Night Baddies, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Juli Kangas
published in 2016 by Beach Lane Books
It’s evening in FairyTale Land and all the witches, wolves, and giants, evil queens, trolls and gnomes, are plum tuckered out from a hard day’s work being baddies.
What — you think it’s easy lurking in the mud and snarking at those three gruff billy goats?! It’s a tough job, no doubt about it! So, after a day of mucky-lurking, there’s nothing a troll likes better than a nice long scrub in a bubbly tub.
Find out how all these dear baddies relax at the end of the day and feel your heart warm towards these much-maligned folk! Kangas’ warm, friendly, monstrously-clever illustrations will draw kids ages 2 and up into this big, bad world.
How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh?, written and illustrated by Alison Limentani
first published in North America in 2016 by Boxer Books
Here’s another astonishing, clever look at the world of animals, sure to open new avenues of thought for you and your children.
Take a guess — how much does a ladybug weigh? But calculate your measurement, not in micrograms, but in ants. How many ants weigh the same as one ladybug? And how many of those ladybugs even out the scales with one grasshopper?
Brilliant color, smart graphic design, and a cunning concept for ages 2 and up. The end papers tell you these weights in pounds and ounces, in case you’re curious!
Excellent Ed, by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf
Dear Ed is such a good dog. He just can’t understand why the other members of his household are allowed to eat at the table, ride in the van, sit on the sofa, and use the indoor plumbing, while he is not.
Ed decides it’s because he has nothing at which he truly excels, while Elaine, Edna, Elmer, Edith, and Ernie all have some top-notch talents. Thus begins Ed’s quest to discover his forté. He gets off to a rather poor start, but eventually makes some delightful discoveries about his areas of expertise!
Julie Sarcone-Roach certainly excels at portraying Ed’s winning personality in her energetic, warm illustrations. Ages 3 and up.
The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, written and illustrated by Daisy Hirst
published in the UK in 2015; first U.S. edition 2016 by Candlewick Press
Isabel and Simon are best friends. Squoze full of imagination, these two busily draw treasure maps, play lively games, and even collect newts. But then, Simon moves away.
Isabel is dejected, and manages her fury and loneliness by isolating herself and trying to seize control of life. It takes the arrival of Chester for Isabel to rediscover her spunk.
This charming, simple story has hidden depths which older or sensitive readers will appreciate, such as the role of the parrot and the wolf, the one representing joyful, carefree imagination and the other a snarl of fear and anger. Everyone will enjoy the vitality of Isabel and her cohorts and cheer for new friendships. Ages 3 and up.
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books | Tagged air travel with children, airports, animals, book reviews, children's literature, creative play, dollhouses, fairy tales, imagination, picture books | 3 Comments »
Independence Day celebrations are about to blast off across the U.S.A. Here’s a star-spangled set of books to celebrate with!
I’ll begin with a pair of titles on the rich gift of immigrants to our nation as I feel so strongly about maintaining a posture of open arms.
My grandparents immigrated at the outset of the 20th century, seeking refuge from militaristic overlords and a chance at a better life. My dad was a first-generation American who fought in WWII alongside guys hailing from many ethnic backgrounds. That’s America, and that’s the vision presented by beloved Harlem artist Faith Ringgold in her newest book:
We Came To America, written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf
The vivid, pulsing beauty of diversity courses through this small catalog of peoples who make up America from “every color, race, and religion, from every country in the world.”
Some were here to begin with. Some came in chains. Some fled here. All have contributed to the glorious medley of ideas and strengths that make us who we are. Ringgold’s vigorous, brilliant color and primitive line rivet us to the array of faces and styles of these lovely humans. A joy to contemplate with ages 2 and up.
Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land, by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie
published in 2016 by Carolrhoda Books
I’m so pleased to call your attention to this book by two Minnesotans, from a Minnesota publishing house. The Twin Cities are home to an abundance of immigrants and refugees, so this is a most fitting collaboration.
It’s a lovely, thought-provoking photo-essay. Page after page of faces and simple phrases invite us to revel in beauty, appreciate diversity, wonder over a host of life-stories, enter homes, empathize with newness. The arrival stories of John Coy’s European family and Wing Young Huie’s Asian family are, happily, included. It’s a treasure to meander through with ages 2 to 100.
Moving on to a trio of Revolutionary history titles…
The Founding Fathers: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’, Gentlemen Who Started America, by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt
published in 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Jonah Winter has written eminently-readable introductions to 14 Founding Fathers — “some of the most tremendously smart people who ever lived.” And what a diverse bunch!
Each of these guys gets a hefty paragraph describing their contributions, personalities, and uniquenesses, as well as a fascinating little section of stats and some famous quotes. As you’d expect from Winter, he strikes a great balance between a casual tone and intelligent style.
All of this is illustrated with lighthearted, ink and watercolor portraits and vignettes, with some added hand-lettering touches. Putter your way through this fascinating, slim volume with kids ages 8 and up and learn a LOT effortlessly.
The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence, by Judith St. George, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
published in 2005 by Philomel Books
Follow the ins and outs and ups and downs of one of the most famous documents in human history which “has had more homes than a traveling circus.”
From Jefferson’s quill it began it’s course by horse courier and wagon, by ship and rail. Hidden, harassed, hustled! Signed, singed, shrunk! Read it’s careening life story, masterfully told by Judith St. George. I hope you’ve discovered her other work by now — she’s a national treasure herself! And warmly, humorously, brilliantly illustrated by the talented Will Hillenbrand. It’s lengthier than your average picture book. Enjoy it with ages 6 and up.
Those Rebels, John and Tom, by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
published in 2012 by Scholastic Press
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Utterly unalike. Best of friends. Bitter enemies. Two of the most important men in the history of our country.
Take a look at the overlap of their lives in this most-pleasant account. Kerley writes with elegance and polish and then dapples the whole business with charm. Fotheringham’s fabulous illustrations combine period styling and clever wit. A winning combination that will satisfy ages 6 and up.
And now for the fireworks and picnic!
The Explosive Story of Fireworks, by Kama Einhorn, illustrated by Daniel Guidera
published in 2015 by Simon Spotlight
This is an early reader in a great series called History of Fun Stuff, geared to the upper level of independent readers.
Begin back in 200BC in ancient China and learn how fireworks were invented, how they’ve been used and improved over the centuries, and why they’ve come to be so inextricably associated with the Fourth of July.
Engaging pages with plenty of full-color illustrations make this a good read-aloud for curious folks ages 5 and up; independent readers need to be up for vocabulary such as lithium, strontium, and pyrotechnicians! Extras inform us about bamboo, independence celebrations around the world, and the color wheel.
McDuff Saves the Day, by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
published in 2002 by Hyperion Books for Children
There are a number of charming stories about the lovable Westie, McDuff, and his dear family — Lucy and Fred, and The Baby. If you haven’t found your way to them, you ought to.
In this episode the crew is on their way to Lake Ocarina for a Fourth of July picnic. The car ride is a bit of a bother for McDuff, but worse trouble is ahead in the form of Marauding Ants. Enjoy this delightful story and discover how McDuff winds up saving the day. Packed with 1920s-era charm and ready to be loved by ages 2 and up.
Posted in early readers, fiction, non-fiction, picture books | Tagged american history, book reviews, children's literature, Declaration of Independence, fireworks, fourth of july, immigration, independence day, john adams, picture books, revolutionary war, thomas jefferson | Leave a Comment »
We’re coming up on the longest days of the year here in the northern hemisphere. Plenty of time for extra bedtime stories. These are all full of joy, starting with:
Miles of Smiles, by Karen Kaufman Orloff, illustrations by Luciano Lozano
published in 2016 by Sterling Publishing
Baby starts the smiles off in this charming, happy story. She gives her mom a smile, and mom passes that smile along to Mrs. Glass, who shares it with Sebastian…and on it goes…
…until it comes around full circle. By now, the whole community is a happier, smilier place! Sunny, rhyming lines are paired with stylish, vibrant illustrations. It’s a day-brightener for ages 2 and up.
The Big Book of Bugs, written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer
published in 2016 by Thames & Hudson
Wall-to-wall, phenomenal illustrations greet us on every page of this guide to all sorts of bugs.
Spreads devoted to dragonflies, pond bugs, baby bugs, night-time bugs contain interesting tidbits of information, questions to help us wonder, critters to find, and a feast of beauty. Maybe bugs don’t appeal to you in general, but I guarantee you will find them glorious here. Ages 2 and up.
Secret Tree Fort, written and illustrated by Brianne Farley
published in 2016 by Candlewick Press
Two sisters are relegated by their smart mom to play outside. The older one is content to read her book while leaning up against a tree. The younger one wants to play…with her sister. Of course.
So, she invents a lavish tree fort, complete with a “marshmallow and chocolate storage compartment,” a crow’s nest, and a whale of a lot more! Can she entice that big sister to join her? Sparkling, buoyant, imaginative in text and illustration, this is a delight for ages 3 and up.
Stanley’s Plan, written and illustrated by Ruth Green
first published in 2015 by Tate Publishing; distributed in the U.S. by Abrams
“Stanley the dog is always hungry.” This means he has something in common with my dog! Yours, too?
Stanley has caught a whiff of a delicious meat pie cooling quite tantalizingly on a high shelf. He tries to enlist his friends to help him nab that pie, but finds them most uncooperative. What’s a dog to do? Great fun with a lip-smacking, surprise ending. Ruth Green’s smart, retro design style will rock your socks off. Ages 2 and up.
There is a Tribe of Kids, written and illustrated by Lane Smith
published in 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
As usual, Lane Smith’s work here contains phenomenal artwork, thought-provoking cleverness, and sophisticated story-telling.
Journey along with a child through mountainscapes and polar reaches, rocky outcroppings and leafy jungles, meeting troops and herds, smacks and pods, ever moving on to locate his own tribe. So much to absorb and such a warm final homecoming. Ages 4 and up.
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Fantastic nonfiction makes me glad! Here’s a moving story about a population of children who live among the trash heaps in Cateura, Paraguay. Surrounded by garbage, noise, and stink, these kids and their parents still love the beauty of music.
Discover how kindness, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and hard work resulted in remarkable musical opportunities for them in this extraordinary account. Comport’s striking illustrations are a joyful, strong pairing for the story. An Author’s Note tells more of the details, and further exploration can be done via listed websites and videos. Inspirational, for ages 5 through adult.
Chimpanzees for Tea!, written and illustrated by Jo Empson
published in the U.S. in 2016 by Philomel Books
Vincent is sent to the shops with a short list of items to pick up for his mum in this breezy, warmhearted, funny tale.
He’s meant to pick up carrots, rice, cheese, peas, and a pear and beat it on home in time for tea. But wait’ll you see what a rash of forgetfulness and some crrraazzzy happenstances result in! Wonderfully silly! Artwork that sings and ripples with glee. Love it! Ages 2 and up.
I Won a What?, by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf
One little boy is off to the fair, heading straight for that booth with the rows and rows of goldfish in bowls and his penny to pitch. He wants one of those goldfish with his whole, entire heart. And! You won’t believe it! He wins!!
But he doesn’t win a goldfish. Nope. He wins Nuncio! What is Nuncio? You won’t believe that either! Ride along on this blast of a tall tale. Bold, bright, vigorous illustrations, a riot through and through for ages 3 and up.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate
published in 2016 by Charlesbridge
Do your kids have a super-soaker? I think we had at least 5 floating around here when my kids were small. Who but Chris Barton would think to tell us the story of how they came to be invented?!
It’s a wonderful story about a super-smart, super-creative, super-determined guy. Enjoy finding out about him and get motivated to pursue your own dreams. Illustrated in Don Tate’s friendly, welcoming style. Ages 6 and up.
Thunder Boy Jr., by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
published in 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
Talk about a power team! Alexie and Morales have teamed up to bring us an unusual story — of course! — exploding in powerful emotion and wrapped up in warm, father-son bonds.
Thunder Boy Jr. has a complaint. What is the problem? It’s his name. Inside him, the beasts of anger are a-howlin’ over the junior at the end of his name. Listen up and he’ll explain why. Then watch and see what his dad does about that.
Based on Sherman Alexie’s own experience of being named after his father, this covers new ground for sure. Naming is a complex and important part of many cultures, and the significance to this particular Native family could be better spelled out for the reader. Nevertheless, I imagine that the opportunity this story brings to talk about the reasoning behind your child’s name could open some intriguing discussions.
As ever, Morales tackles her illustration assignment with determined inventiveness and unfettered vigor. Be sure to read her note about how the artwork was made. Ages 4 and up.
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books | Tagged book reviews, children's literature, humorous stories, insects, inventions, Lonnie Johnson, music, Paraguay, picture books, Sherman Alexie, super-soakers | 1 Comment »
Hope you’re enjoying some leisurely moments this summer. Here are 10 awesome 2016 books to while away the hours.
Tell Me a Tattoo Story, by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
published in 2016 by Chronicle Books
This warm story has to be one of the first that stars a parent’s tattoos. In affectionate conversation, Dad tells his son the special significance of a number of his inkings.
And no wonder his little boy never tires of hearing these stories! They are brimming with love for the special people in his life. Illustrated with buttermilk-fresh beauty by the talented Eliza Wheeler. This charmer will be the perfect fit for many, and a delightfully warm family tale for all, ages 2 and up.
On the Farm, At the Market, written and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
published in 2016, Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
Impeccably timed for the farmer’s market season, this marvelous book tracks the gorgeous, farm-fresh produce from the field to the market stalls.
Vegetables, cheeses, mushrooms — the hard work of raising and preparing them for us is a glory to witness, as is the joy of putting these goods into our hands and the delicious meal made from them all at the Busy Bee Cafe. Written and illustrated with joy and friendliness, this is a treat for ages 3 and up!
Treat, words and pictures by Mary Sullivan
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
And speaking of treats, any of you who are dog-lovers will snicker mightily over this little dog’s passionate pursuit of a dog treat!
Only one word is used in this story, and it’s music — at times tortuous music! — to this little dog’s ears. Treat!! Laugh along at his frantic obsession in this funny, oh-so-fetching story. Ages 3 and up.
Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
published in 2016 by Candlewick Press
This is the absolutely stunning story of a tightrope walker in the 1800s who crossed the Niagara Falls gorge not just once, not just with his slender balancing pole for company, but more than a dozen times with increasingly-impossible added burdens and twists.
To put this in perspective, the Twin Tower walk was 140 feet; Blondin walked 1100 feet. Your jaw will drop when you read this incredible story, masterfully told and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Ages 5 and up.
Buddy and Earl Go Exploring, by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
published in 2016 by Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press
Second dog story of the day, and this one is so funny and charming. Buddy the dog and Earl the hedgehog are pets in the same household and very good friends.
When Earl wants to go a-roving in the nighttime, however, his slightly-dim wits and ignorance of the household rules are quite alarming to Buddy! Watch the disaster unfold and fall in love with that good dog, Buddy. Illustrated with imagination, humor, and buckets of personality. Ages 3 and up.
Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman
published in 2016 Phaidon Press Inc.
I’ve never seen anything quite like this exuberant, off-beat exploration of food! Curious questions and surprising answers. Ways to eat a sea urchin and maybe-possibly something that at least sounds like a tornado.
Do eggs grow on eggplants? And where does one go to pick pickles? Have a blast wandering and wondering through this book, illustrated with blasts of lively color and cool design. Ages 2 and up.
Tokyo Digs a Garden, by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka
published in 2016 by Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press
A whimsical, fantastical, eco-friendly story awaits you in this gorgeous book coming to us from our good neighbors in Canada.
Tokyo’s grandfather remembers when the vast city they live in was a place of “hills and forest and meadows and streams.” Now it’s a concrete jungle. Until a mysterious old woman appears, on a bicycle, hauling some earth, and handing out seeds to Tokyo. Crazy things ensue in this strikingly-handsome story for dreamers ages 3 and up-up-up.
Hannah and Sugar, written and illustrated by Kate Berube
published in 2016 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Third and final dog story for the day. (Can you tell I love dogs?!)
Hannah is quite shy of dogs. Timid of their teeth perhaps. Alarmed by their bold wagging and playfulness. So every day when the rest of the kids get off the school bus and happily greet Sugar (as sweet a dog as her name suggests), Hannah walks the other way. Quickly.
One day, though, Sugar is lost and as it turns out, Hannah is the only one who can save her. Watch what happens in this tender, warm story. I love it. Ages 2 and up.
Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
published in 2016 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Language that’s ticklishly playful. Fascinating pairings to ponder for children who revel in the wonders of words.
Humorous, spectacular illustrations of yaks yakking, bugs bugging bugs, ducks ducking, and oodles more. Brain-fizzing, imagination-sparking cleverness galore spills forth on every page of this ingenuous book. Great fun for ages 4 or 5 and up.
My Book of Birds, written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério
published in 2016 by Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press
This oversized beauty is a cover-to-cover gorgeous sampling of birds, impeccably presented by Groundwood Books.
Brazilian artist Valério has always been fascinated by birds. When he moved to Canada he met a whole new group of them who reside in the northern hemisphere. Here he presents his favorites via his stunning collages.
Revel in the shape of the Great Blue Heron, the vivid red of the Northern Cardinal, the streamlined swoop of the swallow family. And read snippets of information that sparkle with the wonders of each bird. Visually-sumptuous — a bit of a Charley Harper feel — for ages 2 to 100.
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