Abby and Jack Review Two New Children’s Books

Abigail is back, this time with her friend Jack to review two new children’s picture books. Jack tackles Zachariah Ohora’s latest fuzzy caper involving a pair of apartment-dwelling felines, while Abby looks at a canine compare-and-contrast board book by French illustrator Élo. Both are great choices for early readers to enjoy during the dog (and cat) days of summer.

Niblet & Ralph, by Zachariah Ohora, Dial Books for Young Readers; $17.99, 32 pages, ages 2-6. 

Niblet and Ralph is about two cats and their kid owners. The four of them live in the same building, but only two of them know it. A tragic mystery happens that brings the humans together–be sure to read the book to find out! The cover shows a cat wearing headphones–how adorable!


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Images reproduced with permission from Dial Books.

Contrary Dogs, by Élo, Candlewick Studio; $12.00, 20 pages, ages 0-6. 

Contrary Dogs is a funny book about all different types of dogs–opposites, really. For example, one has spots, another doesn’t. Plus, it’s a book where you can lift the tabs–who doesn’t like those? Your child will love exploring the tabs and reading all about these amazing dogs!

contrary dogs

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CONTRARY DOGS. Copyright © 2016 by Éditions Sarbacane. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

(Children’s) BookNotes, June 22, 2016

Summer is officially upon us, but that doesn’t mean we should ditch all our books completely. Here’s a round-up of headlines in the world of children’s picture books this week.

We here at Literary Features Syndicate trumpeted our summer schedule last week:

A pristine first-edition of Alice in Wonderland failed to sell at Christie’s:

 USA Gold pencils announced the winners of the USA Gold Poetry Contest.
Each child won a cash prize of $500, plus $50 in U.S.A. Gold® pencils. Teachers of the winning students also received a $150 American Express® gift card, plus $100 worth of stationery products including U.S.A. Gold® pencils, an electric pencil sharpener and erasers.

Full list of winners here: 

@penguinrandomhouse @PeterBently

Adventures on the High Seas of Make-Believe

Captain Jack and the Pirates, by Peter Bently, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury; Dial Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 2-5.

Masters of nursery-school storytelling Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury have teamed up to create this charming pirate tale set on the high seas of childhood imagination. Jack, Zack, and Caspar (who first appeared in King Jack and the Dragon) are at the beach, building a sandy galleon ready to ferry the boys on a swashbuckling adventure involving treasure and other (slightly parental-looking) pirates. Bently’s prose bobs with gentle rhymes peppered with nautical vocabulary like mainsail and bosun, while Oxenbury’s trademark illustrations bear her singular touch: here, cherubic youngsters revel in the timeless pleasures of make-believe. A delight from stem to stern, Captain Jack and the Pirates is a likely contender to join the pantheon of beloved children’s books.  


Waiting for High Tide, by Nikki McClure, Abrams Books for Young Readers, $19.95, 48 pages, ages 6-9. (April 5, 2016)

Nikki McClure is to cut paper what Robert Sabuda is to pop-ups: the master of her domain. Her latest endeavor is based on a family summer outing to the Salish Sea near Olympia, Washington, when the McClure family built a raft lovingly named the Leaky Kon-Tiki, which the author explains in her endnotes.

In Waiting for High Tide, an anxious boy combs the beach for crabs, clams, and kingfishers. As he waits for the adults to finish constructing their watercraft, the boy observes various marine animals also at work, foraging for food, building nests, and waiting for the tide to change. The child’s narrative is simple and charming, revealing his intimate understanding of this special coastal area.

McClure’s cutouts are done from single sheets of black paper and contrast beautifully against large swaths of gray-blue and pops of pink. Though time and tide wait for no man, this book is a gorgeous ode to the pleasures of anticipation and the wonders of a summer spent by the sea.

Summer Vacation!

Summer is here! Which means reviews will be few and far between for a few weeks – a lot of you probably received extensive reading lists from schools, and don’t need me to offer my thoughts at just this moment. Still, there are so many wonderful new titles appearing now, (such as Inside This Book by Barney Saltzberg and published by Abrams) and I’ll be sure to share them with you, but in a more abbreviated format. In the meantime, have a wonderful, restful break, and we’ll all regroup soon, slightly freckled perhaps, but ready to tackle the bounty of fall’s wonderful book offerings with renewed vigor. 

Books at the Beach

MARTHA’S VINEYARD (August 3-4, 2013) 

            Every other summer, authors from across the globe descend on Martha’s Vineyard for a whirlwind weekend of signings, presentations and bookish discussions. This year’s event drew writers including Pulitzer-Prize winner Tony Horwitz, notable nonfiction writer (and Smith College alumna) J. Courtney Sullivan, Tom Reiss, (another Pulitzer winner) and other literary luminaries. 

photo credit: William Lazarus

            The festival was held at two island locations this year – Saturday’s events took place at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, and tents welcomed festival-goers at the Chilmark Community Center on Sunday.   The Harbor View hosted a series of moderator-led panels where topics such as the future of journalism, gangsters, and matrimonial fiction were discussed.  All authors were available at both locations to greet fans and sign books. 

            The humidity that notoriously plagues the island during warmer months was happily absent for the weekend, and temperatures in the seventies made browing stalls and chatting with authors a pleasant experience.