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Showing posts from September, 2012

Create with Maisy : A Maisy First Arts-and-Crafts Book by Lucy Cousins

If you have read Yummy! Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins, a favorite of mine and many story time attendees, or, for that matter, any of her Maisy books, then you know that Cousins knows her audience (four and under) very well. I know that there are many, many crafty moms and dads out there creating things with their kids as soon as they can grasp a glue stick, nevertheless, I still get requests about once or twice a month for craft books for toddlers and I can never find anything that comes even close to being acceptable. Create with Maisy definitely fills a void and, after you read this book you might agree with me that it's the only book you'll need when it comes to crafts for little hands. And, even if you don't actually need this book, consider it the best birthday present you will ever give to a child and his/her parents.
Cousins begins her book with a "Message for the Grown-Ups" which shows just how in-tune she is with creating, crafting and kids…

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

Leigh Hodgkinson is brilliant! An exploration of her website, Wonkybutton and her book blog, as well as her adorable, very cool blog about creative things she does with her young daughter, took up much of my evening. After reading her newest picture book, Goldilocks and Just the One Bear, I flipped to the author bio and learned that Hodgkinson, who is also a filmmaker and animator, worked on the award winning television series Charlie and Lola! This makes so much sense if you are familiar with the work of Lauren Child, author of (besides the Charlie & Lola books, the Clarice Bean series, among others). These two utterly talented women seem to have a similar flair for patterns, collages, vibrant colors and, above all, HUMOR! These people write (and illustrate) very funny books. 

Since Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs came out in 1989, it's been tough to top them when it comes to turning fairy tales on their heads. However, Hodgkinson defini…

The Frank Show by David Mackintosh

While I am thrilled that reports of the death of the picture book were greatly exaggerated, I have been wondering of late if there will ever be room for another William Steig or Bill Peet in this world?  Is there space on the shelf of the bookstores for this kind of book, a publisher willing to go with a picture book that does not feature a "character" sure to spawn a series and, above all else, an author and illustrator who can tell an intelligent story with words and pictures in 32 pages that does not talk down to readers but instead lifts them to a higher level of thinking? I hope so. And, I think that David Mackintosh's newest book, The Frank Show, comes very close.
One thing that William Steig, especially, was not afraid to put in his picture books were adults. Have you noticed how there are very few adults in kid's books anymore? And if they are there, actually on the page and interacting with the children in the story, they are a source of comfort and a bounda…

What Will You Be, Grandma? written by Nannette Newman, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

There really aren't as many grandma and grandpa picture books out there as you might think. Yet, most kids have them (grandparents) and, in this day and age, many kids, like Lily in What Will You Be, Grandma by Nanette Newman with illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark, have grandparents who are most definitely not the old, denture wearing, nap taking kind from the books and movies of my childhood.
As Newman says in her author bio, she wrote this book after her granddaughter, Lily, asked her what she was going to be when she grew up. In the book, Lily's grandmother answers thoughtfully, "Well, a lot of people think I've grown up already." But, Lily thinks Grandma has a long way to go and is filled with creative and clever career advice. "You could grow wings and fly around the world, making sure people are nice to their cats and dogs like I am," is one of my favorite suggestions. To this Grandma answers, "Id like to have wings," and there is …

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, by Cece Bell, 56 pp, RL 2

Beginning reader books, the good ones anyway, seem to center around two friends. Friends who are usually opposites. I always think that this friend quota has been filled (Frog & Toad, George & Martha, Elephant & Piggie, Benny & Penny, Dodsworth & Duck) and then someone comes up with a new pair. With her book Rabbit & Robot: The SleepoverCece Bellhas created a fantastic new beginning reader duo that even subverts (mostly) the predominant odd couple set-up where one friend is reasonable and rational and the other is a neurotic. Rabbit and Robot's humor and drama functions more on the premise that these two friends are the same and different, with Bell flip-flopping these rolls in various chapters.

Taking a page from Frog & Toad, Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover begins with a simple premise: Robot is sleeping over at Rabbit's house and Rabbit has made a list of four things for them to do over the course of the evening. Each item on the list represent…

Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

Penny and Her Song is now in paperback!!


I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As I mentioned recently in The Changing Face of Board Books, Henkes is a genius when it comes to a seemingly uncomplicated, simple plot that is ultimately full of meaning and Penny and Her Song is no exception. Two chapters long, Penny and Her Song has the repetition of simple words that you would expect in a beginning reader book and, as I have come to expect from a book by Kevin Henkes, thoughtful parents who lovingly say "no"when they have to but also say "yes" in a way that acknowledges and affirms. 
Penny comes home from school with a song she wants to sing to her parents. Mama…

Cat Tale by Michael Hall

I regret not reviewing Michael Hall's first two books, My Heart is Like a Zoo and Perfect Square, both of which are fantastic and read repeatedly by me at story times. I hope to make up for this oversight by introducing you to to all three of his books here! Cat Tale is Hall's newest book and, like his first two, Hall's Eric-Carleian, Leo Lionni-esque-colorful-collage-style is perfectly suited to his playful stories. Cat Tale begins, "From word to word they find their way, Lillian, Tilly and William J." With this almost-tongue-twisting start, you know you are in for some fun. The cats, "pack some books and kitty chews. They choose a spot, they spot some ewes." From page to page, the words flow like honey and change like chameleons. The three cats "flee a steer. They steer a plane. They plane a board. They board a train."

It never ceases to amaze me the way Hall makes this crazy tale fit together! As their story draws to a close, the three cat…

Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the Scenes by David Goldin

It took having three kids to figure this out, but one parental philosophy I rely heavily on (no doubt because of my passion for books and belief that there is a good book in this world to address any issue or need) is the importance of preparing my children before they embark on a new experience. Whether it is what to anticipate when going to the doctor for a shot, what to expect when flying alone on an airplane or what kind of behavior is appropriate when you have to go with mom to a boring meeting, I like to give my kids as much information as possible to prepare for the best outcome possible. For many kids, a trip to an art museum is an outing that calls for some preparation. Not only for laying out behavioral expectations, but also for preparing kids of any age to get the most out of their experience, making it more than a walk through a big, boring building filled with paintings and stuff.
David Goldin's wonderful new book Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the…

Hit the Road Jack, written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Ross MacDonald

I love a good picture book. I especially love a picture book that tackles an adult subject or theme. DB Johnson has found a way to make the Transcendentalist philosophy of Henry David Thoreau and the surrealist vision of René Magritte palatable, digestible and, above all, entertaining for young audiences with his books Henry Hikes to Fitchburg and Magritte's Marvelous Hat. Susanna Reich and Amy June Bates introduced Julia Child and her culinary odyssey in a to picture book readers in a very tasty way with their book Minette's Feast.With Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero, Marissa Moss and Jon Hendrix made the brave life of a young American compelling for young readers. Every time I encounter a picture book that tackles one of these adult subjects or themes, my first thought is, "Why?" My second thought is, "What will a child get out of this?" My third thought is, "Does this book work as a story on its own, even if the re…