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Archive for the ‘early readers’ Category

My stack of books today glows budding-leaf green and robin’s-egg blue. Oh, what is as cheery and hopeful as spring? Soak up some gladness with these books, bursting with life, growth and new beginnings.

What Will Grow? written by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
published in 2017 by Bloomsbury

For the littlest crop of sweet potatoes, don’t miss this sweet ode to seeds. Susie Ghahremani’s lovely artwork sweeps across the pages with luscious hues of springtime, summer, fall, straight through to the blue-cold of winter. Along the way we peek at seeds — round wrinkly peas, stripey sunflower seeds, snug prickly pine seeds packed into a cone — and discover what will grow from them.

Jennifer Ward’s minimal text provides just the right, lilting clues. She cleverly describes each seed with just three or four words, wisely choosing not to weigh down the delight and wonder of the illustrations.

A few gatefolds along the way augment the thrill of discovery –such fun to see that tall sunflower stretching up-up-up! End pages tell how to sow each of the seeds mentioned. This is a beauty of a book to enjoy with ages 18 months and up.

Over and Under the Pond, written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
published in 2017 by Chronicle Books

Gliding along the quiet waters of a pond, observing the burble of life above the surface and the secret worlds below comes this elegant book.

The third collaboration between Messner and Neal, it’s as visually striking and wonder-filled as their previous titles which I’ve reviewed here and here.

Messner’s text revels in the jeweled glory of this watery world with skittering whirligig beetles, mussy busy beavers, ghostly-quiet herons a-stalking, and all the shimmering, dappled light. Neal’s handsome artwork captures the hush, the aqua-depths, the muck and reeds and secretive small worlds. Ingenuous changes in perspective keep every page fresh.

I’m thrilled that he places an African-American boy and mom in this wild, out-of-doors setting. Far too little diversity in children’s literature occurs outside of urban settings.

Learn more about each one of the species presented in several pages of  Author’s Notes. I have to say, as a boating enthusiast, I was bugged by the paddling faux pas here, but truly, this is another winner from this team for ages 3 and up.

Robins!: How They Grow Up, written and illustrated by Eileen Christelow
published in 2017 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A couple of robin siblings narrate the story of their lives in this information-soaked, immensely-engaging book from one of the best picture book makers, Eileen Christelow.

From the migration north of their parents, through nest-building, egg-incubating, and all the care and feeding of those scraggly chicks, Christelow’s text brims with intriguing detail, perfect pacing, and the appealing voice of these young robins. This reads like a story — not a mite of dry, merely-factual tone.

Christelow tracks their growth as they leave the nest, learn to feed themselves, and at about five months of age take to the skies to fly south. True to the realities of nature, two of their fellow nestmates don’t make it that far. Those harsh episodes are taken in stride by Christelow. It’s a fabulous presentation.

Colorful, captivating watercolor illustrations dominate the pages, bringing us eye to beak with these awkward chicks, right into the nest as it were. An Author’s Note tells how Christelow became so enamored with these birds, plus there’s a glossary and a couple Q&A pages with more Robin Facts. A gem for ages 4 and up.

Plants Can’t Sit Still, written by Rebecca E. Hirsch, illustrations by Mia Posada
published in 2016 by Millbrook Press

The ravishing colors of Minneapolis-artist (woot!) Mia Posada’s cut paper collages are the first thing you’ll notice when you open this book and oh! they will enchant you!

The fresh-lime burst of green leaves, blushing apricot tulips, twilight-purple morning glories, the seductive red of berries lurking in the bushes — every page surges with color, texture, and beauty.

Rebecca Hirsch’s text is every bit as enticing because although you may think of plants as sitting still, rooted in place, Hirsch leads us on a waltz of discovering otherwise. In fact, plants squirm, creep, climb, snap, nod, tumble, fling, whirl, drift…why, they just can’t sit still!

Back pages tell lots, lots more about plants and the particular species discussed in this book.  Genius concept, brilliantly carried out by this team. Full of the wonder of discovery for ages 2 and up.

Pig & Goose and the First Day of Spring, written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond
published in 2017 by Charlesbridge

This charming early-reader knocked my socks off and warmed my heart. I don’t know if Rebecca Bond plans any more adventures for these too, but I have my fingers crossed!

The freshness of a spring morning has put Pig in a fine mood. A glorious sun and clear blue sky will do that! “Goody gumdrops!” Pig exclaims, and immediately makes plans for a picnic by the pond.

Pig soon meets up with Goose whose magnificent flying and swimming abilities make her wilt a bit with envy. Goose tries to coach Pig in these goose-y skills but…pigs really aren’t built for such things. Poor Pig! What is it she can do well?

Many things, it turns out, as she hosts a superb First-Day-0f-Spring party! Wow! You will want to be Pig’s guest at her next fiesta I’ll bet! Delectable details, spritzes of beauty, good humor, gladness of heart, and a dear friendship — that’s what’s here. Bond’s fetching watercolor work is the cherry on top. Readers who can manage Frog and Toad can read this on their own, or share it with listeners as young as 3. Lovely!

Wake Up! words by Helen Frost, photography by Rick Lieder
published in 2017 by Candlewick

This is the latest collaboration for poet Helen Frost and photographer Rick Lieder. Each one provides a breathtaking pause from the cacophony of noise, the jungles of cement, a step away, a redirect of our gaze towards the glorious spectacle of nature. All done in whisper quiet.

Feast your eyes and soul on the magenta swoosh of a peony, the emerald wetness of a frog, the fuzzy warmth of a newborn lamb. Wake up to manifestations of new life “exploding outside your door!”

I love the work being done by this team, simply bringing children up close to the wonders of nature, quieting them with few words, thoughtful questions, enticing them to wander out of doors. Find my reviews of two of their other titles here and here. Share them all with ages 18 months and older.

Birds Make Nests, written and illustrated by Michael Garland
published in 2017 by Holiday House

Michael Garland’s arresting woodcuts adorn the pages of this book and captivate us with the extraordinary wonder of bird nests.

Minimal text describes some of the vast variety in construction from a hummingbird’s tiny woven cup, to the giant mounds made by flamingos, and one house sparrow’s nest lodged in the pocket of a stop light.

The bulk of what we learn comes via Garland’s handsome prints, flooding the pages with earthy colors and rich texture. I love the minimal interference between the child reader and these wonders of nature. No back pages, even, with more info. Just — soak in the craftsmanship of both bird and artist. A lovely, leisurely wander for ages 3 and up.

First Garden: The White House Garden and How it Grew, written and illustrated by Robbin Gourley
published in 2011 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Children earnestly digging in the soil. Heirloom seeds passed down from Thomas Jefferson. Beehives and ladybugs, eggplants and blueberries. But no beets!

The story of Michelle Obama’s gardening initiative dances with the joy of the earth’s fruitfulness, the brilliance of children learning by digging, sowing, weeding, harvesting, and cooking delicious food in the White House kitchen!

Add in the history of White House gardening down through the centuries from John Adams’ first vegetable and fruit gardens through Patricia Nixon’s garden tours. Sprinkle atop some delicious recipes to try straight from the White House. Then illustrate with Robbin Gourley’s sunny, vivacious watercolors. Ta da! You’ve concocted this delicious book!

A delight to share with ages 4 and up. Plus, you can discover why there are no beets!

There are lots more spring-y titles listed in my Subject Guide. Look under Science: Seasons. And Happy Springtime to one and all!

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I have a winner for my giveaway of Fancy Party Gowns!!

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Rhapsody in Books — your name was drawn! Contact me at jillswanson61@gmail.com with your shipping address and I’ll get that beauty off to you!

Meanwhile, the biggest book awards in U.S. children’s literature were awarded this week. You can find a list of all the winners here.

I’ve reviewed a number of those that were recognized and am always happy to have my attention drawn to other titles I haven’t yet had time to read.

Here are links to the reviews you can find here at Orange Marmalade:

The most prestigious prize is the Newbery Medal and it went to a Minneapolis author this year! Woohoo! That was:

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

One of the books that won a Newbery Honor was just recently on my blog. It well deserves this honor, and was also awarded Coretta Scott King Honors for both its text and illustrations:

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams, written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

The Caldecott is the big prize for illustration work. I have loved and previously reviewed all four of the Honor Books:

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Leave Me Alone!, illustrated by written by Vera Brosgol

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Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. This book also won a Coretta Scott King Honor for its illustrations.

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Du Iz Tak?, illustrated and written by Carson Ellis

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They All Saw a Cat, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel

I’ve reviewed one of the Sibert Honor books thus far — a gripping account for teens through adult:

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Hitler, by Russell Freedman

One of the delightful Theodor Seuss Geisel awards went to:

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Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper, written and illustrated by Mike Twohy

I hope you’ll take the time to check these out if you missed them the first time. Every one is a gem!

 

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Yes, winter is here. The days are cold and dark. But the warmth of human kindness goes with wintertime, hand in glove, in today’s wonderful stories.

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The Branch, written by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Pierre Pratt
published in 2016 by Kids Can Press

Wintertime snows and howling winds are terribly exciting. Ice storms coat the world with a shimmer that dazzles in sunlight.

But…

…heavy ice and raucous winds can be scary, too. They break this little girl’s favorite branch off her tree; break her heart also, since she’s lost her lovely perch — a spy base, fairy castle, shelter for all sorts of playtime.

Books for Kids

You can’t glue a branch back on a tree, but Mr. Frank, her sturdy, kindhearted, neighbor, has a whip-smart plan for how to help that branch reach it’s full potential!

Books for Kids

Watch this dear pair apply a hefty helping of elbow grease to turn misfortune to a windfall. Pratt’s brazen colors make this one dance! His shards of ice, red flannel warmth and tender, intergenerational duo are full of zest. Such a hopeful, happy story, for ages 3 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: The Branch

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, written by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books

I am smitten with this book.

And it’s another intergenerational wintertime story! Mrs. Goldman and Sophia have a thing going for one another dating back to Sophia’s birth when dear Mrs. Goldman knitted her a sweet, tiny, hat to keep her wee noggin warm.

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Sophia is much, much bigger now. Looks about six years old. She has big responsibilities to match, too, as the official pompom-maker for all of Mrs. Goldman’s hats. That’s a lot of pompoms because Mrs. Goldman is like a knitting warrior,  knitting hats for all sorts and sizes of people. It’s her mitzvah, her good deed.

When Mrs. Goldman gives her own hat away to a needy friend,  Sophia determines to knit a hat, start-to-finish, for her dear friend. This is not so easy. It takes pluck and creativity to pull off such a marvelous good deed.

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Oh my goodness. The end result of Sophia’s loving efforts is enough to gladden the gloomiest of hearts! Karas’s soft, tender illustrations, his chalky, muted colors punctuated by those merry, cranberry-red pompoms, are perfect. Plus, there’s a knitting pattern and pompom directions to make your own Sophia hat! Enjoy this generous, warm story with kids 4 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

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Leave Me Alone! written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol
published in 2016 by Roaring Brook Press

Another knitting story, this time with quite a different vibe!

If you think the old woman living in a shoe had lots of kids, let me introduce you to this old woman, living in a village, utterly beleaguered by her large family.

This quantity of children means she also has a deal of knitting to do so the poor dears will have sweaters to wear for the winter. The  kids, however, are preventing her from getting that knitting done. Oh, we feel her pain, don’t we?!

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Finally, she’s at the end of her rope. She gathers her necessaries and clops out the door with a hearty, “Leave me alone!”  Going to find some peace and quiet. Alas! She encounters more and more interlopers who must be dealt with.

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Thank goodness she’s got the moxie to tell them all off, but you cannot believe the ends she must go to in order to get her knitting done!

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Every mother of small children ought to read this book. You might laugh…or cry…depending on the day, but you will cheer for her and her mission accomplished, that’s for certain. Bold, rich colors, a bushel-basket of personality, and heaps of humor enliven every page. Read it with kids ages 4 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: Leave Me Alone

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How to Build a Snow Bear, written by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
published in 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux

The folks who brought us such a fabulous big brother in How to Share with a Bear are back with another episode in the lives of these two nice boys.

In their last go-round, little brother was ticklishly-difficult to avoid. Today, Thomas is building an enormous snow man and needs his little brother’s help. But that little fellow has got the serious drowsies. How do you wake up a snoozing bear?

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How do you coax him outdoors for snowman success and wintertime fun? It takes kindness, patience, and big-brother savvy, and Thomas has got that in spades.

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I adore the sweet relationship between these two brothers. Such a welcome perspective. Stephanie Graegin’s immensely-warm illustrations match the amiable tone of the narrative wonderfully. A lovely story to share with children ages 2 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: How to Build a Snow Bear

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Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope, written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mr. Putter, Tabby, Mrs. Teaberry, and her good dog Zeke are back in this cheery, wintertime tale.

Mr. Putter feels that winter can be a bit slow. His gardening and hammock-lounging days are mothballed until spring. Then he recalls the days of his youth and the grand time he had sledding.

Of course Mrs. Teaberry is game! And of course Zeke is ready to careen down the hills! Tabby, however, is a bit bent out of shape over these icy antics!

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As always, Mr. Putter knows just how to soothe Tabby’s ruffled fur. Early reader’s lovelovelove Mr. Tabby for good reason. Hand them this one over Christmas break.

Here’s the Amazon link: Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope

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Independence Day celebrations are about to blast off across the U.S.A. Here’s a star-spangled set of books to celebrate with!

The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam

The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam

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:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pi Day approaches. March the 14th. A grand opportunity for a delicious slab of apple…

from davidrosengarten dot com

or cherry…

Cherry Tarts | Tony Kubat Photography

or chocolate cream pie. Yummmm.

from reciperhapsody at wordpress

Here are some stories to give your pi celebrations more pi-zzazz!

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Three Little Kittens, retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone
published in 1986 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In which pie is a coveted treat and tremendous source of trouble!

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Paul Galdone’s classic illustrations are purr-fect. Ages One and up.

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Pie for Chuck, written and illustrated by Pat Schories
published in 2015 by Holiday House

A darling, easy reader to accompany some purple-berry scrumptiousness.

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How can Chuck reach that tantalizing pie cooling on the windowsill?

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Pie in the Sky, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
published in 2004 by Harcourt

Lois Ehlert’s beautiful cut-paper illustrations lead us step by step through a mystery…

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Dad says the tree in the yard is a pie tree! How can that be? Do pies really grow on trees? Curious questions, objects to spy, and a recipe for cherry pie, packed into this colorful tale for ages 2 and up. 

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Sweet Dream Pie, by Audrey Wood, illustrations by Mark Teague
published in 1998 by Blue Sky Press

Pa Brindle cannot sleep. He’s craving a slice of Ma’s famous Sweet Dream Pie. Ma warns him that strange things happen when he eats too much of it. But Pa promises to be good. Just one big piece. That’s all he wants.

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You have never seen the likes of Ma’s Sweet Dream Pie, nor the magic it works on the neighborhood! It’s a sugar-saturated fantasy that’ll tickle the fancies of ages 4 and up.

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How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
published in 1994 by Alfred A. Knopf

The gal in this story has run out of ingredients for her pie, but does she borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors? No she does not.

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She sets out on an epic tour of the world to collect the choicest cinnamon, the mellowest butter, the freshest apples. It’s the quintessential baking-from-scratch approach, fabulous, loved for decades, with an apple pie recipe for you that should be a tad less complicated. Ages 4 and up.

And here are a few more pie treats with links to their original review on Orange Marmalade:

The Tea Party in the Woods

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a ravishingly beautiful story from 2015.

The Apple Pie the Papa Baked

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lovely rustic tale in which Jonathan Bean channels Wanda Gag.

Piggie Pie!

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Gritch the Witch is mad for some tasty Piggie Pie in this hilarious story.

The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan

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Beatrix Potter’s funny tale of Ribsy’s distress over mouse pie and patty pans.

May your Pi Day be delightful and delicious!

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Arm yourself for the cold and flu season! Cook up some chicken noodle soup, fluff the pillows, and settle in with some misery-loves-company stories, such as…

sniffles for bear cover imageThe Sniffles for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
published in 2011 by Candlewick Press

Bear tends towards the grumpity side even on the best of days, so when his throat gets “sore and gruffly” and his nose is all “sniffly-snouted” you just know he’s going to be extra tetchy.

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Cheerful, irrepressible Mouse is eager to be Nurse and Pleasant Companion, but Bear resists all his attempts to divert and comfort. Instead, he moans and groans with artful melodrama. Sheesh. Finally, after a long nap, Bear wakes feeling better, but now Mouse falls ill. How will Bear do when the tables are turned?

Every Bear and Mouse story is worth reading over and over. Lovable characters, a humorous clash of personalities, heaps of affection, plus Denton’s amusing illustrations of these two mismatched friends — it all adds up to first-rate charm. Ages 2 and up.

mr putter and tabby catch the cold cover imageMr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
published in 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.

Here’s another warmhearted story of friends who care.

This time, it’s Mr. Putter who’s blowing and hacking and generally feeling miserable. He has fond memories of the pampering he had as a kid when he was in bed with a cold, but now he’s “old with a cold” and it’s no fun at all.

Leave it to Mrs. Teaberry, that neighborliest of neighbors, and her good dog, Zeke, to save the day. It takes quite a bit of ingenuity, a dash of convincing, and a dose of desperation, for it all to come together, but the result is fabulous. Almost worth getting sick, to give this little system a try!

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I love the Mr. Putter stories. Perfect early-readers, with plots, writing, and illustrations fizzy enough to use as read-alouds with young children ages 2 and up.

never catch a cold cover imageNever Catch a Cold, written and illustrated by André François
originally created in 1966; published in 2012 by The Creative Company

This quirky, cautionary tale is a total riot. The material was created by legendary French illustrator André François for an advertising campaign back in the ’60s.

His trademark black-and-white ink paintings, all blobs and quavering lines, trumpet wry humor from the pages as he spins out this deadpan, informative lecture about Colds. A Cold, just so you know, looks like this:

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…and these Colds have survived since prehistory because little children, from time immemorial, are always taught to never catch a Cold. Thus, they have no mortal enemies.

never catch a cold illustration Andre Francois

François introduces us to the many varieties of Colds, the classes of Colds — good Colds and bad Colds, the ease with which one can catch a Cold, and the wisdom of NOT catching one.

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Superlative humor. Epic imagination. A small-but-stout sized book. For children old enough to enjoy puns and satire, and definitely for grown-ups, this is a treat.

Here are a couple of titles for would-be doctors and nurses who just want a little practice:

doctor nice cover imageDoctor Nice, written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
published in 2015 by Holiday House

There’s quite a line-up in Doctor Nice’s waiting room. Crows. Goats. A massive moose with the sneezles.

One at a time the fuzzy, furry patients tell the nice doctor their woes and he dexterously treats them all. Copious bandaging appears to be his special knack.

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When Mommy says it’s time for lunch, we get one last — surprising — glimpse of the invalids, which may inspire some doctoring in your household, too. Friendly, imaginative, fun for ages 2 and up.

nurse clementine cover imageNurse Clementine, written and illustrated by Simon James
published in 2013 by Candlewick

Young Clementine Brown gets a realio coolio nurse outfit and kit for her birthday and she is pumped to try it out. Large and in-charge, she begins taking care of the bumps and pains around the house. And once again, this bandaging business seems to be The Thing to do.

Annoyingly, her brother Tommy, whose recklessness results in Plentiful Opportunities to Bandage, is a completely unwilling patient. Insists he needs no Medical Attention. Grrgh. 

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Is it okay to root for Tommy to get hurt…just a wee bit? Just enough for Nurse Clementine to ply her trade? You’ll have to read this lighthearted story to see how dear Clemmy gets her chance. Illustrated in Simon James’ humorous, wibbly-wobbly line and gloriously-light watercolors. Ages 2 and up.

Finally, one look at a furry helper for kids with much more than a bad cold:

mogie the heart of the house cover imageMogie: The Heart of the House, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
published in 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This beautiful story is about a special dog named Mogie, a companion dog at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, who has an unusual aptitude for knowing just which child needs his snuggly presence.

When a child is especially out of spirits or full of the miseries in their long battles with illness, Mogie makes a bee-line to them, sidles up, leans in, and exudes doggy-love. All of which is amazingly restorative. 

Take a tour of the Ronald McDonald world, meet this lovable fellow named Mogie, and watch him work his charms on several residents. He’s honestly the heart of the house.

Great, upbeat story for ages 3 and up which introduces kids to service dogs and to long-term childhood illness in a warm, not-at-all-scary way.

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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.

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