And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano; illus. by Erin E. Stead Primary Porter/Roaring Brook 32 pp. 2/12 978-1-59643-624-4 $16.99 A small bespectacled boy and his companions, a dog, a rabbit, and a turtle, are on a search for spring. “First you have brown, / all around you have brown / then there are seeds [...]
Checking a fact about Joan of Arc, I found myself on the Wikipedia garden path, cruising through various manifestations of the saint on stage and screen. That led me to The Miracle of the Bells starring Italian actress Alida Valli, who, it turns out, was once married to Oscar de Mejo, a painter who did [...]
10 Hungry Rabbits: Counting & Color Concepts by Anita Lobel; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary Knopf 24 pp. 2/12 978-0-375-86864-1 $9.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-96864-8 $12.99 g When Mama Rabbit announces her plans to make vegetable soup for dinner, her ten children—each one wearing a different color—gather ten matching colorful ingredients: one purple cabbage, two [...]
The next best thing to tromping around outdoors on a crisp January afternoon is snuggling up inside. Here are five winter-themed picture books that are just the ticket for those sub-zero days. In Keith Baker’s No Two Alike, two little red birds explore a snowy landscape. Rhyming text coaxes readers to look carefully at the [...]
An edge-of-your-seat adventure story, based on a true story, for the very young—with a text that also works beautifully as a beginning reader for older children. Onlookers along the banks of the Vistula River one cold, cold day in Poland see a little dog adrift on a sheet of ice, heading for open sea. Night passes, then another day; finally, fifteen miles from shore and seventy-five miles from journey’s start, he is spotted by the crew of the research vessel Baltica and, with significant effort, rescued. Simple yet dramatic watercolor illustrations effectively convey the wintry setting; the ice-choked, freezing water; and Dog’s emotions, bewildered and forlorn on the ice, cheerful and contented after his rescue and adoption. The economical text is hyper-engaging. A straightforward descriptive narration (“Dog is wet and tired and hungry. And he is scared”) occasionally switches to the voice of an emotionally involved onlooker (“Don’t be scared, Dog! A ship is coming!”; “Dog slips. He falls into the water. Oh no! Where is Dog?”), as if the text itself finds the story too exciting to maintain objectivity. An afterword fills in some gaps, with more details of the actual rescue and its happy aftermath.
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle; illus. by the author Preschool Philomel 32 pp. 10/11 978-0-399-25713-1 $17.99 In its simplest interpretation, Carle’s book is about an artist—perhaps a child, perhaps an adult—who paints animals the “wrong” color. There is the titular blue horse, a red alligator, green lion, and even a [...]
Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author Primary Knopf 40 pp. 10/11 978-0-375-85859-8 $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-95859-5 $19.99 Sarcone-Roach displays a discipline not always seen in books about the environment; she allows her theme of reuse and recycling to emerge naturally from a fine story and lets readers draw their own conclusions without [...]
Bailey by Harry Bliss; illus. by the author Primary Scholastic 32 pp. 8/11 978-0-545-23344-6 $16.99 Bailey loves school, where he is by far the most popular student. Then again, he is the only dog at Champlain Elementary School. No one can resist a dog who hangs his head out the school bus window, willing the [...]