Children’s Books Holiday Round-Up

Here’s a few of our favorite new books to give to your loved ones this holiday season:

The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith, Folio Society; $59.95, 208 pages, all ages.

Smith’s 1957 classic children’s story gets the Folio treatment in this lavish update, complete with a black and white spotted slipcover. Illustrated by award-winning Sara Ogilvie and introduced by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, share this special edition with someone with a soft spot for canine capers. NOTE: Order by December 14th to ensure Christmas delivery.

Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zacharia OHora, Little, Brown & Company; $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-6.

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While sailing in freezing waters, First Mate Foxy reads that lemmings don’t jump off cliffs, only to finding his furry shipmates doing exactly that. “Guess they didn’t read the book,” he muses. As they keep leaping into the icy drink, Foxy takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of these jumping lemmings. Dyckman’s on-point humor is perfectly matched by OHora’s retro-inspired artwork. A warm and funny look at compassion and patience that’s perfect for all ages.

The Little Reindeer, by Nicola Killen, Simon & Schuster; $15.99, 32 pages, ages 2-5.

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Just as Ollie snuggles under the covers on Christmas Eve, she’s jolted awake by the sounds of jingle bells. Away she slides on her sleigh into the snowy night, where she meets a reindeer who sweeps her up on a magical journey. The black and white palette, punctuated by pops of red and metallic silver ink, makes for a most enchanting tale about the magic of the season.

Red Again, by Barbara Lehman, HMH Book for Young Readers; $16.99, 32 pages, ages 3-7. 

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A boy discovers a red book on the side of the road. Inside it is another book where another child finds a similar book, and two worlds collide in this wordless examination of loneliness, adventure, and the never ending pleasures of storytelling. Lehman’s sequel to her 2005 Caldecott Honor winning The Red Book is sure to delight fans both old and new.

The Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Candlewick Press; $17.99, 336 pages, ages 8-11.

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A family of mice live in Saint Petersbourg’s famous Mariinsky theater, and the little critters adore the ballet performed by both the humans and their furry cohorts, but a new ballet called the Nutcracker features mice as villains, sending the mice into distress. Meanwhile, among the humans, nine-year old Irinia, the daughter of a mouse exterminator, believes the mice she’s seen hidden at the theater may be more than just four-legged pests. Can Irina help save the Mariinsky mice from certain annihilation? Will the dancing mice make it in the ultra-competitive Russian Mouse Ballet Company? Veteran YA author Kristin Kladstrup gives The Nutcracker a delightfully whimsical origin story, and Brett Helquist’s full-page illustrations provide just the right touch of magic.

 Countdown to Christmas: A Story a Day, Disney Press; $10.99, 64 pages, ages 3-8.

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This compendium of twenty-five stories includes characters from the wide world of Disney characters, from Bambi, the Aristocats, Wall-E, and the 101 Dalmatians. Serious Disney fans may notice some stories are repeats from the Five Minute Christmas Stories, but this update will surely please fans of the Mouse on your holiday list.

Jungle Fever

 A major fall trend in children’s picture books appears to be inspired by (mostly) wild animals .  Below are the leaders of the pack. Be sure to check out the accompanying image posts for great interior pictures! 

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The Pet Project Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Reprinted by permission of Atheneum Books, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

            I asked my parents for a pet.

            My parents answered “Not quite yet.”

            They told me, “Formulate a query.

            Slowly plan your bestiary.”

This pair of clever couplets is a familiar refrain regarding pet ownership and young children. Lisa Wheeler’s scientific book of verse is a paean to every child who wishes for live pet to call her own. The plucky scientist heeds her parents’ requirements and sets out to tabulate, observe and report on all the different creatures she might like to call her own. She visits a farm, the woods, and the zoo, where the undeterred investigator notes her “field observations” in witty rhymes. (“No chocolate in a chocolate Lab? I think I’m gonna cry!”) Children will adore these funny and fast-paced vignettes, especially when the little scientist concludes which pet she would like best. Some poems will be too long for younger readers, but all ages will enjoy the observations in “Guinea Pig.” Zachariah Ohora (No Fits, Nelson!) renders myriad skunks, sheep and hippos in his inimitable style, with acrylic paint on Bristol board. 


“Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife,” by Paul Thurlby; Templar Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 4-7. 

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Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife Text copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

In this latest offering from author-illustrator Paul Thurlby, readers learn all sorts of quirky animal trivia. Polar bears’ fur can turn green from overexposure to algae, a dog’s noseprint is as unique as a human fingerprint, and some monkeys suffer from male-pattern baldness.  As with his previous book Alphabet, Thurlby insures that this dust-jacket doesn’t suffer the rips and tears of careless children; unfold it to find a poster of an elephant taking a shower. The illustrations evoke a vintage, 1950’s vibe – many have an ‘accidentally on purpose’ beat-up look to them – yet all the images in this book are digital creations.  Despite a deceptively simple text to image ratio, adults as well as children will keep finding new elements in the images and the text to discover.  Wildlife would make the perfect housewarming gift to hip, sophisticated families.

 

“Jazzy in the Jungle,” by Lucy Cousins; Candlewick Press, $14.99, 32 pages, ages 2-5. 

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Jazzy in the Jungle Text copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. 

Originally published in 2002, Jazzy in the Jungle was recently reissued by Candlewick Press to delight a new generation of Maisy lovers.  The adorable mouse at the head of the eponymous franchise does not appear in this book, which may be good news for parents whose children refuse to read anything other than books featuring Maisy. Instead, author Lucy Cousins introduces Mama JoJo and Baby Jazzy, two lemurs playing hide-and-seek in the jungle. New readers will enjoy participating in this lift-the-flap adventure, although the interactivity of this book is not as engaging as the Maisy First Science popup series. Still, the flaps are easy for very young children to manipulate, and Cousins’ vivid colors and trademark illustration will keep children happily entertained. 

 

 

“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown; Little, Brown and Company, $18.00, 48 pages, ages 4-6.

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Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. Copyright © 2013 by Peter Brown. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Mr. Tiger dwells in a proper, sophisticated environment where his fellow urbanites are well-dressed and walk on two legs. One day, Mr. Tiger is seized by a primal urge to abandon his refined ways – as well as his clothes – and lets loose, much to the surprise and dismay of his friends. Mr. Tiger sets aside etiquette and reminds readers that there’s always time for fun in this fast paced romp from city to jungle. Caldecott Honor illustrator Peter Brown used India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, then composited his work digitally. Cityscapes are rendered in tones of dull sepia, while the jungle, is lush and verdant. The quick pace of the text ensures that this will be a read-aloud favorite for a long time.

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.