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.

Help Comes in All Sizes

Welcome to our newest reviewer, Abigail Constance Richter, a New York third grader excited to share great new children’s books with you. This first review was inspired by the brave and selfless hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida, reminding us that anyone can lend a helping hand.

Bulldozer Helps Out, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-6.

In Bulldozer Helps Out, Bulldozer wants to help the rest of the construction team, but the other machines say he is not big enough, strong enough, or tough enough. Soon, they feel bad and give Bulldozer an “easy” task. The full-page pictures in the book are big, bold, and colorful, and make the book a good choice for preschoolers and kids in kindergarten who love construction and want to be part of the team.

(Children’s) BookNotes, April 6, 2016

Taxidermy and Trump make the news this week in the world of children’s books.

The Bruce Museum’s latest exhibit is wild about animals and art: https://literarykids.tumblr.com/tagged/Bruce-Museum

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What do you do when you spot a Trump in the wild? The Donald gets the picture-book treatment, just in time for the Republican National Convention:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/69796-a-child-s-first-book-of-trump-due-from-s-s.html

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 Under the Sea

“Octopus’s Garden,” by Ringo Starr, illustrations by Ben Cort; Aladdin Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 1-6.

Beatles fans have had much to celebrate recently – February marked the fiftieth anniversary of the group’s stateside arrival at Idlewild (JFK) Airport, heralding a massive sea change in pop music.  A large piece of Ed Sullivan’s stage where the Fab Four signed their names is heading to a New York City auction, where experts estimate it could fetch anywhere between $800,000 and one million dollars.

And Ringo Starr is as busy as ever – in addition to planning a tour this summer and recording new music, he recently authored a children’s book.   The drummer’s 1969 hit “Octopus’s Garden” is perfect for young audiences, and it’s surprising that in the song’s forty-six years of existence, this is the first time it has been adapted into book form.

The original lyrics swim along to Ben Cort’s playful and cheery illustrations.  A smiling, bright orange cephalopod welcomes a group of adventurous children into his fanciful submarinal plot filled with dancing starfish, sticky sea cucumbers and other playful ocean creatures.  Children will adore the story, and parents of all ages will find themselves unconsciously humming the happy tune.

Perhaps the highlight of this publication is the accompanying audio disk, which features Ringo on four separate tracks. He introduces himself to a new generation of readers, sings a fresh recording of the song (which sounds a lot like the original,) reads the book aloud, and even offers an instrumental version of “Octopus’s Garden” for children to sing along, karaoke-style.  What a wonderful way to spend a day. 

Octopus’s Garden

Octopus’s Garden

Sweet summer reading

As the heat of July gives way to August, what better way to fill in that sweet down time between lounging at the beach and an evening chasing fireflies than with a great book.  Below is a quick run-down of a few of the best titles available right now. 

Joe and Sparky go to School, by Jaimie Michalack, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz; Candlewick Press, $15.99, 48 pages, ages 5-7. 

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The kids may have just finished classes and want nothing to do with school, but this caper involving Joe the giraffe and Sparky the turtle will delight kindergarden-age readers.  Michalak’s third book in this award-winning series sets the spunky duo loose on a class full of children and a vision-impaired teacher. 

Good Night, Sleep Tight, by Mem Fox, illustrations by Judy Horacek; Scholastic Press, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 3-5.

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Acclaimed Australian children’s book author Mem Fox and fellow Aussie Judy Horacek have another hit for young readers. The duo, who created the outstanding Where is the Green Sheep? share a story of two tireless youngsters and their heroic babysitter. Skinny Doug attempts to lull his charges to sleep by reciting seven nursery rhymes, each to the delight of the little Bonnie and Ben. This book will encourage memorization skills in early readers and likely be requested frequently as a read-aloud.  

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett; Simon & Schuster, $15.99, 40 pages, all ages. 

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This wordless book is an ode to a boy who devises a unique way to retrieve his toy airplane that he stranded on a rooftop. The sepia-toned pencil and watercolor drawings by veteran cartoonist Mark Pett illustrate a timeless and charming tale of patience and ingenuity while sharing the magic of aviation and imagination.