Alexander, Claire. The Best Part of Daddy’s Day. 32p. little bee. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781499801965.
PreS-Gr 1 –This appealing picture book parallels Bertie’s day at school with Daddy’s day at work. Their days overlap when Bertie’s dad, a construction worker, is in a crane and sees his son on the playground at school. When Bertie admits there were some “not-so-good” parts of his day, his dad reassures him that he also had some “not-so-good” parts and that being with Bertie is always the best part. Large, lovely watercolor illustrations beautifully complement the gentle tone of the story. All the characters are depicted as dogs, and the home, school, and work settings are painted in soft blues, greens, and yellows. The back cover illustration, which features a row of dogs in hard hats eating lunch on a steel beam, and paintings of Bertie with different “diggers” on the front and back cover pages show the thoughtful way the visuals support the text. Though family relationships are a common theme in picture books, the outstanding illustrations and focus on a father-and-son relationship make this selection stand out. The idea of a dad at work being able to keep an eye on his son is a comforting message for families who read this book together. VERDICT A great addition to any children’s library collection.
Anderson, Sara. Apples Are Red/La manzana es roja: Bilingual Board Book. 16p. ISBN 9781943459049.
––––. Colores/Colors: Bilingual Board Book. 16p. ISBN 9781943459063.
––––. Números/Numbers: Bilingual Board Book. 22p. ISBN 9781943459056.
ea vol: illus. by Sara Anderson. Sara Anderson Children’s Bks. Nov. 2015. Board. $10.95. BL
Toddler-PreS –A trio of bilingual concept board books introduce the youngest listeners to numbers, colors, and food in English and Spanish. All three books share a similar format of brightly colored cut-paper illustrations and pages in increasingly larger sizes. In the numbers book, the incremental increase in the page size helps to emphasize the growing numbers. The only word used is the Spanish números (numbers), then each spread has an image and its corresponding numeral, followed by an equal number of dots. As the numbers are not spelled out, it has to be assumed that adult readers will already be familiar with both languages. In the colors title, both languages accompany the illustrations on each spread (orange/anaranjado for pumpkin, yellow/amarillo for chicks, and so on). The last page, black/negro, is a rather vibrant page incorporating all of the objects from the previous pages in a night scene. Apples Are Red/La manzana es roja introduces food and colors. While the color for each food is written out in English on the corresponding page, the Spanish equivalent appears on the inside front cover and cleverly matches up as the graduated pages turn. Most of the color/food combinations are appropriate except for black. An English-speaking child might not have trouble making the leap from blackberry to the color black, but a Spanish-speaking child might not see how a fruit that is in fact dark purple is characterized as black. VERDICT Readers will find plenty of better English titles to choose from over these attractive but flawed offerings; unfortunately, Spanish alternatives will be harder to come by.
Balet, Jan B. Amos and the Moon. illus. by Jan B. Balet. 24p. Ammo. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623260521.
PreS-Gr 1 –Originally released in 1948, this reissue retains Balet’s original illustrations and layout while using a more updated typeface. Predictably nostalgic in look and feel, the story of Amos searching for the moon is so well constructed that it reads like a more modern tale. Amos wakes one night to find the moon shining in his bedroom mirror and is determined to find it again the next day. He travels around his neighborhood from shopkeeper to shopkeeper, asking if they’ve seen his moon. The story takes place in an urban setting, with the proprietors representing a diverse group of immigrants, each of whom gives Amos something in lieu of the moon. Finally, his friend Joe Ming, the Chinese laundryman, gives him a cage and advises him to hang it in front of his mirror so he might catch the moon “maybe once or twice a month…and he will be with you for a little while.” Illustrated endpapers of a brick apartment house set the scene, and each shop provides plenty of visual delight. VERDICT By addressing the topic of impermanence in life, this book takes on a bit of gravitas, but it is the charming vintage art and relatable story that make it timeless. A quiet, thoughtful one-on-one read.
Bildner, Phil. Derek Jeter Presents Night at the Stadium. illus. by Tom Booth. 32p. (Jeter Publishing). S. & S./Aladdin. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481426558.
PreS-Gr 2 –Attending a baseball game is a great way for families to spend time together, and in this work, a happy family (which just happens to have the exact composition of Derek Jeter’s own family) is ready to celebrate a Yankees win by collecting some autographs. Unfortunately, young Gideon quickly loses his family when he is jostled by the crowd as he attempts to find his autograph book. Before he knows it, Gideon has entered a special realm deep inside Yankee Stadium, where animated bats, balls, equipment, and stadium food stuffs bicker while trying to help Gideon find his family. Finally, the ghost of Babe Ruth in Monument Park guides Gideon to the most special surprise of the night—Derek Jeter himself! The Captain has found Gideon’s autograph book, but before he returns it, he adds his signature to the cover. The bright, stylized illustrations mark the picture book debut of illustrator Booth, and his most effective illustrations are those that show the stadium as twilight is falling and the family is enjoying the game. Jeter is realistically rendered and depicted as the model professional athlete—one who makes dreams come true by sharing his signature. VERDICT A charming story for young baseball fans, their parents, and those who feel the magic when they step inside a baseball stadium.
Bledsoe, Josh. Hammer and Nails. illus. by Jessica Warrick. 32p. Flashlight. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781936261369.
PreS-Gr 2 –Celebrating the bond between an exuberant father and his young daughter, Bledsoe presents a warmhearted picture book about an unusual day the two spend together combining what both like best. When Darcy’s friend cancels their plans, her dad attempts to mend the situation by suggesting a “Darcy-Daddy Day.” First, coffee time for Daddy is suitably matched with chocolate milk time for Darcy, followed by a special dress-up that inspires Daddy to wear a frilly pink tutu. Another activity transforms the drudgery of straightforward grass-cutting into “Her Majesty’s Mowing Service,” resulting in Darcy’s name being cut in big block letters on the backyard lawn. This is later followed by hammering the fence (which Darcy gets the hang of after a few practice taps) and a manicure (Lumberjack Black for Dad). While the relationship between a father and daughter can be special, Bledsoe presents the atypical premise of what it means to compromise the radically different interests of both. Warrick’s expressive full-color illustrations perfectly express this theme in a comical way. Big Daddy, for instance, is represented as a brawny he-man and yet is willing to look silly in a tutu for his “princess.” Further, he forgoes the practical task of washing and folding laundry by playing a messy game of throw and catch the socks with his daughter. Darcy is also willing to help with the household chores given a little guidance. There are fewer stories about the father-daughter relationship than the mother-daughter one, making this book an especially unique find ideal for sharing. The concept of compromise is as worthwhile as the idea that “sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun.” VERDICT A unique picture book that is best shared by a father and daughter and is well worth being read more than once.
Bond, Michael. Paddington Sets Sail. illus. by R.W. Alley. 32p. (I Can Read 1). HarperCollins. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062430656.
PreS-Gr 1 –Paddington and the Brown family are going to the beach for the first time in this beginning reader. The tide is low, and Paddington is ready for anything…except the big wave that sweeps him out to sea in his pail. The Browns search the beach for Paddington and soon find him near the pier, where a crowd has lured him back to shore. Although there is not a lot of word repetition, the large type font and cheery full-bleed illustrations make this miniadventure accessible to kids who are getting a little more comfortable reading independently but may still need a little help. VERDICT A beloved bear and a seaside adventure make for an appealing addition to any large early reader collections.
Bush, Laura & Jenna Bush Hager. Our Great Big Backyard. illus. by Jacqueline Rogers. 40p. HarperCollins. May 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062468352.
Gr 1-3 –It would be a rare child who enjoys the thinly disguised lesson at the heart of this ostensible celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. Jane and her friends are looking forward to spending their summer playing with their electronic devices. Predictably enough, when Jane’s parents tell her that she will instead be going on a family road trip to visit national parks, she pouts and spends the first part of the journey glued to various screens. A conveniently timed meteor shower prompts a rapid turnabout, and Jane learns to appreciate the great outdoors. Told in the first person, the narration is at times cringe-inducing—Jane’s friends are her “crew,” and their plans for the summer are “awesome!” and super-duper!”—and at other times simply unbelievable: “Then, bless my lucky stars, a meteor shower lit up the sky like fireworks—brighter than any screen I had ever seen.” The illustrations do little to save the day. Too often, the national parks that are purportedly this volume’s raison d’être simply don’t inspire: the Grand Canyon, which shares a spread with a desert scene, looks flat and small in its cramped quarters, while Old Faithful, inexplicably portrayed as a rocket from one of Jane’s video games, looks unimpressive behind a fence that doesn’t exist in actuality. The characters come across as two-dimensional, wearing remarkably similar facial expressions—mostly grins—from spread to spread. Particularly worrisome is the illustration of Jane and her brother admiring a pair of bear cubs at close range—extremely dangerous behavior. VERDICT Save your budget for one of the other titles about the national park system that are timed for the centennial.
Chan, Ruth. Where’s the Party? illus. by Ruth Chan. 40p. (Georgie and Friends: Bk. 1). Roaring Brook. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722699. POP
PreS-Gr 1 –Georgie is a gray tiger kitty who loves nothing better than throwing a party. So he makes a list, buys a cake, and invites his friends. Sadly, his friends all give reasons why they can’t come: Lester is changing his lightbulbs, Bunny’s ears are itchy, and Giraffe needs to fold his socks. His best friend Feta is busy making pickles. Disappointed, Georgie heads home. He arrives at his house to find “the most perfect party he’d ever seen.” Chan’s cartoonish ink and watercolor animals are candy-colored and appealing. Offbeat details, like Georgie’s to-do list, his friends’ excuses, and a dwindling cake, lend charm to the lighthearted story. The darkened pages when the dejected Georgie heads home make the predictable “SURPRISE” all the more delicious. VERDICT Chan’s first book is a fun and endearing offering for cake and pickle lovers everywhere and party-loving friends to share.
Chicken Little. illus. by Nick East. ISBN 9781589254763; ISBN 9781680100181.
––––. The Three Little Pigs. illus. by Ag Jatkowska. ISBN 9781589254794; ISBN 9781680100211.
ea vol: adapt. by Mara Alperin. 32p. (My First Fairy Tales). Tiger Tales. Mar. 2016. pap. $7.99. lib. ed. $23.99.
PreS-Gr 1 –Alperin presents two stories in her fairy-tale series that every preschooler should remember. Each book is told in a straightforward and standard manner, using the familiar plot and the common refrains “Little pig, little pig, let me in!…Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!” and “The sky is falling!” Even the musical rhyming names Ducky Lucky, Henny Penny, and Turkey Lurkey are ready to be repeated again and again. In addition, the author provides plenty of sound effects for reading aloud (“tip-tip-tap,” “heave-heave-ho”). A delicious assortment of vocabulary-stretching words describe the action in the plot as well (“plodded on,” “scurried”). Each cartoon illustration shines (for instance, Jatkowska’s blustery scene of the wolf blowing down the house of sticks, or East’s dark spread of Foxy Loxy lighting a candle and stating, “It’s almost time for dinner.”). Many pages employ a variety of perspectives, creatively showing the plot action for young attention spans. The font size is large enough for prereaders to follow along. VERDICT These editions are serviceable for preschool collections yet will probably be supplemental to the many other excellent hardcover versions already on library shelves.
Dean, James. Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat. illus. by James Dean. 32p. (My First I Can Read). HarperCollins. Jan. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062303899.
PreS-Gr 1 –Pete the Cat ventures into the ocean in search of an elusive sea horse in this easy reader. Pete describes each new creature he encounters as a contrast to the one he seeks. The bright pink sea horse is featured on each page for readers to spot, letting them in on the secret long before Pete finally catches a glimpse of his companion. With repetition of both the short sentences and new vocabulary that is introduced, Pete’s scuba diving tale is consistent in quality with his other easy reader titles. While they do lack the rhyme and rhythm of Pete’s picture book hits, fans learning to read independently will enjoy seeing their favorite cat in a new environment through Dean’s distinctive cartoon paintings. VERDICT Purchase where Pete’s other beginning readers are successful.
Deuchars, Marion. Bob the Artist. illus. by Marion Deuchars. 32p. Laurence King. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781780677675.
K-Gr 2 –Bob the bird is often optimistic, but when the other animals and birds start making fun of him for his very skinny legs, he feels very sad. He then tries to change his appearance through a variety of means, first by exercising, then by eating to bulk up, and finally by trying to hide his legs under clothing. None of these approaches seem to work, so he starts painting his beak in various artistic styles, which wins the approval of the other animals. In the end, Bob likes his legs, while the other animals no longer notice their size. Deuchars’s illustrations are simple yet expressive; her minimal use of colors makes her protagonist stand out against the usual white backdrop and uncluttered color scheme. VERDICT A humorous and appealing look at difference and acceptance, with an artistic bent and an empowering message about standing out in a crowd.
Flannery, John. Beard Boy. illus. by Steven Weinberg. 32p. Putnam. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399173363.
PreS-Gr 1 –In this comical homage to facial hair, Flannery uses alliterative and playfully sophisticated language to show a young boy’s fascination with faces, particularly bearded ones. The “bewhiskered” baker, barbers, and butcher and other bearded people Ben encounters along the streets in his urban neighborhood are stopped and questioned: “Is it itchy?” “Does food get stuck in it?” Although just a boy, Ben desperately wants a beard because his dad has one. In this funny tale that ends with beard shopping in Ben’s friend Bobby’s two dads’ costume shop, the bond between father and son is shown to be spirited and loving. Weinberg’s lively and amusing cartoon-style watercolor and pencil illustrations enhance the good-humored feel of this title. VERDICT A befitting tale for Father’s Day and a welcome addition to any collection needing amusing and engaging stories about father-child relationships. Ideal for storytime or for one-on-one sharing.
Fletcher, Alison. Lucy and Lila. illus. by Christopher Lyles. 32p. little bee. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781499801569.
PreS-Gr 2 –Lila, a giant pink elephant, is the perfect friend for Lucy. She pushes the child on the swing with her trunk and boosts her up high to pick apples. Lila slurps tea from a tiny cup and is a great Frisbee partner. Lucy is happy with her new friend, but her classmates doubt that she has such a unique companion. When the art teacher passes out crayons and colored pencils and tells the class to draw what they did over the weekend, Lucy has a hard time selling the tale of her colorful activities to the rest of the group. Surely Lucy is making up her giant pink playmate. The snickers and laughs continue, but Lucy and readers share a satisfying conclusion when a pink trunk is spotted picking up Lucy from the bus stop. Colorful illustrations complement the sweet text and the fact that they’re seemingly done in the crayons and colored pencils the students use seamlessly connects them to the narrative. VERDICT This imaginative tale will work well as a read-aloud, and the basic vocabulary should not intimidate emergent readers. The story also offers an easy springboard to a craft or art endeavor. A satisfying addition that should find an audience in most libraries.
Florian, Douglas. Leap, Frog, Leap! ISBN 9781499801422.
––––. Once I Was a Pollywog. ISBN 9781499801415.
ea vol: illus. by Barbara Bakos. 18p. (Animals Play). little bee. May 2016. Board. $6.99.
Toddler-PreS –Florian’s newest board books offer cheery introductions to the natural world for preschoolers and toddlers. Leap, Frog, Leap! combines action verbs with animals, with phrases such as “Race, rabbit, race!” and “Spin, spider, spin!” Once I Was a Pollywog focuses on the names of baby animals and what they grow up to be (“Once I was a cub…but now I am a bear.”). Each book concludes with a human character—Leap, Frog, Leap! with a child sleeping and Pollywog with a baby who grows up into a boy. Both titles use rhymes and succinct text to help create a bouncy, simple rhythm for young readers to enjoy. Bakos’s illustrations are bright and colorful, especially on the glossy board book pages, matching Florian’s sprightly narrative. Even more dangerous animals, like a cheetah and an alligator, are drawn as warm, jovial, friendly characters rather than as scary or menacing, making the illustrations further suitable for preschoolers. In Pollywog, Florian offers some different creatures and terms with which children may not be as familiar, such as a leveret, which becomes a hare, and a gosling, which becomes a goose, providing more potential learning opportunities for young readers. VERDICT With vivid, lively illustrations; simple, direct writing; and plenty of adorable animals, this pair of titles will be strong choices for any board book collection.
Grosche, Erwin. Jonah and the Whale. tr. from German. illus. by Karsten Teich. 28p. Sparkhouse Family. Apr. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781506408828.
PreS-Gr 2 –Originally published in German, this English-language edition of the well-known tale has all of the traditional elements of Jonah’s story. The language is awkward in places, showing its translated roots. Jonah’s refrain of “just what I needed” is sometimes sincere and other times sarcastic, and children may have a hard time determining which is which. The brightly opaque, cartoony illustrations are dynamic with varied viewpoints and expressive faces, but the oddly elongated characters are somewhat off-putting. The book’s final illustration seems at odds with the happy ending, in which Jonah realizes God’s love, as it shows Jonah sweating in the hot sun and looking unhappy. VERDICT There are many other picture book retellings of Jonah’s story available; skip this one.
Hanson, Thor. Bartholomew Quill: A Crow’s Quest To Know Who’s Who. illus. by Dana Arnim. 32p. Little Bigfoot. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781632170460.
K-Gr 2 –Bartholomew Quill is a crow on a mission to find out who he is. His story begins “long ago” with Bartholomew, a young crow, all alone in a nest. The entire tale is told through rhyming text, following Bartholomew as he meets and observes various animals, asking “Am I one of you?” Young readers will enjoy the crow’s-eye view tour through nature with Bartholomew encountering a puffin, an eagle, herons, sparrows, and his close relative the raven, along with wolves, moose, beetles, and slugs. Readers even learn some facts about a few of the birds, such as what they hunt and their identifying features. In the end Bartholomew finds his “people” and learns that he is a crow, something readers knew all along. The book has a universal message about finding out who you are and where you belong. Arnim’s illustrations are charming, with many close-up spreads, making it great for group read-alouds. On the last spread, Bartholomew is flying with his murder and looking directly at readers for the first time as if to thank them for helping him find his way. The rhymes are clever, and a love and appreciation for nature and the animal kingdom are evident in the text and illustrations. The pace and rhythm are spot-on, flowing nicely from page turn to page turn. VERDICT A gorgeously illustrated, poetic romp through nature that will inspire young readers to be better wildlife observers. Perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing.
Hauff, Wilhelm. Dwarf Nose. illus. by Lisbeth Zwerger. 54p. Minedition. Apr. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9789888341139.
Gr 3 Up –Hauff’s long-ago, lengthy tale of enchantment is the story of a bewitched boy and a gluttonous duke. Jacob, a poor cobbler’s “fine handsome son, well built and quite tall for his age, which was 12 years,” becomes an ugly dwarf with a squat body and a very long nose after an unfortunate encounter with the wicked witch Herbwise. Forced to carry a bag of cabbages to the strange old woman’s house, Jacob is presented with a bowl of delicious soup and clouds of incense, sending him into seven years of sleep in which he assumes the body of a squirrel. Dressed in human clothes and working among a crowd of similarly clad guinea pigs and squirrels, he works his way up through a series of menial tasks to become kitchen help and finally a very skilled cook. Eventually, Jacob awakens in his dwarf form, escapes the old woman’s strange household, tries unsuccessfully to reunite with his still grieving parents, and makes his way into the kitchen of the greedy, temperamental duke. The longest stretch of the story features Jacob’s—he’s now called Dwarf Nose—years at work in the duke’s kitchen. An encounter with an enchanted goose who is knowledgeable about rare herbs and the duke’s gastronomical competition with a visiting prince eventually lead to Jacob’s freedom from the curse. This original tale, told in many long pages of text and illustrated sparingly with Zwerger’s deft watercolors—several full-page scenes and occasional small bits—are rich in detail, but the story’s unfolding will seem wordy and slow to contemporary fairy-tale fans. Jacob, now a handsome grown man after his 10 or so years of enchantment, is generously rewarded upon returning the goose Mimi to her enchanter father, who breaks her spell. But there is no happily-ever-after ending. VERDICT This tale is rather convoluted, but there are bits of humor and odd detail to amuse very patient readers. The enchantment scheme and the many references to herbs offer interesting possibilities for pairing this with other titles for booktalking or discussion.
Henderson, Kathy. Babies Don’t Walk, They Ride! illus. by Lauren Tobia. 24p. Candlewick/Templar. Mar. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763681821.
Toddler-PreS –Who needs to walk when grown-ups and big brothers and sisters exist? A slew of babies from a wide variety of ethnicities are represented in this charming text that sings the praises of the stroller, the baby wrap, the shopping cart, and the bicycle carrier—the list is long and varied. “Babies don’t walk, they ride!” is the refrain of the story, and it is a gleeful one at that. Tobia’s happy mixed-media artwork beautifully showcases the many vehicles that transport babies all around town, whether the infants are joining their caregivers on crowded train cars, bustling and bumping, or “charging along like charioteers” through the park with big brother pushing a stroller. The illustrations capture the frenetic energy that often accompanies families with babies on the move, and Henderson’s gentle text is quiet yet descriptive next to the artwork. VERDICT Babies and their grown-ups will highly enjoy rereadings of this ride.
Jules, Jacqueline. Feathers for Peacock. illus. by Helen Cann. 28p. Wisdom Tales. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781937786533.
PreS-Gr 2 –This lavishly illustrated work tells how all the birds helped Peacock get his beautiful tail. Under a snowy landscape naked birds huddle in burrows, trying to keep warm without feathers. They decide to ask the wise full moon what they should do in the spring, when they can venture back outside. The creamy moon is shocked at the sight of the naked birds under the midnight blue night sky and advises them to rub against the flowers first thing the next morning. Delighting in the riot of springtime colors, all the birds, except the still-sleeping peacock, pick up the colors of the cherry blossoms, tulips, and green grass. The early birds get the colors but agree to share their new feathers when the still-naked peacock stumbles into their celebration. That night the moon sees Peacock’s hodgepodge of borrowed feathers and surrounds him in moonbeams to create a fantastic tail. VERDICT This delightful pourquoi tale will be a great addition to storytimes, and the detailed illustrations invite individual lingering and repeat visits.
Kelly, Deborah. Dinosaur Disco. illus. by Daron Parton. 32p. Random. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780857981363.
PreS-Gr 1 –Even dinosaurs like to let their horns down and have fun. In this book, several different types of dinosaurs are ready to head to the disco for a night of dancing. As the book states, some fidget on two feet and some on four, but a good time is the intent. The herbivores are ready to salsa and moonwalk the night away. That is, until the supreme carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex shows up. Is the party over? And will the herbivores be eaten? Fortunately, this ending is a delightful one. The watercolor illustrations are simple yet convey the fun message of prey and predator putting differences aside to get their groove on. T. rex and triceratops are included as characters, but so are other, perhaps unfamiliar, dinos like Maiasaura and Corythosaurus. Two pages of “Dino Facts” are appended. VERDICT An appealing selection that introduces dinosaurs in a fun way with accurate and teachable vocabulary. Sure to rock any storytime.
Lloyd-Jones, Sally. Skip to the Loo, My Darling!: A Potty Book. illus. by Anita Jeram. 32p. Candlewick. Mar. 2016. Tr $11.99. ISBN 9780763672348.
Toddler-PreS –With a play on the English term loo (or toilet), this title introduces a cast of animals—both real and fantastical—and their potties to young readers. But wait! Someone is missing! Who can it be? A rhyming text that is never too cloying keeps the action moving along as Bunny needs to go to the potty, thereby starting a menagerie parade through the fields and woods to the training potties. The rhyme starts to veer into “what else?” territory after introducing a big fat monster, a dinosaur, and “spooky wooky ghosties” that look like they wandered in from a Halloween title. Young children, however, will most likely giggle and relate to the general silliness that ensues. Jeram brings her soft ink and watercolor illustrations to life here. Bunny is awash in softly hued grays and pinks, while a charming elephant in a tutu and ballet toe shoes delicately parades through toward the final pages of a multitude of animals perching on their potties in the outdoors. And the surprise guest missing from the giant potty party at the end? A turn of the page reveals a spread with a smiling Bunny on the left and a sturdy mirror on the right to include young readers in the fun. VERDICT While this will be useful in collections where the clamor is always for “more potty training books,” the specific story line means limited use otherwise.
Milhander, Laura Aron. Not for All the Hamantaschen in Town. illus. by Inna Chernyak. 32p. glossary. Kar-Ben. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467759281; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781467759304.
PreS-Gr 1 –The three little pigs prepare for the Jewish holiday of Purim by making crowns to wear to the carnival. Rishon (meaning first in Hebrew) quickly creates a paper crown and then spends the rest of the day playing in the mud. Sheni, the second little pig, takes a little more time using poster board, foil, and glue. Shlishi, the third, spends all day constructing his elaborate papier-mâché crown and doesn’t have time to play in the mud with his friends. The next day, the pigs attend the Purim carnival and encounter the big, bad wolf, who is desperate for a hamantaschen, the traditional three-cornered cookies made especially for the holiday. Afraid that no one will sell him one, he decides to steal a costume to disguise himself. “Little pig, little pig, give me your crown!” he growls at Rishon. “Not for all the hamantaschen in town!” is the pig’s response. “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your crown off!” The paper crown blows off the little pig’s head but the wind blows it away before the wolf can grab it. An identical exchange occurs between the wolf and Sheni. Of course, when he tries his strategy on Shlishi, the sturdy crown doesn’t budge. But Shlishi reasons with the wolf: “You may be big…but you don’t have to be bad. Here—I’ll lend you my crown.” The wolf apologizes, the pigs forgive him, and everyone goes home happy. The cheery, textured digital illustrations depict an adorable cast of animal characters. Oddly, only the pigs, wolf, and lamb are named—the rest of the animals are referred to as children in the text. A recipe for hamantaschen is appended along with a simple explanation of Purim and a glossary of holiday terms. There is also an unfortunate error in the text: “Just then, a child dressed as Mordecai stepped forward…. He offered the wolf a black, three-cornered Haman hat.” Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story, does not wear the three-cornered hat characteristic of Haman, the villain. VERDICT Picture books about Purim aren’t as prevalent as books for Hanukkah and Passover, so educators and libraries serving large Jewish populations may welcome this addition; however, it is likely an optional purchase for most.
Oliver, Carmen. Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies. illus. by Jean Claude. 32p. Capstone. Mar. 2016. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623706548.
PreS-Gr 1 –Mrs. Fitz-Pea (who wears blue cat’s-eye glasses) needs to be convinced that bears make suitable reading buddies. Her student Adelaide convinces her that Bear is safe to have in the classroom by showing her how he makes reading fun (with cozy reading forts and loud roars of encouragement for pronouncing a hard word) and instructive (telling her to look at the pictures for clues and holding the book so they both can see it). “And if you get frustrated, they wrap you up in warm bear hugs.” The pattern-filled illustrations show the two buddies getting lost in their stories and demonstrates how they search for their next good read. They add a great deal to the book’s appeal. VERDICT Full of useful yet subtle hints about how to make reading fun for both young and older reading buddies, this book will find a ready audience at storytime and is also wonderful for one-on-one sharing.
Peppa Pig and the Camping Trip. 32p. Candlewick Entertainment. Apr. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780763687410.
Toddler-PreS –This picture book covers the familiar territory of the adventures of Peppa Pig, her brother George, Daddy Pig, and Mummy Pig. The family goes on a trip in their camper van, which has several interesting capabilities, including the ability to drive through water, transform beds for Peppa and George, and pop up the camper’s roof to make space for the family. The camper is too simplistic a plot device, though, and problems are solved so quickly and easily that there’s no room for suspense or excitement, which makes the story feel thin. Daddy Pig is shown performing the traditionally male roles of driving the camper and building the fire, while Mummy Pig packs the picnic lunch. The book’s audience may be toddlers and preschoolers, but children can appreciate a more nuanced story. The length of the book may also make it hard to hold the attention of young listeners if read aloud. The concept of a family spending time together is a great one, but plenty of picture books highlight those relationships more successfully. Despite this, the book is sure to have its fans among those who love the animated program. Additionally, the illustrations are rendered digitally and do retain the sweetness and charm of the show. VERDICT For ardent Peppa Pig fans only.
Ruben, Kelly Easton. A Place for Elijah. illus. by Joanne Friar. 32p. Kar-Ben. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467778411; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781467778466.
Gr 1-3 –Sarah sets an extra place at the Passover table for Elijah; according to legend, this prophet invisibly visits every seder. When the power goes out across the street, neighbors start arriving and Sarah keeps adding chairs to the table, always making sure there is an empty seat for Elijah. Finally, the last chair in the house is pressed into service for “the boy who sells magazines and chews bubble gum,” who turns out to be named Elijah. While the concept of the story is entertaining, there are a number of anomalies in the way the family observes the holiday. “Every year at Passover, Sarah sets a place and leaves the door ajar so Elijah the Prophet can come in and visit the seder.” The normal practice is to open the door briefly near the end of the seder, not to leave the door open the entire time. In describing the afikomen, the text says, “The youngest child will find the hidden piece of matzah and get a prize.” This is not a job for the youngest alone—all children present may seek the afikomen. The youngest child’s special honor is to recite the four questions. Another oddity is that the order of events has been disrupted: the meal is begun (with soup and gefilte fish) before the recitation of the 10 plagues, half a dozen steps early according to the Haggadah, the book that guides the actions of the seder. This strangeness extends to the illustrations as well. A broader issue is that there is very little explanation of the significance of Elijah’s presence at the seder. The endnote says, “According to legend, Elijah arrives on the first night of Passover to announce the coming of the Messiah,” but the story itself never makes that clear. VERDICT With so many incorrect details in its portrayal of Passover traditions and rituals, this is not recommended.
Scott, Lucy. Busy Busy. illus. by Lucy Scott. 32p. Creston. May 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781939547255.
Toddler-PreS –A sleepy girl tells readers about her busy, busy day. Each page shows the behavior of free play, the unobstructed view of imagination, discovery, and fun. The adventure begins with breakfast as she eats at the zoo, builds a city out of LEGO blocks, and paints all the things she knows: “I drew Mommy. Then I painted Daddy, then Rosie the Pussycat….and a horse (which was tricky).” At lunch she plays with her kitchen set as she cooks for all of her 10 stuffed animals, realizing “I barely had time to eat my own lunch!“ With the help of her stuffed animals and cats (sometimes unwilling companions), she learns about how socks work, putting them on her cat’s tail and even trying on her daddy’s sock, which “made a nice hat but it was a bit smelly.” After a long day, and a clean bath, she falls asleep and we visit her dreams with tropical fish and a fun submarine adventure. The endpapers are cleverly covered with scribbles of a toddler, reminding us of the boundless, vivid world of a young child’s day. The digitally created illustrations bring the child’s imagination to life. VERDICT A sweet story to share one-on-one with a special, busy child. Recommended for most public library collections.
Young, Judy. Digger and Daisy Plant a Garden. illus. by Dana Sullivan. 32p. (I Am a Reader!). ebook available. Sleeping Bear. Mar. 2016. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781585369317; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781585369324.
PreS-Gr 1 –It is spring, so Digger the dog and his big sister Daisy decide to plant a garden. Daisy plants lots of different seeds that will be good to eat, but Digger plants a surprise. Daisy’s seeds begin to sprout, but nothing appears to be growing in Digger’s spot. When the garden is ready with lots of vegetables to eat, Digger tells Daisy to dig up his surprise, a bone, which, of course, for dogs, will also be good to eat. This early reader features a large font size, controlled vocabulary with lots of word repetition, and friendly cartoon illustrations that enhance the story, making this a fun choice for newly independent readers. VERDICT A solid addition where other Digger and Daisy titles are popular.