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Showing posts from January, 2018

Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly AND Bee & Me by Alison Jay

I love bees. Everything about them amazes me. So I am very happy to have not one but two wonderful picture books about bees to share with you - Thank You Bees, written and illustrated by  Toni Yuly and Bee & Me by Alison Jay, a longtime favorite illustrator of mine.
Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly is a beautiful, simple meditation of gratitude and connection that you and little listeners will read so many times you will memorize it. Thank You Bees begins, "Sun gives us light. / Thank you, sun. / Bees give us honey. / Thank you, bees." These words are accompanied by illustrations that show the joys that come from these producers and products, creators and creations, ending with a thank you to Earth for giving us a home.

Bee & Me by Alison Jay is a wordless picture book that sometimes reads like a graphic novel. A story of friendship and adventure, Bee & Me is really a book about ecology, the natural world and all that bees contribute, with an afterword by the author tha…

Dangerous Jane by Susanne Slade, illustrated by Alice Ratterree

How is it that I have gone my whole life without knowing who Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize was? Yet, like so many books that cross my desk, Dangerous Jane, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated byAlice Ratterree, made it into my hands at just the right time. Born in Illinois in 1860, Jane Addams was witness to suffering and poverty. At the age of three, the same year her mother died, she contracted tuberculosis of the spine (enduring pneumonia, kidney problems, a heart attack, cancer and more illnesses throughout her seventy-five years of life). And, while she was born into a prosperous family, a business trip with her father exposed Jane to the effects of poverty as they passed through the poor side of a town. Slade writes,  Jane's heart ached, a strong, familiar ache. She knew what it felt to be sad, rejected, without hope. Jane wanted to help those families. But their problems were too big for a small girl to fix. So Jane promised herself -…

Hamster Princess: Whiskerella written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon

Two years ago, I reviewed (and adored) Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible, the first book in the Hamster Princess series by the fantastic Ursula Vernon. Vernon is the author of the hugely popular graphic novel/chapter book hybrid Dragonbreath series, which is (paused?) on book eleven.
The premise for Hamster Princess is brilliant, with Vernon taking familiar fairy tales and dropping the fierce and fearless Princess Harriet Hamsterbone into the middle of them. This brief book trailer is a great introduction to this unforgettable character. Whiskerella, Book 5 in the Hamster Princess series, finds Harriet once again facing the threat of a royal marriage. This time, her mother has found a way to arrange a fancy costume ball, shooting down Harriet's wish to go as "Genghis Prawn, Unstoppable Leader of the Lobster Horde." The Queen knows that Harriet has a reputation for being, "alarming to innocent bystanders," so putting a fancy dress and a mask on her is a gre…

Meow! by Victoria Ying

I went back and forth when trying to decide whether or not to review MEOW! by Victoria Ying. After all, the only word in the picture book, from start to finish, is meow! It seems a little gimmicky. Or just too easy. But, I couldn't stop thinking about MEOW! The cozy illustrations and that cute kitten on the cover kept drawing me back, as well as the realization that MEOW! can be "read" (and embellished) independently by a pre-reader! 
MEOW!, the story of a kitten with a ball of yarn looking for someone to play with him is anything by gimmicky or simple, with "meow," taking on many meanings over the course of the story, all of them conveyed through Ying's marvelous illustrations of the little cat and his family.
"Meow?" the kitten asks mom, dad and sister, offering up his ball or yarn. Every ask is met with rejection and meow becomes, "MRREOW..." Frustrated, the kitten begins unspooling his ball of yarn, trailing it in and out and around hi…

The Faerie Handbook: An Enchanting Compendium of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects by the Editors of Faerie Magazine, 240 pp, RL 5

The Faerie Handbook: An Enchanting Compendium of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects by the editors of Faerie Magazine, gorgeously designed and published by Harper Design, is truly a magical book. With a wealth of beautiful vintage and contemporary  illustrations and elegant photographs, The Faerie Handbook is divided into four parts: Flora & Fauna, Fashion & Beauty, Arts & Culture and Home, Food & Entertaining. Literature, essays, recipes and do-it-yourself projects fill the pages, with superb back matter that offers resources for fairy festivals, a bibliography, information on the contributors and photo and illustrations credits. Every single page of this book is entrancing and makes you want to know more. Happily, a page turn takes care of this desire!
The Faerie Handbook is most definitely for believers, however, for people like me who posses merely a literary and artistic interest in these legendary creatures, The Faerie Handbook is fascinating for its enc…

Little People, Big Dreams: Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, Audrey Hepburn, Emmeline Pankhurst and Rosa Parks, 32 pp, RL 2

Last year I reviewed the first four books in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series. Initially skeptical (could a picture book for a very young audience focusing on a historic figure really convey her life's work and importance?) I was immediately won over. The books in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series distill and give context to the lives of the subjects, making their contributions to humanity immediate for young readers/listener. Back matter includes photographs of the subject, when available, along with a timeline and text that adds depth to the life and work of the subject. Also, and equally important, the Little People, BIG DREAMS series stands out on the shelf. Visually, these books look very different from biographies for children and American picture books in general. That could be because this series is published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books, an imprint of the British publisher The Quarto Group, known for making and selling, beautifully illustrated and design…