Nicholas Basbanes in his home office. North Grafton resident Nicholas Basbanes is a bibliomaniac — someone with a deep love of collecting books.
Dojo Surprise, by Chris Tougas; Owl Books, $16.95, 32 pages, ages 3-6.
The ninja master thinks he’s all alone at Dojo Daycare. After all, it’s early in the morning, and his charges haven’t arrived yet. But whither the strange noises, shadows, and–is that dragon drool on the floor? While Master wrestles with his daybreak demons, six little ninja boys and girls sneak into the complex to arrange a birthday surprise for their kindly yet befuddled teacher. This charming offering by award-winning Canadian author-illustrator Chris Tougas is the third in his Ninja series, though Dojo Surprise certainly stands on its own without any prior introduction. Written in bouncy rhyming couplets, young readers will enjoy knowing about the birthday secret before Master is, and the text offers opportunities for active reading participation. Tougas’ digital renderings of a slumbering, semi-conscious ninja master and his delightfully enthusiastic students are bright, engaging, and full of movement. Little ninjas will do roundhouse kicks for the opportunity to read this book.
Pug Meets Pig, by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Joyce Wan; Beach Lane Books, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 0-5.
Debut picture book author Sue Lowell Gallion has struck a sweet note in this story about accepting and even embracing new (and unwanted) arrivals. Here, Pug is king of his castle; everything he could possibly want is at his beck and call–ample food, large green lawn, and a comfy place to lay his head. One day, Pig arrives, dolled up in a green frock complete with a Peter Pan collar, and the porcine intruder proceeds to interrupt Pug’s perfect routine, driving the poor creature bonkers. Very young readers will delight at wondering whether this unlikely pair can ever kiss and make up, and the story is a fun examination of how to deal with change. Pug Meets Pig would make a brilliant read-aloud for soon-to-be older siblings. Joyce Wan’s (You Are My Cupcake; We Belong Together) cute, chubby illustrations of the critters subtly reveal the similarities between them.