Posted in early readers, fiction, non-fiction, picture books, poetry, recipes, tagged birds, book reviews, botany, children's literature, gardening, Michelle Obama, nature, photography, picture books, plants, ponds, robins, seeds, spring, wildlife on April 10, 2017|
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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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Take a piece of prose.
Filter out all sawdusty, throat-clearing, bush-beating, throw-away words. That rich, full-bodied elixir remaining? That’s poetry.
Small but mighty.
Whether you’ve shied away from poetry in the past or cherish poetry like the scent of a spring peony, I invite you to check out these superb new books, plum full of the power of words.
First up, for the youngest among us…
The Owl and the Pussy-cat, by Edward Lear, illustrated by Charlotte Voake
poem first published in 1871; illustrations copyright 2014; first U.S. edition 2017 by Candlewick
Feast upon this classic, delectable verse accompanied by the gloriously swishy, Oz-ishly emerald, tropical illustrations by one of my favorite illustrators, Charlotte Voake.
What child can resist that beautiful pea-green boat, the moonlit guitar-strumming, a land sprouting up in Bong-trees, slices of quince and one mysterious runcible spoon?
Introduce children ages 15 months and up to the ticklish wonders of words, dancing rhythms, luscious colors with this thoroughly happy piece. It’ll nestle down in their minds and entertain them their whole life long.
Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times, written by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Tomie DePaola
published in 2017, Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers
This collection of small poems for small people radiates charm, simplicity, and childish innocence. Wide-eyed, we step outside our door to discover, greet, soak up the sparkling pleasures of life. What a lovely breath of fresh air!
The glory of the ordinary is here. Library visits and Sunday pancakes. A dipping, diving elevator and snippety barber shop. Friends. Grandparents. Ants. Rainy days. Lin Oliver captures the grandeur of the small in her light, playful rhymes.
Tomie dePaola needs no introduction. Eminently warm and friendly illustrations, with the marvelous diversity you’d expect from him; he makes each page sing. Perfect for preschoolers. I’ve reviewed an earlier volume by this team here.
Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market, poems by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Amy Huntington
published in 2017 by Charlesbridge
The sun’s just rising. Wooden crates of plump tomatoes and bundles of basil are loaded into the pick-up as this farm-fresh crew heads out.
All the bustle of an urban farmers’ market — stalls laden with colorful produce, tables groaning under mouthwatering bakery fare, earthy mushrooms, fiddling buskers, speckled eggs — calls to us from these short poems and sunny, lively watercolors.
While you’re enjoying the events narrated in the poetry, there are also a couple of dogs whose antics are revealed throughout the day — great fun for children to spy on. It’s an enticing, cheerful collection and a great way to get motivated to visit the farm-fresh markets popping up all over starting now. Ages 4 and up.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, written by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
published in 2017 by Candlewick
Take a look at that cover and you’ll get a taste of the explosion of wonder, the celebration of life that’s bound up in the pages of this stunning new collection.
Award-winning author Kwame Alexander here introduces us to twenty of his favorite poets — a marvelously-diverse grouping as you would expect — by ingenuously riffing off of their famous styles, ideas, and ethos.
The innovative lowercase lackofpunctuation styling of e.e. cummings is adopted by Alexander in a blooming poem about shoes (but really companionship). A poem basking in the earthy loveliness of a Chilean forest echoes the subject matter of Pablo Neruda. An explosion of rainbow-sherbet color, a soaring joy, thunders from a poem expressing the indomitable spirit of Maya Angelou.
Twenty original poems; twenty homages to poets. Brilliant. But that’s not all, because the heartbreakingly-beautiful artwork of Ekua Holmes — Oh, I love her work!! — thrills, rejoices, commands every page. Excellent short bios of each poet take up six additional pages. A stunner for a wide age range — 6 through teens.
Emily Dickinson: Poetry for Kids, illustrated by Christine Davenier
published in 2016 by Quarto Publishing Group
One of the poets featured in Out of Wonder, Emily Dickinson is an American treasure, a homebody with an outsized knack for observation, a naturalist who reveled in the beauties of nature surrounding her Massachusetts home, a gingerbread-baker who treated neighborhood children but kept herself mostly to herself.
This gorgeous volume of her poetry is part of a series from MoonDance Press and Quarto introducing a variety of poets to children. It’s arranged by seasons and includes almost 3 dozen of her small poems.
French artist Christine Davenier’s exquisite watercolors fill these almond-cream pages with gems of color, graceful line, fragments of fragile beauty, as well as exultant gladness. Beautiful layouts and typography add to the immense sensory delight. Several pages of explanatory notes aid in understanding the poems. Splendid for ages 8 and older.
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance, poems by Nikki Grimes, artwork by Cozbi A. Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E.B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, Elizabeth Zunon
published in 2017 by Bloomsbury
This phenomenal volume is so powerful, I really just want to say nothing more but urge you to experience it for yourself.
An amalgamation of the ideas and energy flowing out of the Harlem Renaissance, the poetic mastery of Nikki Grimes, and the artistry of a roster of gifted African American illustrators — that’s what’s bound up in this small, thought-provoking book.
I had never heard of the Golden Shovel form of poetry. Even if I tried to explain it to you, the audacious difficulty of it and ingenuous nature of it will not really land on you until you experience it in poem after poem here. Suffice it to say, it is another of the elaborate structures of poetry which frame poets in, force them to chisel and plane and bevel their words to fit the form, all of which ramps up their potency, augments the ideas.
You can see by reading down the bolded words that the Golden Shovel form involves repurposing lines from others’ poems, using them as the framework for something new. Illustration by Frank Morrison.
Grimes employs that in her riffs off of a number of poems by Renaissance poets. The original poem stands alongside Grimes’ innovation. These are deep, rich pieces with themes relevant to real children living in this challenging world. They are accompanied by gorgeous artwork in a wide variety of styles.
Illustration by Shadra Strickland
Short bios of each of the Renaissance poets and each illustrator, background on the Harlem Renaissance, and an explanation of the poetic form round out the volume. Highly recommended for ages 10 to adult. Many children will want to try their hand at this poetry form, I’m sure.
Many more wonderful volumes of poetry are listed in my Titles index — it’s the last section entitled Poetry and Lyrics.
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Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books, poetry, tagged book reviews, children's literature, outdoor play, picture books, snow, winter on November 28, 2016|
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The beauty of a fresh snowfall is hard to beat in my northern-Minnesota-girl opinion.
Today I have five dazzling books celebrating snow. Each one is splendid!
Before Morning, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Minnesota-poet Joyce Sidman has won high honors for her work for children, including the handsome volume, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.
Here she employs just one poem to tell a frosty story full of hope and happiness. It unveils the deep wishes of one little girl whose mom, an airline pilot, has to literally jet off to work. Again. Sad, unimpressed by explanations of responsibilities, this child breathes a prayer to the universe.
Please, can it snow?
Can “the earth turn to sugar” and “pathways be hidden” so that those planes — and her mom — can’t budge? And while she sleeps, that is exactly what happens.
Sidman’s gentle, exquisite words are paired with Krommes’ stunning scratchboard illustrations which actually tell most of the story for us. The quaint New England neighborhood and filtering snowflakes that gradually fill up the town, sculpture new softened scenes, blanket the world in snowy eiderdown — are just so gorgeous.
Despite this being such a snowy book, it’s also as cozy as the whipped-cream-topped cocoa this snug family shares in the end.
An utter gem to share with ages 2 through adult.
Into the Snow, written by Yuki Kaneko, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito
published in 2016 by Enchanted Lion Books
Snow brings exuberance and electrifying color to this joyful story. Anyone who has seen the brilliant colors of children’s snow-clothes polka-dotting snowy landscapes will understand that.
This little guy is eager to rush out and play in the new snow. Bundle up! Pull on that hat and gloves! Grab a sled! Let’s go!
There are gossamer wonders to notice, glittering icicles to spy, but all that quiet wonder is gone in a mighty whoosh once the sledding begins. Yippeeeeeeeeeeee!
Masamitsu Saito has captured the blur, the frozen spray of snow pelting a sledder’s merry face, the thrill of careening, down the hillside, catapulting into the plump of a snowdrift, like I have never seen before. There is so much motion, icy nip, and joy in these pages!
Cocoa warms up the ending in this story with a fiery glow of sweetness and love. I adore this, for ages 2 and up.
Best in Snow, written and photographed by April Pulley Sayre
published in 2016 by Beach Lane Books
April Pulley Sayre follows up her visual exploration of rain (Raindrops Roll), with this gorgeous photo-survey of snow.
And I love that she does not muddy the waters here with over-many words. A brief, elegant poem meanders through the book, calling our attention to the frost, ethereal flakes, and glittering ice in this woodland world. The addition of the darling way these whirling snowflakes decorate the tip of one squirrel’s nose adds a cute, child-friendly touch.
Stunning photographs draw us into the glory of a wintry wonderland. No condescension here. Close-up looks of frosty tracings. An ice-coated spread of branches gleaming in the sunlight. A flurry of snow, fuzzing the forest. Beautiful.
Short explanations about why snow drifts, how crystals feather, where snow forms, and more follow. It’s a marvelous piece of nonfiction to share with children ages 2 and up.
First Snow, written and illustrated by Bomi Park
originally published in South Korea, 2012; first U.S. edition 2016 by Chronicle Books
This debut work of Korean artist Bomi Park is packed with gentle charm, augmented with playful imagination.
One rosy-cheeked girl wakes in the night, hears a “pit, pit, pit” of snowflakes against her windowpane and quick-as-a-bunny, bundles up and heads out to the backyard to play.
Alone, yes, but for some pudgy puppies. In the middle of the night. We’re in fantasy territory here, which becomes clearer as she rolls a growing snowball right down the steps, through the town, across a meadow, and into a magical, snow-laden forest.
Polar bears and dozens of snow children await to help her create a fantastical world of snowmen.
Park’s illustrations are tender, almost ethereal in the deepest section of the fantasy, completely in gray scale but for the flashes of cherry red hats, scarves and mittens. A wonder-filled, captivating tale for ages 2 and up.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland, based on the song by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, illustrated by Tim Hopgood
published in 2016 by Henry Holt and Company
Sleigh bells ring
are you listening?
In the lane,
snow is glistening.
One of the quintessential songs of the holiday season has now been illustrated in the ebullient style of Tim Hopgood.
Colors that zing.
Snowflakes that sparkle.
Icy cold and fireside warmth. Snowy owls and horse-pulled sleighs. Frosted forests and the brilliant blue skies of a cold winter’s day.
It’s all here, just waiting for you to sing along. There’s so much good cheer wrapped up inside these pages, it’s guaranteed to put a smile in your heart.
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Posted in fiction, picture books, poetry, tagged book reviews, cats, children's literature, Christmas, monasteries, Pangur Ban, picture books on November 7, 2016|
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Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat, written and illustrated by Katie Harnett
published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books
Blossom Street is a quaint lane edged with charming brick rowhouses. It’s home to a lovely jumble of folks, from Madame Betty, lounging most elegantly, swathed in plush pinkness, to the Sikh gardener who grows his perfect pumpkins at Number Fourteen.
It’s also the home to this plump cat.
The cat has a great gig going. Visiting each household along the avenue, he’s treated to affection and goodies from every hand. Fish from Mr. Green. Tea at the Hoskins’. His appointed rounds are as much a part of the routine as the sun coming up in the morning.
Until. One day Archie stops visiting. Where has he gone?
Discover the warmhearted conclusion to that mystery in this exceptional story. Harnett welcomes us into this beautifully-diverse community with her gorgeous palette, vivid personalities, and oodles of charm. Every page is a treat and the final spread is as heartening as a mug of tea on a cold afternoon. I see a bit of a Maira Kalman influence in her work. Don’t miss this! Ages 2 and up.
The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Ban”, words by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrations by Sydney Smith
published in 2016 by Groundwood Books
An anonymous Irish Benedictine monk paused in the midst of his studies one day, over a thousand years ago, probably at an abbey in the south of Germany.
His brief reflections, written in Old Irish, were about himself and a quiet companion in his small room – a fluffy, white cat. These thoughts are at once tranquil, simple, insightful. They are both humble and elegant in their perspective, as he compares his scholarly pursuits with those of this skillful hunter.
Sydney Smith’s handsome watercolor and ink illustrations hugely magnify the impact of this book. Such spare elegance! He evokes the focus, strength, solitude, and gentleness of the monk’s world while Bogart’s rendition of the poem gracefully leads us through the monk’s train of thought.
It’s a transfixing combination that can be appreciated on several levels. A rare gem for ages 2 to adult.
They All Saw a Cat, written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
published in 2016 by Chronicle Books
Have you ever thought about what the world looks like from another vantage point? What would it be like to be 7 feet tall? Or to have extra color receptors in your eyes? What does the world look like to an ant? Or an eagle?
Brendan Wenzel explores this idea in his fabulous, thought-provoking book. One cat is just minding its own business, walking through the world where it is encountered by many different creatures. Children. A skunk. A fish. What do they see? How do their physical eyes and their views on cat-ness, affect their perception?
A bee sees the cat in a pixilated image.
A mouse sees the cat as just about the devil himself! Yikes!
This book is a marvel, start to finish. Fantastic idea, fabulously carried out. Don’t miss it, for folks ages 3-Adult.
This is Not a Cat!, written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
published in 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
Today’s lesson in the cheery woodland school is “Recognizing Danger.” A cat, for example, is a Danger!
While Miss Mouse flips through her handy chart of Things That Aren’t Cats — cute bunnies and yummy ice-cream-cones — the attention of her class wanders mightily. Yawn. This lesson is a bore.
What neither teacher nor students are observing, though, is a huge marmalade cat looming just outside the door!
Hysteria and pandemonium break out when finally everybody recognizes this Clear and Present Danger! Run for your lives!!
Surprises, plot twists, thrills, dangers, escapes — are all crammed into this guaranteed-to-please story. There is so much going on in Wohnoutka’s illustrations! Hilarious! Take your time to take it all in. Quite a merry choice for ages 2 and up.
Cat on the Bus, written and illustrated by Aram Kim
published in 2016 by Holiday House
It’s the holiday season but things aren’t looking so merry for this patchy fellow.
He’s a poor, homeless thing and wherever he turns for shelter, he’s treated to the bristly side of the broom. Scat, cat!
His luck turns when he zips onto a city bus and finds a seat next to a kindhearted grandpa. Watch what happens next, in this warm-as-toast, “purrrrr-fect” story.
Bold, colorful illustrations tell almost the whole tale here, with just a word or two sprinkled in. Lots of absorbing details are tucked in for a slow, happy wander through with ages 18 months and up.
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Posted in fiction, picture books, poetry, tagged book reviews, children's literature, diversity, dragons, friendship, pen pals, picture books, poetry on November 4, 2016|
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Dear Dragon, written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
published in 2016 by Viking
It’s time for a poetry-writing unit in young George Slair’s classroom. Thanks to George’s oh-so-clever teacher, though, there’s nothing wearisome about that. She’s found pen pals for each of her charges. Their letters to one another will be written in rhyme. Awesome sauce.
George has been assigned a pen pal named Blaise. And presto-pronto, these two begin an enthusiastic correspondence telling about their adventures and outings, likes and dislikes, hobbies and pets and families. Before long they’re hitting it off like old friends! No wonder they can hardly wait to meet one another at the pen pal picnic.
But what on earth?! When these two kids meet up, they discover something crazy: Blaise is a dragon! George is a human boy! They never imagined it this way. Can dragons and humans be pals?!?! But of course.
This is a smart book on so many levels, sneaking in all sorts of good things under the radar. There’s the whole incentive to write letters, maybe even to a pen pal! The delights of poetry. A cunning how-to lesson on conversing with a new friend.
Then, courtesy of Rodolfo Montalvo’s brilliant illustrations, there’s a marvelous display of alternate perspectives, the way our life experience leads us to interpret another’s words. Absolutely fantastic.
And, wrapped in and under and around the whole story is the lovely idea that such very different people can be so very much alike. That these folks who seem so other-ish, can be our friends.
It’s all packed in without losing a morsel of friendly warmth or being encumbered by an atom of moralizing. Enjoy this with kids ages 4 and up, taking your time over the illustrations. And while you’re at it — just give the names of the two main characters a ponder. Some excellent punning and allusion going on there!
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Oooh. Autumn is my favorite season.
And everything wonderful about fall — the brisk air and crisp leaves, coolness and coziness, smoke in the air and spiced cider in my mug — gets prime treatment in autumn-themed picture books. There are so many beauties out there! Here are five stand-outs:
Yellow Time, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
published in 2016 by Beach Lane Books
Minneapolis author-illustrator Lauren Stringer knows the core, heart-of-goodness about the seasons and loves to show us an unusual perspective on them as she’s demonstrated before. (See her magnificent Winter is the Warmest Season, reviewed here.)
Her newest title exults in fall. Yellow time. Yes, those maples turn crimson and flame, but look again. The birches and aspen and ash simply glow in the autumn sunshine, a fluttering, spangly yellow mass. Breathtaking. “A symphony of yellow,” Stringer says. You folks in Colorado know all about this, don’t you.
Stringer’s pristine, lyrical text bursts with yellow joy and her illustrations swoosh an exaltation of yellow happiness across every page. I love this book! Ages 2 and up.
Wonderfall, written and illustrated by Michael Hall
published in 2016 by Greenwillow Books
This book is delight-fally clever!
Michael Hall has played on words and played with words to bring us 15 clever word-inventions and teeny poems celebrating fall.
Explore this beautifall…
plentifall, resourcefall time of year as we move from late summer to the first snow of winter. A bold autumn palette, simplified shapes, and spare text create a warm, quiet, glad collection, perfect to share with children ages 3 and up.
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, written and illustrated by Kenard Pak
published in 2016 by Henry Holt and Company
One little girl takes a walk, through woodland and field, past stream and into town, greeting everyone and everything she sees along the way.
Foxes, birds, beavers and insects — all are busy preparing for fall. Even the flowers and clouds, the wind and air flaunt changes that signal a new season.
By the time she’s made her rounds, we’ve walked from late summer into chill autumn and right back into her snug house.
Such a pleasant journey. One of the things I love best about this book is the racial diversity in a non-urban setting. Her community is a quaint village nestled in the woods — Stars Hollow, if you will — and Kenard Pak has peopled it with a lovely array of skin tones. Thank you! Share it with children ages 2 and up.
Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall!, written by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal
published in 2016 by Abrams Appleseed
Following their magical springtime treat (Abracadabra, It’s Spring! reviewed here), this dynamite team has cooked up some hocus pocus for fall! Hurray!
Immerse yourselves in the glory of autumn with Gal’s swimmy, spattery, rosy, cozy renditions of apple picking, milkweed bursting, leaf reddening, jack-o-lantern carving, fall days.
Each two-page spread holds the start of a clever poem, with a magical flourish…
“Busy squirrels fill their cheeks. Abba zabba!”
…and a gate-fold page that opens to reveal the presto! change-o! surprise fulfillment of the scene:
“Food for weeks!”
Splendid and jolly for ages 18 months and older.
Fall Ball, written and illustrated by Peter McCarty
published in 2013 by Henry Holt and Company
If you’re looking for something a tad more rough and rowdy, you can’t go wrong with Bobby and his pudgy, round-faced, hedgehog-haired crew!
These kids love heading home from school because they’re chomping at the bit to get outside and PLAY! Hurrah for them!
Time for a little pick-up football. Add an earnest, grabby dog and a gargantuan pile of leaves and you’ve got all the ingredients for a lovely spot of mayhem.
Only a little, though. For as you know, dusk comes mighty early in the fall. That’s okay because other Cozy Bits come right along with nightfall for this lovable bunch. Charming, for ages 3 and up.
There are lots more autumn reads in my Subject Index under Science: Seasons. Grab a cinnamon doughnut and settle in!
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