There is so much to see and do in the Tiny Tab board books and Cutie Pie Looks for the Easter Bunny is no exception. With its ten chunky, die-cut pages and four easy-to-pull two-sided tabs, this book is packed with all the fun that an Easter egg hunt should be for little ones.
Cutie Pie is looking for the Easter Bunny! Is the Easter Bunny in the woods? No, but Dog and Squirrel are … and they’ve each found an Easter egg!
Poor Cutie Pie sees all her friends finding Easter eggs. First in the woods, then in the playhouse, in the vegetable garden, and by the river, too. Whatever will she do? Well, one thing’s for sure, Cutie Pie won’t give up looking high and low to find where Easter Bunny’s hiding, and neither will your child. Once that elusive bunny’s found, readers will be delighted to see that Cutie Pie’s been rewarded with a beautiful blue egg she can call her own.
Cutie Pie finds pig and Hedgehog in the vegetable garden … with blue and red eggs!
Ho’s signature rainbow-colored illustrations pop off every page, and all her adorable woods and farm characters including Owl, Horse, Turtle, Kitten, Duck and Mouse, are just a pull-tab away for curious little hands. The sentence structure is simple, but varied enough to hold an older reader’s interest. The questions posed, such as “Is that the Easter Bunny?” will have youngsters reaching for the tabs faster than you can say “jelly beans!” Add this sweet and sturdy book to your gift list this year and you won’t have to look very far for lots of happy faces!
Click here for more of Jannie Ho’s Tiny Tab books.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY 2015! ❤️A ROUNDUP TO SHARE THE LOVE ❤️
This book is great for Valentine’s Day, but is not limited to the holiday.
Even as an adult, feelings are hard to pinpoint, much less express. Written by Jo Witek, with illustrations by Christine Roussey, IN MY HEART: A Book of Feelings, (AbramsAppleseed, $16.95, Ages 2-4), may be a book intended for toddlers, but its universal theme will appeal to all ages.
This beautiful die-cut board book uses colors, shapes, and symbolism to help children identify and verbalize what they are feeling. Witek’s lyrical writing and masterful use of vocabulary are awe-worthy, and are complemented perfectly by Roussey’s fanciful illustrations.
When I get really angry, my heart feels as if it’s going to explode! Don’t come near me! My heart is yelling, hot and loud. This is when my heart is mad.
But other times, my heart is cool. I bob along gently like a balloon on a string. My heart feels lazy and slow, as quiet as snowfall. This is when my heart is calm.
Sad, afraid, and shy are emotions which are explored by this perfect pairing of author and illustrator, along with hopeful, brave, and proud, to name a few. Witek ends the book with an open-ended question for the reader, sure to encourage a heart-felt discussion. She asks:
How does your heart feel?
Both Witek and Roussey live in France, and originally published their book in French under the title Dans Mon Petit Coeur, (Editions de La Martiniere/2013). Nothing has been lost in the translation to English, proving the heart speaks a language all its own. – Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher
It must have been twenty years ago when I first read the touching tale of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, and teared up. Then, when my oldest daughter was in high school, her boyfriend gave her a copy of the book for Valentine’s Day. I got choked up again when she let me read it. GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, written by Sam McBratney, and illustrated by Anita Jeram, (Candlewick Press, $9.99, Ages 4-8), is now available in a 4″x4″ special foldout, pop-up book format, and after all of these years, still makes me misty.
A timeless tale of love, this beloved book comes to life with Jeram’s ink and watercolor illustrations of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare. In this most recent edition, the characters pop off the pages as they try to outdo one another while expressing their love.
“I love you as high as I can hop!” laughed Little Nutbrown Hare, bouncing up and down. “But I love you as high as I can hop,” smiled Big Nutbrown Hare — and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.
McBratney’s text expands upon the phrase, “I love you this much,” so often heard between parent and child, with his creative prose. The sentiment is appropriate any time, but tucked away in a beautiful red sleeve with a decorative gold title, Guess How Much I Love You makes the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loved ones of any age. – Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher
This little Love Monster was a nice little monster living in a land called Cutesville. LOVE MONSTER, written and illustrated by Rachel Bright (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, $16.99, Ages 2-4), is another terrific Valentine’s Day picture book to add to your gift list. Living in a world full of everything cute and fluffy can be hard when you’re a funny looking monster of bright red hue, and googly eyes. Or so it felt that way for our main character who was seeking someone to love him “just the way he was.”
NOTE: Make sure to point out the sign that reads BIG, WIDE WORLD as Love Monster sets off on his search.
Monster looked high, low and he even looked “middle-ish,” one of my favorite words in the story. At the Fancy Dress Shop (costume store) he was almost fooled by a monster mask, then again by his shadow, and finally by his reflection. Was there no one for him? It almost seemed as if he had a dark cloud hanging over his head. But in a moment of pure storybook serendipity, as Love Monster was almost running out of places to look for love, his luck changed.
“You see, sometimes when you least expect it … love finds you.”
Bright’s message is not a new one, but it’s an oh so important one to share with children. How many times have we said something similar to our kids? This simple tale is one of hope and reassurance for any child feeling they don’t quite fit in.
Bright’s artwork is not only bold and colorful, reflecting Little Monster’s various moods, but unique. Bright’s created her illustrations with solar etching according to jacket copy. She uses ultraviolet light to create printing plates, a truly illuminating technique! – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Other New & Noteworthy Picture Books
Zombie in Love 2 + 1 by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Scott Campbell (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) A Crankenstein Valentineby Samantha Berger with illustrations by Dan Santat (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
If you’re a regular reader of our blog you’ll know we review a plethora of picture books published by Candlewick Press, a leading independent children’s book publisher based near Boston, Massachusetts. Obviously one of our faves, Candlewick Press consistently offers top quality books for the discerning reader. Their big news is that ten of their titles have been included in Time magazine’s TOP 100 YOUNG ADULT AND CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF ALL-TIME, a list honoring the all-time classics, both old and new. Here are the six books that have been chosen for older readers: Feed by M. T. Anderson; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay; The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness; and Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci.
But, there’s even more great news: We’re thrilled to be giving away four of their excellent books for younger readers to one lucky reader!
Read about the four picture books selected by TIME and then enter our Rafflecopter giveaway below.
Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor– and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
GRWR: This bears repeating: I LOVE THIS PICTURE BOOK and could read it again and again. The same is true for Klassen’s follow up, This is Not My Hat. Your kids will agree. Klassen’s sweet, naive bear is in search of his hat and can’t even see the truth when it’s staring at him straight in the face, while atop the head of the creature who stole it. The kindly, good mannered bear makes his way through the woods encountering a fox, a bunny, a turtle, a snake, a possum, a deer and a squirrel, always asking after his hat. “Have you seen my hat?” The animals’ replies are varied, but straightforward and clever, and all in a font color matching their design. Of course the culprit’s remarks are by far the crowd pleaser,
“No. Why are you asking me. I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen any hats anywhere. I would not steal a hat. Don’t ask me any more questions.
recalling Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” When at last the bear realizes where his hat is, readers will note upper case letters signaling his displeasure, and more hilarity and surprises ensue. This read-aloud delight will tickle the funny bone of generations of youngsters. – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
$15.99 U.S./$18.00 CAN – ISBN: 9780763655983 (Ages 4-8)
Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.
GRWR: Reviewer Hilary Taber said of Journey, “Pure imagination is Journey, a wordless picture book by Aaron Becker. Journeying through the world of this stunning picture book, the audience follows the adventure of a little girl who uses a red marker to literally draw herself from one world into another. Lonely and bored in her own home, the little girl retreats to her room where she uses a red marker to draw a secret, red door. This new world beyond the red door is filled with breathtaking landscapes.”
$15.99 U.S./$18.00 CAN – ISBN: 9780763660536 (Ages 4-8)
* A Caldecott Honor Book
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Michelle Knudsen’s disarming story, illustrated by the matchless Kevin Hawkes in an expressive timeless style, will win over even the most ardent of rule keepers. An affectionate storybook tribute to that truly wonderful place: the library.
GRWR: Knudsen asked herself the question, what would happen if a lion walked into a library, and then ran with it! What’s so wonderful about this premise is that lion statues have always been the guardians of great library entrances I have knownand they’re in front of the library in Library Lion, too.Hawkes’ warm, light colored, low key ’50s style artwork helps convey the supposed staid atmosphere of the library, but all that changes when a curious lion enters the scene. After he makes most of the visitors nervous, he ends up at story time and roars when it’s over. Youngsters will understand how he feels because who doesn’t love story time? But head librarian Miss Merriweather tells him, “If you cannot be quiet, you will have to leave.” As with many librarians, or children’s impression of them, it’s all about the rules. As long as the lion follows the rules, he’s welcome, in fact he becomes a regular and even makes himself quite useful. His tail dusts books while giving kids rides along the stacks of books. Miss Merriweather’s colleague, Mr. McBee, has more trouble accepting the lion’s presence in the library providing the tension in this very readable tale. When Miss Merriweather falls, it’s the lion whose ROAR alerts Mr. McBee to the accident saving the day. Sometimes, it’s clear, there’s “good reason to break the rules.” Notice the lion statues smiling before closing the book to contented little ones. – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
$16.99 U.S./$20.00 CAN Hardcover – ISBN: 9780763622626
Imagine the fun of going on a bear hunt-through tall, wavy grass (SWISHY SWISHY!); … and a swirling whirling snowstorm (HOOOO WOOOO!) – only to find a “real” bear waiting at the end of the trail! For brave hunters and bear lovers, a classic chant-aloud.
GRWR: It’s a beautiful day for a bear hunt. “We’re not scared.” Remember these three words because they get repeated over and over and their rhythm along with spot on sound effects make this one of the all time must-haves for any new parent’s home collection. Four kids, their dad, and the family’s faithful companion head out for some fresh air and a hike. They’ll traverse grass, a river, then mud, “Squelch Squerch! Squelch Squerch! Squelch Squerch! They go into a forest then emerge to see a snowstorm building and dark clouds blowing in. Kids’ll feel the frosty air as the mood begins to change. A cave is next. Oh, no! “We’ve got to go through it!” What’s that? A bear? A BEAR? The group backtracks in record time and as they retrace their steps, they end up being followed by the bear all the way home. Parents and caregivers can quicken their pace when reading the last bit. Especially the part where the family leaves the front door open and goes back down to shut it, coming face to face with the bear looking through the glass until …. at last, everyone is safe upstairs under the covers!! Phew, that was close. My kids always wondered if maybe the bear gave the family such a big chase simply because he wanted some friends. Whatever conversation develops from a reading, all the better. That’s what makes this story a timeless adventure for the entire family. Plus, you can read it, and squelch and squerch to your heart’s content without ever having to worry about getting mud on a nice, clean floor. – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
ABOUT CANDLEWICK PRESS Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia, based in Sydney and Auckland. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com.
Short, chunky, and sweet, describes this Halloween board book designed for the youngest audience. Wickle Woo Has a Halloween Party, written by Nosy Crow with illustrations by Jannie Ho (Nosy Crow 201; $7.99, Ages 0-3) cleverly incorporates a game of peek-a-boo with a holiday theme. Sturdy tabs are easy for chubby little hands to pull out and reveal various animals in their Halloween costumes, then push back in again.
Wickle Woo, an owl in a wizard’s hat and robe, is having a Halloween party. He can hear his friends, but their costumes are so good, that he has trouble recognizing them. Ho has an interesting cast of characters, dressed in adorable child-friendly outfits. Bear is masquerading as a flower, lion is a pirate, and monkey is disguised as an astronaut, to name a few. There are pumpkins and spiders and bats and witches, but Ho keeps them cute, not creepy.
This is a perfect treat for those who are too young for too many sweets!
It’s time to break out the glitter pens, colored pencils, tin foil, and any other art supplies you might have. Just in time for Halloween, Marnie Edwards (author) and Leigh Hodgkinson (illustrator), along with the help of the reader, have cast a magic spell with their anti-coloring/activity book. Magical Mix-Ups, Spells and Surprises(Nosy Crow 2014; $6.99, Ages 7 and up), has an enchanting story line as well.
Princess Sapphire and Emerald the Witch are best friends. They live in Mixtopia, where things are, well, mixed up, and they attend St. Aubergine’s School. They make a new friend, Violet, who has trouble controlling her broom and has trouble learning to fly. Emerald has troubles of her own. She’s a witch who isn’t very good at casting spells. The girls are preparing for the Halloween Festival and decide to help each other out. There are tiaras and tutus, dancing and candy, magic and friendship and all the things girls love at this age in this well-crafted book.
Oh, Nosy Crow, I love you so! Hmmm, maybe I’ll use that when I help Emerald with her rhyming spell assignment.
– Reviews by MaryAnne Locher
Other terror-ific & recommended great books for Halloween time are:
From England comes I Wonder Who? by Anton Poitier with illustrations by Sophia Touliatou (Kane Miller, $12.99, Ages 3-7).
Part lift-the-flap, part pop-up and part die cut, this colorful interactive animal concept book will engage your youngsters and be just as enjoyable for you to share with them.
The playful depiction of animals from caterpillars to whales complements the questions:
“I wonder who has eaten the page?”
“I wonder who has made a big splash?”
Though little ones may not be able to read the replies, they’ll use the clues and discuss with parents who could possibly be hiding behind each flap and not even realize the pre-literacy and language skills they’ll be developing. Being a cat owner, my favorite scene is the one with a ripped page. Which one will be your child’s favorite?
Another treat: In every scene there are some cute birds to be found, adding yet another activity to this fun busy book.
NOTE: Since the book is from England, in one scene with an elephant, “currant buns” are mentioned, so it would be helpful for parents/caregivers to know that a currant bun is sweet and full of raisin-like berries.
The Night Before College by Sonya Sones and Ava Tramer with artwork by Max Dalton, Grosset & Dunlap, 2014.
An homage to Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, The Night Before College(Grosset & Dunlap, $9.99, Ages 17 and up) by Sonya Sones and Ava Tramer makes an ideal graduation gift, so pick up several copies at your local independent bookshop and who knows, you may even get a hand-written thank you note or phone call instead of a text or email! Please scroll down for details about our grad giveaway.
You know the Moore version, but did you know that … ?
‘Twas the night before college, and from East Coast to West, all the soon-to-be freshman could simply not rest.
Parents, do you remember the drama of your child writing essays, all the waiting for email word of admissions, all your discussions with everyone from your Facebook friends to your family doctor? This rollicking rhyming tale will take readers through all the humor, stress and anticipation the academic world throws out at students. From Junior year junkets to colleges across the country to SAT exam prep, from the dreaded college interview to dreaming of dorm rooms, it’s all there for parents to relive and grads to kiss good-bye. For families fortunate enough to have their children finish high school and go on to college, The Night Before College is an up-beat celebration of the school years starting with a swift ode to preschool and elementary school.
By nine, they’d discovered some new Mayan ruins. By twelve, they’d been courted to play for the Bruins.
Max Dalton’s cartoon-like artwork invites some careful viewing. My favorite illustration was of the college fair with table cloths of the various schools labeled “This State College,” “That State College” and “Yet Another School.” I honestly couldn’t stop grinning as Sones and Tramer hit all the highlights of pre-college life I first experienced courtesy of my daughter three years ago. I sure hope they’ll think about penning a sequel, The Night Before Real Life, for college grads! – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
We’re giving away one copy of The Night Before College to one lucky winner. Enter now by completing private form below. The giveaway ends at midnight PST on Tuesday, May 27th. One winner will be selected using Random.org and notified on Wednesday, May 28th via email. Good luck!
1) Use private entry form below.
2) Be sure to include your name and address in the COMMENTS box.
3) LIKE us on Facebook and/or Twitter and let us know you did. LIKING us twice gives you an extra entry!
Baby and Me, written and illustrated by by Emma Dodd (Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press, $14.99, Ages 3 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
Nosy Crow has hit its mark again with Baby and Me by Emma Dodd. This 16-page, interactive picture book is a wonderful introduction to becoming a caring, helpful older sibling. A little girl is playing with her baby doll, and soon realizes that taking care of the doll is hard work. She must feed her, change her diaper, play with her in a bath, keep her warm, and put her to bed. The girl learns empathy for her mommy, who has had a new baby.
Children will enjoy the friendly features of the girl and of her baby doll, toys, and pet cat. The brightly-colored illustrations are simple, as is the text, and those simple explanations work best for a younger audience.
And when it’s bedtime, I say, “Night-night. Sleep tight, sweetie.”
Being a mommy is really hard work!
That’s why I’m going to give my mommy lots of help…with our new baby!
Each page has an interactive component, as such pulling a tab to see the baby doll drink milk and covering the baby doll with a cozy towel. (My younger daughter can attest to this. She has commented a number of times as to how soft the towel feels.) The pages and cover feel sturdy, so little fingers can turn, pull, and lift without much chance of tearing the book. If your child loves to play mommy or if she’s about to become an older sister, Baby and Meis a winsome read.
If you have a preschooler, chances are you know of Peppa Pig as seen on Nick Jr., the mud-loving, outgoing piglet. Candlewick Press has released several Peppa Pig books that your young children are sure to enjoy. Read Rita Zobayan’s review below of two recent books in the series.
Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School, Candlewick Press, 2013.
In Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School, Peppa and her friends are busy preparing for Special Talent Day. However, Madame Gazelle reminds the class that there is much to do before the show. The students must practice their numbers and the alphabet. Next, they play store when they practice social skills and money management. This very busy day also includes art, lunch, recess, and music! Finally, it’s time for the Special Talents show and the class is excited, but Peppa Pig begins to worry. Everyone else seems to have better talents and then Suzy Sheep unknowingly performs Peppa’s talent, and Peppa thinks she has nothing else to show.
“I don’t have a special talent that hasn’t been done already,” says Peppa.
“Of course you do,” says Madame Gazelle. “Think of something you really like to do.”
Peppa is quiet. She thinks. Then she smiles. “I know!” she says. She grabs her boots. “Follow me!”
The cast of characters are friendly and school structure is realistic. Not everyone gets everything right. For example, when the eager students pick their instruments, the music doesn’t quite sound the way they hoped.
Everyone plays together: Boom, bang, crash!
“Oh, my!” cries Madame Gazelle. “That sounds a bit more like noise than music! Let’s go one at a time…then each of you can join in.”
Thus, the students learnhow to manage themselves and listen well. Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School is a great example from which preschoolers can learn the components of school and how to cope with its demands.
(Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School; Candlewick Press, Hardcover; $12.99; Paperback, $4.99, ages 2-5)
Peppa Pig and the Perfect Day, Candlewick Press, 2013.
For hands-on fun, Peppa Pig and the Perfect Day presents an opportunity to read and play. Peppa and her family are spending a perfect day together. They ride past a duck pond and picnic in the park. Later, Peppa’s friends, Danny Dog and Suzy Sheep, come over to play. Next, Peppa’s family and friends gather on Grandpa Pig’s boat for sailing fun.
Your little one can play as you read. The book comes with a sturdy fold-out playmat that features the seaside, gas station, grocery story, duck pond, and Peppa’s house. Add the removable car and boat pop-ups, the press-out characters (Peppa, her family, and some friends), and the reusable stickers (including life vests—how thoughtful!), and you have a Peppa Pig play world. My four-year-old daughter greatly enjoys playing with this book. (And though she’d probably be too proud to admit it, my nine-year-old has been spotted playing alongside. In fact, she was the one who assembled the car and boat.) Peppa Pig and the Perfect Day provides playtime fun.
(Peppa Pig and the Perfect Day; Candlewick Press; $17.99; ages 3 and up)
Christmas is upon us, which undoubtedly means presents. Why not combine two perennial kid favorites—Play-Doh and books—and delight the youngsters in your life? Silver Dolphin Books and Hasbro have done exactly that. The Play-Doh Christmas Craft Fun set includes four cans of Play-Doh, a plastic knife and roller, and 15 projects wrapped into a 32-page activity book.
Santa is on his way to Jolly Town, and Penguin, Cat, and Dog need your help to get the town ready! Help them prepare a tree, a candy cane, a bow, advent candle, a stocking and 10 more fun, Christmas-themed items. Each project is presented in three easy-to-follow steps with accompanying photographs. Then the project is highlighted in the two-page spread artwork.
Time for presents! Let’s make one.
1. Shape two square in any colors you like. Make one thinner than the other. Then make five small rolls.
2. Put the thin square on top of the bigger one. Flatten the rolls into strips and fold them over. Roll out several tiny round pieces.
3. Use the folded strips to make a bow. Make a ball for the middle of the bow. Decorate with the tiny round pieces.
This gift is ready to go under the tree! Great job! Maybe next year you can work at the North Pole!
The artwork consists of Play-Doh figures on a backdrop. They’re fun and inviting scenes. See the cozy fireplace where you can hang your stockings. Step into Mrs. Claus’ kitchen where she’s busy baking gingerbread cookies, with your help, of course! Watch the snowflakes cover the trimmed tree!
Create some Christmas memories with the Play-Doh Christmas Craft Fun activity book and set.
Today’s must-have, Santa Claus: All About Me (by Me), written and illustrated by Juliette and John Atkinson, (Minedition Books, $34.95, all ages) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
Santa Claus: All About Me by Juliette and John Atkinson, Minedition Books, 2013.
Santa Claus: All About Me (By Me)is simply a gorgeous book. Perfect for the Christmas-lover in your life, it is chock full of information and astounding artwork. The reader learns many interesting details about the evolution and history of Santa and Christmas throughout the world and the ages. For instance, did you know that Christmas was officially banned in England during 1647-1660 and then in America during 1659-1681? Christmas crackers—those fun, paper, party poppers—were invented by an English confectioner named Tom Smith in 1847. They have been an English tradition, filled with a paper crown, a trinket, and a joke, ever since. Today, Santa is seen as wearing red; however, earlier portrayals had him in luxurious green and blue gowns.
Interior image of poppers from Santa Claus: All About Me by Juliette and John Atkinson, Minedition Books, 2013.
Presented as Santa’s own scrapbook, and two years in the making, Santa Claus: All About Me has flaps, booklets, a sixpence, recipes, a 3-D snowflake, letters, and so much more to explore. Every time I open this book, I discover something new. The artwork ranges from historical representations of Santa, such as etchings, to photographs and paintings. A wide range of co-characters fills the pages. Some such as Mrs. Christmas (Mrs. Claus) and the elves are to be expected, but in comes Charles Darwin. What could possibly be the connection? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Santa Claus: All About Me is a wonderful choice for a coffee table or gift book that will provide hours of entertaining and informative reading, as well as a visual feast. Your family will look forward to taking it out, displaying and sharing it for years to come.
Day of the Dead Activity Book by Karl Jones with illustrations by Steve Simpson from Price Stern Sloan 2013.
SUGAR SKULLS & GRAVEYARD CAKES FOR DAY OF THE DEAD
Day of the Dead Activity Book(Price Stern Sloan, $9.99, Ages 6-9), written by Karl Jones and illustrated by Steve Simpson is reviewed today by Rita Zobayan.
Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a primarily Mexican holiday. Celebrated on November 1 and 2 as a way to remember loved ones who have passed away, Dia de los Muertos has many traditions. The Day of the Dead Activity Book written by Karl Jones and illustrated by Steve Simpson provides information and activities to learn more about this ancient celebration. Readers will learn about the history of the holiday, including the influence of the Spanish conquistadores and the Catholic Church. What is an ofrenda or papel picado? Read and find out!
Activities include recipes for sugar skulls and graveyard cake, and instructions for face painting and making paper planes, papel picado, press-out face masks, and paper marigolds. In addition there is a theme-related word find, a crossword puzzle, and a maze. There are six press-out pieces to build your own shrine, four press-out figures, and two press-out masks. The fun doesn’t stop there: two pages full of Day of the Dead stickers finish off the book.
The art work is colorful. The skulls, prevalent in the celebration of the holiday, might be initially a little startling for younger readers, but Steve Simpson does a wonderful job of making them friendly. The Day of the Dead Activity Book is an active introduction to a holiday celebrated by millions.
Max & Ruby’s Trick or Treat is full of fun activities to keep kids busy.
Max & Ruby’s Trick or Treat: A Coloring & Activity Book, (Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group, $5.99, Ages 3-5) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
It’s Halloween and Max & Ruby are dressing up!
TV favorites (as seen on Nick Jr.), mischievous Max and his big sister Ruby, are getting ready for Halloween in Max & Ruby’s Trick or Treat,and we’re invited to join the fun. Help Max color and count his toys. Practice tracing theme words, such as candy, spider and pumpkin. Help Ruby match her costume apparel, and then complete her ensemble. Spot the differences as the bunnies’ beloved grandmother serves Halloween treats. Max is without his trick-or-treat bag! Guide him through the maze to retrieve it. This 16-page activity book is full of fun, including connect-the dots and pattern recognition activities. For added enjoyment, there are stickers and two press-out figures, one of Max and one of Ruby. Happy Halloween!
I’m a huge Jim Henson fan so when I received these new Pajanimals bedtime board books (some even include my fave – reusable stickers!) and paperbacks from Running Press Kids, I knew I had to share them all with you. The best part about this new collection is that they provide parents with ideal reading material for toddlers dealing with concerns and fears quite common for their developmental stage.
The writing in all the Pajanimals bedtime books is upbeat, easy flowing and each colorful book focuses on a way to tackle the title’s issue in a comforting way whether it be about jealousy, nightmares or waking up on the wrong side of the bed. For instance in Sweet Pea Sue Misses Mom and Dad, Sweet Pea would rather sleep with Mom and Dad than spend the night in her own room. However after a quick visit to the Moon with her pals Squacky, Cowbella and Apollo, and a thoughtful question from the Moon, Sweet Pea Sue solves the dilemma herself. I sure wish books like these had been available 18 years ago when my oldest daughter faced many of the same challenges. Children will be able to relate to their favorite TV characters and parents will be thankful for an easy, affordable way to discuss otherwise tricky topics. The books’ size makes them easy to take along on vacations or outings. Why not also consider giving them as a gift because, when paired with another Pajanimals product, they’d certainly please most any toddler you know!
Apollo Has a Bad Day – $4.95
Lots of things are going wrong for Apollo today. When he is feeling too angry and sad to sleep, he and the Pajanimals travel to The Night Sky. The Moon reminds Apollo that though there are bad days, tomorrow is always a brand new day.
Squacky Is Afraid of the Dark– $4.95
Squacky is afraid to go to sleep in the dark. Luckily the rest of the Pajanimals know just what to do! They travel to The Night Sky where the Moon reminds Squacky that he is always shining bright in the sky and watching over the Pajanimals.
SMALL FORMAT BOARD BOOKS
Sweet Pea Sue Misses Mom and Dad – $6.95
Sweet Pea Sue can’t sleep because she wants to be in Mom and Dad’s bed. When the Pajanimals travel to the Moon, she remembers that Mom and Dad are always close by if she needs them, and that Moon is always there watching over them.
Cowbella and the Bad Dream– $6.95
Cowbella is afraid she’s going to have a bad dream and doesn’t want to go to sleep. The Pajanimals travel to the Friendly Forest where Jerry the bear assures Cowbella that if her imagination can think up scary thoughts, it can also make happy thoughts! So she learns to only think of happy things before she goes to sleep.
BOARD BOOKS/12 pages (Includes reusable stickers – warning: small parts. Not for children under 3 years)
It’s Apollo’s Special Day – $7.95
Tomorrow is Apollo’s Birthday and the Pajanimals are excited to celebrate—all except for Cowbella. She wishes that it was her Birthday so she can get all the cake and presents. But when they visit Mr. Happy Birthday at Birthday Land, Cowbella discovers that the fun part about a Birthday party is spending time with the ones you love.
Sweet Pea Sue can’t sleep because she’s scared of a picture of an octopus she saw in a book. When the Pajanimals go to the Big, Blue Sea, they meet Ellie, a real octopus. To Sweet Pea Sue’s surprise, Ellie is scared of the Pajanimals. The two realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of because they just want to be friends.
Squacky and The Gift of Christmas – $7.95
The Pajanimals are excited that Christmas is coming! Squacky really hopes he gets the new Fantastic Splash Super Sub, but then becomes worried that Santa won’t bring it. The Pajanimals travel to The Night Sky where the Moon reminds Squacky that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get, it’s about spending time with the ones you love and sharing Christmas traditions together.
To find out more about the Pajanimals, see their TV schedule, see videos, get activities and craft ideas plus enter contests, visit Sprout here.
PECK, PECK, PECK (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 2-5 ) by Lucy Cousins, best known for her super popular and successful Maisy series, has written and illustrated an adorable picture you should get, get, get! My 12-year-old son picked it up (it’s hard not to be attracted to the bright yellow cover with actual die-cut holes) and, after reading it, announced, “Very cute! Kids’ll love this.”
This 32-page hardcover book, with its bold graphics and signature bright Cousins’ colors, is so much fun and it’s easy to see how much time was devoted to getting the locations of the holes on every page just right so as not to ruin the next page. The rhyme is simple and catchy that little kids will certainly want to chime in. To start, the little red-headed woodpecker says,
“Today my daddy Said to me, “‘It’s time you learned to peck a tree.'”
And so the pecking begins … first a tree, (with kudos from Dad for a hole superbly pecked) … then onto a fence, a big blue door then into the house for more pecking galore. The humor is not lost when the little woodpecker practices his newfound skills on an armchair, a teddy bear, and a book called Jane Eyre!! The variety of items that receive holes is hysterical. Nothing seems to have escaped the bird’s beak.
Besides all the rhymes, children will thoroughly enjoy the tons of holes everywhere that they can poke while having one last silly fest before settling down for bed. Even the story’s little birdie is beat and decides to return to his nest. Thank goodness that when Daddy plants some goodnight kisses on his little bird’s head, only lots of love and pride, but no holes, accompany them!
Our family has been enjoying Barefoot Books for many years mostly because of their diversity, quality and beautiful illustrations. All you have to do is check out their website here and you’ll see what I mean. There are bilingual books, independent reader books, stories from around the world, games and more. It’s not hard to find yourself wanting everything. However today I’m reviewing a version of A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea (Barefoot Books, $16.99, hardcover with enhanced CD; $9.99, paperback with Enhanced CD, $6.99, paperback only, ages 3-6), adapted by Jessica Law with artwork by Jill McDonald and sung by The Flannery Brothers.
This classic cumulative song is perfect for print and features creatures such as a shark, an eel, a squid, a crab, a snail and a weed thus introducing nature’s food chain to youngsters in a fun, gentle way. And kids will enjoy pointing out the eel and all the others as they each try to hide from their respective predator.
“There’s an eel and a shark in the hole in the bottom of the sea.
He’s concealed from the shark in the hole in the bottom of the sea.
There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea!”
The book works on many levels in that it’s repetitive and sing-songy, there’s a page with numbers where the creatures are counted, all with easy to read text. McDonald’s engaging art is created using textured and painted papers that are then assembled digitally with a bold and vibrant outcome sure to please.
The helpful end pages contain loads of info on the blue holes found in the bottom of sea, the food chain, and the creatures who call the ocean their home. Plus there are words and music included to play with an instrument not to mention the CD containing video animation and audio singalong.
When you purchase a Barefoot Book you are helping the planet as they only use paper from sustainably managed forests.
“Playful, beautiful and created to last a lifetime, our products combine the best of the present with the best of the past to educate our children as the caretakers of tomorrow.” That’s a credo to admire in this day and age of over-packaged goods, and non-environmentally friendly products.