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Kids Book Review – Three Picture Books for the Fourth of July

CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY

WITH A ROUNDUP OF PICTURE BOOKS

 

 

A IS FOR AMERICA
A BabyLit Book

Written and illustrated by Greg Paprocki
(Gibbs Smith; $9.99, Ages 0-3)

I’m a big fan of the BabyLit series and I especially like their alphabet primers, A is for America being no exception. It’s full of simple, relatable examples yet sophisticated with its retro-style art and bonanza of bright colors and detailed scenes.

Paprocki has assembled a pleasing assortment of Independence Day and overall America-themed illustrations including E is for Eagle and M is for Mount Rushmore. Of course it makes sense to share F is for Fireworks but I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Q is for Quill as we see John Hancock writing his easily identifiable cursive signature on the Declaration of Independence.

Playful and pertinent, this charming 32-page board book serves not only as an alphabet primer but as a terrific way to acquaint little ones with our country’s history. From the first colonies to the transcontinental railroad when east met west, from the pilgrims to George Washington, A is for America honors our nation’s past and what it means to us now.

Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

MY FOURTH OF JULY
Written by Jerry Spinelli
Illustrated by Larry Day
(Neal Porter Books; $18.99, Ages 4-8)

My Fourth of July is a joyful look at Independence Day through the eyes of an excited little boy. The holiday tale unfolds with the lad still in his pajamas, something I found so sweet, watching the parade passing by from his screen door then even joining in as shown on the cover. My town has a Memorial Day parade but if it had one on the Fourth of July it would be just like this one, full of kids on bikes carrying pinwheels or waving flags and generally having tons of fun. In fact, we even have a big park where many celebrations take place around the gazebo or bandshell just like in Spinelli’s story.

The boy’s in a hurry to get to the park so the family can claim a picnic table, another thing I could relate to! There are hot dogs galore on the grill and all the other mouth-watering food we associate with Independence Day. This imaginary, small town USA has a flag-draped train that passes through (like a scene out of the film Oklahoma) as well as face painting, organized games, a talent show and a concert at the park. Written as a warm, happy slice of life story with little to no obstacles (unless getting a prime picnic spot counts), Spinelli’s picture book celebrates family, community and tradition. It’s wonderful when everyone makes their way to the baseball field to watch the fireworks with Day’s ebullient illustrations depicting the magical display and the emotions it elicits as the day’s festivities come to an end. If you love a feel good picture book that feels both nostalgic and new at the same time, this one’s for you.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AMERICAN?
Written by Rana DiOrio & Elad Yoran
Illustrated by Nina Mata
(Little Pickle Press; $17.99, Ages 4 and up)

Calling yourself an American is more than watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, or eating fast food. It is believing that all people are equal as told by Rana DiOrio along with debut children’s book author, Elad Yoran, in the forty-page picture book, What Does it Mean to be American? Colorful, feel good illustrations by Nina Mata beautifully convey the many different aspects the authors address. Teachers and parents alike will enjoy this upbeat social studies lesson that educates young children on the importance of being grateful and that dreams can come true by working hard because all Americans have the freedom to choose whom we love, what we believe, what we do, and where we live.

 

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What Does it Mean to be American? written by Rana DiOrio and Elad Yoran with illustrations by Nina Mata, Little Pickle Press ©2019.

 

The story begins with an interracial couple and their daughter traveling through the desert surrounded by cactus, mountains and a clear blue sky in a van packed with suitcases. The opening sentence is the question, What does it mean to be American? In the array of artwork, we see the young girl smiling as she attends a half Jewish wedding ceremony; she salutes a woman in military gear; and in another she hugs an older former military man seated in a wheelchair. Being American means having access to abundant natural resources so we see the child walking in the great outdoors, enjoying time in nature while holding her mother’s hand, a reminder to be grateful all year for her family’s many blessings.

 

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What Does it Mean to be American? written by Rana DiOrio and Elad Yoran with illustrations by Nina Mata, Little Pickle Press ©2019.

 

As the reader turns the page, our character sees people from all countries working in America and learns to appreciate that people from all kinds of backgrounds have something to offer her, whether it’s playing a game of chess or exercising with an elder in the park. As the little girl sits on her father’s shoulders, he tells her about people in the past who had the creativity to invent new things and that she should be proud of all that Americans have accomplished, yet humble about all we still need to learn. The illustrations take us back to the invention of the computer and the automobile, but also remind us that women fought for their right to vote.

This vital story that every parent must take time with their young kids to discuss, reminds us to become our best self, but that we also have an obligation to help others (something children can NEVER  hear enough of!) With mindfulness lessons on the importance of being present mixed in with a rich lesson in our American history, readers learn that the greatest nation in the world can always be better!

In addition to loving the message throughout this book, I got excited reading the back matter. Writers Rana and Elad share that their intention for writing the story was to encourage adults in children’s lives to start meaningful conversations about what it means to be American. With a fabulous history lesson reminding readers what our forefathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence to a guided list of questions to continue the conversation with young and older children alike, we are reminded about all the amazing people who made America what it is today.

This is a great read for teachers who can jump start a discussion with these initial questions, and then lead into so many other topics. Bravo to the writers who said, Being American means welcoming people from other countries and helping them learn what it means to be American … and appreciating that our differences make us kinder, smarter, healthier and stronger. Don’t miss the other great books in the What Does It Mean to Be …? series.

Reviewed by Guest Reviewer Ronda Einbinder
Ronda is a teacher/writer who worked for Irvine Unified School District assisting students in grades K-6. She is also a 500-Hour Registered Yoga Instructor, teaching yoga and mindfulness both publicly and privately. Previously, she was a writer and publicist for ObesityHelp magazine and non-profit medical facilities.

 

Click here to read last year’s Fourth of July book reviews.

 

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1 Big Salad by Juana Medina

1 BIG SALAD: A DELICIOUS COUNTING BOOK
Written and illustrated by Juana Medina
(Viking BYR; $17.99, Ages 0-3)

 

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Starred Reviews – Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal

1 Big Salad  is one big hit of a book! Cute drawings with real photographs of salad ingredients all blend perfectly. As you count up in this book with your child, you’ll be introduced to adorable animals such as the avocado deer, pepper monkeys, tomato turtles, and more. It’s a great way to practice counting while encouraging healthy eating, hence my advice: read on an empty stomach and dish up some great greens together!

In my house, eating fresh veggies isn’t a problem, but I know it can be in many households with kids going for the kids’ regulars of mac and cheese, pizza, or chicken nuggets. So, why not add this fun salad to the mix? After going through all the animated ingredients there is even an easy vinaigrette dressing recipe.

Kudos to Juana Medina for creating 1 Big Salad, a simple, elegant, and appetizing book for families. I can’t wait to make this salad over and over again with my little ones. Yum!

  • Reviewed by Lucy Ravitch
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All Aboard! California, All Aboard! New York & All Aboard! Paris by Kevin & Haily Meyers

ALL ABOARD! CALIFORNIA: A LANDSCAPE PRIMER,
ALL ABOARD! NEW YORK: A CITY PRIMER,
ALL ABOARD! PARIS: A FRENCH PRIMER
Written by Kevin & Haily Meyers
Illustrated by Haily Meyers
(Gibbs Smith; $9.99 each, Ages 0-3)

 

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From the folks that gave us the irresistible BabyLit® Books comes a new series that promises to be another hit. It’s never too early to share the delights of our world with little ones whether that be via personal stories, songs, photos, books, TV, film or travel.

This attractively designed board book primer series introduces youngsters to the varied landscape of California, the stimulating sights of New York City, and the romance and allure of Paris and the French language. Each book consists of 22 matte finished pages filled with bold graphics in an array of colors that I might not ordinarily combine, but work wonderfully together. I want tote bags or tees of all the artwork, it’s just that visually rewarding!

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Interior spread from All Aboard! California written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

In All Aboard! California, we tour the Golden State on board a train heading from south to north, making stops in the Mojave desert, and along the coastal beaches that have beckoned sun bathers and surfers for decades. After that the train heads into the Hollywood Hills, past Orange Groves and then makes tracks through the farmlands of the Central Coast. Parents will enjoy pointing out to kids how the train fills up with surf boards, oranges and cows while cruising toward its ultimate destination, the magnificent Redwood Forest. But not before first visiting the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Nappa’s vineyards and one other popular tourist attraction, San Francisco. The book ends with a helpful map and the official California State Flag.

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Interior spread from All Aboard! California written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

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Interior spread from All Aboard! New York written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

AllAboardNewYorkcvrNext, with All Aboard! New York, we’re visiting the Big Apple and traveling through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan, something I’ve done countless times (and even once got stuck in the tunnel when my car conked out!). We wind our way around Central Park and head over to take in the sights of Times Square (NOTE: Make sure to check out all the billboards as there’s lots of fun things to discover), but not before getting seated front row center at a Broadway show. What’s a trip to New York without skyscraper spotting including the one and only Empire State Building, a not-to-be-missed landmark of the Manhattan skyline? This trip also includes a ride to lower Manhattan to see the new Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial as well as a glimpse of the NYSE on Wall Street. Two of my personal faves are featured in All Aboard! New York and those are the Staten Island Ferry for a breathtaking view of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge spanning New York’s East River. Before leaving the city, you can even help your child count how many taxis appear in book. Remember also to show them the map at the book’s end with train cars running along the bottom of the two-page spread decorated with delicious foods found throughout the boroughs such as cheesecake, pretzels and bagels.

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Interior spread from All Aboard! New York written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

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Interior spread from All Aboard! Paris written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

AllAboardPariscvrLast but not least is the City of Love as featured in All Aboard! Paris. I’m thrilled there’s such an adorable board book to not only nurture a love of the French language but of the capital city itself. It’s Bienvenue! Welcome! all around as we chug our way past the Canal de L’Ourcq and see the famous Monument at Place de la Bastille. Is that rain beginning to fall? Mais oui! It’s time to get out a Parapluie or Umbrella. The train passes close by a lovely Garden (Luxembourg perhaps) where children sail boats and lovely flowers are in abundance. Also included are Notre Dame (Cathedral), the Seine River, Sacré-Cœur atop the hill of Montmartre and the Louvre Museum. Grab a baguette and cruise on over to see the Arc de Triomphe, the Élysée Palace (or it could be Versailles – your call parents!), and 19th century iron structure we know as the Eiffel Tower. Words covered range from boy and girl to bridge and rain, and lots more, bien sûr!

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Interior spread from All Aboard! Paris written by Kevin & Haily Meyers with artwork by Haily Meyers, Gibbs Smith ©2015.

 

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
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Leo Lionni’s Who?, What?, When?, and Where?

Who?, What?, When?, and Where?: Four fabulous board books from the late Caldecott Honor Winner Leo Lionni are simple yet oh so satisfying for babies to toddlers. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014; $5.99, Ages 0-3)

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IWhat?-cvr.jpgt’s easy to see Lionni’s Modernist roots and graphic design background when you turn the pages of any of these four books. In Who?, What?, When? and Where?, his signature torn paper artwork combined with graphic elements are visually delightful. The gray mice look as though they were created from boiled wool, and fans of Lionni’s classic, Frederick, will find these board books a perfect intro to his body of work.

With just 16 pages, these four question-themed board books are asking to be shared with your youngsters When?-cvr.jpgWhere?-cvr.jpgso they can explore the world with beginning concepts. The parent and child mice first look at different animals in Who? including a fluffy squirrel, a slow turtle, a hungry rabbit, a curious chicken, a big owl and a sharp porcupine. In What? there’s a bit more humor infused in the marriage of artwork and text as little ones are asked to guess what objects they’re looking at: “Let’s make a call.” (a phone), “Do you see what I see?” (a pair of eyeglasses) and a chuckle inducing, “Dinner time!” has to be cheese. In When? the seasons and times of day are featured and I’ll admit this one is my personal favorite because the images are especially rich and colorful, particularly for fall. I also like that daytime and nighttime are included in the mix. Some of the questions posed are:

“When does it snow?”

“When do the flowers bloom?”

“When do the stars shine?”

In Where? it’s all about location, location, location. And kids’ll get a kick out of all the different places where the mice can be found. Whether they’re up high, popping out or squeezed inside, Lionni’s mice are cute and curious, just like toddlers. These short, sweet, and accessible board books are an appealing and interesting approach to early concepts.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

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Pocket Piggies Numbers! & Pocket Piggies Colors!

Pocket Piggies are back
in a new line of board books from Workman Publishing.

What’s cuter than one pocket piggy? Two pocket piggies – in a teacup!

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Pocket Piggies Numbers! with photographs by Richard Austin, Workman Publishing, 2014.

The Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm are back, this time starring in a new 22-page board book line perfect for tiny hands to hold. The simple language accompanied by Richard Austin’s adorable photographs will have your child “reading” in 1, 2, 3!

4 pocket piggies with a pup

5 pocket piggies in a row

6 pocket piggies in the snow

Counting from 1 to 10 is fun in Pocket Piggies Numbers! (Workman Publishing, $5.95, Ages 0-3) and the book is such a quick read, parents will love reading it again and again.

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Pocket Piggies Colors! with photographs by Richard Austin, Workman Publishing, 2014.

Pocket Piggies Colors! (Workman Publishing, $5.95, Ages 0-3) with photos by Richard Austin is the perfect companion book for Pocket Piggy Numbers! With only two words on a page, this book will hold the youngest child’s attention and have them reading right along.

Brown Dog

Orange Flowers

Purple Car

I don’t know how Austin managed to get the pocket piggie to hold a miniature red guitar, or push a baby buggy, but it’s easy to see why children and parents alike cannot resist the Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm. Now that’s something to oink about!

– Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

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Add A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na To Any Easter Basket

Meet Baby Animals on The Day They Are Born
With A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
& reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

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A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014.

Spring is just around the corner. It’s the time when bulbs blossom into flowers, leaves sprout from buds on tree branches, and baby animals are born.

Take a journey around the world with a duck who has just become the father of five noisy ducklings. You’ll see many different animals in this beautifully illustrated picture book, A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99, Ages 0-3) and your little ones will learn that some are hatched, some are not; some have scales, some have fur; there are single births, and multiple births; and daddys sometimes play a bigger role than mommys in raising their young (as in the case of the seahorse), but at the end of the day, all types of babies must go to sleep. Father duck comes home after his adventures and finds that even his noisy ducklings get sleepy.

A Book of Babies is a perfect gift for a new parent, soon-to-be big brother or sister, and would also be a sweet, but healthy addition to any Easter basket. Sparse, but lyrical text, and illustrations done in all the colors of the rainbow, make this the perfect book to hold the attention of even the youngest ‘reader.’

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Teeny Weeny Looks for His Mommy & Bunny Boo Has Lost Her Teddy, Two Tiny Tab Books

Rita Zobayan reviews two board books in the fun and engaging new Nosy Crow Tiny Tab series.

Very young children love interactive books—pulling tabs, lifting flaps, and discovering who or what is hiding underneath. An added bonus is that the kids get to practice their fine motor skills. Nosy Crow presents two such board books in its “A Tiny Tab Book” series for children ages 0-3 ($7.99). These sturdy and chunky board books are 10 pages with 4 tabs that are each pulled twice. The adorable illustrations are by Jannie Ho, who perfectly captures the bright colors, friendly features, and cute details that make Nosy Crow books so delightful.

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Teeny Weeny Looks for His Mommy: A Tiny Tab Book with illustrations by Jannie Ho, Nosy Crow.

In Teeny Weeny Looks for His Mommy the mouse is trying to find his mother. He looks in all manner of places: behind the apple tree, in his pirate ship, in the flower bed, and in his playhouse, to name a few hiding spots. During his search, Teeny Weeny finds his friends: That must be Mommy behind the wall! Oh no, it’s Bear! Could Mommy be in the tree? No, that’s Monkey, and Bird with her chicks! His friends are fun to find, but where can his mommy be? Your children will enjoy helping Teeny Weeny find her.

 

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Bunny Boo Has Lost Her Teddy: A Tiny Tab Book with illustrations by Jannie Ho, Nosy Crow.

In Bunny Boo Has Lost Her Teddy the little rabbit must get ready for bed, but she has misplaced her favorite lovey. She looks in the laundry room and the bathtub, but Teddys’s not there. She searches all over. Is he on the shelves? No, that’s Hippo, Mouse, and Penguin! Is he having tea with Koala? No, that’s Zebra and Owl. The search is great fun, but Bunny Boo has to get to bed. Teddy must be somewhere! Only your kids can help find him!

 

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Hilary Taber’s Top Ten Kids’ Books Authors

Here’s a different kind of list to kick off 2014. Please read what reviewer and bookseller Hilary Taber has entitled her Author Shout Out for Good Reads With Ronna.
We always look forward to Hilary’s take on what’s selling in her store and can just picture her standing up on a stage, behind a podium, announcing all these wonderful winners.

The Top Ten Authors That I Most Admire,

Why You Should Know About Them,

& Why I’m Giving Them a Coveted Bookseller Award

UnknownWell, folks, I’ve officially read over 400 hundred children’s books! This has given me a real perspective on the craft of writing, and what makes an author someone whose books I will recommend without hesitation. I’ve gathered together my top ten authors, and the reasons why I am their fan for life. Certainly, personal taste has a lot to do with it, but so does a winning streak of books. In each of these excellent books the writing (and sometimes the art as well) speaks for itself in terms of excellence. Each author, in their own way, has hit their stride with every book they write. So, from board books to young adult, here are my top ten author shout outs. I only wish I had a lovely statue with a bookseller on top in gold to give to each of you, but hope this star will suffice.

Best Board Books and Pop Up Books:

Winner: Petr Horáček

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardHis latest book, Animal Opposites, was a wonderful collection. Each illustration was so finely done.  There is pairing not just animals, but also opposite characteristics such as quiet and loud. Each pop up element was so beautifully done, and so pleasing to the eye. His board books are colorful, eye catching, and beautifully drawn. In this author and artist’s work, beautiful art meets a lively story. Strawberries Are Red remains my very favorite. Petr, you rock, and your books are this bookseller’s dream come true for the two and up set!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.petrhoracek.co.uk

Best Picture Books:

Winner: Mo Willems

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardCan we ever have too much of Mo Willems’ books? I think not. Every book is so full of humor that appeals to both adults and children. Willems books are always story time hits. Do you know how rare that is? It’s very rare that I am able to sell a book that is more guaranteed to bring a smile and a laugh to the entire family. My favorite books are in the Pigeon series, but the beginning reader series of Elephant and Piggy has earned a special place in my heart for being such fantastically engaging beginning reading. Thank you so much, Mo, for your humor. Thank you for sharing it with us, and by sharing it you make reading so much fun!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.mowillems.com

Best Junior Fiction:

Winner: Kate DiCamillo

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardKate, how can I tell you how much your books mean to me, and to all the children to whom I’ve sold them? Your books are so full of hope at an age when children are just beginning to learn that the world needs their hope. I’ve never met a child who wasn’t just in love with your work. The care you put into each book makes it shine like stars in the night sky. When I read a book written by you, I admire the effort you put into each book, and also the love. God bless you, Kate! My favorite titles include Because of Winn-Dixie, and Kate’s latest book, Flora and Ulysses about a girl named Flora who discovers a new best friend in the form of a squirrel, named Ulysses who has super powers, can write poetry, and can type!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.katedicamillo.com

 

Winner: Jeanne Birdsall

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardWill I ever tire of reading about the charming Penderwick family? I really don’t think so. Every book is filled with adventure, and the reassuring presence of family. I’ve loved seeing each character grow and change to become the person that they can most fully be. Plus, there’s Hound, the Penderwick’s dog! I adore Hound. Little Women comes to mind as a possible “ancestor” of the Penderwick series. I so appreciate that every child can recognize some part of themselves in each of the sisters in the family, just as you can in Little Women. There’s something for everyone here in this lovely series of the changing lives of this most eccentrically beloved family.  This is a family who affirms that the person you are is fantastic. This type of personal affirmation is present throughout the books. In fact, you should be free to be yourself!

For more information, please visit this website – www.jeannebirdsall.com

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Sassy Board Book Series

9780448477879HKnown for their developmental toys, Sassy has branched out into baby books and it’s a good move. The newest Sassy brand board books for babies are very cute because they’re simple, colorful, and bold. Like their toys which encourage exploration, these sturdy 12 page Sassy books, including Sassy Baby Sees: A First Book of Faces (Grosset & Dunlap, $6.99, ages 0-3) by Dave Aikins, invite even the littlest ones to look more closely.

The images of Mommy! Daddy! Dog! Cat! are in black and white providing the high contrast newborns can see most easily. There’s even an embedded mirror at the end page for a lovely surprise. Colored dots and striped patterns on the pages opposite each picture work as nicely in this book as they do on the toys.

These books, along with some complementary developmental toys, are perfect for a baby shower gift. Other titles in this line of board books are: Sassy Who Says?Sassy Baby’s World: A First Book of Senses, and Sassy Baby Loves Colors.

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Mother’s Day Books

This post is dedicated to moms everywhere.  I’ve selected a couple of books that celebrate the superhero qualities so many mothers possess.

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New in 2013 is My Mom is The Best Circus by Luciana Navarro Powell (Robin Corey Books, $7.99, ages 0-3) and if you think you recognize the mom, you’re right – it’s YOU!

“My mom is the best circus,
a one-woman show.
She’s the ringmaster,
a juggler,
and the band maestro.”

Read how this mom’s performance needs no admission ticket and the Big Top she calls home never goes on the road.

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A sturdy, 26-paged glossy board book narrated by a little boy and filled with fun illustrations, My Mom is The Best Circus will lift spirits and get lots of giggles. Children will identify with the kids in the story and their mom’s uncanny ability to sometimes be “a magician, other times, a clown.” While recommended for ages 0-3, parents will likely have to take the time to explain all the circus metaphors. Even so, it’s a great opportunity for some lively interaction, especially if a youngster has been to the circus or seen one in movies.

9781449409722_frontcoverMy Mom is the Best Circus will entertain kids, but this next one is for us moms! Are you a fan of Baby Blues like I am? Scribbles at an Exhibition: Scrapbook 29 (Andrews McMeel, $12.99) by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott features a collection of this King Features syndicated comic strip. Packed with 128 pages of hilarity, Scribbles at an Exhibition will cheer up even the most exhausted superhero mom. Some strips are in color and others are in black and white, but it doesn’t matter because each cartoon is better than the next and they’re all so good.

The award-winning team of Kirkman and Scott have been getting it right since the beginning of Baby Blues back in 1990. Following Daryl and Wanda’s MacPherson’s trials and tribulations at home with kids Zoe, Hammie and baby Wren have always made me feel I am not alone. And I’ve been known to cut out a strip (from the newspaper not the book) and put it on the fridge with a magnet for the whole family to see. Check out the Baby Blues website here for tons of neat facts, a blog, archives, the history of the strip, and things to purchase. And as Daryl says to Wanda:

“I’m sure you had a hard day, but I don’t think there is such a thing as a chocolate I.V.,” to which Wanda replies, “Well, there should be.”  So moms, here’s to chocolate I.V.s, a comfy couch and your very own copy of  Scribbles at an Exhibition: Scrapbook 29 to make Mother’s Day just right.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Introducing Play-Doh Brand Board Books

Rita Zobayan reviews the new

Play-Doh: Where Learning and Creativity Take Shape series.

Counting Bunnies, Making Shapes with Monkey, Mama’s Little Ducklings, Rainbow Butterflies ($6.95 each) and Let’s Get Creative Jumbo Sticker Book ($12.95) are written by Michele Boyd and illustrated/digitally composed by Kara Kenna; ages 0-3; Silver Dolphin Books

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For many children, Play-Doh is a gateway for letting their imaginations come to life. Want to swim under the sea even though you live nowhere near the ocean? Sculpt some fish and a reef, and you have your own underwater world. Play-Doh has taken the creativity of its products, added a serious cuteness factor, and produced the sturdy Where Learning and Creativity Take Shape board book series, ideal for children three years and older (Silver Dolphin Books, 2013; $6.95 each). Each book is brightly colored with digitally composed illustrations of Play-Doh creations.  You’ll want to reach out and touch the pictures that seem like real Play-Doh creations.  The text is simple and fun.

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Counting Bunnies features a group of adorable bunnies counting from one to ten. Each page consists of the target number prominently displayed along with explanatory text and a number sense question (for example, What other groups of six do you see?). And, of course, let’s not forget the growing number of bunnies who do everything from talking on phones to growing dizzy on a merry-go-round to splashing in a pool.

212-380-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbMaking Shapes with Monkey includes a simple rhyme scheme with Monkey and his friends identifying basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, and diamond. Silly friend Squirrel stopped by to say, “Can you make me a special kite today?” There are colorful shapes in the sky. Can you name the shapes soaring up so high?  The shapes are embedded into the pictures, making it fun for the young reader to spot. What shapes make up the flowers? The bird house is made from which five shapes?

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212-374-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbRainbow Butterflies introduces the colors of the rainbows plus perennial favorite, pink. Each color features a hidden butterfly and a finding question (for example, What other yellow things do you see?) on pages choc-full of colored creatures and items. Now we spy with our little eyes the lovely orange butterfly. Not to mention the orange cat, sun, balloon, flowers, and butterflies.

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212-375-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbMama’s Little Ducklings is a lift-the-flap book that tells the story of Mama Duck as she readies for her eggs to hatch and then realizes one is missing! (The mischievous egg rolled away!) Follow Mama and her colorful crew as they ask their fellow creatures if they can help.   Mama Duck and her four ducklings waddled down the path and into the river. “Has anyone seen my missing egg?” asked Mama Duck. “Not here,” said the fish with a glug-glug-glug! If little eyes look carefully, they will see the yellow polka-dotted egg hiding in each section.

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212-383-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbThe Let’s Get Creative Jumbo Sticker Book ($12.95) features over 300 reusable stickers in eight different sections—Building Blocks, All about Animals, Under the Sea Surprises, Travel and Adventure!, Let’s Go to School, At Home, Fun with Food, and Exploring Nature. There are plenty of pages to create your own scenes, as well as pages with guided themes. To add to the fun (and, ssshhh, learning), there are question-and-answer and suggestion pages that encourage critical thinking. Boy or girl, whatever their interests, there is something for everyone in this jumbo book of sticker fun!

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Pachyderms Aplenty

Rita Zobayan reviews 2 new elephantastic books.

When you think of animals playing hide-and-seek, which ones come to mind? A chameleon, certainly. A monkey, leopard or tiger, perhaps. But a large, hulking elephant? Not so much. Summoning strong imaginations, two authors have placed playful pachyderms in a favorite children’s game.

Salina Yoon has written and illustrated a darling board book, Where’s Ellie?: A Hide-and-Seek Book  ($6.99, Robin Corey Books) for little ones aged 0-3. Ellie and her friends—caterpillar, ladybug, rabbit, lizard and squirrel—are playing a game of hide-and-seek. Young readers will search for Ellie and her peek-a-boo trunk in familiar settings, only to be surprised at what they find instead. The simple but colorful illustrations are fun to view. At 16 pages, the book is long enough to hold a youngster’s attention and short enough for parents to read over and over again, which they probably will have to do if their kids are anything like mine.

Hide & Seek  ($15.99, Alfred A. Knopf Books, ages 2-5) by Il Sung Na is a counting book that also features an elephant playing hide and seek, but this time Elephant is the seeker. The other animals must find places to hide; where will they go?! Flamingo wants to make sure that Elephant isn’t cheating. Gorilla thinks carefully about his hiding spot. “10! Ready or not, here I come!” cries Elephant, and the search is on! Na uses rich, bright colors and various art techniques to create a visually spectacular picture book. The animals’ expressions are adorable, and children will enjoy counting the butterflies that accompany Elephant on the search. Like elephants, children will not forget—to read Hide & Seek that is.

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Give Peas A Chance

Peas on Earth ($6.99, Robin Corey Books, ages 0-3) by L.A. local Todd H. Doodler is reviewed today by Krista Jefferies. For her bio, please visit our homepage.

Peas on Earth is an adorable board book by Todd H. Doodler, a pseudonym for author and artist Todd Harris Goldman.  This is an easy-to-handle book that will entertain young children while teaching them the value of peace on Earth.  The author plays with the word “peas” to show how everyone should get along like “two peas in a pod” or like “peanut butter and jelly,” which is an uplifting and positive message for children.  This story blends learning and fun with every color-filled page. Because of the playful artwork, children might not even realize that they are absorbing a valuable lesson, but their parents will certainly appreciate both the images and the intent. The book illustrates a world in which even ants would say, “Bless you!” to an anteater’s sneeze, and elephants and mice would “share their cheese.” The cheerful faces throughout the book happily lead up to the delightful pop-up at the end, which children will enjoy getting to over and over again.  This book is sure to appease any young reader!

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Welcome Easter and Spring

“When signs of spring are in the air,
we  look for babies everywhere!”

Pick up a copy of the board book version of Easter Babies: A Springtime Counting Book ($6.95, Sterling Children’s Books, ages birth to 3), and share some sunshine and number fun with your little ones.  Written by Joy N. Hulme with pictures by Dan Andreasen, this Easter book is a perfect introduction to baby animals and counting. Come along to the farm and count in rhyme:

“In grassy meadows 7 lambs,
frolic on frisky feet.

8 piglets wiggle near their mom,
to find a place to eat.”

Everything about this book is sweet and adorable from the darling illustrations of sleeping kittens to cheeping chicks. Celebrate this wonderful season and holiday with all the babies including yours and read this book today. Give it as an Easter basket gift or just buy it to keep in your diaper bag for warm weather outings.  Happy Easter!

Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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