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The sounds of fall

The sounds of fall at our house are striking — literally. Our bedrooms are situated under two giant oak trees, and the squirrels have been busy scampering around in the canopy and up and down, shaking loads of acorns onto our roof. They are busy early each morning, often before the birds start their choruses. […]

Scared silly

The following picture books perfect for Halloween put their own silly spins on thrills, chills, and…creepy underwear? For more, see “From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn Boo!” In Boo Who? by Ben Clanton, a little ghost named Boo is new to the neighborhood. He isn’t very good at the games his new friends invite him to […]

Review of Rapunzel

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin; illus. by the author Primary    Peachtree    32 pp. 10/17    978-1-68263-003-7    $16.95 Woollvin (Little Red, rev. 3/16) offers another wryly comic rewrite of a Grimms favorite, updating it with a can-do, self-rescuing heroine — there’s no prince in sight. Rapunzel resides in a tower, trapped by a witch who visits daily to […]

Review of Life

Rylant, Cynthia Life 48 pp. Simon/Beach Lane 2017. ISBN 978-1-4814-5162-8 Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-5163-5 (3) K–3 Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. A reverie on life — its mutability, joys, and challenges — leads to a conclusion of hope: “There is always a new road to take.” The poetic (if slightly bromidic) text is given rigor and specificity […]

Review of Blue Sky White Stars

Naberhaus, Sarvinder Blue Sky White Stars 32 pp. Dial 2017. ISBN 978-0-8037-3700-6 (3) K–3 Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Spare, powerful prose presents the American flag and the American landscape and people in parallel: “Sew together one nation / So together one nation.” Evocative paintings portray the natural scenery as well as images from history, including […]

Review of The Book of Mistakes

Luyken, Corinna The Book of Mistakes 56 pp. Dial 2017. ISBN 978-0-7352-2792-7 (3) K–3 “It started / with one mistake”: a drawing of a girl’s head has mismatched eyes. “But the glasses — they were a good idea”: the eyes are now masked by glasses. The pattern of mistakes followed by cover-ups continues, becoming a […]

Review of The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Pinkney, Jerry The Three Billy Goats Gruff 40 pp. Little 2017. ISBN 978-0-316-34157-8 (3) K–3 Pinkney’s retelling of the classic folktale allows a happier ending for the troll — he is still defeated by the biggest billy goat Gruff but lives to watch the goats reveling in the good life (and possibly, as revealed on […]

Review of Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by Mo Willems; illus. by the author Preschool    Hyperion    32 pp. 5/17    978-1-4847-6746-7    $15.99 An offstage narrator addresses listeners using the language of the hospitality industry: “THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. / Your arrival has been anxiously awaited…PLEASE / ENJOY YOUR STAY.” Our world is presented as a cruise […]

Review of Home in the Rain

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    32 pp. 6/17    978-0-7636-9269-8    $16.99 Francie and her pregnant mom are driving home from Grandma’s in a bucketing rain — perilously, it feels. When their little red car is forced off the highway by a huge truck, they (safely) pull off into […]

Picture books for the first day of fall

Happy first day of fall! Heat up some cider or cocoa, snuggle in, and share these autumnal picture books for a perfect celebration of the season. All of the titles below were recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews reprinted from The Horn Book […]