ten to read on a summer’s eve

what?! it’s a Dylan and Arnosky collaboration

man gave names to all the animals cover image

Man Gave Names to All the Animals, lyrics by Bob Dylan, illustrations by Jim Arnosky
published in 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books

Bob Dylan’s 70’s folk song about the naming of the animals “in the beginning, in the beginning” is a catchy choice for young children. Upbeat. Rhythmic. Nice touches of humor.

man gave names to all the animals bob dylan and jim arnosky

Now the grandpapa of naturalist children’s lit, Jim Arnosky, has illustrated it with color-saturated pages depicting a multitude of animals and plants from around the world. More than 170 creatures crowd onto these few pages. A list of their names is included so you can work at identifying them all, with a link for clues if you need them.

Awesome collaboration, celebrating nature, and allowing you to introduce your kids to two exceptional artists. Ages 2 and up.

welcome back, Dory!!!

Dory and the Real True Friend cover image

Dory and the Real True Friend, written and illustrated by Abby Hanlon
published in 2015 by Dial Books for Young Readers

I fell in love with Dory when Abby Hanlon introduced her to us last year. (Read my review of Dory Fantasmagory here.)

Now she’s back! In all her irrepressible, imagination-up-the-wazoo, no-filter self. Do you know a child like Dory? I know several, and I love their slightly out-of-control, fly’s-eye way of seeing the universe.

Dory and the Real True Friend interior Abby Hanlon

Find out what happens when Dory’s new school year starts and she meets a wondrous girl named Rosabelle! Never fear, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, Mr. Nuggy, and Mary are all back in this sequel, just right for stout, independent readers or for reading aloud to ages 5 and up. It does make more sense if you read the titles in order.

summertime…when the fish are jumping

Bear and Hare go Fishing cover image

Bear & Hare Go Fishing, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Emily Gravett is one of my favorite British author/illustrators. I prepare to smile any time I see her name on a book.

Bear and Hare go Fishing interior Emily Gravett

Bear and Hare are great friends. They’re off on a superb picnic and fishing outing. But crazy catches, mishaps and surprises are in store for these two! Loads of fun accompanied by warm, charming illustrations, for ages 2 and up.

because my grandparents were Swede-Finns!

the best part of a sauna cover image

The Best Part of a Sauna, by Sheryl Peterson, illustrated by Kelly Dupre
published in 2013 by Raven Publications

Finnish immigrants brought their sauna traditions with them to northern Minnesota, igniting a passion held by many; thousands of small saunas perch on the shores of our gorgeous, rocky lakes.

the best part of a sauna interior sheryl peterson and kelly dupre

Coming from a small publishing house in Ely, Minnesota, this story gives a glimpse of the whole north woods sauna experience through the eyes of a little boy. Minnesota artist Kelly Dupre’s gorgeous, bold artwork accompanies this lovely, thoroughly Minnesotan story. Ages 3 and up.

a fascinating catalog of people

extraordinary people cover image

Extraordinary People: A Semi-Comprehensive Guide to Some of the World’s Most Fascinating Individuals, written by Michael Hearst, illustrated by Aaron Scamihorn
published in 2015 by Chronicle Books

The woman who gave us Tollhouse Cookies, and an inspirational Canadian marathoner. A famous Japanese collector — of slime molds! And a medieval woman who was an extraordinary composer.

extraordinary people interior1 hearst and scamihorn

Michael Hearst introduces 50 fascinating people from around the world, across time, spanning an incredible range of achievements, including a few whose “achievements” were extraordinarily bad. Each gets an inviting, stylish, two-page spread courtesy of designer Aaron Scamihorn. An outstanding, diverse book to peruse with kids ages 8 and up-up-up.

because you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today…according to Aesop

the grasshopper and the ants cover image

The Grasshopper & the Ants, retold and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
published in 2015 by Little, Brown and Company

Award-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney has tackled several of Aesop’s fables now, and each one is a masterpiece.

the grasshopper and the ants interior jerry pinkney

Enjoy this ancient tale of the busy ants and the procrastinating, live-for-the-moment grasshopper, while feasting your eyes on Jerry’s absolutely amazing artwork. Plus — don’t miss his intriguing Author’s Note, in which he directs your attention to one last piece of the story you might otherwise overlook. A beauty, for ages 2 and up.

an explosion of sound from someone I’d never heard of

jubilee cover image

Jubilee!: One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace, by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Matt Tavares
published in 2014 by Candlewick Press

I am betting that, like me, you have never heard of Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, a man John Philip Sousa hailed as “the Father of the American Band.”

jubilee by alicia potter and matt taveres

As a bandleader, Gilmore was extremely fond of the huge sound he could get from amassing more than the usual number of instruments. He was also a fellow who dreamed huge dreams — and pulled them off. Read about an almost unbelievable musical spectacle that took place in Boston in 1869. A fascinating slice of American history for ages 6 and up. Handsomely illustrated, and including lengthy additional notes.

the surprising residents of nests

whose nest cover image

Whose Nest?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Victoria Cochrane, illustrated by Guy Troughton
first published in the U.K.; published in the U.S. in 2013 by Insight Kids

Gorgeous watercolor paintings of eight nests, set in their natural surroundings, dominate the pages of this superb book for young children, ages 2 and up.

whose nest interior cochrane and troughton

Each nest comes with a riddle, introducing its resident. Who could live here? Whose nest is it? Peek into the nest by opening the flaps and meet small creatures such as a dormouse or bumblebee, and others as massive as an eagle. Beautiful language, a welcome beckoning into the curiosities and delights of nature, and exceptional artwork.

so it’s adventure you want, eh?

pigsticks and harold cover image

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey, written and illustrated by Alex Milway
first U.S. edition published in 2014 by Candlewick Press

Pigsticks is itching for adventure, and promptly seizes on a plan to travel to the Ends of the Earth. His first task is to hire a handy assistant to tote all the heavy baggage and prepare tasty meals. That turns out to be Harold the Hamster.

pigsticks and harold interior alex milway

Together these two trek through jungles, cross deserts, climb mountains, meeting unexpected and formidable obstacles at every turn. Will they survive the journey? Will they locate the Ends of the Earth? And will Harold ever get to eat his favorite cake? Brilliant first chapter book, heavily illustrated in Milway’s snappy, humorous style. A blast for ages 5 and up.

A second Pigsticks installment is due out in the U.S. this Fall.

a lovely message from some truly wise owls

the happy owls cover image

The Happy Owls, written and illustrated by Celestino Piatti
first English translation 1963, renewed in 1993 and 2013 by NorthSouth Books

Why are these two small owls so happy? Other birds want to know –the greedy ones and the vain ones who scrabble and preen.

the happy owls illustration celestino piatti

Find out what brings such deep contentment to these little owlets  — a simple and beautiful word for us all.

the happy owls illustration2 celestino piatti

This story originated in 1895 with Dutch author/artist Theo van Hoijtema. It was translated into German, and then illustrated in 1963 by Swiss designer Piatti, with his gorgeous, bold lines, patterns, and colors. I wish I could show you every image! A striking book with a lovely message for ages 3 and up.