In the fourth entry in the charming Goose and Bear series, the polar bear and gawky white goose are again joined by their irrepressible little friend, a fox with the personality of a bright 2-year-old.
Each of the volumes in the series deals with some aspect of friendship, and this time the issue concerns gifts for friends. Making presents, wrapping them, wondering about the recipient, waiting to open the package—all are exciting concepts for the little fox, who narrates the tale. The clever story conveys a complete plot in only a few words and will appeal to both younger children who are just starting to listen to stories and to older ones who will appreciate the subtle humor. Fox thinks the scarf Bear is knitting must be for her, as well as the mittens Goose is making. She’s so excited about the present exchange that she wraps herself up as a surprise package and pops out to delight her more-experienced friends. They give her a custom-made vest, which delights Fox so much she suggests they do their present exchange all over again. Exuberant pastel illustrations with loose, scratchy textures stand out against brilliant, royal-blue backgrounds with the text set in white.
This one has “read it again” potential, and Fox has the makings of a star.
(Picture book. 2-6)
Pinfold’s story has a timeless quality despite its entirely original flair, with sumptuous paintings and thumbnail embellishments adding narrative and descriptive content.
One by one, the Hope family spies a black dog outside their home, each person describing it as larger and more fearsome than the next. They all proceed to hide from the dog, until “the youngest member of the Hope family, called Small (for short),” steps outside to confront it herself. While her family cowers inside, Small bravely approaches the shaggy beast, who appears quite large indeed in the tempera paintings. A sense of folkloric magic underscores the confrontation as this youngest of three siblings cajoles the dog to follow her on a journey through the woods, under a bridge, over a frozen pond and through a playground. All along, she entreats it to shrink in size, and it does, until it is small enough to fit through a doggy door back at her house. Once they are inside, Small’s family welcomes the dog and praises her bravery. “There was nothing to be scared of,” she succinctly replies. The closing scene showing Small and the dog cozy by the fire, alongside a thumbnail portrait of the family by the text, leaves readers with a satisfying image of familial contentment.
A great pick for storytime, bedtime, anytime.
(Picture book. 3-7)
The love between a fish and an otter is given the thoughtful treatment such an unexpected attraction deserves.
The homophonous title arouses curiosity while intimating troubled waters. Although it is love at first sight in the opening spread, the central conflict—that fish fall beneath otters in the food chain—is present as well. Howe explores the pleasure and pain of loving someone who is different from one’s self in a manner that is both sophisticated and accessible to children. His rhapsodic language recalls William Steig’s in The Amazing Bone (1976). Myrtle (really Gurgle, the fish) ponders “…the stirrings of her own / heart— / her own tremulous / fish-not-wishing-to-be-dinner / heart— / awakened to… / not only love but a future / she could never have imagined.” The author builds suspense and credibility by twice speculating on the outcome. He first imagines what would happen “in a perfect world,” then “in a tragic tale.” Ultimately, Beaver’s wisdom helps Otter overcome his instincts and the gossipers’ ill will (a reality magnified by their tightly-knit circle, viewed from below). Raschka’s childlike renderings of creatures in thick, penciled outlines create the innocence, mirror the hope and provide the universality that contributes to the title’s ascent above its purely message-driven counterparts.
Ever-changing watercolor washes and primordial shapes depict a wondrous, liquid world in which the star-crossed lovers learn to trust their hearts.
(Picture book. 5-9)
Working from a text composed solely of the titular phrases (plus one final qualifier) in an ongoing call and response, Mack depicts a day among friends whose dispositions couldn’t be more extreme.
Rabbit is an optimist; framed by a soft, white cloud, he exhibits an overflowing picnic basket joyfully to his buddy. An ominous, grey formation shades Mouse’s skeptical reaction. When the storm begins, the fun-lover produces an umbrella; the frowner is blown into a tree. Happily, it’s an apple tree. Unhappily, the fruit descends forcefully on the fallen rodent. So it proceeds in a fashion reminiscent of Remy Charlip’s Fortunately (1964). The difference here is that viewers see the events through two distinct lenses, and the pair are not only experiencing the same situations, they are mindful of one another’s reactions. The artist manipulates body language and facial features to register a range of emotions through caricatures with personality to spare. Endpapers divided into 18 squares contain images than can inspire a variety of storytelling behaviors from prediction to sequencing. When a bear chases the duo up a flagpole, and lightning fries them to charred silhouettes (à la cartoons of yesteryear—sensitive readers beware), Rabbit’s worldview is clearly rocked, but now it is Mouse’s turn to find the silver lining.
An instructive and entertaining primer on the art of friendship and the complexity of joy.
(Picture book. 3-7)
Veteran Bauer sends an intrepid trick-or-treater into a deliciously creepy forest full of fantastical frights and rattling menaces.
Any child with a sense of adventure, keen eye and touch of courage will eagerly follow the unmetered rhyming text that takes this black-caped child deep into a forest of bones on Halloween. The verse propels both the character and readers forward through each taunting spread. “Bat bones, / cat bones, / rat bones and all are / looking at / YOU.” “Take care! / Beware! / Despair! / You can bet / you’ve just met / your worst nightmare!” But the observant explorer carefully sidesteps such scariness and instead shouts “ ‘BOO!’ / or ‘POOH!’ / or even ‘WAHOO!’ ” and then dramatically reveals a skeleton costume underneath the cloak. Now the skeletal creatures turn from frightening to welcoming as the child raises a bright orange sack declaring, “Trick or treat! / Smell my feet! / Give me something / good to eat!” Shelley’s superbly detailed illustrations in pen, India ink and watercolor help build suspense as the child goes from the city into the intricately twining bony landscape. A dusky palette dominated by grays and muted pastels turns brighter when the child’s spunky confidence is revealed.
Elegantly designed, this collaboration shows a great respect for children’s sensibilities regarding the fine lines between fear, fun and bravery. This title should be at the top of the book pile come autumn.
(Picture book. 3-6)
Downtrodden Daisy imagines a much less restricted life for herself in amusing and ultimately hopeful ways.
She’s down the apartment stairs at the front door. There’s a letter for her on the doormat. A hectoring voice from above harangues her about doing this and not doing that. On each successive spread is a formal letter, and each letter tells readers a little more about Daisy and a lot about the strength of her imagination. Batisto Giovanni Prospero Carlotti wants her to join his circus, as her balance while washing windows enchants him. A sheik proposes marriage. Sir Hubert Tatter Tawdry-Tout admits she was accidentally switched at birth, and the queen herself will come to bring her to the palace. A group of aliens are taken with her sweet singing voice, and their letter inviting her to come to their planet and sing to them is done in pictures. Each of the letters is fulsomely illustrated with rich detail and rubbery figures; Mel Glitzstein’s invitation for Daisy to star in Wrath of the Mummy waggishly depicts an Indiana Jones–type escape with a Peter Jackson/Martin Scorsese–ish director calling the shots. In the end, clutching the still-unopened missive in her hand, she goes off without her coat or her bag or any of her mother’s vitriol.
It’s an odd and very European tale, and a very brave one. (Picture book. 7-12)
In this playful riff on Aesop’s fable, an ant’s load is made light when her spirit is lifted by the grasshopper’s music.
The ant, burdened with a sticky piece of watermelon and weighed down by the thought that her family is depending on her for food, is so tired she can barely take another step. Then she hears MUSIC (emphasized in boldface capital letters) made by the grasshopper and his band. In fact, those first notes leave her positively bug-eyed. Instead of chastising them for playing, the ant is moved by the tune. Gallantly, the band takes to the road in order to march her back to her colony. In an additional, delicious twist highlighting their symbiotic relationship, the ant invites them into her home, where they party—a celebration highlighted in a foldout spread that works both front and back. The text has a distinctly jazzy drawl that begs to be read aloud. The collage art is bursting with pleasingly chaotic, Mardi Gras colors, especially the two spreads depicting ant’s first views of the buggy band. The pacing is masterful, and the inclusion of the foldout page provides a wonderful place to pause and, as the text exhorts, “[l]et the good times roll!”
The Emberleys offer such a joyful, imaginative interpretation of the classic that even the youngest will understand the unstated message to “eat, drink and be merry.” (Picture book. 4-8)
Banks and Hallensleben are together again (What's Coming for Christmas? 2009, etc.) with a heartwarming tale that compares one bear’s hibernation to one little boy’s bedtime-reading rituals.
With a dreamlike quality appropriate to a nightly bedtime story, this captures the feel of falling asleep. Cuddled up against his mama, the boy turns the pages, comments on the colors, asks questions and talks to the bear that is the subject of the book. He hushes the bear, touches his paw, notices the changes in the bear’s environment and identifies with the sleeping bear. Hallensleben’s paintings, filled with thick brush strokes, abstract backdrops and cold colors for the outside scenes and rich oranges and reds for the mama and son, lull readers along with the boy into that relaxed time between waking and sleeping. “The boy held the book. He listened to the sound the pages made when he turned them back and forth.” And, just as the bear’s springtime world is turning green and yellow, the little boy slips into the blue world of his own short, one-night hibernation.
A tribute to the power of books to connect and the love that parents everywhere show when they share books with children at the end of the day, this picture book is simply spectacular.
(Picture book. 3-7)
Uma’s struggle with the meaning of infinity offers readers a playful, gorgeous introduction to the mathematical concept.
When little Uma gazes at the vast night sky and wonders how many stars are there, she asks, “How could I even think about something as big as infinity?” When friends, her grandmother, the school cook and the music teacher offer creative ways of describing infinity, Uma ends up feeling rather overwhelmed. She then realizes that her pondering has made her forget about the new red shoes she’d been so excited about right before her stargazing musings began. Worse yet—no one had noticed her fancy new footwear that day! But after school, Grandma tells her “Uma, I meant to tell you this morning—those are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen!” and in a joyous spread, Uma glories, “…my love for her was as big as infinity.” Then Uma and her grandmother go outside to look at the sky, and “[s]nuggled up to Grandma, the sky didn’t seem so huge and cold anymore. Now it was more like a sparkly blanket, covering us both.” While Hosford’s text deftly evokes the child’s voice, Swiatkowska’s expressive, lush illustrations steal the show, providing infinite opportunities for readers to examine each and every spread.
A stellar artistic vision of the infinite power of intergenerational love.
(Picture book. 5-8)
Readers check in on Mr. Wolf every hour of his birthday, but it seems like the poor guy just can’t catch a break on his special day.
Four-and-twenty blackbirds wake him up (at 7 a.m.), asking him the titular question. His grumpy answer? “It’s time for blackbird pie.” His porcine neighbors keep him from a snooze by slamming their doors on their way to work (“time for bacon sandwiches”). And the day continues in this vein: The letter carrier (a girl in a red hood) skips his house, his cupboard is bare, it rains on the way to the store, and every hour, fairy-tale and nursery-rhyme characters check in on Mr.Wolf, asking him for the time. But readers won’t need to ask for the time. A marvelous mix of timepieces is scattered throughout the text and includes analog and digital clocks of all sorts: a sundial, a pocket watch, a wristwatch and a cuckoo clock, among others. By the time the hapless birthday boy is awoken from his nap by a fiddle-playing cat, observant readers will have guessed the “surprise” ending. But the time-telling practice and literary references aren’t even the best treasure here. Gliori’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are both detailed and delicately executed, charming and wowing at the same time.
There is much to enjoy here, and the illustrations and allusions beg for repeat readings.
(Picture book. 4-8)
Klassen combines spare text and art to deliver no small measure of laughs in another darkly comic haberdashery whodunit.
While not a sequel to I Want My Hat Back (2011), the story does include a hat, a thief (a little fish) and a wronged party (a big fish). This time, first-person narration follows the thief, whose ego far outstrips his size as he underestimates the big fish’s tracking abilities. Meanwhile, much of the art follows the big fish on his hunt, creating a pleasing counterpoint with the text. For example, a page reading “…he probably won’t notice that it’s gone” shows not the thieving piscine narrator but the big fish looking up toward the top of his own bare head; he clearly has noticed that his hat is gone, and the chase is on! Sublime book design exploits the landscape format, with dogged movement from left to right across the double-page spreads. This culminates in a page reading “I knew I was going to make it,” as the little fish disappears on the recto into plants evocative of Leo Lionni’s setting in Swimmy (1963), while a narrow-eyed big fish enters the verso. The little fish is clearly doomed—a fact coyly confirmed by wordless page turns revealing the big fish swimming away, now from right to left, hat firmly on head.
There’s fun for all when the man from Fandango comes to call.
An unnamed and silent boy and girl paint a colorful figure that jumps right off the paper, bringing excitement, happy games and music. He cavorts and flies and dances with a bear and a bison, while a baboon plays a bassoon accompaniment. A frolicsome kangaroo and a dinosaur join in the rumpus along with the ecstatic children. The action races along at a breathless pace as words both real and created sing the rhymed tale that “bingles and bangles and bounces,” as they all “tingle and tongle and tangle.” The text winds and moves in arcs across the pages in the very aptly named Heatwave typeface. Watercolor-and-collage illustrations work with the shaped text, curving and swirling in hills and valleys. Every animal and human is joyful and fully engaged in the moment. The bison sports red high-fashion shoes, and there are bubbles and stars and all sorts of brightly hued shapes flying about, along with the magical man who dances and juggles without reference to gravity. The late Mahy's New Zealand syntax and humor are on fine display here, and young readers will wish that the Fandango man would appear more than once in 500 years.
Wonderfully exuberant and completely delightful.
(Picture book. 3-8)
This gem about canine siblings goes from peaceful routine to funny mayhem to erroneous bereavement—and relief.
Littermates Boot and Shoe are small, white dogs with black tails and fur flopping over their eyes. Only their leg coloring differs, giving rise to their names. Boot spends daytime on the back porch, Shoe the front, a habit “perfect for both of them”; they share supper bowl, dog bed and a specific tree for peeing on. Gouache and black pencil create warm vignettes and sturdy spreads with a vibe both lively and mellow. Creamy, speckled paper matches organic, hand-lettered text. One day, a chattering squirrel gets “all up in [their] business,” and the dogs go berserk. To symbolize two dogs and one squirrel in a mad dash, upward of 80 squirrel figures race around the yard and over the roof with a similar number of dog figures in hot pursuit. Post-chase, exhausted, each dog finds himself on the wrong porch. Tragically in sync, they circle the house simultaneously to find each other, preventing their own success. Each progresses from patience—hunger, rain, waiting overnight—to true grief, sure the other’s gone. Dog posture, value and composition create poignant pangs—and stunned joy as the dogs reunite when (and where) nature calls. Frazee conveys painful and soothing depth with ease, which is especially impressive given that Boot and Shoe’s eyes can't be seen.
Read unhurried, in a lap, again and again.
(Picture book. 4-7)
The stages and script preceding this child’s passage into dreamland are so appealing they will surely inspire imitation.
When the protagonist announces that she is not sleepy, her wise parents counter that they are not requiring sleep, only pajama-wearing, face-washing and teeth-brushing. She then feels so good that “she loved / …stretching her toes / down under the crisp sheets, / lying as still as an otter / floating in a stream.” Logue’s words lull and caress as parents and child converse about how and where animals sleep. (Many appeared on earlier pages as toys.) Alone, the youngster replays each scene, inserting herself; the cozy images help her relax. Zagarenski’s exquisite compositions are rendered digitally and in mixed-media on wood, offering much to ponder. The paintings are luminous, from the child’s starry pajamas to the glowing whale supporting her sleep journey. Transparent layers, blending patterns, complex textures and wheeled objects add to the sense of gentle movement. The tiger, both the beloved cloth version and the real deal, is featured prominently; it is the child who contributes this example, narrating the connection between strength and rest. When sleep arrives, the stuffed animal is cradled in her arms; she leans against the jungle beast, and he clings to her doll.
This deeply satisfying story offers what all children crave when letting go—security and a trusted companion.
(Picture book. 3-6)
Marsalis and Rogers, who collaborated on the scintillating Jazz ABZ (2005), reunite for this sonic celebration for the younger crowd.
Marsalis contributes 10 three-line verses that crackle with invented sound words. Most verses link a couple of everyday sounds with one made by a musical instrument: “Big trucks on the highway RRRRUMBLE. / Hunger makes my tummy GRrruMBle. / The big bass drum goes “Bum! Brrrum! BRRRUMBLE!!!!” Rogers’ digitally colored ink drawings depict a New Orleans setting. The narrator, an African-American boy in white high-tops, exudes curiosity and cool (and plays trumpet). Those onomatopoeic words, elegantly red-dressed in Caslon 540 Italic, will challenge readers and delight listeners. Marsalis’ choices seem just right: “Chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick—buttering my toast.” An upright bass emits “Doom, Doom, Doom, Blap! Doom, Doom, Slap!” Rogers’ hip, playfully cartoonish spreads pop with clever visual allusions to jazz tunes and players. Hand-lettered lyrics to a popular funeral song blow out of a church band’s instruments; indeed, the tuba’s bell forms the “O” for “O[h] didn’t he ramble.” An ambulance’s side reads “U.M.M.G. Ambulance,” a brilliant reference to the Billy Strayhorn tune whose titular acronym means “Upper Manhattan Medical Group.” The final spread rounds up a cacophony of sounds, from “Squeak” and “Schuk-chuk” to “BAP!”
Loud and clear, the creators show how tuning into everyday sounds can inspire music. Clap, clap, CLAP! (Picture Book. 3-7)
Art and design take center stage in this carefully crafted, elegant, artisanal book.
This stunning autobiographical art book recounts self-taught artist Tejubehan’s journey from an impoverished childhood in rural India, through her family’s efforts to improve their lot in a tent city in Mumbai, and into her adulthood, when she lived as a singer and artist with her husband. The direct, unadorned text has an immediacy that reveals its roots as an orally narrated life story, which was then recorded in Tamil and translated into English. Hand–screen-printed illustrations comprised of intricate linework and patterns of dots underscore elements of the text without being strictly tied to delivering straightforward narrative. In this way, the book emerges more as an illustrated memoir than it does a traditional picture book with interdependent art and text. As a physical artifact, it draws attention to its creation with stiff pages and fragrant, tactile inks. The illustrations themselves are black and white, while the text is set in a sans-serif typeface in colors that change subtly from spread to spread.
A unique offering that presents readers with arresting artwork and a compelling life story.
(Art book. 8-14)
A delightful tale about a boy who is different and his discovery of a kindred spirit, gracefully written to celebrate dreamers and readers—and those who need not change to find friends.
Oliver lives happily in his imagination; puppets and toys are his constant companions. Together, they brave deserts by cardboard box, cross treacherous couch bridges and dig to distant lands. Then, one day Oliver begins to feel different. A lost ball takes him through a new gate, where, against a pink sky, he meets Olivia. “It was the beginning of the best adventure he’d ever had.” It doesn’t matter that Oliver is different, because “Olivia [is] a bit different too.” Like artists such as Lane Smith or Tim Burton, Sif has a distinctive style, a particular way of expressing the world that feels like a natural expression of herself. Her pencil drawings are done in a muted, cool-color palette. With Oliver’s journey, she takes readers from an urban environment filled with pencil marks and gray images to a sparser, outdoor environment in which her marks are looser and the colors quietly bloom.
A lovely gift—aglow with warmth and welcome—for those who feel, or have ever felt, different.
(Picture book. 4-8)
Hale turns her educated eye to modern and contemporary architecture and produces a book that is at once groundbreaking, child-friendly and marvelously inclusive.
With a celebratory tone, Hale cleverly structures this unusual picture book by matching a series of lively concrete poems and vignettes of young children at play (creating simple structures of all types) with carefully selected photos of complementary, emblematic 20th- and 21st-century structures. Mud pies are compared to Hassan Fathy’s all-earthen New Gourna Village (Luxor, Egypt); beachfront sand castles to Antoni Gaudí’s soaring La Sagrada Família Basilica (Barcelona, Spain); busy LEGO® projects with Moshe Safdie’s modular Habitat 67 housing (Montréal, Québec); cardboard-tube models to Shigeru Ban’s amazing Paper Tube School (Sichuan Provence, China); tongue-depressor/Popsicle-stick and white-glue crafts with the vertical slats of David Adjaye’s Sclera Pavilion (London, England); and the “soft forms / tumble making / ever-changing / caverns, secret spaces” of pillow forts with Frank Gehry’s curvilinear Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain). Well-organized and accessible backmatter contains the photo, name and location of each of the 15 highlighted structures, a brief biography of and a telling quote from each structure’s architect, and Hale’s own portrait of each designer.
This extraordinary new picture book masterfully tackles the complex task of contextualizing seemingly complex architectural concepts within a child’s own world of play.
(Informational picture book/poetry. 2-8)
The clothes make the dog in this nearly wordless, tongue-in-cheek homage to fashion and the power of creativity.
Felt artist and first-time author Gordon turns her talents to painting in this hilarious tale of dogs, fashion, the creative impulse and entrepreneurship. Big dog Archie, an Irish terrier or perhaps an Airedale, and his little cairn terrier live a quiet life until Aunt Betty sends a sewing machine in the mail. Soon, Archie’s nimble paws create a fetching olive coat for his pup, and every dog in town wants an outfit for its pet. They even hire Archie to design matching dresses and coats for both owner-dogs and companion-dogs. Droll, black-outlined watercolors pop from the creamy, uncluttered pages. Archie’s own dog plays the role of supporter, cheerleader, delivery boy and quality controller. Young readers will love following the fabric through manufacture to its eventual wearer, and Project Runway types will appreciate Archie’s limitless energy and dedication to finding just the right outfit for each customer. Anglophiles in the know will recognize the final phone customer, a corgi wearing a crown with a pet corgi in need of a new outfit. What will happen if Aunt Betty sends another gift—say, a table saw?
A tail-wagging delight for budding Coco Chanels everywhere.
(Picture book. 3-8)
A community caught under the pall of a weeklong cold snap comes together in this cozy, old-fashioned story that is high on both charm and appeal.
The Toby Mills cold snap begins innocently enough on a Friday, with snow angels, sledding and an icicle on the nose of the statue of the town founder. On Saturday, soup and stew are popular menu items at the diner, and the icicle is chin-length. On Sunday, the heavily clothed townspeople shiver through church services. Wednesday is so cold that the mayor wears his robe and pink bunny slippers…at work. By Friday, the statue’s icicle reaches the ground, along with everyone’s patience. But the mayor’s wife has just the solution—a warm winter surprise that brings out the best in everyone and makes them forget the cold. The quaint details in Spinelli’s text that are brought to life in Priceman’s gouache illustrations make this book stand out, giving it the air of an old-fashioned seek-and-find. “Franky Tornetta stopped whining about his itchy woolen socks and put on three pairs,” and there he is in the picture, green socks layered over red and yellow. Boldly colored vignettes and spreads that depict the small-town setting and round-headed, pink-cheeked characters enhance the retro feel of the book.
This may not be the most exciting or enthralling winter tale, but it is perfect for sharing during readers’ own cold snaps—calming, reassuring, charming.
(Picture book. 4-8)
In attuned counterpoint, Golio and Gutierrez present a portrait of John Coltrane’s lifelong quest to discover and share his spiritual truth through music.
Beginning with John’s 12th year, Golio traces his religious roots: Grandfather Blair, a Methodist minister, headed a household that included John’s parents, aunt and cousin. Within two years, his grandparents, father and uncle died, splintering the family. In one bright spot, a pastor began a community band, leading to a borrowed sax and lessons for John. His musical gift bloomed amid loneliness and setbacks. Touring’s pressures led to alcohol and drug dependence. Golio continuously weaves such biographical details into the tapestry of spiritual longing that characterized Coltrane’s life. “He began falling asleep onstage. Or showing up late, only to be fired. Part of him stood in the darkness, while another part was searching for the light.” Gutierrez’s full-bleed acrylic paintings pulse with emotional intensity and iconic religious images; Coltrane is often shown with a halo or wings. Expressionist color channels Coltrane’s psychic life: His hobby-filled childhood is sweet potato pie–sunny; a scene of drug withdrawal is moonlit black. Portraits of jazz influences—Dizzy, Duke, Bird—appear throughout. Coltrane’s spiritual apex, a vision coinciding, Golio notes, with the development of his masterwork, A Love Supreme, is depicted with John meditating, Buddha-like against glowing pink.
Lyrically narrated, resplendently illustrated, and deeply respectful of both subject and audience.
(afterword, author’s and artist’s notes, bibliography, discography)
(Picture book/biography. 8-12)
Little Chick was just an egg when Mommy cat, who can't have kittens of her own, adopted him from a hen with too many chicks to feed. After he hatches, he thinks he is a cat like everyone around him. Mommy lets him know his “real” mother was a hen and promises to teach Chick everything he needs to know. Some of the neighborhood cats are a little too interested in Chick, but Mommy keeps him safe. When the other cats stare, Mommy tells him it’s because their family is different; Chick thinks being like everyone else would be boring. When he goes to bird school, his classmates ask many questions, like is it true his Mommy can't fly? And does she really have a long tail? Chick has all the answers thanks to his Mommy cat. He thinks he has the best family in the world! Spanish poet and author Zafrilla and Argentine illustrator Hilb have crafted an excellent piece of bibliotherapy for adopted children. The bright, colored-pencil illustrations of pudgy chicks and cats add exuberance to the simply and wryly told tale.
Works equally well at promoting acceptance of differences and as a general read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)
Spring fever strikes even the rodents. And who knows where the heart leads?
"Spring is such a funny thing—it wakes up all the plants / And makes our furry woodland friends go cuckoo for romance." Indeed. One day, when Miss Mousie is shopping at the mole's deli, her heart stops at the sight of rakish Matt LaBatt (the water rat), who looks suave (and très Français) in striped shirt and kerchief. She can barely speak...or squeak. "Her little legs went weak." When she drops her hankie to catch his attention, Matt calls her fat, which brings tears to her eyes and sends her to bed for a day. What brings her out of sadness is an anonymous invitation to dinner; of course she knows just who it is! She dresses to the nines, and all the animals applaud her as she walks excitedly to her date. But the would-be suitor is not Matt the water rat; it's the kind mole who owns the deli. He tries all manner of slick techniques to woo her, and they fall comically flat. But in the end, he pledges to be himself if she will do the same. Her reply? "Oui-oui." Beiser's sprightly text has warmth, heart and a valuable lesson. Berman's pictures, in watercolor and gouache on rag, suggest Beatrix Potter, ably matching the crisp elegance of the story.