Posts Tagged ‘bedtime stories’

Looking for some great reads for those little shavers, say 15 months and up? Bold, jolly books, short in length but long in painstakingly-crafted ideas and artwork, coming right up!

Truck, Truck, Goose, written by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Zoe Waring
published in 2017 by Harper

One oblivious duck goes on a picnic. How much trouble could that cause?

Plenty and more! Jazzy bright color, gobs of jolly trucks, great humor, and a sweet ending. Fabulous.

Goodnight World, written and illustrated by Debi Gliori
published in 2016 by Bloomsbury

Debi Gliori’s chalky, curving, comforting images spill across the pages in this lovely book…

… simply saying goodnight to all kinds of good things in the world. A creamy dreamy treat that’ll end your day with a warm glow.

Round — written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

An impeccably gorgeous book with a deceptively simple premise — exploring the round bits in our world.

One of my favorite books of the year. Warm, full of wonder, and beautiful.

Which Way? written by Marthe Jocelyn, illustrated by Tom Slaughter
published in 2010 by Tundra Books

Slaughter’s bold-as-brass graphic design and bright primary colors will arrest a child’s attention as you ponder together all the ways to get around and reach your destination.

Simple. Classy. Intelligent. This same team has several other cool titles for toddlers as well.

Stack the Cats, written and illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
published in 2017 by Abrams Appleseed

So stylish.

Beginning with one cat sleeping, we count up by cats. When enough of them arrive, we can stack ’em. But too many cats in a stack teeters and totters. Add a few more, and we can stack cats in a couple of equal, smaller stacks. Effortlessly mind-stretching number awareness on tap here with a side of wit.

I Know Numbers! written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
published in Japan in 1985; first U.S. edition 2017 by Chronicle Books

Taro Gomi’s genius explores the numerous places numbers show up in our world from thermometers to bus stops, team jerseys to dice…

… all delivered with aplomb and massive child-appeal.


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Bouquet of Peace 1958 by Pablo Picasso

Bouquet of Peace 1958 by Pablo Picasso

Last week was brutal. Here in the U.S. where tragedies are fresh, and of course around the world in places that hardly get a nod of acknowledgement from us over the violence that relentlessly engulfs them.

 Wherever you are, I hope that turning to the beauty, love, gentility, and wonder that children’s literature offers, can bring a respite of peace and healing and hope to you as you share these shards of goodness with the children in your life. 

you belong here cover image

You Belong Here, by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
published in 2016 by Compendium

Isabelle Arsenault’s gorgeous, whisper-lovely illustrations envelop us in beauty and hush in this quiet ode to love and belonging.

you belong here interior clark and arsenault

I can hear the gentle voice of a mother or father reading these reassuring, tender words to a beloved, drowsy child: The stars belong in the deep night sky/and the moon belongs there too,/and the winds belong in each place they blow by/and I belong here with you.

It’s a dream of a book to share with the little people you love, ages 2 and up, up, up.

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Hattie Peck, written and illustrated by Emma Levey
published in 2016 by Sky Pony Press (originally published 2015 by Top that Publishing Ltd)

Hattie Peck is a chicken with a hugely-nurturing heart! Eggs, eggs, and more eggs captivate her thoughts day and night. Yet Hattie  cannot lay a single egg of her own.

hattie peck interior by emma levey

Not to be thwarted, Hattie sets out to rescue every abandoned egg she can find. What a stupendous expedition it is! And what an eclectic household Hattie ends up with, to her great joy. Illustrated in energetic, jubilant strokes, this celebration of life, love, and family will thoroughly warm your heart. Ages 3 and up.

one hundred bones cover image

One Hundred Bones, written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer
first U.S. edition 2016 by Templar Books

I just discovered Yuval Zommer via his extraordinary book of bugs which I reviewed here. Now I’m scrambling to get ahold of his other titles held by my library.

one hundred bones interior by yuval zommer

First up is this upbeat tale of friendship, teamwork, and belonging. Scruff is a sweet, homeless dog, and an expert digger. When his excavation work unearths a treasure trove of bones, he coaxes the neighborhood dogs into helping him out. And what do they discover? One hundred bones! Find out where those bones belong and how Scruff also finds just the right place to belong. Loads of happiness. Read it again and again with ages 2 and up.

the storm cover image

The Storm, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
published in Japan in 2009; English translation published 2016 by Kids Can Press

Akiko Miyakoshi swept in and won our hearts last year with her lovely Tea Party in the Woods. Here’s her stunning charcoal work again, with a story set in mid-summer.

the storm interior by akiko miyakoshi

A young boy has been promised a trip to the beach tomorrow, but just now a big storm looms. As he crawls into bed, wind lashes the trees and howls. Those beach plans are not looking good. Enter his ship-of-dreams as he steers for clear skies, and find out if the real weather cooperates, or not. Masterful illustration work and a story of hope against the odds for ages 3 and up.

professor astro cat's atomic adventure cover image

Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure: A Journey Through Physics, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books

If you can’t imagine a friendly, colorful, effervescent introduction to physics — I think you are in good company. But that’s exactly what this is!

professor astrocat interior walliman and newman

Tag along with Professor Astro Cat in this engaging, highly-readable text and learn about everything from the scientific method to mass, force, gravity, motion, electricity, nuclear physics, particle physics and gobs more. Zippy illustrations and snazzy graphic design will draw you in to this fascinating material like a magnet! For science nerds ages 5 and much older.

Clara cover image

Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books

Winner of the Biggest Mouthful-of-a-Title Award is this latest offering from the supremely-talented Emily Arnold McCully.

Clara the mostly true story of the rhinoceros interior by emily arnold mccully

It’s the account of a real rhino, brought from her home in India to Europe in the mid-1700s by a sea captain. Clara became the toast of Europe, the first rhino seen by peasant or king. With her gargantuan appetite and loving temperament, she won hearts everywhere. McCully’s vibrant watercolors masterfully display Clara’s girth and warmth as well as the look and feel of 18th-century Europe. A lengthy Author’s Note and maps add to historical understanding. It’s a terrific package for ages 5 and up.

violet the pilot cover image

Violet the Pilot, written and illustrated by Steve Breen
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Meet Violet Van Winkle, a smart gal who loves tools and tinkering, ideas and inventing, and most especially — flying!

Watch her rivet together a hockey stick here and a spatula there, an old pickling barrel and a souped-up weed whacker and come up with The Hornet, her fantastic flying machine. Sure to win the Air Show contest, Violet thinks.

violet the pilot interior by steve breen

Also meet the dreadful Mulrooney twins who are quite full of lip. And discover how wild rivers, tipped canoes, Violet Van Winkle, and some precision flight skills result in a rare rescue and a reward. Girl power, adventure, and thrills star in this zesty story for ages 4 and up.

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ABZzz…: A Bedtime Alphabet, by Isabel Minhós Martins and Yara Kono
originally published in Portugal in 2014; first U.S. edition 2016 by Thames and Hudson

A quirky little volume, this, with musings and directions for ambling your way to sleep through the alphabet.

C is for Cat. Can you curl up and purr like a little cat? Isn’t it cosy? 

K is for Kiss. Have you kissed everyone goodnight yet? Is anyone still awake?

ABZzzz interior by martins and kono

With it’s contemporary vibe, jaunty design, and clever questions, methinks my children would not have been lulled to sleep by this book, despite the claim that “nearly everyone is snoring by the time they reach S.” However, it’s a delightful snuggle-up and think-sleepy-thoughts book to share with wide-eyed little ones, ages 2 and up.

the uncorker of ocean bottles cover image

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers

An Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. Quite an unusual vocation, wouldn’t you say? This frowsy, unassuming fellow with his mild, homely countenance lives all alone, perched on a windswept hill overlooking the sea. From whence he keeps an eye peeled for the odd bottle bobbing on the water.

Then out he rows to fetch it, uncork it, and deliver its message, no matter the journey required.

the uncorker of ocean bottles illustration1 by erin e. stead

How he longs for a message for himself. That longing, the dearth of companionship, fairly aches out of these pages in both the spare text and Stead’s gorgeous, wistful artwork. One day a most unusual message comes, and a sliver of gladness pierces the Uncorker’s world. Such an elegant, deeply-affecting collaborative effort to share with children ages 4 and older. It’s an outstanding invitation to reflect together on ideas of welcome and community.

This one hits the shelves on August 23. Look for it then or get in line at your library.


Donkey Donkey, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
originally published in 1940; republished in 2016 by The New York Review Children’s Collection

Despite Donkey Donkey’s many dear friends, and his kind master, and a whole patch of delicious thistles, he is an unhappy donkey. Why? It’s his ears. He really dislikes his ears. 

donkey donkey interior roger duvoisin

He sets out to reform his looks, taking advice from others in the barnyard, but it all just makes matters worse. What will cure Donkey Donkey of his immense sadness? This classic tale from the master, Roger Duvoisin, is bursting with vintage delight in its simplicity, its lovely, sophisticated vocabulary, and the charming 1940’s illustration work. A happy read for ages 2 and up.

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cricket song cover imageCricket Song, written and illustrated by Anne Hunter
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Layer upon layer of loveliness are sandwiched between the covers of this gentle book. The lovely softness of an evening breeze. The velvet stillness of a yard so quiet you hear the chirruping crickets and the gravelly croaking of the frogs. The fluid blending of hill and valley. The comforting rhythms of continuity.

cricket song illustration detail by anne hunter

As one boy drifts to sleep in one home, with the nearby ocean washing up against the coast, on another shore half-a-world away, the same ocean laps the sands, while evening falls on another child in another home. So far off, yet curiously bound together in the same world. We are witnesses of this grand pageant with our birds-eye view of two different corners of the globe.

cricket song interior anne hunger

Elegant. Quiet. Intriguing. Anne Hunter’s images and text will mesmerize and plant sweet seeds of thought to mull while falling asleep. Really beautiful, for ages 2 and up.

rock a bye romp cover imageRock-A-Bye Romp, by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
published in 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books

For anyone who’s wondered about the baby rocking in the treetops, crashing to the ground when the bough breaks — here’s a new take on that startling episode!

Linda Ashman’s cheery, rhyming text narrates an elaborate chain of events in which a slumbering babe moves along rather like a baton, tumbling from one landing perch and one animal-caretaker to the next.

rock a bye romp interior ashman and mulazzani

By piggyback, boat, and flying hawk! Flopping and flying and cascading! What a wild ride for a little one, before he finally arrives in a safe and snuggly bed.

rock a bye romp interior2 ashman and mulazzani

It’s a journey guaranteed to delight, with enchanting paintings in a palette of jades and twilight-purples, for ages Under-Two and up.

sheep go to sleep cover imageSheep Go to Sleep, by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple
published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

We loved reading the adventures of these endearing sheep decades ago when my kids were small, and now, look! — here is a new episode! What a treat!

This time the sheep are trying to settle down for a good night of sleep, but of course — they just can’t get comfy. They hear strange noises. They are thirsty. They are restless. They need their special loveys. Does any of this sound familiar?

sheep go to sleep interior shaw and apple

Thankfully, a trusty collie dog is attending to these dear muttonheads, and as you know, collie dogs are most dependable. This one is uber-patient, snuggly, and lovable, too! If you’ve never met these sheep, look up all the other books in this series by Nancy Shaw and Margo Apple. Fantastic stuff. Under-Two and up.

the big book of slumber cover imageThe Big Book of Slumber, by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, translated by Antony Shugaar
originally published in Italy in 2013; English publication in 2014 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

You might have noticed that this is the second book in today’s post illustrated by the splendid Italian artist, Simona Mulazzani. Her illustrations are so, so charming.

In fact, she’s the reason I grabbed this title in the first place — because when I see her name, I scarf up the book. And you should, too.

the big book of slumber interior2 zoboni and mulazzani

Zoboli’s rhyming text takes us on a tour of the animal kingdom, all tuckered out and snoozing in their beds. Snuggly bears and lines of kid goats tucked under sweet little blankets. A tiny mouse curled up in a tiny bed and an even tinier butterfly ready to doze in an even tinier bed. Snakes and cats and puppies and fish. Spiders and tigers and camels and bunnies.

the big book of slumber interior zoboli and mulazzani

There are oh-so-many drowsy folk here, all looking mighty comfy in their cozy spaces. A soporofic confection for ages Under-Two and up.

hushabye cover imageHushabye, written and illustrated by John Burningham
published in 2000 by Alfred A. Knopf

Finally, from one of the masters of children’s lit, this catalog of sleepy friends.

First we are introduced to a number of weary ones as they stumble towards bed, rubbing their tired eyes. A mama cat and her kittens. A trio of tired bears. A plum-tuckered baby. Even the man in the moon. Then we make the rounds again, finding out just where each one has settled to sleep.

hushabye illustration by john burningham

Burningham’s brilliant, bold compositions and colors, his immensely endearing line, his fribbly little figures, have captivated young readers for decades. If you’re in the U.S., and you’re part of the new generation of moms, you might not run into his books so often, but that is a huge loss! Track them down in your libraries and used bookshops. This one is made-to-order for ages Under-Two and up.

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a fine dessert illustration by sophie blackall

We’re gearing up for American Thanksgiving this Thursday, so today’s five are focused on gratitude. There are lots more Thanksgiving titles in the Subject Index under Holidays.

thankful cover imageThankful, by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston
published in 2015 by Zonderkidz

This first title is a breezy, cheerful catalogue of folks busy about different jobs — waitresses, dancers, doctors, beekeepers — and what they are thankful for in particular.

That’s everything from afternoon tea to the green sprouts in the garden.

thankful illustration archie preston

The brief, rhyming text is accompanied by carefree, sunny illustrations of a brother and sister play-acting all these different roles. There’s no diversity here, unfortunately, but it’s a playful happy world for ages Under-Two and up.

how many days to america cover imageHow Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck
published in 1988 by Clarion Books

This decades-old story has poignant new relevance this year as it traces the harrowing flight of a group of refugees towards peace.

Fleeing from an ominous threat of soldiers, a family of four hurries out in the night. Secrecy, fear, an overcrowded boat, a journey that becomes a miserable ordeal, and finally the welcome arms of strangers. As it happens, they’ve arrived in America on Thanksgiving Day. Clearly the giving of thanks for safety in a new land has double meaning for this particular dinner party.

how many days to america illustration beth peck

Beth Peck’s beautiful illustrations portray these seekers handsomely, with dignity, throughout their plight. Their country of origin remains unnamed which nicely keeps the story ever-timely.  Ages 4 and up.

the thanksgiving door cover imageThe Thanksgiving Door, written and illustrated by Debby Atwell
published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin

Here’s another story of welcoming.

Ed and Ann are alone for Thanksgiving this year and unfortunately, Ann has just the thanksgiving door illustration debby atwellmajorly burned their dinner. 

With black smoke curling up from the oven (my smoke detector would be shrilling off at this point) Ed suggests they try the little restaurant down the street. The doors are open, and a long Thanksgiving-looking table has been set, so all seems well.

What they don’t see is the ruckus they’ve caused in the back kitchen as the restaurant owners, an extended family of Russian immigrants, debates what to do about these folks who have wandered into their private family gathering.

the thanksgiving door illustration debby atwell

Leave it to Grandmother to set everybody straight and extend an Old World welcome in this New World. It’s a lovely, warm story with Atwell’s equally warm, primitive-style illustrations. Ages 3 and up.

gracias thanks cover imageGracias = Thanks, by Pat Mora, illustrations by John Parra
published in 2009 by Lee & Low

What are you thankful for?

The little boy in this book describes the many pieces of his life that make him thankful, such as the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise, and his Abuelita, who always winks and gives me a dollar when nobody’s looking. The text is in both Spanish and English.

gracias thanks interior mora and parra

John Parra’s bold, colorful paintings have a distinct Hispanic-mural quality to them. The vivid pages create an exuberant tone for the brief text. A happy choice for ages 2 and up.

thank you and good night cover imageThank You and Good Night, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
published in 2015 by Little Brown and Company

Clement, Jean and Alan Alexander are three little stuffed animals belonging to Maggie. Tonight is a very special night because they are having a lovely pajama party!

Dancing and games, yoga and goodies, then it’s time for brushing teeth and a bedtime story. Maggie is a whiz at organizing one swell party and tucking her tired peeps into bed.

thank you and good night interior patrick mcdonnell

The last moments of the day are for talking about what they’re each thankful for. It’s quite a happy little list and such a peace-inducing way to fall asleep.

Darling and tender, with charming illustrations of this little crew that will steal your heart. References to Goodnight Moon are scattered among the pictures, which observant eyes will notice, as well as a few other classic storybook characters. It’s a clear winner, a lovely bedtime read, for ages Under-Two and up.

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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.

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charlie cook's favorite book cover imageCharlie Cook’s Favorite Book, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Alex Scheffler
first published in the U.S. in 2006 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Charlie Cook loves to curl up in an arm chair with his favorite book. It’s about a pirate on a tropical island. Happily, the pirate finds a treasure chest which holds a book…

…about a little girl named Goldilocks. Some bears find her lying in bed, reading a book…

…about a brave knight and a dragon who love jokes, which they read from a book…

And so the story unfolds.  Every turn of the page wecharlie cook's favorite book julia donaldson and axel scheffler from youtube open a new book, each with its own clever title, illustrations, torn bits, smudges, and ingenuous visual references tying the pieces together — until we circle all the way back to Charlie.

Look closely to find the clever touches Scheffler has packed into the pictures.  Upbeat, rhythmic rhyming text. I love this book! It’ll tickle the fancy of anyone ages 4 or 5 and up.

open this little book cover imageOpen This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee
published in 2013 by Chronicle Books

Open the cover of this book, and you’ll find a smaller open this little book from suzyleebooks dot compurple book inside. Open it, and there’s a Little Red Book about a ladybug who opens an even smaller Little Green Book starring a frog…

Such a pleasure to open up these tinier and tinier books until you reach the smallest of allest, and there’s a story in that wee blue book. And then everything reverses.

Great fun. It reminds me a bit of this vintage Bruno Munari title. Ages 3 and up.

who's afraid of the big bad book cover imageWho’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? written and illustrated by Lauren Child
published in 2002 by Hyperion Books for Children

Herb loves stories. Especially the pictures.  Loves ’em so much he carts his books everywhere and gets the pages quite sticky. Also, he may be guilty of the odd scribble, snip, and rub-out with an eraser.

When he somehow falls into an old fairy tale bookwho's afraid of the big bad book illustration lauren child which he has, ahem…re-decorated a bit…Herb finds plenty of mayhem and some very annoyed characters. His actions have had consequences in their world. Prince Charming’s mother is particularly perturbed. And it’s all Herb’s fault. How can he escape the wrath of the queen, and this bizarre fairy-tale world?

Lauren Child’s books are like a roller coaster ride through the Fun House. Upside down and helter skelter we go through this funny, energized adventure. Good humor and a spark for the imaginations of kids ages 5 and up!

the snatchabook cover imageThe Snatchabook, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
published in 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

With books offering up such magic, it’s little wonder that story-thievery might be a problem!

Enter a world of ancient trees with curious, round windows, teeny, sheltered doorways, and sprawling roots laced with cozy burrows. In the snatchabook illustration dochertyevery wee house, some furry or feathered youngster is being tucked into bed and best of all — having stories.

Something strange is afoot, though. The storybooks are disappearing! Who — or what! — is snatching them? And why?

This woodsy neighborhood will charm the socks off of you with its booksnatching mystery and blissful solution.  I love the cool blue-black night contrasting with the toasty-warm hidey holes, and every miniature bedstead and quilt, hedgehog and bunny. The gently rhyming text  will entrance listeners ages 3 and up. Don’t miss this!

again cover image emily gravettAgain!, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
published in 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Book-snatching is not the only dire consequence of stories that are too, too good to miss.
Bed-time temper tantrums may also result.

This little dragon is almost ready for bed, but of course — stories first. She’s got her favorite book which Mom pleasantly reads. Then Little Dragon asks The Dreaded Question: “Again?”

Hmm. Mom is clearly not thrilled, but she does read it again. At least, a very-slightly abridged version. On and on it goes until…

Well…every parent reaches her limit. But when Mama Dragon finallyagain illustration emily gravett conks out, Little Dragon throws a dragon-sized tantrum! You will not believe what she does to this book!

Utterly Surprising and Shocking! And so funny. Do not miss the end papers, and if you check this out of the library, be sure to peek at that back cover. A roaring good time for ages 3 and up.

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Several fabulous new train titles have come out in 2013. I’ve got three of them for you today, plus a charming Charlotte Voake title I’ve loved for many years and a look at trains through Monet’s eyes. For those of you with kids who are gaga over trains, every one of these is a dream, but if you”ve never thought of yourself as a train person — jump on board anyway!

locomotive cover image2 brian flocaLocomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca

I’ll start with an absolutely stunning book from a favorite, extraordinary author/illustrator, Brian Floca.

The steam locomotive transformed the geography of our nation, and “annihilated” time and space by allowing folks to traverse such vast distances comfortably, safely, and quickly.

Take a ride across the country on one of these iron horses in 1869, and learn all about these fascinating machines, the people who run them, the awesome sights across the land, the amazing work that wrestled a railroad through the terrain, and much more.locomotive illustration brian floca You are on the train from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, with a window seat and access to railroad restaurants and roundhouses,  eavesdropping and people-watching…such a wonderful sense of immediacy is in these pages.

Brian Floca — wow! — this is an epic work. He has distilled so much research into his immensely readable, almost poetic text, relaying an enormous volume of fasincating information with a clear tone of wonder and beauty. The human element is central, even though much technical information is divulged. Dozens of his trademark gorgeous, detailed watercolor illustrations provide a great deal of information as well, pulling back the curtain on train interiors, levers and gears, period clothing, the countryside, and the roaring mammoth size of these engines!

In addition, the endpapers of the book contain brilliant, beautifully illustrated panels on the transcontinental railroad and the ins and outs of steam power. A long Note on the Locomotive provides a wealth of information for older readers and adults, and even Floca’s detailed listing of Sources gives an interesting window on the subject.

If this does not win top awards for non-fiction, I’ll eat my hat. Ages 7 or 8 and up. HIghly recommended!

train cover image elisha cooperTrain, written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper

Elisha Cooper’s take on trains is marvelously different, so Cooper-esque!, and a complete delight for ages 4 and up.

Ingenuously, Cooper takes us on a cross-country trip as well, hopping on different trains along the way so we get to experience five kinds of trains  — a commuter train, passenger train, freight train, overnight train, and high-speed train,.

Cooper is a master observer. I love that about his books. You can tell that he rode a train illustration elisha cooperlot of trains, and hung out at a lot of stations, watching, listening, sketching a gazillion details going on around him — different kinds of people hurrying, workers at the station, ways people occupy themselves on the train. All that wonderful reality is carefully packed into his drawings, which still look effortless and airy and light.

In addition, we get glorious views of the changing landscapes along our journey, a chance to sit in the engineer’s seat — so cool! — and views from the tracks. Fascinating descriptions of the sights and sounds of the train in lovely, sparse text will make you fall in love with trains, if you aren’t already a keen fan.

Included are a short glossary containing some very interesting additional info, and a teeny author’s note. I love Elisha Cooper’s work, and this is another winner. Don’t miss it.

And here’s a lovely bonus: a fascinating interview with these two guys, talking about their books. I found this weeks after writing this particular blog (it’s been sitting in the hopper waiting for an open week) but loved hearing these guys talk about one another’s work.

steam train dream train cover imageSteam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

It’s nighttime. Stars speckle the deep sapphire sky, when through the darkness a huffing, puffing, clanging train pulls up to Night Falls station. The crew is ready to load up a ton of unusual, entertaining, scrumptious cargo!

A passel of monkeys and rabbits have jolly toys to load in the boxcar — monkey bars and hula hoops, pogo sticks and model planes. Next up is a hopper steam train dream train illustration tom lichtenheldcar, being filled to the brim with bouncy balls of all shapes and sizes. Brilliant colors of paint are being squirted into tankers by some merry purple elephants. On and on it goes, until the train is crammed with all the stuff that dreams are made of.

Now the train slowly chugs out of the station, while the crew peacefully slumbers. It’s a stream train, dream train. Goodnight.

This is a wonderfully imaginative goodnight book, with each page swathed in cobalts and dusky purples as well as every yummy, amusing thing a child could want in her dreams. Lichtenheld’s deep, jewel-toned illustrations are chock full of playful details, rendered in wax oil pastels which yield a lovely soft texture. Older readers will enjoy the clever pairings of crew-and-load, such as the tortoises loading the race cars onto the autorack.

I could well imagine this becoming a worn favorite for many children. Ages 2-3 and up.

claude monet the painter who stopped the trains cover imageClaude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains, by P.I. Maltbie, illustrated by Jos. A. Smith

So many Monet titles focus on his seascapes or his work in Giverny. Here’s a fascinating peek at his paintings of quite a different subject — the Gare Saint-Lazare.

In the 1870s, trains were a thrilling, sensationally-fast mode of transportation, while Claude Monet’s new-fangled Impressionist paintings were earning mainly sneers from the critics. Perhaps, Monet thought, he could capture his audience’s enthusiasm by painting clouds of steam from a train, rather than banks of fog by the sea.

Traveling to Paris, Monet tackled his subject as he had others — creating numerous

The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train by Claude Monet

The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train by Claude Monet

paintings of the same place, showing different moments in time, differing effects of light and steam. To do this he needed the trains to hold still, to delay their departures even. Monet chatted with the stationmaster and received his permission. For months, despite the grumbling of disgruntled travelers, Monet worked furiously in the train station at Saint-Lazare.

The results were just as he hoped: sensational! Émile Zola remarked that Monet had found “the poetry in train stations,” and the entire series was snatched up by an important art dealer.

P.I. Maltbie’s account is pleasant, upbeat, accessible to children ages 5 and up, yet loaded with interesting information about Monet’s work that will captivate older readers. Using Monet’s 9-year-old son Jean in the storyline adds a lovely, narrative sense to the book. Jos A. Smith’s absorbing watercolor illustrations add warm cheer, as well as delightful period detail. Monet and the stationmaster both exude tremendously likeable natures.

A lengthy Author’s Note fills in some detail, and be sure to read the Artist’s Note as well to find some fun surprises in his illustrations. Also listed are museums where you can view Monet originals, and a nice bibliography.

here comes the train cover imageHere Comes the Train, written and illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Ahhhh… Charlotte Voake writes and illustrates such incredibly charming stories, making the ordinary, exquisite.

It’s Saturday, which means Dad, little William, and big sister Chloe are out for a bike ride. They’re headed to a footbridge that crosses high above the railroad tracks, and here they stop…and wait…and watch…and listen…for the train.

Others gradually join them there with assorted strollers and dogs, hoping, hoping here comes the train illustration charlotte voakefor a train to appear. And when it does:

Sparks! Noise! Mad waving! Rushing wind! Rumbling, rattling, shaking. Whoopeee!!!

Then, everything goes quiet again, and it’s time to wait…for the next one.

That’s it. Just a tiny episode. But this is what childhood memories are made of. Such odd little everyday details are brought up and cherished by our children when they’re grown. The routines, the slow, ordinary, together times. Voake is brilliant at encapsulating the magic of these moments. Very few words, and pages flooded with simplicity, happiness, gentleness, ordinariness. Mesmerizing.

I’ve loved this book since my kids were little. I’m sure it’s out of print…but definitely worth looking for, for the youngest lap-sitters. Do yourself a favor — introduce yourself to Ms. Voake and find her other books, too.

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