Reading through Nemo

February may be a short month, but it’s full of celebrations, and our selections aim to recognize those themes through vibrant illustrations, witty stories, and tales of strength and valor. No books about blizzards though – we’ve set our sights squarely on spring. 

“The Black Rabbit,” by Phillipa Leathers; Candlewick Press, $12.99, 40 pages ages 3-5.

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In this debut picture book by author-illustrator Philippa Leathers, an endearing white rabbit is perplexed by the looming presence of a fearsome black rabbit.  Over the hills and through the river runs this plucky little bunny, hoping to lose his unwelcome visitor. Eventually our fluffy hero manages to outmaneuver the bothersome, unresponsive creature, only to be visited by a more sinister threat to his existence.  This tale is adventurous and at one point, slightly upsetting (towards the climax it appears the rabbit is in jeopardy of becoming lunch). It bounds to life through Leathers’ bright watercolor and ink illustrations.  Rabbit’s large eyes and cherry-red cheeks evoke a beloved stuffed animal in this tale of shadows, friends and foes.  Young readers will delight in knowing that the Black Rabbit is not what Rabbit believes it to be, and will relish discovering if Rabbit actually outwits his shadow.

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THE BLACK RABBIT. Copyright © 2013 by Philippa Leathers. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.


The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart,” by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton; Little, Brown and Company, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 4-6.

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The bestselling mother-daughter duo of Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton are back with another exciting Gerry adventure. This time Gerry celebrates Valentine’s Day in a very special way, one that will no doubt captivate readers both young and old. The charming tiara-wearing heroine has spent the weeks leading up to the holiday personalizing cards for her friends and family, but a last-minute mix-up threatens to put her celebration in jeopardy.  Gerry leaps off the page in bright and cheerful ink and color pencil illustrations by critically acclaimed Paris-based illustrator Christine Davenier. 


“Courage Has No Color, The Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers,” by Tayna Lee Stone, $24.99, 147 pages, ages 10 and up.

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The author of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream spent seven years painstakingly exploring this unfamiliar account of the first Black paratroopers in America.  Her dedication is evident through these incredible stories that make this book a must-have for any World War II aficionado. The narrative explores segregation within the military, then and illustrates the creation and implementation of the 555th Parachute Infantry Division, nicknamed the Triple Nickels Unit. No detail is too small for Stone, who explains the origin of that nickname. It comes from the 92nd Infantry Division, an African-American unit dating back to the Civil War and also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Many of the paratroopers originated with the 92nd and took up the name “Triple Nickles”  since, at that time, nickels still bore an image of a buffalo.  More such stories – plus many previously unpublished photographs of black units – document and honor those men whose contribution went largely unrecognized until now.

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COURAGE HAS NO COLORText copyright © 2013 by Tanya Lee Stone. Photos Courtesy of the 82nd Airborne Division Museum, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and © Bettmann/Corbis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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