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Holiday Gift Guide – Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder

Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder – a roaring
great read for kids!

A GRWR recommended picture book
for Christmas gift-giving.

 

Cover art from Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder, Abrams, 2013.

Cover art from Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder, Abrams, 2013.

Fraidy Zoo, by Thyra Heder (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $16.95, Ages 4-8), is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

What would you do, if you were afraid of the zoo?  If you weren’t sure why, then what would you do?  This is an inventive, alphabetized romp through the efforts of a highly creative family trying to help the youngest member get over her fears about visiting the zoo.

Kids will giggle and roar at the clever ink and watercolor illustrations that depict a menagerie from A to Z constructed from ordinary household items. Silly Dad adorns himself with a pink tutu, pink socks, and pink sticky notes to question whether Little T is afraid of flamingoes. Sister suggests that perhaps it is parrots by sporting a green turban, soda can, and terry towel wings. With cardboard, newspaper and miles of tape, the entire family even recreates bigger critters like a rhino, snake and T-Rex.

Fraidy Zoo interior image by Thyra Heder.

Fraidy Zoo (Abrams, 2013) interior illustration by Thyra Heder from The Cardboard Collective, http://thecardboardcollective.com/2013/10/22/cardboard-costume-inspiration-fraidy-zoo/

 

Lively, captivating dialogue moves the story along at just the right pace, while subtle jokes and hints abound.  Even after young readers have guessed all of the animals, they’ll want to re-read the story to find the sweet black and white cat hidden on every page.

A tiny twist at the end will surprise and delight readers, and reinforce the idea that it is easier to face your fears when you rely on the love and support of those around you. Give this charming and witty book as a gift with a few rolls of tape, and Fraidy Zoo fans will enthusiastically recycle your holiday boxes and wrappings into an incredible assortment of creative creatures!

– Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher and received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  Disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Forever by Emma Dodd

Forever, by Emma Dodd (Templar/Candlewick Press, $12.99, Ages 2-5) is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Emma Dodd's FOREVER

Add Forever by Emma Dodd to your holiday gift list! From Templar/Candlewick Press, 2013.

Perfect for reading and snuggling at bedtime, this is a sweet and simple book for parent and child to share and enjoy. In a vast white Arctic wilderness, this engaging bear pair plays, cuddles, swims and sleeps side by side.  The quiet, comforting text assures little bear that his parent will always be there to encourage, reassure, and guide him.  Spare but captivating prose perfectly carries the story forward through the book.

The illustrations are both muted and show-stopping, so lovely that you must pause and appreciate the scale and setting on each page. We see the bears close and cuddling, but also venturing through their snowy home beneath the Northern Lights, under swirling snowflakes, or paddling through a brilliant silver sea. Foil softly enhances the scenes as sparkling stars, moon, snow and water, adding an extra dimension of depth and interest.

Artwork from Forever by Emma Dodd, copyright 2013

Interior artwork from Forever by Emma Dodd, copyright 2013, Templar/Candlewick Press.

The sweet-faced little cub absorbs the calm and steady wisdom of his parent throughout the tale, whether happy, blue, worried or hopeful.  Ending with the enduring promise that (“No matter what may come as we journey on together…know that deep within my heart, I will love you…forever.”) this tale will be a warm and lovely bedtime favorite.

– Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher and received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  Disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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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