Books and Brunch: Children's Fiction Bibliography
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Books and Brunch: Children's Fiction Bibliography

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Learn about some of the best fiction for children, complete with journal reviews!

Learn about some of the best fiction for children, complete with journal reviews!

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  • 1. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass By: Meg Wiviott Illustrated by: Josee Bisaillon ISBN-13: 978-0822599753 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 3–5—Through the eyes of an orange and white cat, readers are introduced to the harrowing event known as Kristallnacht. Benno spends his days observing the friendly, predictable rituals in his neighborhood: girls walking together to school, shopkeepers selling their wares, a Jewish family eating Sabbath dinner, a Christian family eating Sunday lunch. Then one night, he sees brown-shirted men breaking down doors, smashing shop windows, and setting fire to books and buildings. Jewish families disappear, and even though the people that remain resume their normal activities, nothing is ever quite the same again. The straightforward text describes events without sentimentality, as if Benno were simply reporting what he sees and hears. "In Apartment 3B, the mob was breaking the Adlers' furniture and throwing books out the window…. The Schmidts' apartment was untouched." But what truly distinguishes this book is the striking multimedia artwork composed of paper, fabric, and drawn images in hues of olive, brown, and red. Interesting angles, textures, and patterns add to the visual effect throughout. The spreads depict a normal city neighborhood from a cat's-eye view, which is eventually upended by dark shadowy figures with big black boots. Thus the message of terror and sadness that marks the beginning of the Holocaust is transmitted in a way that is both meaningful and comprehensible. An afterword provides historical context for the story, although it presupposes knowledge of the term "Holocaust." Use this book with Karen Hesse's The Cats in Krasinski Square (Scholastic, 2004) for further discussion of the topic. For all collections.— Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition. From Booklist It is not easy to tell young kids the horrifying truth about the Holocaust, but this picture book is a good place to start. Using the fictionalized viewpoint of a cat, Benno, it shows what happened to families in one Berlin community. Benno feels welcome in many homes and stores, and he likes following a Jewish girl, Sophie, and her Christian friend to school everyday. Then everything changes, and the neighborhood is no longer friendly. Benno cowers as terrifying men in brown shirts light bonfires, and then there is a night “like no other,” during which Benno hears screams and shattering glass, and he watches apartments being ravaged and the synagogue burn. The next day, life continues for some, but Benno never sees others again, including Sophie and her family. The unframed, double-page spreads, created with a mix of collage, drawings, and digital montage, show the warm neighborhood transformed as red flames take over, books fly, and soldiers march in black boots with razor-edged soles. A brief afterword and bibliography add more information and historical context. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
  • 2. Shark vs. Train by: Chris Barton illustrated by: Tom Lichtenheld ISBN-13: 978-0316007627 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—When a boy with a toy shark faces a train-wielding companion, it sets off a series of imaginative and very funny contests between fish and machine. The result of each battle depends on the setting. Shark wins at high diving, not surprisingly, while Train comes out on top when it comes to burping. Other face-offs are less immediately obvious: Train stretches vertically to triumph at basketball, while Shark's sharp- toothed clown costume works best for trick-or-treating. In some situations, neither combatant fares well: as Train comments on the scoreless video-game competition, "Sure would help if we had thumbs." The cleverly chosen contests reflect the imaginative powers of kids while retaining the consistent logic that's also essential to play. The notion of a shark and a train trying to be quiet in a library is absurd, for example, but the reasons why neither would succeed make perfect sense. Energetic cartoon illustrations take full advantage of the visual possibilities. Creative use of page space and perspectives gives a fresh look to each new battle. Just-right facial expressions capture the distinct personalities of the two competitors, including an evil grin from Shark at the Ping-Pong table and Train's uneasy look during a disastrous piano recital. Subtler visual details add to the humor, including a shark-jumping Fonzie reference that adults will appreciate. This inspired pairing, executed with ingenuity and packed with action and humor, is a sure winner.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist Maybe they haven't pitted this exact pair against one another, but there's little doubting young boys' ability to spend hours and considerable blocks of imagination smashing different toys together in a knock-down, drag-out battle royale for romper-room supremacy. The opening spread shows two boys digging through a toy box, each pulling out a fearsome competitor. In this corner, there's Shark (I'm going to choo-choo you up and spit you out); and in the other, Train (Ha! I'm going to fin-ish you, mackerel-breath). The bout gets progressively more ridiculous with each escalating shift in setting and rules. Early rounds in the ocean and on the tracks are split; Shark has the upper hand on the high-dive, and Train in giving carnival rides. Neither turns out to be much good at the Extreme Zombie-Squirrel Motocross video game (no thumbs) or sword fighting on a tightrope. Barton's imaginative and wacky scenarios are knocked home by Lichtenheld's ferociously funny artwork and will leave kids measuring up their dump truck and T-Rex for the next tale of the tape. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ian Chipman
  • 3. Oh, Daddy! By: Bob Shea Illustrated by: Bob Shea ISBN-13: 978-0061730801 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—In this humorous paean to fatherhood, a rounded, Raschka-esque hippo explains that he is so smart that he shows his dad how to do things. Shea goes through a series of scenarios in which the father gets his son to do what he wants by pretending he doesn't know how to do it correctly. When the youngster claims to be "busy getting dressed," the pictures show him watching TV in his underwear. The father proceeds to mix up his clothing and asks, "Is this how you get dressed?" prompting the child to respond, "Oh, Daddy! This is how you get dressed!" And so it goes, ending with the boy showing his father how to give big hugs. The concise text captures the child's voice perfectly, and the well-placed page-turns effectively set up what comical thing the adult has done to prompt each "Oh, Daddy!" The mixed-media illustrations incorporate collage elements into a spare, cartoonlike world depicting thickly outlined blue hippos with dot eyes and expressive faces. The gentle humor evident in the contrasts between text and pictures, as well as the scenes of the father doing things outrageously wrong, will keep kids entertained. This will work equally well in storytimes or one-on-one. Buy it for Father's Day and put it out all year as an antidote to the cloyingly sweet parent-child books glutting the market.—Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist From the author of the popular Dinosaur vs. Bedtime (2008), this stylistically simple and undeniably hip book is sure to captivate the under-five set. In pictures using a mostly four- color scheme, and that also feature textural pops of photo detail (a burlap-covered couch, a spray of tossed carrots), a little hippo and his father playfully get through a day’s worth of activities, from getting dressed to eating lunch to hugging. The catch is the youngster has to show Dad how these things need to be done. When Daddy climbs through the car window before they go to visit Grandma, his son demonstrates how the car door opens. “See? Easy peasy, mac and cheesy!” Little readers will like Daddy’s silliness (in one scene he places his underwear on his head), while adult caretakers will appreciate Dad’s gentle use of psychology. Observant tots will also delight in the TV appearance of Shea’s dinosaur in several scenes. Overall, an enjoyable romp and a worthy addition to the many daddy-child volumes on picture-book shelves. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Karen Cruze
  • 4. My Garden By: Kevin Henkes Illustrated by: Kevin Henkes ISBN-13: 978-0061715174 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—Imagination grows and spreads from the fertile pages of this book to the minds of young readers. Henkes's familiar illustration style invites children into a most unusual garden. It never needs weeding, the flowers are ever-blooming, and colors change just by thinking of them (even into patterns). "In my garden, rabbits wouldn't eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them." Jelly beans would grow on bushes. Tomatoes would be the size of beach balls, but "carrots would be invisible because I don't like carrots!" Intense pastel colors and soft navy outlines bring the perfect garden to life. Colors splash across the pages, matching the enthusiasm of the text. The vibrancy and size of the artwork make this an excellent choice for groups, large or small. A must for every library.—Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist A young girl’s garden grows as big as her imagination in Henkes’ latest title that employs what seems to be the elements of his current artistic period: thick outlines; boldly applied, ice-cream parlor colors; and simple declarative sentences. After describing how she helps her mother water and weed, a young girl imagines her own silly and sweet garden filled with eternal flowers that can change color and pattern, chocolate rabbits, seashells that grow new seashells, and a giant jelly-bean bush. (No carrots, though—yuck!) The story’s shift back to the real world is visually and textually subtle and possible to miss, but kids are sure to forget any confusion amid the giggles and dreams the story inspires. While this botanical fantasy may end with a contented sigh instead of an impressed “wow,” it is still an enjoyable tour of an imaginary place and will plant creativity and satisfaction in young minds. Preschool-Grade 1. --Andrew Medlar
  • 5. Swim! Swim! By: Lerch Illustrated by: Lerch ISBN-13: 978-0545094191 From School Library Journal PreSchool-Grade 1 Lerch, a goldfish wearing a red hat, tells of his isolated, solitary life. He talks in speech bubbles, reminding himself to Swim. Swim, just to fill the quiet void. He asks the pebbles at the bottom of his aquarium if they will be his friends. No answer. So he attempts to start a conversation with a small underwater diver and with the bubbles from the aerator, to no avail. When a cat plucks Lerch from his watery home and calls him Lunch, it appears to be the end for our finned friend, but the end turns into a beautiful beginning. Large, childlike illustrations done in ink and Photoshop, with everything outlined in thick black lines, have aqua, purple, and blue backgrounds. The large font and few words make this simple story of friendship accessible to early readers. As author and illustrator, Lerch is a pseudonym for James Proimos. Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Lerch the goldfish wants a friend, which is difficult since he's the only fish in his tank. Undaunted, he swims around his tank, talking to the gravel, the plastic undersea diver, and the bubbles, though sadly none of them answer him. Just when he thinks he's as lonely as a fish can be (in a wonderfully empty two-page spread), a cat arrives outside the tank and talks to Lerch. But, uh-oh, he calls him Lunch. Fear not, though, as young readers and storytime audiences will be greatly relieved by the final, friendly twist to the story. Though Lerch gets the credit for this picture book, James Proimos is responsible for the art and story. He uses the comic-book format, with panels and word balloons, to great effect here; Lerch's repeated “Swim! Swim!” can be a nice storytime chant. The bright colors and clear art match the simple story and will attract the youngest read-to-me set. Preschool. --Kat Kan
  • 6. Henry in Love Author: Peter McCarty Illustrator: Peter McCarty ISBN-13: 978-0061142888 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Henry the cat is in love with Chloe, the cute little bunny in the back row. On this particular day, his mother makes blueberry muffins for her sons to take for lunch, but Henry saves his for afternoon snack as a special treat. He is the typical little boy who is short on words but big on action. He does a forward roll to impress Chloe, but she bests him with an impressive cartwheel. Later, the teacher reassigns seats and Chloe moves up next to Henry. At snack time, she asks him what he has, and he shows her his big, beautiful blueberry muffin. Henry, who has yet to say a word to his favorite little girl, is surprised but pleased when Chloe thanks him and takes it. It seems that all is fair in love and kindergarten. McCarty's meticulous ink and watercolor art greatly extends the spare, understated text. The exquisite cream-colored pages bring richness to the presentation that makes readers want to turn each page. This beautiful book should appeal to the little ones who have a special someone in their lives but dare not say a word about it.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist This slight story begins with a young cat, Henry, who wakes and dresses, walks to school with his brother and best friend, and then spends the rest of the day obsessing about, and wooing, Chloe, an adorable young rabbit. A textbook Romeo, Henry shows off his athletic ability, chases Chloe around the playground, and sacrifices his eagerly anticipated blueberry muffin snack for his beloved. Many boys will find this as unappealing as kissing (Henry doesn’t manage to seal that deal), although a brief football scene provides some distractions from the romance. In addition, the quiet story may prove too subtle for its intended audience. Still, McCarty’s delicately detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations of anthropomorphized animals, set on open, creamy pages, are delightful, and children will recognize Henry’s happy surprise when an unexceptional day turns suddenly into an exceptional one. Grades K-2. --Andrew Medlar
  • 7. Brand-New Baby Blues Author: Kathi Appelt Illustrated by: Kelly Murphy ISBN-13: 978-0060532338 From Booklist Eldest siblings of the world can unite behind the older sister in this picture book, who expresses her frustrations at the arrival of a new baby in rhyme: “Everything is changed. / I’m not the one and only. / My whole life’s rearranged.” The young speaker is frustrated that her new brother excels at only a few things: purloining previously spoken-for teddy bears and parental attentions, sleeping, eating, and filling his diaper. Fortunately, as the pages turn, the girl changes her tune and admits that the little guy is awfully cute and may just be of some use, once “he’s a brother, not a baby!” Appelt sums up feelings authentically in this quick, sympathetic read, and as the blues transform into a hymn, they’re accompanied by attractive, if not particularly noteworthy, illustrations. This title doesn’t break new ground, but kids may find that this offers a reassurance of love and hope for better times to come, just when they need it most. Preschool-Grade 2. --Andrew Medlar Product Description The good ol' days are over. It's official, it's the news! With my brand-new baby brother came the brand-new baby blues! When a new baby wears her old pajamas, sleeps in her old bed, and seems to get all her parents' attention, a girl's bound to sing the blues. Is there anything a baby brother can do to change her tune?
  • 8. Chalk By: Bill Thomson Illustrated by: Bill Thomson ISBN-13: 978-0761455264 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 4—This stunningly illustrated wordless picture book tells the story of three children who find a bag of magical chalk at the playground on a rainy day. Their drawings come to life, which seems great when a drawing of the sun stops the rain, but is scary when a dinosaur stalks them. A drawing of a rain cloud inside a play tube brings the rain back and dissolves the frightening creature. This imaginative story is the perfect showcase for Thomson's extraordinary pictures. Though they look like photos or computer- generated images, each one is actually composed using traditional techniques with acrylics and colored pencils. The artist's clever use of light, perspective, and expression, along with the protagonists' neat solution to their dilemma, creates a completely satisfying experience. Thomson is a master at visual storytelling.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist With eye-catching, realistic illustrations, clever details, and some dramatic suspense, this wordless picture book offers a fresh take on the drawings-come-to-life theme. One rainy day, three raincoat-clad children head to the playground and find a bag of chalk. When one girl draws a sun, something amazing happens: clouds break and a sunny blue sky appears. The second kid draws butterflies, which also appear. But when a boy draws a dinosaur, things get almost too exciting. Luckily, a solution is close at hand. Vibrant acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations, rendered with intricate precision, nearly leap off the page, as the expressive, diverse trio experiences magical, exhilarating moments that highlight how familiar materials and settings can inspire rewarding adventures. Varying perspectives, from vistas to close-ups, enhance the drama. A few scenarios, such as those featuring a giant, looming, spiky-toothed T. rex, may be too intense for the youngest children, but many kids will enjoy this testament to the power of creativity and imagination. Grades K-3. --Shelle Rosenfeld
  • 9. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! By: Jonah Winter Illustrated by: Red Nose Studio ISBN-13: 978-0375852183 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 2—A fictionalized account of real events that occurred in 1987, this story will convince young readers to take their recycling efforts more seriously. When Islip, NY, has nowhere to put 3168 tons of garbage, the town officials decide that shipping them south is the right thing to do, so a tugboat towing a garbage-laden barge takes it to North Carolina. But North Carolina won't allow the vessel to dock. It goes on to New Orleans, but again is denied harbor rights. Then it is on to Mexico, Belize, Texas, Florida, and back to New York. The garbage is ripening all along the way. Now even Islip refuses to take it back. Finally a judge orders Brooklyn to take it and incinerate it, 162 days after the barge started its journey. Islip is ordered to take the remains to their landfill. The illustrations are photographs of objects made from garbage. The people, full of personality and expression, were made from polymer clay, and wire, wood scraps, and leftover materials of all kinds were used for the tugboat and barge. The inside of the paper jacket explains how the art was done. This title should be a part of every elementary school ecology unit.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- This text refers to the Library Binding edition. From Booklist Winter, whose You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (2009) was graced by some of the year’s most dazzling artwork, returns with another uniquely illustrated picture book. He takes the story from a 1987 incident in which a Long Island town decided to send more than 3,000 tons of trash down to North Carolina. In Winter’s fictionalized account, Cap’m Duffy of the tugboat Break of Dawn is saddled with hauling the garbage down south but gets turned away from port after port, all the way down to Belize. While Winter’s folksy, storyteller’s voice captures the scruffy spirit of the adventure with plenty of humor, the artwork by Red Nose Studio steals this show. Photographs of polymer-clay models and found materials (including, you guessed it, piles of trash) have the same uncanny-but-fun allure of Claymation videos, and if it’s not exactly endearing, that’s fine—a book about a stinky pile of garbage has no business being prettied up. Just in case the moral isn’t clear, a buoy helpfully spells it out, “Don’t make so much garbage!!!” Grades 1-3. --Ian Chipman
  • 10. Farm By: Elisha Cooper Illustrated by: Elisha Cooper ISBN-13: 978-0545070751 From School Library Journal Kindergarten-Grade 3—A husband and wife and their two children live on a farm. The heavily illustrated narrative, which begins in March and ends in November, describes how each season brings different sights, smells, and activities. Using a variety of machinery, the farmers prepare for planting, harvesting, and storing crops of feed corn. The children are involved in growing and maintaining a smaller garden of vegetables and feeding the cows and chickens. As the weather becomes warmer, there is time to relax on a tire swing or fish in a creek, but the family will have to make trips into town for supplies and business transactions. While they have plenty to eat, young readers will glimpse some of the hardships of their life. Weather can delay a farmer's plans and nearby wildlife means danger for some of the barnyard animals. The watercolor and pencil artwork, highlighting the open skies and vast prairie fields, complements the text and changes from browns to greens as the temperature rises and falls. Although the text is too long for a read-aloud, and the small images are best appreciated one-on-one, Cooper's book will give children a comprehensive view of farm life, both visually and textually.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Most picture books about farms tend to be slapstick animal adventures rather than realistic views of daily life. Cooper’s latest fills that gap with a quiet, atmospheric portrait of a farm through the seasons. Working in his signature style of loosely rendered figures and simple compositions in pencil and watercolor, Cooper combines beautiful, expansive views of a farm seen from a distance under an endless sky with small, individual images, such as the farm’s cats, which younger children will want to point to and count. Like the pictures, the words move from large landscapes to small details. In a spread about May, for example, descriptions of the vast fields that look like “an ocean of green” mix with lines about the butterflies and bees that zoom through the garden. Filled with sensory details, the brief text has a poetic, stripped-down simplicity that matches the stark images and will read aloud well. Cameo appearances of the farm’s animals and children will help hold young people’s attention throughout this subtle, handsome view of modern, rural life. Preschool-Grade 3. --Gillian Engberg
  • 11. Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) By; Barbara Bottner Illustrated by: Michael Emberley ISBN-13: 978-0375846823 Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010: If ever there were a perfect picture book for those so-called "reluctant readers" this is it. Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't) tells the story of Missy, a little girl who rejects just about every story that comes her way. She complains that "They're too kissy. Too pink. And too silly." The tireless librarian Miss Brooks is not about to give up, nor is Missy's mom. When Missy realizes she'd like to read about warts, Mom comes through with an inspired choice that sets this picky reader on the path to book bliss. Leave it to the pros--author Barbara Bottner and illustrator Michael Emberley to hit the funny bone with this clever and quirky new read. --Lauren Nemroff From Booklist A scowling first-grader in spectacles, a knitted hat, and overalls cannot stand her bubbly librarian, who dresses up in costumes for reading circle, where she introduces books about dragons, Pilgrims, presidents, and Groundhogs, even! For Book Week, everyone in class has to bring a favorite story, and the young girl has only grouchy comebacks for the other kids, who enthusiastically share books about trains (too clickety), fairies (too flowery), cowboys (too yuppity), and dogs (too furry). When the librarian sends the little rebel home with a bagful of books, she does not like any of them––until she finds a story about a stubborn, smelly, snorty ogre with warts, William Steig’s Shrek, and that makes her grab more books about ogres, just like her. The cartoon-style illustrations extend the comedy in images of the expressive girl and her librarian, who dresses in wild miniskirts, boots, and flowers and is far from the usual stereotype. Lots of fun for avid and reluctant readers alike. Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman
  • 12. Todd’s TV By: James Proimos Illustrated by: James Proimos ISBN-13: 978-0061709852 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—With broad strokes and witty slapdashery, Proimos's light cartoon art and plotline carry some weighty themes. Readers are introduced to diminutive, cheerful Todd, his too-busy-for-quality-time parents, and his increasingly nurturing television set. "Todd loved his parents. But he had grown much closer to his TV." Only a few pages in, some adult readers will be shifting uncomfortably. The spread featuring Todd, his eyes unnaturally large and glazed over on one side, and the huge TV facing him on the other, won't ease their discomfort a whit. At this point, the author jumps into a hilariously exaggerated focal plot that manages to ease the tension and intensify the message. It all starts when neither parent is available to attend Todd's parent-teacher conference—and the TV volunteers. Amusing cartoon drawings in shades of gray, black, and persimmony-red against a white background and a satiric twist at the story's end further enhance this funny- scary cautionary tale. It's a hoot.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist This cautionary picture book, though entertaining and meaningful on a child’s level, might be more directed at parents. When Todd’s folks are too busy to deal with him, which is just about always, they plop him in front of the TV. Soon, the affable appliance has taken over most parental duties—going to the parent-teacher conference (where it promises to cut down on Todd’s cartoon intake), tucking him in at night, playing catch, and even taking Todd on vacation. When the TV whispers to Todd that he is thinking of legally adopting him, Mom and Dad realize the gravity of the situation, but it isn’t until Todd shows them that things can be turned off that they figure out what to do. A double-page moral to the story has the family enjoying quality time together, with Todd feeling more loved than ever and winning the Student of the Year Award. Proimos’ loose, comic art and plenty of humorous touches make for a fun read, and although TV isn’t necessarily a villain, responsible parenting comes out the hero. Grades K-2. --Ian Chipman
  • 13. I’m the Best By: Lucy Cousins Illustrated by: Lucy Cousins ISBN-13: 978-0763646844 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Jaunty in rainbow-plaid pants, Dog discovers ways to compete with each of his friends. However, he quickly learns that although he swims better than Donkey, Goose is the best swimmer, and Donkey wins the height contest. Finally devastated by his inferiority and shamed by the shabby way he's treated his pals, the orange pup apologizes to Ladybug, Mole, Goose, and Donkey. During a group hug, they kindly assure him that he's the best at having "beautiful fluffy ears. And we love you." The story ends with Dog confident that his talent is the most important of all, so, in fact, he is still "the best." As always, Cousins invigorates her cartoons with color and charm. Her splotches and whirls convey depth and movement. The simply drawn characters have a comic flair and, like Ladybug in her tutu, beguile upon first glance. This well-told tale of competitive obsession belongs in all collections.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist *Starred Review* High-spirited and self-centered, Dog competes with his four friends, one by one. He outruns Mole in a race, beats Goose in a digging contest, bests Ladybug in terms of size, and swims better than Donkey. Each time, he announces, “I win. I’m the best.” His friends feel sad until they realize that Mole’s the best digger, Duck’s the best swimmer, Donkey’s the biggest, and Ladybug can fly highest. Suddenly realizing that he has been “a silly SHOW-OFF” and mean to his friends, downcast Dog apologizes. After they reassure him that they value his friendship and admire his “beautiful fluffy ears,” his irrepressible bravado surges again. Dog’s simple, childlike narration moves the story forward while making the most of this distinctive character and his flip-flopping emotional state, from his thoughtless, heartless declarations of superiority to his glum realization that he has hurt his friends to his final exclamation about the supreme importance of fluffy ears. The book’s large format gives plenty of range for Cousins’ naive, expressive pencil-and-ink illustrations. From the exuberant text to the bold, colorful artwork, a joyous spirit pervades this picture book and its fallible yet lovable protagonist. Fine for reading aloud to preschoolers who suspect that they may be fallible yet hope that they are still lovable. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Carolyn Phelan
  • 14. The Trucker By: Barbara Samuels Illustrated by: Barbara Samuels ISBN-13: 978-0374378042 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Leo's mom knows the extent of her son's fascination with trucks. He's driven them up and down her legs, lost one in her oatmeal, and used another to pour syrup on his pancakes. When they go outside to explore the neighborhood, he ignores everything but the trucks, and when she surprises him with a new cat, he exclaims, "This is not a fire truck!" The plump tabby will not be pushed away, though; she finds ways to interact with Leo and his trucks. With a cat like Lola in his life, the child eventually finds different uses for his toys and more time to spend with a new friend. This book is sure to be a hit at storytime. The colorful art is hilarious and full of the details in a child's everyday life. It's is fun from cover to cover, and the text allows readers to make themselves as loud as the trucks and as animated as Leo.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist Trucks are the focus of young Leo's day, and Samuels' bright, energetic illustrations show him playing busily with his beloved toy vehicles: vrooming cars up Mama's legs on the couch and using a crane to pour pancake syrup. When Mama gives Leo a surprise gift, he is disappointed to find Lola the cat, instead of the firetruck he'd hoped for. Lola follows him everywhere, joining his games by moving the wrecking ball, becoming a road crew member, and rescuing his toy bunny from a burning “building” (a cardboard box), before ending up at Mama's truck stop, where boy and cat eat together. A winner for young children, this offers a real story along with all of the vehicle action. Kids will enjoy the combination of active play and cozy snuggling, and they will want to share and act out Leo's games many times. The endpapers offer more interactive fun with words, such as Beep! Honk! Vroom! printed in bright colors for kids to point to, shout out, and even read. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Hazel Rochman
  • 15. Don’t Spill the Beans! By: Ian Schoenherr Illustrated by: Ian Schoenherr ISBN-13: 978-0061724572 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreS—Bear has a secret he keeps from readers, but he goes around blabbing it, telling it, and blurting it to all of his animal friends. His secret has something to do with the set of cards and gift-wrapped box he's hiding behind his back. This would be a fun book to share with preschoolers on their birthday because the cub is the center of attention and, at the end of the story, the cards are revealed to spell out "Happy Birthday" and the box to be holding a cake. The cards the animals hold up give youngsters the opportunity to learn letters and colors, and the candles on the cake can be used for counting practice. The story is told in short rhyming sentences of large, colorful, hand-lettered text. The ink and acrylic paint illustrations depict cheerfully clothed animals with expressive faces. Both text and artwork are set against generous white space. Best read one-on-one, this title is a good first purchase for libraries needing picture books on birthdays.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Schoenherr’s latest picture book stars a sweet-looking bear resembling Corduroy, only taller, with bigger ears, and in overalls that are actually securely fastened. Told in playful rhymes in big typeface, the text is, notwithstanding the title, all about Bear spilling the beans. On the first pages, Bear is shown trying to hide a big wrapped box behind him. He covers his mouth with his paw as the narrator urges him not to “let it slip.” When he falls down from the effort, the narrator gives in: “Can’t bear it? / Can’t hold it tight? / Need to share it? / Oh . . . all right . . .” From here follows a lively roll call: “Blurt it to Turtle. / Also Baboon. / Blab it to Rabbit. / Alert Raccoon.” Set against white space, Schoenherr’s utterly charming illustrations feature expressive animals in bright polka-dot and striped clothing, listening attentively to bear’s secret. It all leads up to a big happy-birthday message to the reader, but children will want to revisit this more often than once a year. Preschool. --Abby Nolan
  • 16. Moon Bear By:Brenda Guiberson Illustrated by: Ed Young ISBN-13: 978-0805089776 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 1–3—The endangered Moon Bear, or Asiatic black bear, is the subject of this call-and-response tale created in partnership with the Animals Asia Foundation. Readers follow one female bear as she wakes from hibernation, explores the seasons, and awakens the following spring with new cubs. The story focuses on simple actions such as eating raspberries and swatting insects, giving young readers an idea of how these elusive bears behave. Much of the time, collage illustrations closely reflect the text, but occasionally elements are left to the imagination. For example, the Moon Bear is said to be eating near a red panda that appears nowhere on the page. Collage illustrations are a good fit for showcasing the Moon Bear's markings and large round ears. The threat of poachers and loggers is touched upon, and an author's note with photos and a Web site lets readers know how they can help this animal. A worthy effort highlighting a species in need.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. From Booklist Filled with passionate conservation messages, this picture book both celebrates the endangered black moon bear in Southeast Asia and warns about the urgent threats against the species. Filled with physical details, the spare, question-and-answer text (“Who scratches and shuffles through soggy leaf litter? . . . Who climbs to the snow / in the high Himalayas?”) is illustrated with Young’s stark, large silhouette images of a beautiful, dark bear through the seasons, feasting on raspberries, confronting a deer, and clawing a tree. Contrasting images, show a moon bear in distant views, small against a purple sky and threatened by poachers as he passes forests cleared by loggers. In a series of warm scenarios, a mother bear snuggles up to hibernate in winter and then shuffles out again in spring with her baby moon bear cubs. Young’s dramatic art lends itself to group sharing, and many kids will hear the author’s final call, accompanied by photos of moon bears and a list of conservation organizations, to help save these creatures from lifelong captivity or extinction. Preschool-Grade 3. --Hazel Rochman
  • 17. The Insect Detective By: Steve Voake Illustrated by: Charlotte Voake ISBN-13: 978-0763644475 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3—"Listen—over by the fence./Can you hear a scratching sound?/A wasp is scraping away at/the post with her strong jaws./She's collecting wood." Thus begins this charming collaboration that gently encourages young readers to explore their natural surroundings and observe some of the more commonly found insects in it. In spare prose, brief facts about a variety of creatures, such as leaf-miner caterpillars, ground beetles, ants, earwigs, and dragonflies, are shared, as are hints on where and how to find them. Large print tells the main story with small print providing further details or interesting facts, giving an opportunity for deeper exploration. Simple but elegant pen and watercolor illustrations show the creatures in their habitats, going about their daily business. Shared aloud or read alone, this child-friendly title is a wonderful introduction to the insect world. Pair it with a wide variety of informational books to garner children's interest and excitement.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Encouraging children to “open the door and step outside,” this large-format picture book talks about insects they may be able to find near their homes. First published in England, it includes one species (the Herald moth) more common there than in North America, though plenty of the others, such as ants, wasps, and dragonflies, are widely known. The conversational text rambles from one topic to another (wasps building nests, ants living together underground and communicating by touching antennae, solitary bees gathering food and caterpillars protecting themselves from predators, etc.), with the main, large-print sentences occasionally accompanied by one or more small-print lines. Although the presentation of information seems unfocused, the encouragement for young children to observe insects is welcome, and the large-scale ink-and-watercolor illustrations are inviting as well as lovely. An appended double-page spread offers suggestions for young insect detectives. Preschool-Grade 1. --Carolyn Phelan
  • 18. Yucky Worms By: Vivian French Illustrated by: Jessica Ahlberg ISBN-13: 978-0763644468 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—A young boy accompanies his grandmother to her backyard garden where, while planting, she digs up a worm. When the boy tells her to "throw it away," the woman enlightens him about why worms are beneficial. She explains how to tell the head from the tail; how the worms move through the soil, helping to aerate it; how their "poop" or "cast" helps fertilize plants; what they eat; and what likes to eat them. She debunks myths about the creepy crawlies and instills in her grandson a better understanding and respect for the creatures and their importance for growing plants. In the clear and appealing pencil and gouache illustrations, the aboveground pictures show a lush vegetable and flower garden with myriad insects and birds, while belowground looks like corrugated cardboard filled with worms and their tunnels. Even the worms impart information in humorous and informative speech bubbles throughout the tale. Two pages on "How to Be a Wormologist!" close the book. Perfect for a classroom science lesson, this title will also be of interest to children learning about nature.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Drawn by the slimy appeal of worms, preschoolers and elementary students alike will be fascinated by this fictional story filled with scientific facts about how these slithery creatures move, eat, poop, and help the environment. While in the garden with his grandmother, a boy describes everything he sees and learns. “Yuck!” he says, when Grandmother digs up a worm, but as they watch it wiggle to its underground home, Grandmother tells the boy all about what these animals eat, their body parts, how their tunnel digging loosens the soil, and how their waste helps plants grow. The cheerful pencil-and-gouache artwork shows scenes both above and below the ground and weaves facts into each image, as well as humorous cartoon speech bubbles: “Nice and rotten. Just how I like it,” exclaims one worm as it munches into a decaying leaf. The back matter includes more about “how to be a wormologist” and an index that can help children review the information. Friendly and interactive, this is a great choice for sharing at home and in the classroom. Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman
  • 19. Back to Bed, Ed! By: Sebastine Braun Illustrated by: Sebastine Braun ISBN-13: 978-1561455188 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Ed, an adorable mouse, loves his bedtime routine. He plays with his dad, gets a drink, brushes his teeth, has a bubble bath and a story, and then is tucked in for the night. But Ed does not like staying in bed. Night after night he wakes his parents and climbs in with them, ignoring the cries of "Back to bed, Ed!" His exhausted parents can take no more and one night Ed discovers a "closed" sign on their tightly shut door. Dad emerges and escorts his son back to his own bed. But the unhappy mouse does not stay put. Instead he gathers up all his stuffed friends and brings them to bed too, declaring, "There's no need to be scared…I'm here now." Finally he is able to sleep in his own bed. Braun's clean illustrations in India ink with markers and colored pencils are bright and bold. Set against plenty of white space, they show all the emotions of the characters and many interesting details. The simple text works in tandem with the illustrations to produce a great story that's fun to read. What's more, the book has an excellent representation of both Mom and Dad parenting.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Product Description When it s bedtime, Ed plays games with Dad, splashes in the bath, and reads stories with Mom. Yes, Ed loves going to bed, but he hates staying in bed! Night after night, he tiptoes down the hall and climbs into his parents bed. Something has to be done, but how to get Ed back to bed and get him to stay there?
  • 20. Bandit’s Surprise By: Karen Rostoker-Gruber Illustrated by: Vincent Nguyen ISBN-13: 978-0761456230 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—The defensive, domesticated tan-and-white cat is back in this sequel to Bandit (2008). He has a new roommate, a little gray kitten, and he is not happy. Mitzy drinks and eats from his bowls, uses his litter box, and, worse of all, plays with Fuzzy Mouse. He swipes at Mitzy's face and is scolded by his owner. In response, Bandit says, "I'm outta here" and leaps through an open window. Later, when he is stuck outside in the rain, Mitzy comes to the rescue and Bandit reluctantly shares some of his precious belongings with her. The story is told through brief narrative and dialogue balloons that are filled with cat witticisms such as calling Mitzy "Tattletail" and "Fish Breath." To children, Mitzy is like a new sibling who steals their toys and attention, and they will identify. The clever pencil and ink illustrations are digitally enhanced and capture Bandit's frustration and annoyance and his misery when he is locked out. Both felines' humanlike expressions give feeling to the text. Bandit's story will console children with an attention-getting younger sibling and entertain them with the laugh-out-loud dialogue and situations.—Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, Kearns Library, UT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Product Description A frisky kitten threatens Bandit’s comfortable lifestyle
  • 21. City Dog, Country Frog By: Mo Willems Illustrated by: Jon Muth ISBN-13: 978-1423103004 Amazon.com Review Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: Over the past decade, Mo Willems and Jon J. Muth have each created some of the most memorable animal stories for young readers. Working collaboratively for the first time, these award-winning authors have produced a picture book tale that is as fresh and timeless as the genre itself. City Dog, Country Mouse brings the joy of unexpected friendship and the beauty of the seasons into focus. The two seemingly incompatible animals--a free-range frog and a curious urban dog--teach young readers of the endless possibilities that unfold when we share the best of ourselves with each other. --Lauren Nemroff From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—Spare, poignant, and ultimately upbeat, this tale depicts the natural cycle of friendship from an enthusiastic first encounter to contented companionship to the heartbreak of loss and eventual emotional renewal. Presented with a comfortingly consistent narrative structure, the events are set against the backdrop of the changing seasons, reassuring readers that winter will turn again to spring, sadness to joy. In "spring," City Dog runs free in the countryside for the first time ever and discovers an unfamiliar creature perched on a rock. Asked, "What are you doing?" Country Frog smiles and replies, "Waiting for a friend…but you'll do." The two play Country Frog games ("jumping and splashing and croaking") and when reunited in "summer," they enjoy City Dog pastimes ("sniffing and fetching and barking"). In "fall," Country Frog is tired, so the friends spend their time remembering. When City Dog arrives again in "winter," Country Frog is nowhere to be found (a wordless spread shows the pooch sitting on the rock, looking small and forlorn against a stark winterscape). In "spring again," a sad-looking City Dog befriends another critter with a familiar line, and then beams "a froggy smile" (shown in close-up, this warmly illustrated grin guarantees that Country Frog will not be forgotten). Making expert use of color and texture, Muth's expressive paintings clearly convey the tale's emotional nuances. This understated picture book allows plenty of room for young readers to interpret the animals' feelings for themselves and perhaps discuss their own emotions.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
  • 22. A Beach Tail By: Karen Lynn Williams Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper ISBN-13: 978-1590787120 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—A charming tale of creativity and discovery. When Gregory draws a lion in the sand, his father suggests that it needs a tail and a name. As the child begins making a tail with a stick, Dad reminds him, "Don't go into the water, and don't leave Sandy." Although Gregory does not go into the water, his interpretation of not leaving Sandy is highly suspect. As he continues to draw the tail, it leads him a long way down the beach. Gregory winds it around a purple jellyfish, a sandcastle, a horseshoe crab, and more, until he reaches a jetty. He turns around and has lost sight of Dad, but fortunately is clever enough to follow the tail back past his landmarks, until he finds part of Sandy, whose body has been washed away. Gregory is happy and relieved to see his father sitting under the blue umbrella on the dolphin towel. The pastel illustrations use a soft, muted palette and have a grainy, beachlike feel to them. Cooper does an outstanding job of using perspective to underscore the immensity of the beach and sea. Gregory's facial expressions are full of wonder and curiosity as he finds small discoveries during his adventure. A wonderful summer tale to share one-on-one or with a group.—Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist The titular tail refers here to a lion drawn in the sand by Gregory, an intrepid boy who, in extending the tail with a stick, winds up exploring a broad length of beach without quite disobeying his dad's directive to not wander away. As the boy goes further and further, he comes across such common seaside sights as a jellyfish, a crumbling sand castle, a horseshoe crab, and a ghost crab. Finally realizing the distance he has traveled, he traces his tail, with its swirls and zigzags, back past the objects he has found. Williams, who always takes readers on a worthwhile journey, accentuates her straightforward telling with the repetitive sounds of the shore (“Swish-swoosh”), which also punctuate Gregory's embellishments of the long tail. Cooper's warm, peachy-brown palette splendidly evokes the seaside setting, and his talent for expressive faces and texture (he won the 2009 Coretta Scott King Award for The Blacker the Berry) works to draw in viewers. A lovely collaboration suited for every collection. Preschool- Grade 2. --Karen Cruze
  • 23. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (according to Susy) By: Barbara Kerley Illustrated by: Edwin Fotheringham ISBN-13: 978-0545125086 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Kerley and Fotheringham again craft a masterfully perceptive and largely visual biography, this time about the iconic 19th-century American writer. In pursuit of truth, Susy Clemens, age 13, vows to set the record straight about her beloved (and misunderstood) father and becomes his secret biographer. Kerley uses Susy's manuscript and snippets of wisdom and mirth from Twain's copious oeuvre as fodder for her story. The child's journal entries, reproduced in flowing handwritten, smaller folio inserts, add a dynamic and lovely pacing to the narrative, which includes little-known facts about Twain's work. The text flawlessly segues into Susy's carefully recorded, sometimes misspelled, details of his character, intimate life, and work routine during his most prolific years. Digitally enhanced illustrations, colored with a Victorian palette and including dynamic, inventive perspectives, tell volumes about the subject by way of Fotheringham's technique of drawing lines that represent Twain's impatience, mirth, smoking habit, love for family and cats, storytelling, pool-playing, and truth-pondering. The opening and closing illustrations of Susy's writing process are depicted visually—scribbles emerging from pushing her oversize pen, and her metaphorically teasing out her Papa's mustache, pen in tow. Kerley dedicates an appended, one-page guide to writing biographies to Susy, a biographer who "applied no sandpaper" to her subject. Line-by-line sources of quotes, a time line, and an author's note on both Papa and Susy are appended. A delightful primer on researching and writing biographies, and a joy to peruse.—Sara Paulson-Yarovoy, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Two texts run though this unusual book. The first is Kerley’s account of Samuel Clemens’ 13- year-old daughter, Susy, who decides to write her father’s biography in her journal. The second is a series of excerpts from that actual biography, neatly printed in scriptlike font with Susy’s misspellings intact. These entries appear on smaller, folded pages, each marked “JOURNAL,” that are tipped into the gutters of this large-format picture book’s double-page spreads. Though a story about someone writing a book sounds a bit static—and it sometimes is—Kerley manages to bring Susy and her famous father to life using plenty of household anecdotes. With a restrained palette and a fine sense of line, Fotheringham’s stylized, digital illustrations are wonderfully freewheeling, sometimes comical, and as eccentric as Susy’s subject. Appended are author’s notes on Samuel and Susy Clemens, tips on writing a biography, a time line, and source notes for quotes. An original. Grades 2-5. --Carolyn Phelan
  • 24. Clever Jack Takes the Cake By: Candace Fleming Illustrated by: G. Brian Karas ISBN-13: 978-0375849794 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3 A poor boy named Jack who helps a princess is a familiar trope in folklore. In this original tale, Jack accidentally receives an invitation to the princess's birthday party. He resourcefully gathers ingredients and bakes a wonderful cake. On his way to the castle, the cake is slowly demolished by crows, a troll, a spooky forest, a dancing bear, and even a palace guard, until the only present Jack has to offer the princess is the story of the cake's demise. Of course, this gift pleases her much more than the boring rubies and tiaras brought by richer guests, and she declares that her new friend will have the honor of cutting the royal cake. This entertaining adventure is packed with action. Karas's scratchy gouache and pencil cartoon illustrations are as detail-rich as the text itself. From the sly bear to the bored princess, the expressions are priceless. The endpapers provide context not included in the text: a party invitation blowing from the messenger's bag and under Jack's door at the beginning, and Jack regaling a fascinated princess with more tales at the end. A solid choice for most collections, and a good storytime choice, despite the smallish illustrations. Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Review Starred Review, Booklist, July 2010: "An original fairy tale that has the makings of a story-hour classic. . . This standout picture book emphasizes resourcefulness and the power and pleasure of a well-told tale." Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, July 2010: "The simple-but-expressive, cartoonish illustrations on textured paper and the delightfully clever design further distinguish this cheerful charmer." Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2010: The creators of Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! celebrate storytelling with a sparkling specimen of that very thing. . .With muted tones and subtle textures, the pictures capture the tale's humor and Jack's earnest nature." Starred Review, School Library Journal, July 2010: This entertaining adventure is packed with action. Karas's schratchy gouache and pencil cartoon illustrations are as detail-rich as the text itself."
  • 25. The Boss Baby By: Marla Frazee Illustrated by: Marla Frazee ISBN-13: 978-1442401679 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2 Boss Baby is here and he's just as capricious and demanding as any corporate CEO. From midnight meetings to made-to-order drinks, this little tyrant keeps his staff of two on the run until they finally pass out from exhaustion and fail to respond to his calls. He resorts to some out-of-the-box thinking and discovers two magic words that quickly bring Mom and Dad back to attention. Frazee's '50s-inspired pencil and watercolor illustrations set the tone, beginning with the cover image, where Boss Baby appears stern-faced in his suit-and-tie onesie beside a smiley-face rattle that has clearly failed to amuse. The author again proves her storytelling chops and her artistic genius in this tongue-in-cheek tale in which text and image overlap seamlessly to deliver a perfectly timed punch line. Parents and older siblings will best appreciate both the visual humor and the new- baby blues presented here. Offer this read-aloud to families experiencing their own infantile corporate takeover. Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Review "The concept is cute and the execution witty and efficient, with an agreeably concise (and straight-faced) text allowing plenty of room for the pictures to deliver the punch lines...Sure to be this year's baby-shower hit."--The Horn Book Magazine * "This wry picture book will appeal to parents, of course, but also to siblings who see a new baby demand so much of mom and dad’s time and energy.” --Kirkus Reviews, starred review * "The author again proves her storytelling chops and her artistic genius in this tongue-in- cheek tale in which text and image overlap seamlessly to deliver a perfectly timed punch line. Parents and older siblings will best appreciate both the visual humor and the new-baby blues presented here. Offer this read-aloud to families experiencing their own infantile corporate takeover."--School Library Journal, starred review * "In a perfect pick-me-up for both older siblings and bleary-eyed new parents, Frazee hilariously parses their new status. The brilliant baby-as-boss metaphor drives the book from the start...Clever and empathetic, this book is an especially apropos choice for the baby shower circuit."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Paired with perfectly timed, deadpan text, Frazee’s artwork is as slyly comic and artfully expressive as ever."--Booklist
  • 26. Wonder Horse – The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse By: Emily Arnold McCully Illustrated by: Emily Arnold McCully ISBN-13: 978-0805087932 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 2—Based on the true story of a remarkable self-made man whose love for animals won him fame and fortune, this book is sure to grab young readers. Bill "Doc" Key was born a slave and had a special way with animals even as a youngster. Following the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, he worked as a veterinarian and preached the gospel of kindness to all creatures. Despite the racial climate in the Jim Crow South, he joined a medicine show and became wealthy selling a liniment that he invented for both animals and humans. With his newfound wealth, Doc bought a racehorse and bred her in hopes of producing a champion. When the foal was born, his twisted legs meant racing was not in the cards. But Jim Key was an unusual and smart horse, and his antics tickled his owner. Doc set about teaching him to pick out letters and colors, and to count and do arithmetic, and he mastered all of these tasks. Could this horse really do the things he was said to have done? Was it trickery on Doc's part? A team of Harvard professors was brought in to determine exactly what Jim Key could and could not do. McCully's signature watercolors make this title as beautiful as it is fun to read, and its humane message is an important one.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist *Starred Review* McCully celebrates the profound bond between humans and animals in this inspiring picture book based on the true story of Bill “Doc” Key and the “wonder horse” he taught to count and spell. Born into slavery in 1833, Key hurdled formidable obstacles for a black man of his time and became a veterinarian and wealthy entrepreneur who held the unusually progressive belief that animals had feelings. Heartbroken after his favorite horse dies while giving birth, Key is delighted when her weak, homely colt, Jim, grows into a strong, affectionate companion: Key even moves his cot into the barn to sleep next to Jim's stall. Recognizing the horse's intelligence, Key begins to teach Jim astonishing tricks, and after he learns to identify letters, add and subtract, and ham it up with dance steps and grins, the duo takes its show on the road. Naysayers suspect trickery, but after Harvard professors vouch for Jim's intelligence, Key and Jim team up with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in traveling shows that remind audiences to treat animals with compassion. Caldecott Medalist McCully's storytelling is as sensitive, engaging, and well paced as her brightly colored, expressive artwork, which highlights the period setting as well as the remarkable friendship between man and horse. An appended author's note discusses the virulent racism Key confronted and fills in more biographical details. A winsome celebration of an extraordinary man and the immeasurable effects of kindness. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg
  • 27. Dogs By: Emily Gravett Illustrated by: Emily Gravett ISBN-13: 978-1416987031 From School Library Journal Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Dogs, like dinosaurs, are a surefire draw for young children, and this eponymously named picture book is bound to delight canine lovers. On the cover, a large, winsomely drawn hound, leash in mouth and begging to go out, irresistibly invites young readers to pick up the book and start turning the pages. In minimal, rhyming text, an unidentified narrator describes its favorite kinds of dogs—big, small, stripy, spotty, tough, and soft—and, along the way, offers a subtle lesson in the meaning of opposites. Expressive pencil drawings, overlaid with soft washes of watercolor on creamy stock, waggishly animate more than a dozen varieties of dogs, including an enormous, protective Great Dane; a soft and squishy bichon frise; and an energetic Dalmatian. (The endpapers identify the types of dogs portrayed.) The surprise ending reveals the identity of the narrator —a cat, which qualifies "favorite" as any hound that doesn't chase it. The pacing of the simple text and scale of the drawings lend this title equally well to preschool storytimes, lap-sharing, and emerging-reader fans of Biscuit and Dog and Bear. A winner.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Canine fever sets in quickly: the endpapers depict a lineup of breeds you’re about to meet, the dedication is being dragged away by a mutt, and the imprint information is arrayed in the shape of a bone. So there’s no doubting Gravett’s first line when we finally reach it: “I love dogs.” The two-page spreads that follow illustrate in loving watercolor various sets of opposites: “I love slow dogs / and fast dogs. / Shabby / and chic dogs.” For big/small, Gravett shows an enormous Marmaduke look-alike nosing a tiny Chihuahua. For barking/quiet, a runt yips (illustrated effectively with multicolored dashes) while two floppy-eared larger dogs wince and paw at their ears. Most evocative are the layouts for hairy/bald (the page is obscured by the small slashes representing the floating hair of the shedding pooch) and good/bad (featuring two dogs, each holding a house slipper but with dramatically different results). Though the closing revelation that the narrator is a cat is unnecessary, this is a wonderfully warmhearted ode to four-legged friends. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Daniel Kraus
  • 28. The Fox and the Hen By: Eric Battut Illustrated by: Eric Battut ISBN-13: 978-1907152023 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 2—Henrietta Hen lays her first egg and innocently trades it to Red Fox for a worm. The other farm animals quickly tell her that she must get her precious egg back and go with her to make the trade. Rabbit offers vegetable seeds, Goose has soft white feathers, and Goat provides delicious cheese. Each time Red Fox refuses and thinks of a new way to eat the egg. Sheep brings wool, Pig makes marmalade, and Cow offers milk—but still Red Fox refuses. Henrietta Hen finds an enormous stone that her friends paint white, and Red Fox eagerly trades her egg for this bigger one. When a little yellow chick hatches from Henrietta's egg, all are happy except for Red Fox, who waits impatiently beside a black pot for his giant hard-boiled egg. The animals are outlined in thick, black line and dabs of white highlight the vibrant red and orange palette. The farm background changes with each animal's visit to Red Fox and yet appears much the same, giving children a chance to spot the differences. With great economy, Battut gives each animal an expressive face and moves the story to a satisfying conclusion. The print size and word placement, as well as the simple vocabulary, make this a selection that children will want to read themselves. It's also a great choice for storytimes.—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Henrietta Hen, after laying her first egg and wondering what it is, accepts Red Fox’s offer to trade it for a tasty worm. Six farm animals explain to Henrietta what she has done and offer to help her get the egg back. One by one, they accompany her to the fox, who disdains their offers to swap it for Rabbit’s seeds, Goose’s feathers, Goat’s cheese, and so on. Finally, Henrietta makes an offer that he is too greedy to refuse. The expressive acrylic paintings, with warm undertones of reddish orange, have their own naive charm. Outlined in bold, black lines, the figures of the animals show up well, even from a distance. However, long before Henrietta’s seventh visit to the fox, the repetitive nature of the text’s phrasing and the illustrations’ composition slip over the line from predicable into monotonous. First published in France, this picture book is pleasing in many ways, but it goes on too long. Preschool-Grade 1. --Carolyn Phelan
  • 29. It’s a Book By: Lane Smith Illustrated by: Lane Smith ISBN-13: 978-1596436060 From School Library Journal Gr 3-5–Smith jump-starts the action on the title page where readers meet the characters–a mouse, a jackass, and a monkey. The monkey's oval head creates an “o” in the word “book.” Slapstick humor ensues in an armchair face-off when one character, reared on a diet of Web 2.0 and gaming, cannot fathom what to do with a book and slings a barrage of annoying questions, “Can you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Can you make the characters fight?” Readers know who is speaking by each animal's unique font type and color, achieving economy and elegance on each page. Exasperated, Monkey hands over the volume. Life, death, and madness, all in a single illustrated page of Treasure Island, draw Jackass in. He responds with a knee-jerk reaction (“too many letters”) and hilariously reduces it to text speak, but his interest is piqued. He covets the book and readers watch him pore over it for hours. Repeated images of him transfixed, shifting left to right, up and down, ears upright, then splayed, and eyes wide open, fill a wordless spread and offer a priceless visual testimony to the focused interaction between readers' imaginations and a narrative. Mouse delivers the final punch line, which will lead to a fit of naughty but well-deserved laughter, and shouts of “Encore.” A clever choice for readers, young and old, who love a good joke and admire the picture book's ability to embody in 32 stills the action of the cinema.Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City © Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
  • 30. The Night Fairy By: Laura Amy Schlitz Illustrated by: Angela Barrett ISBN-13: 978-0763636746 Amazon.com Review Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010: You don’t have to be a follower of those mysterious winged creatures to love this unique fairy tale from 2009 Newbery Medal- winner Laura Amy Schlitz. The book’s heroine, Flory is certainly not your garden variety fairy. After losing her wings in a run-in with a bat, she must learn to survive among the hungry daylight creatures of the Giantess’s garden. Between pesky squirrels, cagey spiders, and stubborn hummingbirds, Flory's got her work cut out for herself. But, this fearless fairy quickly learns how skills like quick thinking, diplomacy, compassion, and acts of bravery can take her farther than her lost wings ever could. The Night Fairy makes an enchanting read- aloud story, as well as a gem to be treasured in the hands of readers of all ages. From its petite format and shimmering blue interior to Angela Barrett’s exquisite illustrations, every detail of this little volume is perfectly suited to its small, but mighty subject. --Lauren Nemroff From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 1–4—Flory is a night fairy who is still becoming accustomed to her beautiful mothlike wings when a run-in with a bat drops her into a strange garden unable to fly. She is forced to learn to survive in the daylight and takes up residence in a birdhouse in a Giantess's garden. Flory, no taller than an acorn, struggles at first with squirrels, hummingbirds, spiders, and other creatures that do not look at the world the same way she does. She quickly learns that kindness, compassion, generosity, and bravery can help her to make much-needed friends. Written in short chapters, this beautifully crafted tale works equally well as a read-aloud or as independent reading. Barrett's full-color watercolor illustrations add depth and perspective to the story. Detailed and drawn to scale, they give readers a sense of just how tiny Flory is compared to the other animals. Children will enjoy looking at this garden from the perspective of the tiny but resilient protagonist. Sure to be a favorite among girls who love fairies.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted
  • 31. Cosmic By: Frank Cottrell Boyce ISBN-13: 978-0061836831 From Booklist *Starred Review* Liam is a big lad. So big that strangers mistake the 12-year-old for an adult. Even his teachers seem to conflate tall with old. So heaven forbid he should ever make a mistake. Then it’s all, “You should know better, big lad like you.” Life sure is hard for poor, burdened Liam (did I mention the Premature Facial Hair?)—until, that is, he decides to enter the Greatest Dad Ever Contest and in short order finds himself on a rocket ship that is off course and 200,000 miles above the earth. Yes, quite a few things—some of them cosmic and all of them extremely funny—do happen in between. Boyce is a Carnegie Medal–winning author, after all (for Millions, 2004), and he knows how to tell a compellingly good story. But in his latest extravagantly imaginative and marvelously good-natured novel he has also written one that is bound to win readers’ hearts, if not a clutch of big prizes—though Cosmic was shortlisted for both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize when it was published in England. There are lots of surprises in Liam’s story, and without spoiling any of them by saying more, just know that this is not only a story about big lads, but also about dads and dadliness! Grades 4-7. --Michael Cart Review [Frank Cottrell Boyce] has created a riveting, affecting, sometimes snortingly funny “what-if” scenario...Liam’s musings on what it takes to be a good, responsible father are dryly comical but also charmingly earnest. A high-levity zero-gravity romp. (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) ) Readers will appreciate the sharp, realistic, and very funny dialogue. (School Library Journal (starred review) ) This superb humorous and inventive “cosmic” adventure celebrated space travel, friendships, and dads. (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review) ) With echoes of Roald Dahl . . . the novel ends with an elegant punch line, and a touching endorsement of filial love. (New York Times Book Review ) In his latest extravagantly imaginative and marvelously good-natured novel, [Frank Cottrell Boyce has] written one that is bound to win readers’ hearts...This is not only a story about big lads, but also about dads and dadliness! (Booklist (starred review) ) ...A hilarious and heartfelt examination of “dadliness” in all its forms...A can’t-miss offering from an author whose latest novel may be his best yet. (Publishers Weekly (starred review) ) Cottrell Boyce has a gift for suspending disbelief, for laugh-out-loud comedy. “Cosmic” is Liam’s favorite term of approval. It applies to this book. (London Times ) Hilariously inventive. Frank Cottrell Boyce makes you laugh and think about parents and
  • 32. growing up, about the goodness of gravity and the infinite stars. (Washington Post ) “Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review of Millions (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review) ) “Truly a masterpeice.” — School Library Journal, starred review of Framed (School Library Journal (starred review) ) His third novel, and his best yet. Hugely funny and utterly gripping. (The Guardian ) A story of human possibility with a lot of adventure, or an adventure with full credit given to human possibility? Either way, it’s a fantastic, funny, and moving novel....Celebrates not only the spirit of exploration but the human connectedness that allows it to flower. (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review) )
  • 33. One Crazy Summer By: Rita Williams-Garcia ISBN-13: 978-0060760885 From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 4–7—It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist *Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love. Grades 4-7. --Gillian Engberg