Fall into Good Books

For many of us, October heralds a change in temperature and the arrival of Halloween. Below are two selections that celebrate this distinctive season.

Anne Sibley O’Brien invokes magical incantations to toast autumn in Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall! Shazam! A gust of wind encourages youngsters to pull a leaf-filled flap to find a forest carpet of foliage, while other rites of the season–picking apples, donning heavier clothes, scanning the skies for migrating flocks–are enchanting when infused with the youthful sense of wonderment that permeates the book. Susan Gal’s mixed-media illustrations of chubby-cheeked chipmunks and cherubic children reveling in the natural world are bathed in tones of gold, orange, and russet. Warm and inviting, this charming tale will put a spell on you. (Abrams Appleseed; $12.95, 24 pages, ages 2-5)

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Meanwhile, for those of you who eagerly await the arrival of Halloween might enjoy Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil by Jen Darcy (Hyperion; $40.00, 192 pages, all ages). This update on the 1993 publication by Frank Thomas celebrates Disney’s darkest characters, from Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmations to Tangled’s Mother Gothel to the duplicitous Hans of Frozen. Sheathed in a dust-jacket highlighting a blood-red illustration of the Evil Queen, this coffee-table book includes concept art, photographs,and movie stills, while the text explains the origins of evildoers and their influence on popular culture. Organized thematically, those moviegoers who find themselves rooting for the bad guys will happily revel in all this book has to offer. 

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Look at what came in the mail last week! It’s The Thank You Book, where Gerald and Piggie thank everyone and everything for taking part in their adventures. A fitting end to a stellar series.

Can’t get enough Mo? Check out this fine story on the three-time Caldecott Honor winner’s retrospective at the New York Historical Society:

The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems; Hyperion Books for Young Readers, $9.99, 64 pages, ages 5-8. Available May 3.

Home Sweet Home

For a pleasant mid-winter mix, we offer two books in the spirit of warmth and love.

Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins; Hyperion Books, $17.99, 48 pages, ages 4-8.

Bruce
is a solitary type of bear–downright grumpy, in fact. His single joy is cooking eggs. Bruce scours the forest for his hard-shelled treats, harvesting them for
complicated recipes he finds on the internet. (Naturally, there’s WIFI
in his den.) One day, a clutch of locally-sourced goose eggs hatches,
and Bruce has to put aside his own concerns in order
to raise the baby chicks. Alongside plenty of edgy adult humor to
keep parent and child entertained, Higgins offers a droll examination of interspecies
families and unconditional love.  

Home, by Carson Ellis; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 1-4.

Fans of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead and cover art for the band The Decemberists will quickly recognize the work of Carson Ellis in her debut solo picture book. Here, Ellis employs gouache and ink to showcase all the different fanciful places that may be called home. Whether it’s a Norse god at Valhalla, a Keynan blacksmith at his abode, or an old lady and her shoe, each homebody is united by the fact that their dwellings all provide warmth and protection. (Keep an eye out for Ellis herself, hard at work in her studio.) Whimsical and touching, this is a tender reminder that no matter what you call it, home is where the heart is.