Each of today’s picture books features fairly ordinary animal fare — dogs, ducks, wolves, a groundhog — but that’s the end of the commonplace as we pull out the stops on creativity and have some good fun!
Little Wolf’s First Howling, written by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee published in 2017 by Candlewick Press
Introducing one wolf pup and his irrepressible personality which bubbles up at the most surprising moments!
Tonight is a red-letter night for Little Wolf. It’s his first chance to howl at the full moon, to unleash that mournful AAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOO! from mountaintop into starry skies. Big Wolf gives him a demonstration howl, then turns things over to the cub.
But what comes out is a dancing, prancing mixture of wolf and scat singer! Howls punctuated by diddily skedaddily bipping and boppitting!
Try as he might to lasso this thing, swirls of razzamatazz jazz just can’t stay out of Little Wolf’s howl. And you know what they say: If you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em!
A singing, swinging good time full of primal howls and prime beats, this one begs for gleeful participation from ages 2 and up.
Frankie, written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Frankie is the new eager-beaver pup just adopted from the shelter and headed for his new home.
He is greeted there…well, not exactly greeted…let’s say he encounters there the old, I’ve-been-here-awhile-sonny-and-don’t-you-forget-it dog, Nico. Nico is not amused by this new family member, least of all when Frankie enthusiastically tries to play with his toys and occupy his bed. Grrr.
It’s looking a bit bleak for Frankie when — surprise! — he receives his very own welcome-home-package from the family. Suddenly, it’s Nico who wants in on this sharing business!
With minimal text, almost entirely confined to thought bubbles for the two dogs, this could make a vibrant, untraditional early reader as well as a read-aloud that kids will memorize quickly and enjoy “reading” again and again by themselves. Doggy cheer, for ages 2 and up.
A Greyhound a Groundhog, written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans published in 2017 by Schwartz & Wade Books
It’s nearly impossible, I think, to capture the essence of this book in a paragraph of mere words. The waltz of text and illustration which create a virtual whirlpool of dog, groundhog, and higgledy-piggledy language just won’t sit still long enough for that!
Suffice it to say that we start off with one staid, sleeping greyhound and one small, peeping groundhog and, just as an old-fashioned merry-go-round gradually picks up speed, the rhythmic text and racing, chasing creatures slowly, then wildly spin and churn themselves into a dizzying circle of mixed up animalia!
It’s a tongue-twisting, breathless blast of fun, brilliantly illustrated in surging, streaming, joyful abandon. Enjoy it with ages 4 and up. Older readers especially may appreciate the fanciful wordplay in this one.
On Duck Pond, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall published in 2017 by The Cornell Lab Publishing Group
We’re quieting way down here, drifting back into the realm of reality, of quiet marshes with their water-loving populations of herons, frogs, and ducks.
Jane Yolen has written a lovely narrative-poem about a morning’s walk by Duck Pond, witnessing the small dramas of wildlife there. Ducks chittering. Water spattering. Turtles slipping from logs into the murky depths. Gangly-legged herons and quicksilver minnows, skitterish frogs and a shy bunny in the grasses, all play their parts in this hushed spectacle.
Taking the time to pause and absorb the flurries of panic, the calming of waters, the noiseless stillness, the hidden lives in this one small piece of nature, Yolen awakens us to these spellbinding communities, to the allure of nature’s small theaters.
I love this book and its appealing call to slow down and observe the natural world. Handsomely illustrated with watercolor scenes bathed in the rosy glow of dawn, the book includes back pages of information about specific ducks, birds, and other animals seen in the pictures. Share this window to wonder with ages 3 and up.
Animal Colors and More, written and illustrated by Katie Viggers published in 2017 by POW!
I’ve loved Katie Viggers’ work in her previous books including Almost an Animal Alphabet, reviewed here.
Once again, the exquisite line, charm, humor, delicacy, and unexpectedness in this book about colors leaves me smitten.
Explore colors and patterns through pages of brilliant animal illustrations, plus have some fun naming colors, matching pairs, and naming species via the artwork on the endpapers in this engaging little book.
If I had toddlers, I’d snap up all 3 of Viggers’ books — alphabet, numbers, and colors. They are that good! Ages 15 months and up.