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A Rainbow Connection of Picture Books

Blue ChickenPete the Cat I Love my White Shoeslitte blue and little yellowRemember learning your colors?  Madly scribbling with crayons, dabbing with a paintbrush, or smearing finger paints, while discovering new color combinations through happy accidents?  That was one of the many things we learned as kids. Check out these three books and experience the fun of colors, with a dash of playful wisdom, all over again!

 

An enthusiastic chicken makes a splash in this new title, Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman.  The story comes alive from the pages of an almost-finished illustration of a barnyard scene.  Seen from the perspective of the artist’s desk, Chicken decides to help, but instead accidentally knocks over a jar of blue paint. Mayhem ensues, as the “sincerely sorry” once-white Chicken turns yellow ducklings green and the barnyard blue. Simple text and lively images draw the reader through the story, as Chicken tries to fix her messy mistake. Will Chicken ever find a solution and clean up the barnyard?

 

A favorite at story time, Pete the Cat – I love My White Shoes, may just become another color classic. Author Eric Litwin (aka Mr. Eric) and illustrator James Dean create a silly, easy to follow day-in-the-life of Pete, who happens to be one cool blue cat, sporting white high top shoes. And Pete really loves his white shoes.  Using repetition and crazy, cartoonish illustrations, readers follow Pete as his white shoes change color each time he encounters a new situation. Does Pete cry? No way! He keeps walking along and singing his own special song, while thinking his cool-cat thoughts. Kids love Pete’s adventures and mellow way of rolling with it. Want to sing along with Pete? Readers can download Pete the Cat’s shoe song for free at www.harpercollinschildren.com/petethecat.

 

Hard to believe, but Leo Lionni’s colorful, classic story, little blue and little yellow, has been delighting generations of kids for 53 years!  Lionni created this renowned  tale in 1959 while keeping his young grandchildren, Pippo and Ann, occupied on a train trip from Greenwich, CT to New York City. Tearing up little pieces of colored paper, he told an incredibly imaginative, insightful story of two friends. The illustrations may seem nothing more than ragged blobs of color on a white page, but combined with the sweet, simple story they each take on a character of their own. As blue and yellow happily hug one day, they suddenly become one - and green!  After an eventful day of play, they go home to find their families don’t recognize them.  Understanding blossoms and everyone, adults and kids, learn something new.

 

From new to classic, these titles are great ways for kids to make the rainbow connection of color, optimism, perseverance, flexibility, and fun!

Andrea

 
 

Speechless

Speechless

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 10:39am

ChalkYou Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum Bow-Wow Bugs a BugA fun way to “read” with your emergent reader is to check out a wordless picture book. Take turns telling the story in your own words. Encourage your young reader to add sound effects and dialogue. Try Chalk by Bill Thomson. Three kids go to the park on a rainy day and find a bag of magic chalk. Everything they draw comes to life! How will they cope when a mischievous boy draws a dinosaur?  Wonderfully expressive artwork drawn in big, bold color will make it easy for you and your young reader to “write” the story.

 

You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman is full of action. The story is drawn in pen and ink style with touches of color. A security guard is entrusted to watch a balloon for a young patron. See what happens when the balloon gets loose and he has to chase it around New York. The story takes many twists and turns as the action outside the museum seems to match the artwork inside. Try this one out with your kindergartener (or older child).

 

In Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug, Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash illustrate a story of a dog that follows a bug around the neighborhood. Using bright, simple illustrations, the authors draw a surprising weird, charming and funny story. The bizarre adventure lends itself to some surreal storytelling which is probably more suited to 1st grade or older. Give it a try with any of your kids and see what develops.

 

If you have a good time with these, be sure to ask your librarian for more titles or search the catalog for keyword “wordless”.

Diane

 
 

What Goes in, Must Come Out

Zig and Wikki in The Cow

What young reader can resist a book that answers the question: can cow poop help two friends patch up their friendship?

 

In Zig and Wikki in The Cow, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler, Zig (an alien) and Wikki (his computer friend) are going about their day when Zig notices his pet fly looks sick. An already jealous Wikki is happy to take the fly back to Earth where they promptly lose their spaceship. Hilarious adventures through a farm’s ecosystem ensue. Will Zig and Wikki find their spaceship? Will their friendship be saved? Will the fly be okay? Interspersed with scientific facts about an ecosystem, the story is a fun read (and just a little bit gross). Zig and Wikki in The Cow is a great book to read with your beginning reader. The pictures are charming, the story is funny and (after a few “ewwws”) your reader will be proud of the science lessons learned. If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out their first adventure Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane

 
 

Plenty

Plenty

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 10:32am

Another BrotherThe Unruly QueenMore Three picture books take on one of the first questions that kids have to come to terms with: when is enough enough?

 

For a while, Davy was an only lamb. He enjoyed the focused attention he received from his parents, until one after another brother arrived on the scene. Before he knew it, there were twelve brothers, all of which wanted to follow in Davy’s hoofsteps, everywhere he went. Matthew Cordell, author and illustrator of Another Brother, uses bright, funny line drawings and successful, subtle ovine humor in this satisfying and surprisingly touching sibling story.

 

Minerva is the subject of The Unruly Queen, written and illustrated by E.S. Redmond. This is largely a tale of gluttony, as Minerva seems more interested in using as many resources (and exasperated nannies) as she possibly can. However, when her fifty-third nanny finally beats her at her own game, Minerva receives her much needed comeuppance. The rhyming couplets match the art, which is reminiscent of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton.

 

An unnamed magpie has what we would refer to as hoarding tendencies, in More, written by I.C. Springman and illustrated by Brian Lies. Acrylic and colored pencil drawings of the magpie, mice, and objects star in this timeless fable that mirrors present-day issues of materialism. A field mouse offers the magpie the gift of a marble, but after collecting many more items, its nest becomes overwhelmed by many other found objects. After a catastrophic incident, the field mice help the magpie determine just what matters, and what is enough. 

Todd

 
 

The Universe Takes Care of All its Birds

WonderTen-year-old August Pullman (Auggie to family and friends) sees himself as a pretty ordinary kid. Or at least, a pretty ordinary kid with a most extraordinary face. You see, August’s face is the result of a most improbable genetic lottery, a one-in-a-million ticket called mandibulofacial dysostosis which, despite countless corrective surgeries, has gifted August with the kind of face that causes children to run screaming and even the kindest adults to avert their eyes.

 

However ordinary August might feel on the inside, at first – and second – glance the world has always seen a freak, or at best, a gut-wrenchingly pitiable boy. As his sister’s childhood friend Miranda puts it, “…the universe was not kind to Auggie Pullman.” Yet, as the story unfolds over his first year of middle school, August’s teachers and his classmates will learn that August’s face really is the least extraordinary thing about him.

 

First time author R.J. Palacio brings August and the other characters of Wonder to life with tremendous poignancy, realism and a supersized measure of practical humor. The perspectives of many characters are sampled and distilled into a comprehensive experience of what it means to be different, to love (and sometimes resent) someone who is different, and what extraordinary beauty can be seen beyond the peephole. Palacio’s characters and situations are deftly constructed, startlingly realistic, and likely to resonate with anyone who’s ever been there, whether as the awkward student on the first day of middle school, the parent or sibling of a child whom the world sees as different, or the “normal” kids and adults who must face their own internal concoction of fear, politeness, meanness, and most importantly, kindness when confronted with someone who is different.

 

Ultimately, this is more than a story about fitting in and more than a caution against judging a book by its cover – though Wonder certainly encompasses both of these messages. It’s a story about the beautiful, the ordinary, and the unseen ways in which an unkind universe still takes care of all its birds.

Meghan

 
 

Take a Journey to Wonderful!

The Mighty Miss MaloneA Nation's HopeChristopher Paul Curtis delivers again with a Depression-era historical fiction in The Mighty Miss Malone.  Readers will delight in getting to know the mighty 12 year old Deza Malone (a character in Curtis’ Newbery winner Bud, Not Buddy) and her family.  Brother Jimmie is small but has a beautiful singing voice, and Mom and Dad just want the best for their kids.  The family is a tight unit and even has a motto:  “a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful.”  Deza is smart and spunky and even while her family is struggling with unemployment and illness, she has an optimistic outlook and a strong sense of self and her future.  The family’s strong bond is tested when Mr. Malone seeks work in Flint, Michigan. But Deza, Jimmie and their mother decide to follow him and travel with him on his journey. There are hardships, but this story is filled with humor, a strong sense of history and place, and truly wonderful characters.  Readers wanting more should check out the reading guide provided by Random House.

 

One of the frames Curtis uses to share Deza’s story is the boxing match of 1936 which saw German Max Schmeling face off against the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis. This match took on great significance because of Adolf Hitler’s increasingly powerful Nazi Germany. All Americans, and in particular African-Americans, pinned great hope for their future in this boxing ring. When Louis lost, African-Americans’ spirits sank even lower as they grappled with the Depression. In 1938, the two met in a rematch in Yankee Stadium in front of 80,000 fans, and Louis was victorious. The win helped boost morale across the country. Matt de la Peña shares the story of the second match in A Nation’s Hope: the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.  Kadir Nelson’s remarkable illustrations highlight this story which was a watershed cultural event. Of special note to locals – Baltimore Colts’ legend Artie Donovan’s father was the referee during this match!

Maureen

 
 

Baby on Board

Baby on Board

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 9:35am

Lola reads to LeoPecan Pie BabyChloe, InsteadThe challenge of a new sibling is addressed in several new picture books which provide different spins on the blessed event. In Lola reads to Leo, by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, our favorite book lover Lola is delighted to welcome new brother Leo. Lola helps care for Leo by sharing her love of reading. She brings him a soft book for his crib when she meets him, holds her best bear story while Mommy feeds him, and tells him a duck tale during his bath time. While many new baby books focus on the negative, this gentle celebration of family and reading offers the fun side of being a big sib!  Other Lola stories include Lola Loves Stories and Lola at the Library

 

Gia has heard all she can about "the ding-dang baby" that her mother is expecting in Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. But that baby is all ANYONE wants to talk about.  Gia is worried about the upheaval ahead and already knows what she will miss the most:  “My whole, whole life.” Her emotions come to a head with a very public meltdown.  But Mama is able to calm her by showing Gia her important role in their expanding family. The subtle seasonal changes complement Gia’s changing attitude. This is an honest story about the very real feelings children have when faced with change.  

 

Molly already has a sister, but not the sister of her dreams.  “I was hoping for a little sister who was just like me, but I got Chloe instead.”  In Chloe, Instead by Micah Player, Molly colors with crayons while Chloe eats them. Molly loves books. Chloe loves to tear pages. Molly is frustrated but still sympathetic and Player uses stylized, colorful graphics and simple text to share her perspective. Player is a graphic designer whose work might be familiar to Target shoppers – he designed the branding for their popular Paul Frank line. (Learn more about this exciting new voice at www.paperrifle.com.) With this fresh story, Molly does come to see that Chloe’s personality can be fun too, and readers who are still on the fence about a younger sibling will see that there may be some good in it after all!

Maureen

 
 

One Cool Book

One Cool Book

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 9:32am

One Cool FriendQuality picture books have the ability to engage both the youngest and oldest of readers with stories and illustrations that work together to capture the imagination. One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo with illustrations by David Small, falls into that elite category of books we return to again and again. Tuxedo-clad Elliot is a “proper young man,” a boy who prefers quiet, solitary pursuits. When his scientist father proposes a trip to the aquarium, Elliot is unsure. He’s quickly enchanted by the penguins, asking his distracted father if he might have one. A misunderstanding leads a confident Elliot to pop the smallest Magellanic bird into his backpack for the journey back to their spacious, well-appointed home. His new friend proves to be a delight, if not a bit of a challenge.

Small works in pen and ink, ink wash, watercolor, and colored pencil, rendering charmingly witty pictures that add a surprising amount of humor and depth to the story. Readers will delight at the details Small works in to give depth to the character of Elliot’s father, details that begin to hint at the surprise that reveals itself as the story progresses. This is a sophisticated, nuanced book that demands multiple readings in order to fully appreciate the interdependence of Buzzeo’s highly original plot and Small’s clever illustrations.

 

Paula G.

 
 

Moose Meltdown

Moose Meltdown

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 9:29am

Z is for MooseMost kids love alphabet books and this one will not disappoint. In Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, Zebra is organizing the alphabet into an A-B-C show and Moose cannot wait! His eagerness gets him into trouble with Zebra and the others.  See what happens when one excited Moose doesn’t get his way. Perfect for the youngster who knows the alphabet and who has felt disappointment! Beautiful bold pictures accompany the story and will make the reader laugh out loud. Poor Moose will tug at the reader’s heart. Fans of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books will surely enjoy this twist on the traditional ABC book. Check it out to see why Z is for Moose!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane

 
 

Superhero Showdown

Superhero Showdown

posted by:
April 18, 2012 - 9:26am

Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-AllIn a world of superheroes, Question Boy defeats Garbage Man, Paperboy, Mailman and others with his unending questions. Nobody had enough answers for him until he meets…..Little Miss Know-It-All.  In Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto, the two have a showdown at the park. Miss Know-It-All starts out strong, but Question Boy fights back with the dreaded “Why? Why? Why?” Showcasing two of the most annoying but utterly adorable traits of childhood, this brightly colored picture book will strike a chord with children and adults alike. A crowd gathers to watch the little boy with unending questions take on the girl with all the answers (even if she has to make some up.) Tensions rise. Who will triumph in this battle of annoying childhood traits? The artist complements his story with expressive pictures. By making community workers into superheroes, Catalanotto reminds the reader of that certain time of childhood when seeing the trash truck was an event and getting the mail could be the highlight of a day. (And adults, don’t worry, the author kindly lists Miss Know-It-All’s made up facts on the back cover, so there’s no need to research.)

 

Diane