Best New Board Books – Masha and Her Sisters, All About Spot & Big Bug Log

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A ROUNDUP OF DELIGHTFUL DIE-CUT BOARD BOOKS
Three new books your children will love!

Masha and Her SistersInterior image of Masha and Her Sisters board board from Chronicle BooksCover Image of Masha and Her Sisters by Suzy Ultman Chronicle Books
by Suzy Ultman
(Chronicle Books; $9.99, Ages 2-4)

Masha has four sisters and though they’re very different from one another, they fit together just beautifully in this treat for matryoshka doll fans. Presented in a clever 10 page, die-cut novelty book format, these colorful, folksy nesting dolls may be ubiquitous in Russia but never cease to entertain youngsters and adults. I know because I have a rather large collection of them at home from my many trips to Moscow and St. Petersburg. A great intro to Russian culture and storytelling because little ones can create their own tales about each sister represented: Natasha, Galya, Olya, Larisa, and Masha.

 

Cover image of All About Spot by Eric HillAll About Spot
by Eric Hill
Frederick Warne/Penguin BYR; $9.99, Ages 3-5)

I don’t know any child who isn’t enamored of this adorable yellow dog with brown spots. This 10 page dic-cut board board in Spot’s familiar shape, is sturdy enough to withstand countless hours of reading and is a perfect way to share the carefree joys of childhood, or puppyhood in Spot’s case. Using simple rhyme, Hill brings Spot out into the rain and sun, introduces a few of his friends all having fun and makes spending time with Spot a highlight of any little one’s day.

 

 

Sebastien Braun's Big Bug Log cover image from Nosy Crow/Candlewick PressBig Bug Log (A Bugsy Bug Adventure)
by Sebastien Braun
(Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press; $9.99, Ages 3-7)

Designed to resemble a log, this new die-cut board book is full of trails to follow, flaps to lift and lots of irresistible bug characters your kids will adore. “Bugsy Bug is going to see his grandma. She lives somewhere inside the Big Bug Log.” Now it’s your child’s turn to help Bugsy Bug choose the correct way to get there while encountering some cool places along the way including Mrs. B’s Treats, a busy restaurant, a library, a bedroom, a spider’s web and charming house on Hopper Street that Bugsy Bug’ grandma calls home. Definitely recommend picking up a copy of this and all Braun’s other board books, too!

 

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 


MADELINE BY LUDWIG BEMELMANS CELEBRATES 75 YEARS

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IN AN OLD HOUSE IN PARIS THAT WAS COVERED IN VINES …

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Madeline 75th Anniversary Edition by Ludwig Bemelmans, Penguin Young Readers, 2014.

I’m thrilled to highlight the 75th Anniversary Edition of Madeline (Penguin, $25, Ages 3-5) by Ludwig Bemelmans. This slip-cased special edition includes a pop-up spread of Paris featuring a panoramic view with the Eiffel Tower, a familiar landmark, just behind Miss Clavel and “twelve little girls in two straight lines …”

You’re familiar with Madeline, I presume – the adorable, spunky redhead with the yellow wide-brimmed hat? Have you held onto your old copies from when you were a child? Did you also save your Madeline doll or puppet? Was it memories of Madeline that made you first want to visit Paris?

As a reviewer, I was happy to receive a press kit filled with tons of fun facts about both Madeline that I’m eager to share with you.

The Top 5 Things You May Not Have Known About Madeline
(courtesy of www.Penguin.com/Madeline)

1. Madeline is not an orphan – the old house covered in vines is a boarding school!

2. Madeline is an American by birth and a citizen of the world.

3. Madeline’s last name is Fogg.

4. Madeline gets her red hair from her mother, as seen in Madeline’s Christmas.

5. Madeline’s family owns a ranch in Texas, as learned in Madeline in America.

With over 14 million books sold worldwide, it’s no wonder Madeline remains as popular today as when she first arrived on the scene. And I have a feeling this anniversary might spark an interest in some longtime Madeline fans revisiting this beloved classic series.  Penguin makes it easy. In addition to this celebratory edition, Penguin’s also published A Madeline Treasury, which features all the classic Madeline adventures in one must-have volume; and a reissue of Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline’s Creator by John Bemelmans Marciano, Ludwig Bemelmans’ grandson and author of the new Madeline titles.

And if all of this isn’t wonderful enough, an exhibit at The New York Historical Society coincides with this 75th anniversary. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA has organized Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, the first exhibit devoted to the artist in more than 50 years! Make your plans accordingly as this rare treat will be on display from July 4 – October 13, 2014 before it heads back to Amherst.

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pop-up spread from Madeline 75th Anniversary Edition by Ludwig Bemelmans, Penguin Young Readers, 2014.

Check out this link to see artist JTMorrow’s blog post that includes lots of great images and details about working on the special pop-up spread along with the art director, Denise Cronin, and paper engineer, Michael Caputo.

 

– Ronna Mandel

 


I am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer

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 Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!
Ronna Mandel reviews the biography,
I am Abraham Lincoln, by Brad Meltzer.

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I am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer with illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014.

In January, reviewer MaryAnne Locher reviewed I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer with illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos and discussed what makes a hero. Today, on our 16th president’s birthday, I thought I’d share Meltzer’s other book in the new Ordinary People Change The World series from Dial Books for Young Readers ($12.99, ages 5-8), I am Abraham Lincoln, and discuss what makes a great human being.

What is it that makes Abraham Lincoln one of the most admired, quoted and famous individuals in American history?  Clearly it’s because stories of Lincoln’s life demonstrate he was a role model, a voice for those who could not be heard. In I am Abraham Lincoln, one of the first titles published in the new Ordinary People Change the World nonfiction series, author Meltzer introduces us to the young Lincoln, a boy who early on felt strongly about right and wrong and didn’t hesitate to say so.

From a young age, Lincoln preferred reading to working on the farm. He defended the rights of animals when he saw boys behaving cruelly to a turtle and actually composed one of his first essays – “about how hurting animals is wrong.” When most kids of that era did not even attend school, Abe was determined to learn and spent time teaching himself to write. “I loved books so much, I once walked six miles … to get one.” He read every book he could get his hands on and he read everywhere he could.  It’s no surprise his love of books would prove to serve him well as he entered public life.

Presented in an engaging, cartoon-like style that sets this biography series apart from others, I am Abraham Lincoln, is not only easy to read, but fun, too! What kids will adore is seeing our 16th president as a child, interacting with other children and dealing with issues other children deal with to this very day. And though we know Lincoln as a tall, almost larger-than-life figure, looming over his fellow politicians or his foes, in the picture book he remains small throughout, and depicted by Eliopoulos most of the time wearing his signature top hat (where he often kept his important papers).

We learn that Lincoln was once bullied and what troubled him most about being bullied was that the bully, one Jack Armstrong, cheated. He didn’t beat Lincoln fair and square. This irked Lincoln more than being beaten up and when he confronted Armstrong and his cronies with this fact and proposed to fight each and every one of them, they relented. “Sometimes, the hardest fights don’t reveal a winner – but they do reveal character.” This has to be one of my favorite lines in I am Abraham Lincoln because I think it is indeed the essence of who he was and what he was all about. He was destined for great things.

Of course in school children learn about Lincoln and his role in the Civil War, keeping the South from seceding and bringing freedom to slaves, but I also learned that he lost four elections (yes, four!) before becoming president and that his Gettysburg Address, which followed “a speech that lasted nearly two hours” was only two minutes long and 271 words! I love the quotes used in the book and the B & W photographs included in the end pages. They help ground the story of this remarkable man and remind us of his enduring contribution to our nation. A hero among men. “I am Abraham Lincoln,” he says and “I will never stop fighting for what’s right.”

And coming this summer – I am Rosa Parks.


The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson

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Peter Rabbit’s Back for Christmas Thanks to Emma Thompson

cover art of The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson with illustrations by Eleanor Taylor, Frederick Warne, 2013.

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Emma Thompson with illustrations by Eleanor Taylor (Frederick Warne & Co., $20, Ages 3-5) arrives just in time for Christmas and is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher.

Mr. and Mrs McGregor, Peter Rabbit, and Benjamin Bunny appear again in this story inspired by the original tales of Beatrix Potter, but this time a new character, William, appears.

After spoiling their mothers’ attempts at holiday baking, both Benjamin and Peter are sent on errands. They run into their friend, William, a turkey who is foolish enough to believe the special food and treatment he receives from the McGregors is due to his importance. Peter, having lost his father to one of Mrs. McGregor’s pies, and being the good friend he is, decides he must warn William that he is being fattened up for the McGregor’s Christmas dinner. William blanches at the thought, but the three friends, come up with a brilliant idea that leaves the old couple eating nothing but boiled potatoes and winter cabbage on Christmas day. The Rabbit family enjoys a delicious Christmas feast and Mrs. Rabbit even bakes a special barley-cake for William, whose feathers are still too puffed up to fit in the burrow.

I almost forgot I wasn’t reading Miss Potter’s words or enjoying her illustrations, this book was so exquisitely done. Eleanor Taylor’s sprinkling of woodland animals and barnyard critters in all the right places with just the right colors, provides not only beautiful pictures, but an opportunity for story building. This book is certain to ensure a Merry Christmas for all who read it!

If you’re an Emma Thompson fan, click here to read our previous review of her first Peter Rabbit picture book, The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit.


Make Room Powerpuff Girls, The Ultra Violets & Giveaway Are Here!

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The Ultra Violets by Sophie Bell (Penguin Books for Young Readers, $12.99, Ages 8 and up) is reviewed today by Hilary Taber of Flintridge Bookstore (we know it’s not a Friday, but we’re featuring Flintridge Bookstore anyway!) Also, for a chance to win a copy the book along with an Ultra Violets T-shirt, click here. For entry rules, click here. Giveaway ends midnight PST on Friday, May 10, 2013. Remember to write Ultra Violets in subject and good luck!

9781595146038H

Girl superhero books are few and far between. Yes, of course, we all will always have Wonder Woman. However, I was hard pressed to think of a book whose main character was a little girl who was a superhero. Now, that problem is solved thanks to Sophie Bell’s book The Ultra Violets. Reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls, this book will provide a delightful free read. Printed in violet ink (a very nice touch) the book chronicles the adventures and exploits of Iris, Cheri, Scarlet, and Opaline. These girls have been best friends since forever (as one of the characters might say), but one slumber party changed their collective lives forever. A science experiment went awry, and some mysterious purple goo showered on all four girls! This changed them into the superhero team known as The Ultra Violets.

Each girl has a very separate personality, and distinct superpower. One of them even ends up with violet hair! As the cover’s tag line says, “The Fuchsia Is Now!” and clearly now is the time for some of the fans of The Dork Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid to have a superhero adventure. The, “Hey, you! Yeah! I’m talkin’ to you kid!” style of narration, tongue-in-cheek puns, and sassitude will appeal to readers who like a more informal read. In The Ultra Violets there is imagination, there are acts of courage, purple, and glitter references galore, which is pretty much the point of this book.  Like the first bite of grape bubblegum, this book is a sweet treat, and would make a great summer read. It’s like a vacation to a world beyond the usual and ordinary. Look for the next book in the series Ultra Violets #2: Power to the Purple! in early August, 2013.

Find THE ULTRA VIOLETS computer game on www.missoandfriends.com.

HilaryTaberPlease visit the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse today to pick up your copy of this book, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events. And when you stop by, keep a lookout for Hilary peeking out from behind a novel.


A Year’s Worth of Top Picks for Book Gifts

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It’s a Most Wonderful Time To Give Books as Gifts

Reviewer Ronna Mandel shares her selection of favorite books from 2012 to help make filling those stockings less stressful. There are really tons more I’d love to mention, so if  you are hankering to expand your list, just click here now to browse through the covers on our Pinterest page for more ideas.

  • 9780399256653_large_The_InsomniacsMost Original and Pro Mom Picture Book

The Insomniacs (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 3-5)
by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts.

  • Best Science Book

What Color Is My World?:
The Lost History of African American Inventors,
($17.99, Candlewick, ages 8 and up) by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
co-written with Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford.

  • Best Board Books to Teach Colors and Opposites

9781419701801PANTONE: Colors ($9.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 1 and up).

Hippopposites ($14.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 2 and up) written and illustrated by Janik Coat.

  • Most Clever Follow-up Book

This Is Not My Hat ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 4 and up)
written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

  • Most Uplifting Picture Book

Because Amelia Smiled ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 3-7) by David Ezra Stein.

  • Favorite Family Cookbook

9780761166030The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket  ($16.95, Workman Publishing) by Katie Workman with photographs by Todd Coleman.

  • Best Middle Grade Novels

LIAR & SPY ($17.99, Random House, ages 9-12) by Rebecca Stead.

Wonder ($15.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 8-12) by R.J. Palacio.

  • Best Young Adult (YA) Novel

shadesofgray_bookBetween Shades of Gray ($8.99, Penguin paperback; ages 12 and up) by Ruta Sepetys.

  • Best Silly Books for Preschoolers

image.phpIcky, Sticky Monster: A Super Yucky Pop-up Book  ($12.99, Nosy Crow, ages 3 and up) by Jo Lodge.

Poopendous!: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop ($16.99, Blue Apple Books, Ages 4 and up)  by Artie Bennett.

  • Best Classics

51i9SMWImyL._SL160_BabyLit board book series including Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer and  A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer both by Jennifer Adams with illustrations by Alison Oliver ($9.99, Gibbs Smith, ages 1 and up).

  • Favorite Biographies

A Boy Called Dickens $17.99, Schwartz & Wade, ages 4-8) by Deborah Hopkinson with illustrations by John Hendrix.

Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers, ages 5 and up) by  Tina Nichols Coury with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport.

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Roses and Noses, Oh How They Smell

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Dangerously Ever After ($16.99, Dial Books, Ages 5 and up) by Dashka Slater is not your every day fairy tale. Sure there’s a prince, princess, a castle and a forest. But other than that, you’ve never heard this plot before. Princess Amanita is not your quintessential prissy princess, rather she mostly likes things that are dangerous – a pet scorpion, broken glass and a bicycle without brakes, to name a few.

One day, Prince Florian from a neighboring castle stops by and brings her roses. The princess loves the long, painful thorns that poke through her skin so much that she puts the roses in a vase with the stems sticking up and the flowers facing down. She asks the prince to please give her some seeds so she can grow more prickly roses. He brings her some seeds, but instead of roses, she finds the seeds have sprouted a bunch of sniffling, sneezing noses. (This part of the book gave me a huge chuckle as I am likely the most allergic person on the planet; one who sneezes throughout the day, every day of every year.) Well Princess Amanita is so disappointed with the useless noses that she sets out on an adventure to return them to the prince. But what she discovers is that these noses may be able to serve a useful purpose.

This book is sure to entertain because:

  1. Despite the fact that the book is about a princess, the story is extremely creative, original and humorous.
  2. The main character, Princess Amanita, is independent and daring, unlike so many princesses in so many fairy tales.
  3. The princess looks at every day things in ways much different than most of us look at them, teaching the reader new creative ways of thinking.
  4. Though a very unique plot, the story is still enchanting the way a fairy tale should be.
  5. The illustrations by Valeria Docampo are excellent, vibrant and very detailed.

A while back I reviewed another story about a princess – Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying, that I also loved because it was unique and funny just like this book, yet in a different way. Any story that surprises and delights the reader is worth a look, and Dangerously Ever After is one of those stories.

Note: If your child is an early reader, this book is a bit sophisticated and longer than most picture books, so it is best that you read it together.