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Showing posts from December, 2017

My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure is amazing to being with, but when I realized that  Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini designed this fantastic readable craft, I was especially excited. Not only has Terrazini designed covers for Puffin's classic children's books, but she provided the stunning updated illustrations for Jane Yolen's fairy tale, The Seeing Stick. From start to finish, My Miniature Library is a marvelously designed product. The box itself looks like a classic children's book while the inside converts into a charming room with a press-out bookcase that holds all 30 books, once they are completed. Below are pictures from my desk as I made my own books! Each book has several illustrations and beautiful covers. Construction of the books is well planned and quite easy. Using accordion folds and a little glue, the hardest part is cutting the page-strips and covers out in straight lines and creasing the covers smoothly. However, even without…

The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli

The marvelous Greg Pizzoli is gifting us with a Christmas book this season! The 12 Days of Christmas is overflowing with Pizzoli's charming characters and his unique, slightly retro palette of pale reds and greens with gentle shades of grey bringing balance. Without changing the traditional carol, Pizzoli brings a new perspective to the song. A young elephant and her/his parent are decorating the tree when another young elephant stops by with a gift - a partridge in a pear tree. As the days of Christmas unfurl and the gifts keep arriving, the parent elephant's anxiety over a house filling with fowl increases. Pizzoli brings humor to the song as the parent elephant tries to cope with the new houseguests, but patience wears thin. Another twist Pizzoli brings to the carol comes on the eighth day when the maids a-milking appear in the form of cute mice carrying milk cartons. From there, the ladies dancing, lords a-leaping, pipers piping and drummers drumming are all clever and charm…

Press Out + Color Christmas Ornaments by Kate McLelland AND Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas by Sarah Walsh

Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas by Sarah Walsh is the perfect craft for creative kids that is sure to inspire creative gift giving as well. The beautiful designs, which cover both sides of the page, call for patience and perseverance - and some very sharp colored pencils or markers with small tips. The boxes are easy to punch out and assemble and there are 24 gold foil stickers for keeping them closed. More Gift Boxes by Sarah Walsh:



Press Out + Color Christmas Ornaments by Kate McLelland is filled with 20 designs that can be slotted together to turn a 2D ornament into a 3D ornament. Each ornament - bells, stars, snowflakes, Christmas trees, nutcrackers and nesting dolls - is embossed with gold foil that can be colored in or painted over.  More Press Out + Color from Kate McLelland:

 Source: Review Copies





The Little Book of Little Activists

The Little Book for Little Activists opens with an introduction from Bob Bland, the co-chair of the Women's March on Washington (and fashion designer and creator of the Nasty Woman t-shirts) and ends with an afterword from Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the author of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. In between are quotes from girls aged 14 and under and images of girls and boys from the Women's March on Washington holding handmade signs.  This is an important book, small but powerful and one every child should have access to. This is a book you (adult or child) can turn to when you are feeling powerless and defeated, scared and alone and hopeless, as so many political and world events have left me feeling lately (and repeatedly) and find strength and wisdom - from the mouths and minds of children. There are also short definitions and explanations of Activism, Feminism, Democracy, the First Amendment Rights, Freedom and Protests. The ima…

Nutcracked by Susan Adrian, 240 pp, RL 4

Nutcracked by Susan Adrian, with wonderful cover artStevie Lewis is a little sugarplum of a book perfect for this time of year. Georgie's life is divided, "like the pie charts you do in math." She has won role of Clara in the second cast of her ballet school's annual production of The Nutcracker. She is over the moon, having felt a special connection to this ballet since she was five years old and her grandfather "bought me my green velvet dress and took me to see the show at the Wilson Theater." But, Georgie's beloved grandfather is in hospital, unconscious and now her best friend Kaitlyn has stopped speaking to her and quit ballet. On top of it all, when Georgie holds the antique nutcracker belonging to the head of the ballet school, Mrs. Cavanaugh, née Drosselmeyer, she finds herself transported, in miniature size, to the toy workshop of the Drosselmeyer where the Nutcracker is trapped behind glass in a wooden box, the Mouse King ready to battle. In …

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. Morrow, illustrated by James Ransome

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. Morrow and illustrated by James Ransome marvelously sets the stage for a retelling of E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic Christmas story in Sugar Hill during the Harlem Renaissance. Morrow, a journalist and playwright, worked as a stagehand for the Dance Theater of Harlem, and wanted his story to be set in a place where he had, "seen the power of music and dance transform people, performers and audiences alike." Morrow's adaptation of The Nutcracker and Ransome's vibrant illustrations bring new vision to a classic story, even making Cab Calloway and Adelaide Hall, a vocalist with Duke Ellington's band, part of the story. "It was snowing in Harlem on Christmas Eve," and Marie's family is having a party, the house swirling with colors and sounds. Her Uncle Cab gives her a nutcracker - a drummer boy nutcracker. Miss Addie asks Marie to sing along with her and all the other joyous partygoers, but Marie shyly declines. Falling…

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border is yet another in his series of food-as-characters picture books that I find infinitely amusing and especially entertaining. Of course, I love any picture book with food in it and Border's books do double duty with food as characters and food as part of the story at times. Merry Christmas, Peanut! finds a holiday-loving kid and his mom and dad off to grandmother's house for a Christmas Day feast. But, there seems to be one delay and obstacle after another, from a literal traffic jam to a downed bridge. Things seem hopeless. Except Peanut is an eternal optimist who whips out this (hilarious) refrain whenever things seem bleak, "Don't be sad! I'll cheer you up! I'm the Merry Christmas Nut!" Read Merry Christmas, Peanut! to the right kid and you will be hearing that refrain around your house for days to come! With every stop along the way, Peanut finds wayward nuts with nowhere to go. Of course he invites them all to gr…

What Do You Do with An Idea? & What Do You Do with a Problem? & What Do You Do with a Chance? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

Writing a successful picture book about an abstract concept is incredibly challenging, particularly when taking on the subject of emotions. Having read thousands, I am very critical of all picture books, but this kind especially. I was working as a bookseller in 2014 when What Do You Do with An Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom, was published. Barnes & Noble was so confident that this book would be a big seller, they made it a featured title. And they were right. Not only does What Do You Do with An Idea? continue to sell well three years later, it truly is a wonderful picture book that is engaging, inspiring and comforting for kids and adults alike. And, even more remarkably, Yamada and Besom have maintained this wonderfulness with sequels, What Do You Do with a Problem? and What Do You Do with a Chance? This trio of books is a must have for your own kids and a gift that will be treasured. I think that part of Yamada and Besom's success with these books is the phy…

Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares

Red & Lulu is a beautifully told and gorgeously illustrated new picture book by Matt Tavareswith a bit of interesting history at its heart.  Red and Lulu are a pair of cardinals happily nesting in an enormous tree in the front yard of the home of a happy family of humans. The favorite time of the year for the birds is winter when the family strings colorful lights around the bottom of their tree, singing carols. But, one chilly morning while Red is out looking for breakfast, a flatbed truck pulls up in front of the house. As Red returns, he sees his tree, "strapped to the back of a big truck," the, "sweet sound of Lulu's song, coming from inside the tree." Red follows the truck until it gets to New York City. Bewildered by the new sights and sounds, Red continues his search for Lulu. Tavares's illustrations show a snowy, bustling, busy New York City, bursts of red and green decorations here and there. Finally, Red gets a lead when he hears the Christmas c…

The 12 Dares of Christa by Marissa Burt, 304 pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE

I started reading The 12 Dares of Christa by Marissa Burt with certain expectations and almost stopped reading it when those expectations weren't being met. However, the moment I almost put this book down was also the moment that the main character Christa deepened, becoming more interesting and real than the holiday festooned, European locations (Florence! Paris! London!) that first attracted me to this book. With The 12 Dares of Christa, Burt gives readers the gift of a story with a genuine narrator who, in the midst of her loss and sadness learns to, "find the gifts of today."
Thirteen-year-old narrator Christa is the only child of a stage actor and a travel agent. Celebrating Christmas, especially the annual traditions her family has, means the world to her and she has even figured out how to pack in as many of these traditions as possible before they leave to spend the holidays in Europe, where her mother will be performing on stage. On November 1, the day on which t…