BooksForKidsBlog

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tough Chick! Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz

FEMINIST BABY CHOOSES WHAT SHE WEARS!

IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, SHE DOESN'T CARE!

She wears pink, but she also wears blue. Either one will do.

And when she wants to get down and dirty, it may be a no-pants day. And when she wants to play, she wears a no-nonsense diaper, and nothing else--except for her little pink hairbow, of course.

Of course, when she does get fancied up, she's an eclectic dresser. Who says you can't wear a necktie with a tutu? Or a helmet with high heels?

She plays with dolls AND cars, and she doesn't mind making a passel of noise drumming on the pots and pans while she's at it.

In her popular new board book, Loryn Brantz even has her strong-minded baby tie on a bandana and bare her biceps in a Rosie the Riveter pose that shows Feminist Baby is ready to get the job done, in her run-away hit, Feminist Baby (Disney Press, 2017). In a fun spoof of feminist tropes, Brantz' cute little protagonist takes it all in her stride. Truth to tell, babies won't exactly get the parody of power dressing, but tots will still love Brantz' brash babe who shows she has a mind of her own. Pair this one with Marla Frazee's hit (and now movie) The Boss Baby (Classic Board Books) and especially its sequel, in which Boss Baby meets more than his match in his pink-clad sibling. (Read reviews here).

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Have Tent, Will Perform! Peppa Pig and the Backyard Circus

IT'S A SUNNY DAY AND PEPPA AND FRIENDS ARE VISITING GRANDPA AND GRANDMA PIG.

"BANG, BANG!" GRANDPA IS USING HIS HAMMER!

Of course, Peppa Pig has to know what's going on out back.

"IT'S A CIRCUS TENT!"

How? What? Who? Peppa has to know!

Grandma Pig points out that it's not really a circus tent. It seems she's having a garden party!

But the performer in Peppa Pig can't let a perfectly good tent be wasted on a sedate garden party, where grownups with teacups stand around and make polite conversation. This tent has more promising potential!

"LET'S PUT ON A SHOW!

PEPPA'S CIRCUS!!"

Never one to let the garden grass grow under her feet, Grandma Pig pulls out her Dress-Up Box. Danny Dog volunteers to be the strong man; Emily Elephant jumps in to claim the role of juggler; and Pedro Pony takes on the job of clown. Rebecca Rabbit wants to be the makeup artist! Even little brother George recruits a trio of daring tricyclists.

Everyone piles on the Dress-Up Box and pulls out a costume, leaving Peppa with nothing but an unclaimed, slightly squashed, tall hat. Peppa moans that there's nothing left for her to be.

"YOU CAN BE THE RINGMASTER!" GRANDMA SUGGESTS.

"THE BOSS!" SAYS GRANDPA.

That's an inspired bit of perfect casting for the party of the season, in the latest Peppa spinoff, Peppa Pig and the Backyard Circus (Candlewick Entertainment, 2017). Life is filled with endless possibilities for the ebullient Peppa Pig, the current diva of preschool telly programming, and her energetic family pitch in to make for a lively impromptu circus performance which delights the tea-party guests as well. It's always a sunny day in Peppa-ville, and Peppa, the life of the party, is always up for family fun.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Pigtale! Piggy by Trevor Lai

There once was a pig who loved to read. Piggy read day and night at the library.

His favorite stories were about friends who learn to play together.

But Piggy was too busy reading to make friends.

And when Piggy notices that he's down to his last book, he also realizes that there is a disconnect between his reading about friends and actually having a friend. He decides to find a friend to share that book with and sets out on a quest to find a like-minded companion. His first attempts at making friends are a bust, but finally he spots a pretty little cat-girl whose cute whiskers are buried in a book. She is clearly as big a bibliophile as he is--maybe more, since she keeps right on turning pages and pays no attention as he approaches her. It looks like a match made in heaven, if only Piggy can catch her glance.

Piggy pulls out all the stops, as he fires up his little red airplane and buzzes her as she reads. He tries towing a sign behind his plane that says CAN WE BE FRIENDS? He proffers flowers. Oblivious, she just continues turning pages.

Then Piggy notices something: the little cat-girl is squinting at the pages. Gallantly, he offers her his last book and his big red glasses!

A friend with a good read is a friend indeed, in Trevor Lai's first picture book outing with his animated character, Piggy (Bloomsbury Press, 2017). Besides being as cute as a pig has any right to be, Piggy is apparently already a star of the emoji-verse, and this lighthearted and lightweight debut into print is charming, sure to find friends during Book Week storytimes across the land.

For a story about some readers whose problem is not being noticed reading, share this one with Eileen Christelow's wonderful Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed (A Five Little Monkeys Story), reviewed here.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spring Break! She'll Be Coming Up the Mountain by Kim Norman

She'll be coming up the mountain when she comes.

She'll enjoy our frozen fountain when she comes.

We will playfully hello her
And have lots we'll want to show her.

She'll be just the way we know her when she comes.

Everyone--Seal, Reindeer, Walrus, and the rest--are seen all aflutter up on the top of the mountain, where a cluster of critters are busily prepping for a visit from someone.

Who is the mystery guest!

Oh, they've kept in touch.

We sent a poem in a letter,
Even sent a hand-knit sweater....

But now that their rendezvous is forthcoming, an awesome Arctic party is being readied. There's a welcoming banner floating overhead, and all the animals are perfecting their acts for the celebration.

Everybody will be clapping,
While the caribou are rapping....

Not a creature will be napping when she comes.

She's surely a she. She's a someone they already know. But where's she been and what has kept her away so long?

Who she is becomes clearer as they cheerily gift wrap up presents--a bear-sized bikini, for one thing...

But there's a big surprise to be, when they see their guests are THREE, in Kim Norman's She'll Be Coming Up the Mountain (Sterling Books, 2016). With the fun of the familiar rhythm and rhyme scheme of the folk song "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain," and refitted with author Norman's clever lyrics to the old verse, young readers may not notice that one important character is missing from the cast of characters in her two earlier books, Ten on the Sled and If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws! (read reviews here). Yes, and what she's been doing all winter in her cozy den won't be a mystery when she arrives with her two little surprises. Norman's storytelling builds suspense as it inspires a singalong, and artist Lisa Woodruff's charming illustrations provide plenty of eye-pleasing entertainment along the way to the big reveal.

This is a snowy story, but not necessarily a wintry tale, as warmer weather brings Polar Bear and her adorable babies out to meet their friends. Says School Library Journal, "It's a sprightly seasonal selection."

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mega-Monster! Rodzilla by Rob Sanders

WELCOME TO MEGALOPOLIS, the sign proclaims.

Megalopolis seems a bustling city of sturdy buildings, bustling trucks and cars, and busy pedestrians...

... but something is afoot!

"ONE MOMENT, PLEASE....

BIG, BAD TROUBLE IN MEGAPOLIS!"

With a WOBBLE and a CLUNK! a fleshy monster invades the cityscape. Gigantic, rotund, and wearing a tee shirt that says TOTALLY ROD, he lumbers, scattering the buildings like baby blocks and snatching up the people and the cars like toys in his pudgy paws, leaving a trail of destruction behind him.

And speaking of behind--what's that stinky smell?

ONLY A MOTHER COULD LOVE SUCH AN AWFUL CREATURE!

But it only gets worse. As the monster lumbers across the landscape, he cries out and clutches his considerable belly, and then.... without further warning...

HE HURLS... .

BLECK! It's a trail of disgusting devastation as Rodzilla totters on, squishing through the glop in his path. The massively messy monster wobbles through his slimy wake and, with people and the news crew retreating in fear, Rodzilla belly flops right in the middle of the morass!

"HE'S ON HIS FEET AGAIN!

THIS JUST IN! RODZILLA IS NOW CLIMBING UP SKYSCRAPER TOWER!"

Can Rodzilla be stopped? Is the city doomed? But...WAIT!

"I HAVE JUST GOTTEN WORD THAT TWO BRAVE CITIZENS HAVE COME FACE TO FACE WITH THE CREATURE!"

It's Mom and Dad, of course, rushing to restore law and order to the rampaged playroom, in Rob Sanders' and Dan Santat's tall tale of total toddler meltdown, their just published Rodzilla (Margaret K. Elderry Books, 2017).

Artist Santat provides all the cues for sharp-eyed readers to suss out the real identity of Rodzilla, as toddler Rodney trashes his own turf, the playpen. Santat's skilled manipulation of perspective, revealed in varying cinematographic angles, provides lots of clues, beginning with the author's name spelled out in alphabet blocks and the illustrator's name on an Etch-A-Sketch on the cover. Older primary students with tots at home will giggle and groan knowingly throughout the mayhem--the plentiful toddler drool, tot toots, baby barf, and smashed toys--and will rightfully see what true heroes parents can be. This one has plenty going on on every page to keep laughing kids coming back over and over for a re-read.

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Dream a Little Dream with Me: Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds


Some times the world tells me,

"Sit still! Be quiet! Focus!"

Sure, there are times when there's nothing for it but to get down to it and get the job done!

But then, there are times when it's good to dream "really good dreams.," swinging on a star dreams, rainbows in a jar dreams.

I'm a happy dreamer. My dreams have a mind of their own.

Dreams that float free, fly in the sky, touch the clouds and swing down to earth again. Dreams in the dark, silent dreams that can be heard in silence ....

Dreams that might be messy!

Peter H. Reynolds celebrates free-form daydreaming in his newest, Happy Dreamer (Orchard Books, 2017). With a tousle-haired boy who rises from a colorless desk and flies through the sky, with a happy hiking girl, a painting kid with a colorful palette and an elated actor dramatically in mid-delivery of his lines, author-illustrator Reynolds puts in a plug for playful dreaming and shows the reader "all the ways to be a dreamer... "

JUST BE YOU!

Says Publishers Weekly, "Reynolds’s hand-lettered text and airy cartoons dance across the pages, capturing the freewheeling workings of the child’s mind."

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

High Hopes! The Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Aguoglu

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A DREAM.

A DREAM THAT TRIED TO TAKE SHAPE.

Birds do it. They fly through the sky. Why not a rabbit?

Little rabbit works with what he's got--long ears. But there's no liftoff, no matter how hard he flaps them like a bird or rotates them like a maple helicopter. He can't get off the ground.

He adds feathers and faces into wind. No luck. He tries skiing off a ski jump and ends up cooling his heels in a snow bank. He hang-glides off a cliff, but still finds that the law of gravity trumps high hopes every time.

Rabbit goes up and ... down.

He gets the gear--helmet and goggles and all--but it's still a no go. Should he tuck his dream away in a tiny box?

"You can do anything if you try!" they say. "Dream BIG!" they say.

In a true "flight of fancy," a charmingly envisioned little rabbit takes off into the wild blue yonder in Basak Aguoglu's little parable of dreaming big. Unlike Dumbo, the flying elephant of Disney fame, for this little rabbit, equipped as he is with a pair of inauspicious skinny ears, independent flight seems impossible, no matter how hard he flaps or rotates his ears. There's no solo flight in his future.

So our bunny thinks outside his box. If he can't realize his dream of solo flight, perhaps there could be success in a crowd-sourcing configuration. If he can just get enough flight-fancying rabbits together in an aerodynamic form, maybe they can get his dream off the ground....

Basak Aguoglu's The Almost Impossible Thing (Philomel Books, 2017) puts in a plug for big dreams, for creative thinking, and for getting by with a little help from your friends, in a fancifully styled tale that provides fun along the way in its light and loose illustrations, done in blackline and bright gouache accents, with an admittedly cute little hero with twenty-one look-alike buddies who come to share his dream. It's a strange story with pleasantly free-floating artwork and design that makes it all seem somehow possible, if not all that likely. But after all, even youngsters will intuit that this is less a how-to manual and more of a fable for the more imaginative mind. "A difficult but rewarding debut," says Kirkus Reviews.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Flight of Fancy: The Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Agaoglu

A day when rabbits fly?

It seems an incredible, impossible vision, but a little long-eared rabbit watches a bird fly across the sky, and she has a sudden yen....

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A DREAM.

She flaps her impressively long ears, but there's no lift off.

It's time to go back to the old drawing board, and Rabbit does, chalking up designs and computations, until she has some promising possibilities.

Maybe she can get a lot of lift from bouncing high on a trampoline.

No. It's right back down to earth. She constructs some feathery wings.

How about soaring on her skiis off the ski jump? She's airborne, wings outspread, but not for long, as her parabola lands her deep in a snowbank.

That was fun while it lasted, but she needs a little help. How about a kite? It has lift, lots of it--until it lands in The inevitable tree.

But the impossible dream remains. Perhaps if she could enlist enough rabbits with flapping ears and a dream like hers....

LOTS OF RABBITS!

Where there's a will, there's a way, in Basak Aguoglu's The Almost Impossible Thing (Philomel Books, 2017), in which our rabbity protagonist rockets off into the wild blue yonder. It's definitely a flight of fancy, in an imaginative picture book that offers dreamy illustrations, little rocket science, and some crowd sourcing, along with a chance for young readers to spread their wings and follow the dream. Agaoglu's illustrations combine simple but stylized line drawings of sky-struck rabbits surrounded by a flowing colors and minimalist scenery, the stuff that dreams are made of. "A rewarding debut..." says Kirkus Review.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Up to Ten and Down Again: Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar

1 ONE

GOODNIGHT, ONE SPOON.

SEE YOU SOON!

How do we say goodnight? Let us count the ways, in Danica McKellar's first picture book, a math book, of course, beginning at the beginning with that first lesson, counting for one to ten and back again.

From the clever endpapers--counting from one to five inside the front cover to counting from six to ten inside the back, this one is all about numbers, set in the cozy framework of saying goodnight. From one bowl at supper, two hands to wash with Dad, three toy cars to put away while Kitty washes her four paws, there are always things to count. There are five points on the bathtub starfish sponge and six snaps on Mr. Peach's pajamas, seven days on the calendar, eight arms on the toy octopus, nine butterflies on the mobile above the bed, and, of course, all ten fingers and toes to get a goodnight kiss.

But that's not all, in author McKeller's Goodnight, Numbers (Crown Books, 2017). An actress on the series The Wonder Years and The West Wing, Danica McKellar is also the author of the notable middle-school math series, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, Hot X: Algebra Exposed! and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, but here she turns to the beginning of math-consciousness, naming and counting the numbers of real things.

With the able assistance of artist Alicia Padron, McKellar's just-right rhyming quatrains take a variety of young children through counting the objects encountered on the way to bedtime, such as six blocks, stacked in a pyramid, each with six sides, to put back in the toy box. But that's not all: on the wall is a picture with a repeat pattern of six sheep. On another page there are eight sides on the STOP sign, nine bars on the side of the crib, nine tuffets on the footstool, nine links in the paper chain draped over the end of the bed, and nine hearts on the quilt to count before getting to the end with ten and settling down to sleep.

Alicia Padron's warm and gentle illustrations are done in basic soft blue and lavender tones just right for sleepytime stories, with each double-page spread filled with plenty of counting objects to spot, adding some fun (and incidentally, settling youngsters into quiet activities before lights out.) Author McKellar adds an appendix for parents with an author's note for adult caretakers, with advice, called "How to Get the Most Out of Goodnight Numbers," with a reminder that "numbers are all around" and so are chances to count, all through the day and even at bedtime.

Says Kirkus Reviews, "...this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia. The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon." "A first purchase for libraries," adds School Library Journal.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Heart of the Forest: Tree (A Peek-Through Picture Book) by Britta Teckentrup


In the forest all is still

Gripped by winter's icy chill.

Owl waits, watching in a tree.

No one sees as much as he.

But there's not so much to see in the icy grip of winter. Evergreens huddle, wearing a cap of snow, and foxes tiptoe to and fro.

But soon green shoots appear here and there, peeping above the melting show, and the Owl knows that spring is coming, even before the rabbits venture out of their holes, alert for the frisky foxes.

Spring comes with its magic, covering the forest with a cloak of green.  Birds sing and build nests. The apple tree blooms.

And then summer comes. Little birds fledge. Apples appear and ripen from green to rosy red. Bunnies grow bigger, and the birdies fly all across the sky.

Then trees change color and fall comes sneaking in.

Now it's cooler all around.

Apples tumble to the ground

And at last the leaves fall from the apple tree, too, and once more the tree, with its steadfast owl on guard, watches the season cycle into winter, as snow again piles high about its roots.

All the while the owl is the center of attention, as from his hole in the big tree, he watches the days come and go along with the seasons, in Britta Teckentrup's Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book (Doubleday Books, 2016). With a die-cut home for the feathered sentinel centered in the tree on the cover, the owl appears in the hole in his tree on each page to chronicle the changes in the seasons as they pass. Each animal has his own die-cut opening to reveal his seasonal moves. With highly stylized illustrations, a basic tree with a scattering of leaves and the simple shapes of animals through the cycle of the year, this book is perfect for preschool introduction to the passage of the seasons. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Teckentrup's stylized block-print artwork focuses reader's eyes on the myriad details of the unfolding forest scenes."

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Literary Logorrhea! Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

Rupert the mouse is an aspiring author who is going for a trendy genre.

"Finally! I get my very own book to star in.

I am going to make a wordless book. They are more artistic.

This book will have no words at all.

STARTING NOW!"

It's not that Rupert and his rodent cohorts, Nibs and Thistle, don't have any literary experience, They have been minor characters, walk-ons, a mousy Greek chorus, so to speak, with limited dialog in Ryan T. Higgins earlier hits, Mother Bruce and Hotel Bruce (Mother Bruce) (see reviews here). But now Rupert is ready to author his own avant garde creation, but his buddies, Nibs and Thistle, didn't seem to get the memo.

"Wowee! said Thistle. "A wordless book! Can I help? Oops! I'm talking.... I'm talking about talking!"

"Shhhh! said Nibs. "The book has already started! You are messing it up!"

"Quiet!" shouted Rupert "This book must be visually stimulating!"

"What does "vishery strigulating" mean?" asked Nibs.

The life of an author is not an easy one, in Ryan T. Higgins' latest, BE QUIET! (Disney Hyperion, 2017). Starrom om a wordless book just can't stop Nibs and Thistle from continuously talking about not talking. Their colloquy strays into the metaphyscial meaning of silence, conjures up a superhero, Captain Quiet, Vocabulary Vigilante, and launches into an extensive discussion of the old question of whether a falling tree makes a noise if no one is there to hear it. Nibs obligingly chops down a tree to check. It falls on Rupert.

"Did the tree make a sound?" Nibs asked.

"Hard to tell with Rupert shouting," said Thistle.

Author-illustrator Higgins' alter-ego, Rupert the mouse, fails in his first literary effort, but Higgins' third book succeeds as a comedic riot, with ironic humor, clueless but endlessly loquacious characters, slapstick action, gleeful sight gags and even a cameo appearance by grumpy bear Bruce and one of his adopted goslings to tie Higgins' series together. Sophisticated yet silly, this one hits a new high in absurdity when Rupert finds himself fiercely yelling...

"No onomatopoeia!"

Says Publishers Weekly, "Higgins breathes emotional life into his characters, visually and verbally, and his smart, laugh-out-loud comedy is expertly paced. Of course the project marches right off the cliff, but watching it go is entertainment gold."

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

What Will Your Story Be? Curious YOU! On Your Way by Kathleen Zochfeld and H.A. Rey

YOU HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH.

WHAT WILL COME NEXT?

This time of year is full of happy endings and new beginnings--whether it is graduating from preschool, from primary school, or even from college. And Kathleen Zochfeld's Curious You: On Your Way! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) is a way to celebrate those big transitions with a look back and a look forward. Using the classic illustrations of H.A. Rey's original Curious George picture books, we see that sometimes naughty, but always curious little monkey in his high points (as window washer on a skyscraper and the star of the movie about the first monkey in space in Curious George Takes a Job.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE NEW HEIGHTS TO REACH!

On the other hand, any successful hero will have times when he'll need to hang on and maybe get a little help from his friends, as does George in Curious George Flies a Kite:

SO MUCH TO TRY!

There are a few crashes and falls, from time to time, but if you keep your curiosity and find your own style, the sky is the limit.

WHAT WILL YOUR STORY BE?

Curious You: On Your Way! offers a pat on the back and proud best wishes to a young graduate or anyone making a transition to a new place, a way to look back and a way to look into the future.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Moving On Up! The Very Fairy Princess by Julia Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

Hello, hello! I am Gerry. I'm a Very Fairy Princess. I try not to brag about it too much. (But my wings and crown give me away a bit.)

A special occasion is just around the corner. It's the end of the school year, and...

It's graduation time!

Gerry loves a special occasion, one that shows off her sparkle, but the last days of school begin to dim her glimmer. The class's work and paintings come down, the cubbies are cleared of all their personal things, and their room looks empty. It's not their room anymore.

Gerry realizes that Miss Pym, who didn't mind her wearing her wings and crown to school every day, will no longer be her teacher. Their class pet, Houdini the hamster, will be some other class's pet. Miss Pym says they are ready to move on, but Gerry is not ready. She doesn't even know if there will be a class pet next year. She doesn't even know who her teacher will be.

And then Gerry learns her new teacher's name--Mr. Bonario.

 MISTER Bonario? Our new teacher is a MAN?

He'll never believe I am a Very Fairy Princess!

Visions of a stern schoolmaster and herself in a drab school uniform, without wings or crown, fill Gerry's head. Sadly but loyally she helps Miss Pym make the room ready for a new class and practices the class song. Gerry tries to remind herself that a fairy princess is a team player.

Her spirits revive a little when she tries on the tasseled graduation hat and gown, but then a sad thought hits her. What if her new teacher won't let her wear her crown and wings? What if he insists on calling her Geraldine?

"Oh, puh-LEEZ!" groaned her brother Stewart.

On the big day, Gerry bravely puts on her blue robe. But how is she going to wear graduation hat and a crown? Mom comes to the rescue and pins the crown securely to the top of her blue mortarboard.

At last the class marches past their proud parents onto the stage. They sing, and then Mr. Higginbotham declares them graduated to the next grade.

Everyone applauds, and we throw our hats onto the air!

Oh, No! MY CROWN! It flies off my hat and sails over the audience!

A hand reaches up to snatch it!

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, in Julia Andrews' and Emma Hamilton's latest in series, The Very Fairy Princess: Graduation Girl! (Little, Brown and Company, 2017), but clever kids will already be guessing just who makes that heroic catch of Gerry's crown. He's a pretty cool guy, and one look at his polka-dot socks makes Gerry think Mr. Bonario is the kind of teacher who is going to appreciate some special sparkle in his classroom. With the help of artist Christine Davenier, who portrays Gerry's every mood with just the right emotion and elan, author Andrews' and Hamilton's new story captures just the right touch of both nostalgia and sparkle for the last days of school. "Andrews's and Hamilton's heroine continues to charm," says Publisher's Weekly.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Goes Up Doesn't Come Down! A Little Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Dang! Wouldn't you know it! Floyd goes out to fly his new kite, and of course it heads straight for a tree, where it is now...

STUCK.

Floyd tries to knock it loose by throwing one shoe. That shoe gets STUCK. He throws the other shoe. DITTO. He throws his cat into the tree, and of course the cat can't even get herself down. You'd think Floyd would see the futility of his present solution, but he doesn't.

In turn he throws a duck, a chair, a bike, a car, and an orangutan. And no, the orangutan doesn't fly the kite himself or even throw all Floyd's stuff down like those nice monkeys in the classic Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business).  So Floyd follows up by heaving more stuff into the tree: a rhino, a truck, a whale and, you know, whatever else is handy, but they all remain securely STUCK. It's getting dark and Floyd needs to come up with a new tactic. He fetches a saw... and ... and... tosses it into the tree, too! The tree is turning into an veritable vertical trash heap. Now what?

Board books must be booming, because noted children's authors and illustrators are rushing to abridge their full-fledged picture books into board-bound editions, and Oliver Jeffers' 2011 award-winning Stuck, ((Read my unabridged review here) already a nearly wordless and visually-based story, lends itself awesomely to an abridged edition, with a new title in which Jeffers engages in a cute bit of wordplay, A Little Stuck (Philomel Books, 2017). Thanks to Jeffers' visually narrative artistic style, this mini-version loses nothing in the translation to a smaller, tot-friendly format. Still droll, with offbeat dry wit and and sly sight gags, this new edition is a mighty mini.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Et 2, Taco? Dragons Love Tacos 2 : The Sequel by Adam Rubin

HEY, KID! WHY ARE YOUR DRAGON FRIENDS CRYING?

NO WONDER THEY'RE UPSET!

Tacos have gone extinct.

Everybody loves tacos, but as we know dragons love tacos more than anyone!

REMEMBER THAT TIME WE HAD AN AWESOME TACO PARTY?

What has gone wrong? It seems that there has been an interruption of the supply chain and over-consumption by consumers, and... now?

THERE ARE NO MORE TACOS. NONE. NADA. NIL.

And as we all know, when dragons aren't happy, nobody's happy!

The Taco Lobby is steamed, and they roll into action in no time flat!

Tortilla puns aside, it comes down to some human kids to fill the void. And they have a plan. They will fire up ye olde time machine and zip back to the time when there was a plentitude of tacos for the planet and bring back a fresh supply. There will again be, to, er, coin a metaphoric phrase, a taco truck on every corner.

What could go wrong?

Well, calibrating the rusty old wayback machine takes some tinkering. Its first voyage finds the mission crew back in the terrible time of the too-fiery-for-dragons'-tummies taco sauce, and a second try is even more alarming, another plane of existence where--horrors!--

TACOS LOVE DRAGONS?

Hey, WAIT! We can't have tacos eating our dragons? A subsequent valiant try takes them into an alternate world where there are dragons, but these dragons are, um, to put it delicately, decidedly different.

DRAGONS LOVE DIAPERS?

Will the intrepid time travelers track down the time of superabundant tacos and restore peace to the planet? There's many a slip between taco and lip, but the fun is in getting there, in Adam Rubin's spicy sequel to his hot-selling Dragons Love Tacos (Read my salsa-splattered review here), the piping hot-off-the-press Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel (Dial Books, 2017). Already a hot seller, Rubin's sequel has his heroic kids teaching dragons how to "cultivate" their favorite foods (Taco trees? Really?) and gives artist Daniel Salmieri an opportunity to let his riotous dragons romp and rumble again in his pencil, gouache, and watercolored illustrations that fill each page with witty details. Separate or together, dragons and tacos are popular fare, and this new one by this dynamic duo is a tasty treat for young readers.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Nobody Messes With Mama! The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson

Heading home to his burrow one day, Rabbit was stopped in mid-hop by a unexpected voice from inside his hole.

I'M THE GIANT JUMPEREE AND I'M SCARY AS CAN BE!"

"HELP! HELP!" CRIED RABBIT.

Cat is within earshot and comes at Rabbit's call. She's confident she's got this one.

"DON'T WORRY," SAID CAT.

"I'LL SLINK INSIDE AND POUNCE ON HIM!"

But this marmalade cat is halted in mid-pounce when she hears the same loud voice issuing from Rabbit's house. She, too, hollers for help!

Bear, as burly and boastful as bears can be, comes to Cat's aid. Bravely, Bear approaches the burrow, ready to reach deep inside with a mighty swipe of his powerful paw, when he hears the same frightful sound.

Bear is abashed and backs up hastily, bellowing for help!

Elephant hears the ruckus and stomps up to the hole with a intrepid trumpet. He's got a terrific trunk and he knows how to use it!

Or maybe not. When he hears that loud, scary voice, Elephant is affrighted and grabs a tree for support. Bear wraps himself in Elephant's trunk, and the others fall back aghast, looking for a place to hide.

"WHAT'S THE MATTER,?" ASKED MAMA FROG.

Mama Frog is a take-charge type. Arms akimbo, feet planted firmly, she steps up to beard the Giant Jumperee in his lair.

"I'M COUNTING!

ONE, TWO, THREE!"

Don't mess with Mama! In The Giant Jumperee (Dial Books, 2017), kids will have a pretty good guess what they'll see with the turn of the next page, and the story ends with all--Rabbit, Cat, Bear, Elephant... and Little Frog (a.k.a., the Giant Jumperee)--following Mama Frog home for tea, in Julia Donaldson's latest. Noted author Donaldson's rhythmic meters and rollicking rhymes are in evidence again, and with the aid of artist Helen Oxenbury, famed for her quaint illustrations of charming children and animals, the story builds with just enough suspense to end with a gale of giggles at the big reveal of the true identity of the bogeyman in the hole. Oxenbury's drawings, done in grainy, rough blackline, filled with soft watercolors and shaded with delicate stippling, are just right for this folksy cumulative tale of the bad, bad bogeyman in the hole.

Publishers Weekly's starred review says, "Donaldson knows that less really can be more, and her straightforward, occasionally rhyming narration is all the setup her peerless collaborator needs. Oxenbury paints Mama Frog as a don’t-mess-with-me matriarch whose decisive physicality . . . instantly establishes her as a force to be reckoned with."

Julia Donaldson is well known for her holiday staple, Room on the Broom and the notable Helen Oxenbury is the illustrator of the classic We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books).

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