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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 3 min 21 sec ago

The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio, illus. by Roger Duvoisin

Wed, 2014-12-10 00:01

This classic tale, brought to life by husband-wife duo, was inspired by a true story from the 1950s. The happy lion of the story has been a part of children’s literature for more than 50 years and it is clear why. This is an endearing tale of a lion that has many friends when he is in his home at the zoo, yet finds his friends react differently when he takes an adventure outside of the comfort of his zoo home. Children will enjoy the wonderful images of story that feature a simple color palette and wonderful style of sketch illustrations.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the story is the great lesson children can take away from the story; to not be afraid of those who are different. The town learns to not fear the lion when a little boy approaches him and shows that the furry creature was simply looking for company and friendship. Happiness can come from the most curiously different situations and Fatio has created a story that will show readers just that.
This book is wonderful for lower and middle elementary school students. The story is simple and easy to understand with great big illustrations that are good for large or small group reading. Children will have a roaring good time with The Happy Lion!

Check the WRL catalog for The Happy Lion.


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What Happens When… by Delphine Chedru

Mon, 2014-12-08 00:01

We all have those moments when we wonder “what would happen, if…” Delphine Chedru has done a wonderful job of illustrating the after effect of silly situations in which kids find themselves and those that families experience in everyday life. From balloons floating away from a hand and a lonely bucket left on a beach, to what a teacher does for summer vacation, this book provides entertaining answers.
One wonderful quality about this book is the opportunity it provides for interaction. The pages are cleverly designed to conceal Chedru’s answer to her “What If…” questions until the reader flips open the opposite page’s fold-out. Readers can create their own solutions and fantastic tales to answer the questions the author poses before or after seeing the solution the author provides herself. The scenarios are all so relatable and even provide comfort for children who have experienced things like losing a balloon or leaving a toy behind.
This book is ideal for a group setting because it can spark wonderful, creative discussions among children listening and can easily be used for lower elementary and preschool groups who are learning to stretch their imaginations. Similarly, this book is great for one-on-one or personal reading where the same kind of imagination and creativity can be used.

Check the WRL catalog for What Happens When…


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Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer, illus. by Brian Harrison-Lever

Fri, 2014-12-05 00:01

Dianne Wolfer walked the Kokoda Track in 2002 and was inspired to write this picture book exploration of the complications of war after interviewing veterans. This book is recommended for older children and adults as it deals with violent and difficult themes. Photographs in the Mud follows the lives of both an Australian and Japanese solider during World War II during battles in Papua New Guinea. Wolfer and Brian Harrison-Lever balance both sides by giving the reader information about Jack, the Australian solider, and Hoshi, the Japanese soldier, and their families back home. Eventually, both men are injured in battle and lay beside each other. They share their photographs, but will they both be able to make it through the night?
The delicate, realistic pencil drawings contrast the horrors of the tale while giving life to the characters. Red paint splatters the page when both men are injured. This book is a chilling dedication to the men who fought in World War II along the Kokoda Track. Wolfer and Harrison-Lever finish the book with an inscription that can now be found along the track, “They are not dead; not even broken; Only their dust has gone back home to earth/For they; the essential they, shall have rebirth/Whenever a word of them is spoken.”

Check the WRL catalog for Photographs in the Mud.


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Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

Wed, 2014-12-03 00:01

The bestselling author of the Llama Llama books has another hit on her hands with Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too. In this adorable father-daughter story, Nelly and Daddy Gnu work together to create a beautiful playhouse for Nelly from a large box. After the frame is done, they have to go on an adventure to the hardware store for paint and a small flashlight, which Daddy Gnu surprises Nelly with right before bedtime. Dewdney writes, “Every night and every day, Daddy makes it all OK. He always knows just what to do…Nelly’s Daddy, Daddy Gnu.” The colorful illustrations help to drive the story, but the love between the father and daughter as they work towards a common goal make this a book worth reading.

Check the WRL catalog for Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too.


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Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A summer crop of counting by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, illus. by Susan Swan

Mon, 2014-12-01 00:01

Susan Swan’s amazing illustrations steal the show in this simple counting book that encourages kids and adults to buy fruits and vegetables from their local farm stands. The vibrant colors will keep young children interested in the basics of counting and eating healthy. All of the fruits and veggies at Watermelon Acres farm stand look so delicious that you might want to have some of your own to munch on as you read! After getting everything on Mom’s list, the kids decide to add one more item. Felicia Sanzari Chernesky writes, “Add a summer sunflower from the jar. Now let’s take this garden to our car! But first, put some money in the can. Farmers work hard to feed this land.”

Check the WRL catalog for Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A summer crop of counting.


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Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Fri, 2014-11-28 00:01

This imaginative little book highlights the contrast between what adults and children see by alternating between the perspectives of an adult looking on and a little pig with a stick and a powerful imagination. Every other right-hand page pictures the pig holding a stick opposite an adult injunction: “Hey, be careful with that stick.” The rest show him as he sees himself, holding a fishing pole, baton, paintbrush, etc., opposite his increasingly insistent “It’s not a stick.” Although the line drawing illustrations are extremely spare, the layout, with solid-color left-hand pages, gives the book a stylish look. It recalls the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon. This title will pair well with Lily Brown’s Paintings, another book about an imaginative child. Not a Stick is perfect for a preschool storytime for a small audience. It will be most enjoyed by children ages three to five. The author and illustrator, Antoinette Portis also produced Not a Box.

Check the WRL catalog for Not a Stick.


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Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee by Nancy Patz, illus. by Susan L. Roth

Wed, 2014-11-26 00:01

In this charming book about having a new baby in the family, a new big sister, frustrated with the baby’s limitations, dreams of everything she’ll do with her baby when she’s big enough. She plans to teach the baby important things like how to walk, how to look both ways at the corner, and how to lick up ice cream drips. She imagines singing songs with the baby. Getting carried away she asks, “Baby, do you want me to teach you a song?” The following double-page spread makes the baby’s displeasure abundantly clear: strips of brightly colored paper shoot violently over the page. On one side is a small drawing of the baby with a wide-open mouth, dwarfed by the volume of her screams. The illustrations are done in collage, ink, and oil pastels with riotous color and texture on every page. This book is perfect for a preschool storytime on siblings or new babies. There are many great books on these themes; two are Katy Duck: Big Sister and Yum Yum, Baby Bundt. The author, Nancy Patz, is also an artist. Her paintings have been shown at the Baltimore Museum of Art, among other places. Illustrator Susan L. Roth has illustrated many books of Native American folk tales.

Check the WRL catalog for Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee.


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Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson, illus. by Kevin O’Malley

Mon, 2014-11-24 00:01

Marylou is a lovesick slug. Love poems for Herbie, the object of her affection, fill her mind day and night. Although she’s too shy to talk to him in person, she begins writing her poems in slime where Herbie will be sure to see them. Herbie, intrigued, responds in kind, but his poems keep vanishing before Marylou can find them. When they finally meet, their first words to each other are also in rhyme. The illustrations, done in marker and colored pencil and enhanced in Photoshop, add to the slugs’ vibrant personalities. Though they all look essentially the same (a source of confusion for Herbie, who doesn’t know what Marylou looks like), they can be identified by their jaunty headgear. Marylou wears bows around her eyestocks, Herbie wears a baseball cap, and various other slugs wear fedoras, kerchiefs, etc. This book is perfect for a Kindergarten storytime, and will be enjoyed especially by kids aged four to eight. Listeners will delight in the gross-out quality of the slimy slugs and laugh at the clever poetry. The author, Susan Pearson, grew up in part in Newport News. Illustrator Kevin O’Malley also illustrated the Miss Malarkey series. Readers who like Slugs in Love will also enjoy another funny book about leaving notes, Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type.

Check the WRL catalog for Slugs in Love.


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The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff, illus. by Eliza Wheeler

Fri, 2014-11-21 00:01

Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper, has a busy job. He receives complaints from all the town people – all their fights and squabbles, all their grudges and grumbles. He carefully files each one away in its proper place, so no one else in town has to keep a grudge.
But one day, a small breeze comes into town. This breeze grows and grows until finally it turns into a gale-force wind, which invades Cornelius’ house and sends the grudges about in a flurry. When the townspeople come to file their new grudges, they find their old ones all out of order! Suddenly, they wonder how important these grudges were in the first place.
But what will happen to Cornelius when no one has anything left to complain about?
This book is perfect for older children. There are plenty of big words that they may need to look up, so keep a dictionary close-by.

Check the WRL catalog for The Grudge Keeper.


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Try It, You’ll Like It! by Marc Brown

Wed, 2014-11-19 00:01

Marc Brown’s Try it, You’ll Like It! is a book in the Arthur’s Family Values series.
Everyone is preparing for a summer luau, but D.W. does not want to try anything new. She won’t try new food, she won’t learn a new dance, she won’t even wear a new color! D.W. does not want to look silly.
The day of the luau comes, and everyone is having fun. D.W. isn’t even wearing a Hawaiian shirt, though. Soon she feels left out. Will she give in and try something new?
This is a great book that continues the adventures of Arthur and D.W. from the television series. It can teach children that they may miss out on fun if they are picky or afraid to try new things. At the end of the book D.W. has learned a lesson and she is now more adventurous than anyone else!

Check the WRL catalog for Try It, You’ll Like It!


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Boswell the Kitchen Cat by Marjorie Newman, illus. by Suzanne Watts

Mon, 2014-11-17 00:01

Usually, cats and mice do not get along at all. But in Boswell the Kitchen Cat, Boswell the cat has a special agreement with Lizzie the kitchen mouse and her children.
Boswell loves to cook fancy foods to eat and to share with friends. He makes a huge mess in the kitchen every time he cooks, but he hates to clean up afterward. Lizzie and her children always look for scraps, but there are none to be found. One day Boswell does not have time to clean before his guests arrive, so Lizzie and the other mice go to work.
Boswell is startled to see mice in his kitchen and is going to gobble them up, but wait! He notices a sparkling clean kitchen. Maybe Boswell and Lizzie can work out a deal?
This is a great book to teach children about cooking and about the responsibility of cleaning up.

Check the WRL catalog for Boswell the Kitchen Cat.


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There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro, illus. by Jared Lee

Fri, 2014-11-14 00:01

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover is a fun book for St. Patrick’s Day, or anytime. This rhyming book builds off of each thing the old lady swallows, and she keeps swallowing bigger and bigger things!
She begins by swallowing a clover, then a daisy to brighten the clover, and then a butterfly to rest on the daisy, and so on…. This old lady must have a very big stomach!
The old lady begins to dance with a leprechaun at the end of the book, and she giggles so much that everything she swallows comes back up, along with a St. Patrick’s Day surprise.
This is a great book to read aloud to children, and you can have fun guessing why the old lady swallows everything that she does, as well as what she swallows next. This is part of a series, and you should check all the other things this crazy old lady swallows!

Check the WRL catalog for There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Clover.


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Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! by Todd Tuell, illus. by Tad Carpenter

Wed, 2014-11-12 00:01

Tiptoe… jump… crawl… chop! Ninja stealthily sneaks around the house looking for mischief. Ninja chops balloons, steals cookies, and kicks blocks – making his brother very upset! But when Ninja’s brother shows that he can be quiet and sneaky too, can the two of them play together?
At the end of the day there is not one ninja, but two! Ninja and his brother team up to form a running, jumping, karate-chopping team.
Ninja never tires of creeping around the house and then bursting into action, and your little ones will enjoy acting out Ninja’s moves themselves. Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! is a fun book to read aloud to younger children and it can serve as a good lesson about being nice to siblings or friends.

Check the WRL catalog for Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!


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Get Well Soon, Grandpa! by An Swerts, illus. by Jenny Bakker

Mon, 2014-11-10 00:01

Get Well Soon, Grandpa! by An Swerts and Jenny Bakker is a great book to help parents explain what happens when an older family member gets sick.
In the story, Faye visits her grandpa for the night, and when he is getting ready the next morning he has a stroke. Faye is very nervous as she calls her mom, who then arrives with the doctor.
Grandpa Bert is admitted to the hospital and stays there throughout the summer. When he gets out, he comes to stay with Faye and her mom. Faye learns about physical therapy and speech therapy from the therapists who come to help her Grandpa.
This is a longer book and would be great for older children. If a family member is ill or injured and has to go to the hospital, reading this book with your children can help you answer questions they may have. The story is very informative about what happens when a loved one has a stroke, but is also told gently, and can help to ease children’s fears.

Check the WRL catalog for Get Well Soon, Grandpa!


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Hopper and Wilson by Maria Van Lieshout

Fri, 2014-11-07 00:01

Hopper and Wilson begins with a simple question: “What do you think it’s like at the end of the world?”
Hopper and Wilson decide to find out, so the two friends hop in their sailboat and sail off to find the end of the world. They hope to find an endless supply of lemonade and a staircase to the moon.
When their journey hits a rough patch, however, and Hopper falls overboard, they stop looking for the end of the world and start looking for each other. They realize that sometimes staying safe at home is better than going on a big adventure.
This is a touching tale about friendship, and is perfect for older children or children with a big vocabulary. Be sure to check out Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star as well!

Check the WRL catalog for Hopper and Wilson.


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What Do You Do–When a Monster Says Boo? by Hope Vestergaard, illus. by Maggie Smith

Wed, 2014-11-05 00:01

Hope Vestergaard’s What Do You Do When a Monster Says Boo? is a wonderful book about sibling behavior, and a great model for older siblings.
Throughout the book, the “monster” does all sorts of bad things – pulling things, throwing hair, and yelling, to name a few. The book shows the best ways to handle little monsters, as well as some ways that aren’t so good.
When your monster is your little brother or sister it may be hard to keep your cool. What Do You Do When a Monster Says Boo? can show kids what it looks like to be patient with a hyper or misbehaving younger sibling.
Children of all ages will laugh at the monster acting silly, and parents will appreciate the suggestions for older siblings that the book gently provides.
This rhyming book has wonderful illustrations, and is a great choice to read to the whole family.

Check the WRL catalog for What Do You Do–When a Monster Says Boo?


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Possum Come a-Knockin’ by Nancy Van Laan, illus. by George Booth

Mon, 2014-11-03 00:01

Possum Come a-Knockin’ is a rhyming-text book that shows a family in the country going about their business when they get an unusual visitor.
Granny and Pappy, Ma and Pa, and Brother and Sis are all too wrapped up in their activities to notice someone knocking at the door, but Tom-cat, Coon-dawg, and the narrator (who calls herself “me”) all know something isn’t right. They all hear someone knock-knock-knocking on the door.
You’ll watch through the window as each member of the family goes on knittin’ and whittlin’ and cookin’ taters, until finally the pets cause such a ruckus that they go to investigate. But when they open the door, the mischievous possum is nowhere to be found!
This book, written by Nancy Van Laan, is fun to read aloud, and you and your children will laugh at the great illustrations. Grab a copy and have fun watching this zany family!

Check the WRL catalog for Possum Come a-Knockin’.


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Blackberry Banquet by Terry Pierce, illus. by Lisa Downey

Fri, 2014-10-31 00:05

Blackberry Banquet is a delightful treat for young summer readers. Perfect for expressive shared reading between adults and children, this story infuses elements of sequence, patterning, rhyme, and characterization, making it a great story for young readers.

Set in the forest, Blackberry Banquet tells the story of different animals that visit the blackberry bush to enjoy some fresh, sweet berries. A new animal and its accompanied sounds appear on each new page, and each page features an animal slightly bigger than the previous one until finally, a BEAR appears at the blackberry bush and frightens all of the animals away.

Besides writing a delightful story, the author has included non-fiction information on the back pages, including a recipe for blackberry ice-cream, a diagram to introduce food chains, and other factual information about the animals in the book.

This colorful book with bright, engaging illustrations by Lisa Downey reminds me of Jan Brett’s stories The Mitten and The Hat. To experience it for yourself, be sure to check out a copy of Blackberry Banquet!

 

Check the WRL catalog for Blackberry Banquet.


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Hillside Lullaby by Hope Vestergaard, illus. by Margie Moore

Wed, 2014-10-29 00:01

Looking for the perfect “good-night” book? Try Hillside Lullaby by Hope Vestergaard, a good night lullaby that is sure to evoke the sweetest dreams.
Hillside Lullaby tells the story of a “wild child not ready to close her eyes” and the mother who tucks her into bed. All around her, the animals outside are preparing for their night of slumber, too: the frogs, raccoon, deer, and rabbits.
Told in rhyme, Hillside Lullaby shows different views of mothers getting their children ready for bed. Children reading this book will be able to predict what animal’s bedtime routine is featured next, as each page reveals a small picture of the animal that will be detailed on the next pages. This picture book includes sweet, vibrant illustrations of the hillside and its creatures at night, making it impossible to fear the dark.
After all of the animals drift off to sleep, so too does the little girl “with the song of the hill in her head.”

Check the WRL catalog for Hillside Lullaby.


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