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The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim,
Candlewick Press, 2013.

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins (Candlewick, $15.99, Ages 3-7) is a quiet book. While there was not a lot of action and adventure in its 32 pages, I found myself drawn in by the promise a father made to his little boy, that this would be the summer they saw a deer.

This beautifully illustrated book, with oil paintings by David Slonim, took me back in time to treasured memories of communing with nature. As our civilization takes over more and more land, our jobs (and electronics) take up more and more of our time, and our children are under so much pressure to succeed at such a young age, an outing in nature allows us to reconnect on a deeper level. There are so many lessons that can’t be learned in school.

Take a hike through The Deer Watch, with a boy and his father. Meet the construction crew who, with their noisy equipment scares, the deer away from the corn the hunters left as bait. Ironically, they are saving them while at the same time pushing them out of their natural habitat.

Interior illustration from The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim

Interior illustration from The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim, Candlewick Press, 2013.

We see all types of interesting wildlife as we turn the pages, but like the young boy in the book, our goal is to see a deer, and more importantly, to have a promise kept. And, just as the boy’s father doesn’t disappoint, neither shall the book.

I adored this moving story of anticipation and discovery, but would recommend it more for children 4-8 years old. Younger children might get a little squirmy as the boy in the story does when he has to wait quietly to spot a deer. However the reward of father and son sharing this special experience is well worth the wait.

– Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

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Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney

MaryAnne Locher reviews Little Owl’s Orange Scarf

Cover image of Little Owl's Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney

Cover image of Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney from Knopf Books for Young Readers 2013.

Whenever someone asks me, “What’s your favorite color?” I always give the same answer: ANYTHING but GREEN! I can’t imagine how I would feel if I didn’t get to pick out my clothes, or even worse, was forced to wear a color I didn’t like. This is exactly what many parents do when they don’t guide their children to make their own choices. In Little Owl’s Orange Scarf (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, ages 4-8), written and illustrated by Tatyana Feeney, it is precisely what mother owl does when she makes Little Owl wear an itchy, too long, very orange scarf.

Little Owl comes up with some creative ways to misplace his scarf, but mother owl is just as good at finding it. But, when Little Owl’s class takes a trip to the zoo, the scarf is left behind despite Mother’s efforts to recover it.

Mother, being a wise old owl, decides to include Little Owl when she makes him a new scarf. He goes to the yarn store with her and even gets to pick out the color. The finished product is soft, just the right length, and NOT orange. Little Owl and Mother are both happy. At the end of the story we discover that the orange scarf is being put to good use by a certain long necked creature at the zoo.

The sparse text and simple illustrations combine to make a great picture book. Parents and children alike should get a hoot out of Little Owl’s Orange Scarf.

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The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

The Snatchabook: Who’s stealing all the stories?

The Snatchabook, Who's Stealing All The Stories? by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

The Snatchabook, Who’s Stealing All The Stories? by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

“So wonderful it demands to be read out loud.”
– Brian Selznick,
Caldecott Medalist, author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

What’s not to love about a picture book that conveys a heartwarming message about bedtime stories and the simple joy of reading together? In The Snatchabook, (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, $16.99, ages 3 and up) by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty, a book I’ve seen on bookstore shelves everywhere I go, readers will be immediately pulled in by the images of animal families settling down for the night in warm, glowing rooms.

Welcome to Burrow Down, invitingly depicted by T. Docherty, a quaint forest community dotted with cozy tree hollow homes, mole holes and rabbit warrens. Nighttime is a special time to hear all sorts of tales, a time when children are ready to let their imaginations soar. But suddenly all the bedtime books begin disappearing right before everyone’s eyes. H. Docherty wastes no time in setting the stage for a great mystery, though a subtle clue is given in the second spread (hint: look near the moon). Who is stealing all the stories?

Enter Eliza Brown, a bunny determined to catch the thief red-handed, or winged, because she really hasn’t the slightest idea who or what the culprit could be! Eliza sets a trap using a pile of books as bait and waits … and waits. When at last a long shadow appears, she braves the unknown and conquers her fear shouting:

“Stop stealing all our books,
right now!
Just give them back,
I don’t care how!”

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Sample interior artwork from The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty with illustrations by Thomas Docherty from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky 2013.

Hovering just outside the window is a small, rodent-like creature with dragonfly wings, a long skinny tale and large, lonely eyes appealing to Eliza for forgiveness, “I’m just a little Snatchabook.” Snatchabook didn’t mean to swipe all the books, he explains to Eliza. He simply had no one to read them to him. In a wonderfully satisfying ending, H. Docherty has Eliza teaming up with the Snatchabook to right his wrongs, return all the books while finding a few good bedtime story readers to feed his imagination and soul.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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