five helpings of beauty, charm, and cheer

Mr. Postmouse's Rounds cover imageMr. Postman’s Rounds, written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc, translated from the French by Yvette Ghione
English edition published in 2015 by Kids Can Press

This one scores a perfect 10 on the Adorability Scale.

Tag along with plucky Mr. Postmouse on his rounds as he tugs his wagonload of cheery parcels to the many animal households along his route.

Mr. Postmouse's Rounds interior2 Marianne Dubuc

Every one of these homes is so darling and clever, from Mr. Bear with his honey-funneling-system conveying that amber sweetness straight from the hive into the honeypot on his shelf, to the Penguins’ icy, triple-decker igloo, and Mrs. Mole’s collection of digging tools in one wing of her elaborate tunnels.

Mr. Postmouse's Rounds illustration Marianne Dubuc

There are oodles of cheerful details to pore over in Dubuc’s happiness-inducing illustrations and tale. These images don’t do it justice. A perfectly lovely day-brightener for ages 3 and up.

Swan the life and dance of Anna Pavlova cover imageSwan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad
published in 2015 by Chronicle Books

The elegance of word and art in this graceful biography are apropos for the life of this famous Russian ballerina. Still — Snyder’s and Morstad’s collaboration soars above any expectations. So, so beautiful.

Follow the life story of Anna from her cold and snowy, horse-drawn outing to see her first ballet, through years of training…

Swan interior Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad

…until finally she takes the stage as a swan, “a whim of wind and water” startling her audience with such breathtaking artistry.

Anna interior2 by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad

Pavlova went on to perform for wealthy and royal audiences around the world, yet she is also known for her insistence on performing in the most unusual places imaginable in order to bring the art of ballet within reach of the poor.

Sadly, her life was cut short by pneumonia when she was just 50.

Do yourself a favor and feast your eyes and soul on this exquisite book. Ages 4 and up.

Sonya's Chickens cover imageSonya’s Chickens, written and illustrated by Phoebe Wahl
published in 2015 by Tundra Books

From the ethereal we move to this robust, earthy, warm-as-toast story of little Sonya and three downy balls of fluff.

Sonya is given these chicks by her dad to raise and she dives into her task with earnest zeal, rising early to release them from the coop, scattering corn, laying down fresh straw, until those chicks have grown into plump hens laying smooth, speckly-brown eggs.

Sonya's Chickens interior Phoebe Wahl

But one night — the sounds of rumpussing and squawking disrupt her sleep and when she investigates Sonya is heartbroken to discover one of her dear chickens is missing.

Sonya's Chickens illustration2 Phoebe Wahl

How Sonya’s monumentally-wonderful father guides her to an acceptance of the fox’s position in all of this and how Sonya carries on with her tiny flock — well, it’s just as tender and wise and heartwarming as it gets.

An extraordinarily pleasing book to share with children ages 3 and up.

Finders Keepers cover imageFinders Keepers, written and illustrated by Keiko Kasza
published in 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The most lighthearted and funny story of the day is this little round-robin tale.

An exuberant squirrel finds an acorn at the outset of the book and promptly buries it for safekeeping. He is a careful squirrel and marks the hiding spot with his cherry-red hat.Finders Keepers illustration Keiko Kasza

By our story’s end the following day, that hat is indeed right where the squirrel put it and he smugly digs up his acorn to munch for lunch.

It’s what happens in-between time that’s so surprising, as unbeknownst to Squirrel his hat makes quite a whirlwind trip. One woodland animal after another finds it and discovers a new use for it. Just how does it land back at the starting place?

Cheery and funny and fast-paced. Just right for ages Two and up.

Full Moon at the Napping House cover imageFull Moon at the Napping House, by Audrey and Don Wood
published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

It’s been over 30 years (!!!) since Audrey and Don Wood gave us the marvelous tale of The Napping House. If you have not read the original — just get that remedied immediately. It’s one of the best of the best.

full moon at the napping house interior audrey and don wood

Now they’ve brought us a delightful sequel, satisfying as can be to those of use who have known and loved that first story. All the best-loved elements are back — the same set of characters, the creamy illustrations dramatically lit this time by moonlight, the step-by-step changes in perspective, the House-that-Jack-Built style sequence of events.

Last time, we made our way from a snoozing, rainy day to a wide-awake burst of sunshine. This time, we’re working at settling down to sleep as the silvery light of the moon shines through the very same window.

Full Moon at the Napping House illustration Audrey and Don Wood

Even if you have no wee ones, you’ll probably want to revisit this for old time’s sake. A sweet, nostalgic reprise for ages under-Two and up.