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A Sweet Bedtime Treat: Goodnight, Anne by Kallie George

GOODNIGHT, ANNE
Written by Kallie George
Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
(Tundra Books; $17.99, Ages 3-7)

 

cover illustration from Goodnight Anne by Kallie George

 

Goodnight, Anne, a welcome tribute to L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, makes me smile! Everything about it is suitably comfortable, yet also dreamy.

interior spread from Goodnight Anne

Interior artwork from Goodnight, Anne written by Kallie George and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout, Tundra Books ©2018.

 

Anne (with an “e”) goes about her little world saying goodnight to everyone and everything around her. Page after page of Genevieve Godbout’s warm, winsome illustrations beckon the reader to join Anne as she remembers all the people and places she loves before she finally goes to sleep. Older readers already familiar with Anne will welcome the familiar names, but younger readers will not lose out. Marilla, Matthew, Gilbert, Diana, Mrs. Lynde and Miss Stacy all make appearances in the book.

interior artwork from Goodnight Anne

Interior artwork from Goodnight, Anne written by Kallie George and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout, Tundra Books ©2018.

 

Some of the things that Anne says goodnight to, such as stars, trees, and flowers, younger readers already know. There are just enough Anne references to please any fan, yet not so many that anyone would feel left out if they had not already heard Anne’s story. In fact, it will send them in search of more of Anne’s stories!

int illustration from Goodnight Anne

Interior artwork from Goodnight, Anne written by Kallie George and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout, Tundra Books ©2018.

 

Kallie George’s writing is simple yet lovely, making the book just right for children. It will see them off to bed beautifully. Anne would be so pleased to know that her story would see someone off to bed beautifully! All around it’s a treat of a book that cherishes the spirit of the original work. I have a feeling that both the author and artist worked very hard to honor Anne’s story and L.M. Montgomery’s writing. They certainly have accomplished that, and that was no easy task. Congratulations to both of them on a book Anne would have adored. Be sure to pick up Goodnight, Anne for any kindred spirit you might know who would enjoy Anne’s company at an early age. We all know someone who reminds us of Anne!

  • Reviewed by Hilary Taber

 

 

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Three Magic Words We Love to Hear – If Animals Said I Love You by Ann Whitford Paul

IF ANIMALS SAID I LOVE YOU
Written by Ann Whitford Paul
Illustrated by David Walker
(Farrah Straus Giroux; $16.99, Ages 2-6)

 

If Animals Said I Love You book cover art

 

 If Animals Said I Love You is a charming and worth-waiting-for companion to Ann Whitford Paul’s and David Walker’s If Animals Kissed Goodnight, and this new bedtime tale does not disappoint.

There are lots of different ways that animals say I love you to their family and friends, and young readers will welcome how creatively they show their love any time of day or night in this picture book. Although the story’s star is Gorilla who appears several times throughout the book in addition to being featured in the beginning and end, children will also get to meet nine other animals including Whale, Boa, Lion, Secretary Bird, Cheetah, Spider, Ostrich, Impala and Alligator.

 

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Interior spread from If Animals Said I Love You written by Ann Whitford and illustrated by David Walker, Farrar Straus Giroux ©2017.

 

Can you guess how a Whale might say these three important words? Would it be in whale song? Perhaps, but only partially. “Whale would sing it and, from his spout, shoot some heart-shaped bubbles out.” And what about Boa? “Boa would hiss, “Hatchlings, come please. Time for a loving, squish-hugging squeeze.”

 

int 2 spread If Animals Said I Love You

Interior spread from If Animals Said I Love You written by Ann Whitford and illustrated by David Walker, Farrar Straus Giroux ©2017.

 

Each individual animal grouping demonstrates its love in a unique way, one that youngsters will want to imitate whether that be the slap-slap chest pound from Gorilla or the big tail swish and shower splashity-splish of Alligator. 

Paul’s lyrical text is playful and inviting. It’s hard to resist repeating the whappity-whaps, click-clacks and heapity-heaps. Walker’s soothing artwork is a sweet accompaniment to Paul’s well-paced rhythm and rhyme. His animals are adorable and endearing and never stagnant until the closing spread seen below. From twisty Boa  to leapity-leaping Impala, these animals’ motions move the reader to turn the page for another new treat of words and illustrations.

 

int 3 spread If Animals Said I Love You

Interior spread from If Animals Said I Love You written by Ann Whitford and illustrated by David Walker, Farrar Straus Giroux ©2017.

 

If Animals Said I Love You may be packed with tons of heart-warming animal love and affection, but rest assured, there’s always room for more hugs and kisses and I love yous at the end as you tuck your own little one into bed.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Read another bedtime story review here.

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Epic 18 Twofer Tuesday: Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! and Iver & Ellsworth

Unlikely friends have delightfully different,
unexpected adventures in two new picture books
from debut, Epic 18 authors.

PENGUIN & TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME!
Written by Cate Berry
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
(Balzer + Bray; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

&

IVER & ELLSWORTH
Written by Casey W. Robinson
Illustrated by Melissa Larson
(Ripple Grove Press, $17.99, Ages 4-8)

are reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime! cover imageWhat do a penguin and a shrimp have in common? It’s their dogged insistence that PENGUIN & TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME!, no matter what sleep aids and comfy settings surround them. Author Berry poises the pair in the midst of a typical toddler bedtime routine. With toothbrushing over and jammies on, Penguin and Shrimp remain positive that they are not heading to bed. Their anti-bedtime speech bubbles pop in counterpoint across the page, tracking their sleep evasion tactics despite big soft beds, cozy covers, or squishy soft pillows.

The story quickly ramps up as the pair celebrate colorful fireworks, escape from lions, swing on rainforest vines and ride hot air balloons. Minute by minute, they grow zanier and more out-of-control as their desperate-but-denied need for sleep escalates. Song, jokes, and the arrival of a uni-hippo aside, the pair confidently assert that,  “One thing this book will never do is make you tired … This book will never make you yawn.”

Santoso’s comic digital art contradicts and amplifies the duo’s predicament in bright, strong colors and crisp outlines. Penguin and Tiny Shrimp gush personality with big eyes and expressive mouths which eventually–inevitably–transition to droopy eyelids and gigantic yawns. The fun and games draw to an appropriately snoozy conclusion that will ring true with all parents who must wrangle not-sleepy kids and toddlers to bed.

 

Iver & Ellsworth cover illustration Another unlikely pair, a solitary senior factory worker and an immense, inflatable polar bear, star in IVER & ELLSWORTH, a sweet story about steadfast friendship and devotion. Iver, a trim, mustachioed gentleman with square rimmed spectacles, packs his lunch and heads to work in an urban factory. Ellsworth, a chubby and observant bear, remains tethered to the factory roof. High above the city, the stationary bear watches the world rushing by. Iver visits at lunchtime, offering commentary on the view and bustling traffic.

Robinson makes it clear that the two share a bond built over many years. Iver tenderly cares for Ellsworth season after season. He dries away spring rain, sweeps away autumn leaves, and clears snow before his daily final check to make certain the anchor ropes are secure. But one day, the day Iver is retiring from his factory job, he is slow to perform his tasks and say farewell to his faithful, inflatable friend.

Illustrator Larson employ several wordless spreads to show us the separate adventures that unfold next. Iver begins to embrace retirement, and Ellsworth becomes unmoored from the factory roof. Her delicate pencil and watercolor images are restrained and subtle, ranging from muted gray greens to glorious rosy sunsets. The peaceful landscapes pair beautifully with Robinson’s spare, understated text, leaving ample room for readers to absorb and appreciate this unique friendship tale that ends with joyful reunification. IVER & ELLSWORTH is a cozy book perfect for reassuring readers that true friendship endures.

  • Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

 

Where obtained:  I reviewed either an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher or a library edition and received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Read another of Cathy’s recent Epic 18 reviews here

 

Trailer for PENGUIN & TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME! here:  

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Feet, Go To Sleep by Barbara Bottner Blog Tour & Giveaway

FEET, GO TO SLEEP
Written by Barbara Bottner
Illustrated by Maggie Smith
(Knopf Books for Young Readers; 16.99, Ages 3-7)

A BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY

 

Feet-go-to-sleep-236x300It’s Day 2 of this terrific picture book blog tour. And for parents who need a way to get their little ones off to the land of nod, we’re guessing the timing couldn’t be better!

“I’m not ready!”
“I keep thinking about today .”
“I don’t feel tired.”

How do you respond to hearing those words at bedtime, especially if you know it’s not procrastination, but more a case of simply not wanting a wonderful day to end? It’s difficult because we all at one time or another have experienced that hyped-up, can’t turn my brain off feeling just like our kids.

Feet, Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner is the perfect read aloud picture book response to these occasional protestations. But frankly, it’s also a lot more. Reading Feet, Go to Sleep is an original way to teach children a popular relaxation technique (referred to in yesterday’s post as Savasana) for winding down to ensure a speedy visit to dreamland. Along the way, children can practice the process of putting each part of their body to sleep just like Fiona, the book’s main character, while recounting their day’s events either to their parents or to themselves.

It’s no wonder young Fiona can’t easily settle down. Her busy day at the beach with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandma, was packed with family fun and activities. Fiona keeps thinking about it all. First there was the dash to the beach. That involved toes gripping flip-flops. Then came feet. Watch out for splashes as they go “stomping in the waves at the ocean’s edge.”

Toes were easy. They went right to sleep.
“What’s next?” asked Mama.
“Feet, go to sleep!”

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Interior artwork from Feet, Go To Sleep by Barbara Bottner with illustrations by Maggie Smith, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ©2015.

Thoughts of her carefree day continue as she pictures herself building a sand castle, launching a seaweed attack against cousins, munching down some scrumptious picnic lunch, then …

“Shoulders, go to sleep,” said Fiona, giving
them one last roll before they lay still.

Shoulders were for rubbing with sunscreen.

Playing carries on with a beach ball toss, followed by an outdoor shower back at home and then a barbeque at dusk, and bedtime. But can Fiona fall asleep when she’s tuned in to grown up voices chatting outside her open window?

Smith’s spot on illustrations have captured all the action and joy of a sunshiny day at the beach, so much so that you’ll find yourself ready to grab the sun block and join the group. And the blues she uses for her bedtime spreads are soothing and slumber-inducing.

Together Bottner and Smith have got it right with this lovely to look at and delightful to read story. I can’t think of a single over-tired child (or parent) who wouldn’t benefit from the simple steps provided, starting way down with toes, and feet, then moving all the way up the body and ending with …

“Eyes, go to sleep,” whispered Fiona.

If my kids were still young, I’d welcome the chance to introduce this powerful, yet peaceful way of releasing tension from their bodies, that’s cleverly wrapped inside an ebullient beach day bedtime story.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Check out all the great bloggers on this tour to get a variety of perspectives on Feet, Go To Sleep.

5/12 Booktalking #kidlit
5/13 GoodReadsWithRonna
5/14 Wrapped in Foil
5/15 Teaching Authors
5/16 Big Hair and Books
5/18 Frog on a Blog
5/19 Chapter Book Chat
5/20 In Bed With Books
5/21 Shelf-employed

AN EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY! See below. Plus, if you follow us on Facebook and let us know in the comments below, we’ll give you an extra entry. An additional comment on our Facebook post for this blog tour gets you yet another entry. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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ELSA AND THE NIGHT BY JÖNS MELLGREN

A Heartwarming & Breathtaking Picture Book Featuring
Both a Badger & The Night as Characters

☆Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

Elsa and the Nightelsaandthenight-cvr.jpg (Little Gestalten, $19.95, Ages 5-8), a sophisticated picture book by Jöns Mellgren translated from Swedish by Anita Shenoi, is the story of Elsa whose profound sadness after losing a close friend has prevented her from getting any sleep for 30 years.

When the Night shows up at Elsa’s house, “it’s getting light,” outside. But this particular Night is cup-sized, dark and “trembling like a sewing machine …”

Initially Elsa stores the Night into an old cake tin, and puts him the basement boiler room of her apartment building. But while the Night is safely tucked away, the towns-creatures grow tired. Elsa realizes she must revive the Night to help everyone and, in spite of her 30 year insomnia, she couldn’t just let the Night fade away.

When Elsa and the Night spend time together, the Night learns of Elsa’s loss so many years before. Elsa’s best friend, Olaf, an elephant, passed away after getting ill while the two were stranded on an island together. Elsa remained to work in the lighthouse there until electricity replaced the gas lamps.

A touching and unique new friendship blossoms as does compassion. The two friends team up as Elsa takes the Night to see where Olaf is buried. Under the loving care of the Night, Elsa soon falls asleep and is carried by the Night as it becomes larger and begins spreading across the sky.

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Interior artwork from Elsa and the Night by Jöns Mellgren, Little Gestalten ©2014.

 

“Then the Night hums a song about the moonlight and warm slippers.
It empties the streets and puts an end to all the quarrels. It goes
from house to house, tucking everyone into bed.


I found myself reading this picture book over and over again to see how Mellgren so magically melds his poetic prose with his artwork. The colors are bold, the lines are sharp and there’s a clean graphic design look to each page. Mellgren’s also added some wonderful touches such as an umbrella the Night carries on Elsa’s recommendation which of course gets smaller and smaller as the Night grows in intensity. Parents will want to point out how the Night gets bigger and bigger, but only if the kids haven’t already fallen asleep! Prepare to be moved by this original tale of friendship lost and found.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Don’t Turn the Page! by Rachelle Burk

Don’t Turn the Page!, written by Rachelle Burk and illustrated by Julie Downing, is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

 

1. Don't Turn the Page.coverDon’t Turn the Page! (Creston Books, $16.95, Ages 3-6) is a cozy bedtime tale that capitalizes on a universal truth: Children will resist going to bed. Burk and Downing cleverly execute this idea as a book-within-a-book featuring a cuddly hedgehog and a sleepy bear cub.

Although Sami Hedgehog doesn’t want to stop playing with blocks, she is eager to hear just the first page of her new book. Cuddled on the couch, we – the readers – peer over Mama Hedgehog’s shoulder to learn about sleepy Little Bear of Rambling Woods who is getting ready for bed. Although they stop after one page, Sami begins to wonder “How do bears get ready for bed?” so Mama reads on. Inspired by Little Bear, Sami is gently encouraged to follow her own bedtime preparations step by step, page by page.

Burk divides the text into rhythmic rhyme for obedient Little Bear’s nightly routine. Sami’s story is told in prose, punctuated perfectly with her repeated, resistant command, “Don’t turn the page.” Mama Hedgehog is ever patient and reasonable, adapting to Sami’s sleepy pace as the book unfolds.

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Interior spread from Don’t Turn The Page! by Rachelle Burk with illustrations by Julie Downing, Creston Books, ©2014.

9781939547064.039781939547064.03Downing masterfully weaves the two tales seamlessly together through clever illustrations that show clues of the story-in-story on each page in alternating fashion. Different typefaces and thick page borders also reinforce the message about which story is being told and ties it neatly together in the end. The creatures are charming, and the soft colors are rich and muted. A special treat are the book’s endpapers, which echo the animal’s pajamas!

Don’t Turn the Page! is an endearing winner for bedtime reading. There may be no guarantee that kids will ever willingly get ready for bed, but I’m willing to bet that they will ask for this book to be read again and again.

–       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.

 

 

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Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt

Sleepyheads written by Sandra J. Howatt and illustrated by Joyce Wan, (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, $16.99, Ages 2-6), is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

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Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt with illustrations by Joyce Wan, Beach Lane Books, 2014.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun sets quite late in the summer. I relied on room-darkening blinds and soft music to lull my toddlers to sleep when the sun was still shining. If only I had owned a copy of Sandra Howatt’s delightful, yawn-inducing Sleepyheads about a decade ago!

Howatt’s story begins outdoors under soft moonlight with a delightful assortment of cuddly creatures snoozing in nests, trees, caves and waves. The cozy dozers – bear, duck, rabbit, pig – are relaxed and content. Quiet oozes throughout the soft “S” assonance sprinkled through the rhyming lines. While an owl keeps vigil (This one’s not a sleepyhead – this one slept all day!) we transition inside the house where the cat and dog are sound asleep. There is one last special sleepyhead to be found, where a pillow, bed and blanket await.

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Interior spread from Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt with illustrations by Joyce Wan, Beach Lane Books, ©2014.

Wan’s illustrations are perfectly sweet, soft and soothing. Fuzzy, thick-edged images reinforce the look of deep night sky, with subtle pops of pink, green and brown. The creatures are rounded into large, simple shapes that are just right for little ones learning animal names and homes. The night sky is sprinkled with luminous, glowing stars as tiny fireflies dot pages in a lovely rhythm.

Sleepyheads is just long enough, just soft enough, and just dreamy enough to cause even the most sleep-resistant tots to rub their eyes. Kirkus gave Sleepyheads a starred review, calling it “A superb execution of soporific shapes and sounds perfect for the bedside table.” Perfect for sweet nighttime tuck-ins!

–    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.

 

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Even Monsters … by A.J. Smith Virtual Tour & Giveaway

Welcome to the EVEN MONSTERS Virtual Tour & Giveaway courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!

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Even Monsters … written and illustrated by A.J. Smith, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014.

Be sure to scroll down to devour every last morsel of our exciting EVEN MONSTERS by A.J. Smith art contest, giveaway, interview & EVEN more!!

MONSTER ART CONTEST: Even the bravest little monsters can be scared of what’s lurking in a closet or under the bed. Author and illustrator A.J. Smith’s family-friendly picture book, Even Monsters (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, Ages 4-8 ) written and illustrated by A.J. Smith, is perfect for helping children understand that sometimes the things we are afraid of are not scary at all. In fact, they can be quite funny – see Fur of The Loom undies above!! To help kids overcome their fear of the dark and see how silly monsters can be, A.J. invites them to participate in the Monster Art Contest. Children ages 2-9 can send in their best monsters drawings for the chance to have their art animated into their own music video! The best 100 drawings will appear in a special Even Monsters art gallery, and the top 20 drawings will be animated into their own music video. WOW!

http://www.evenmonsters.com/artcontest.html
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PLEASE WATCH THIS TERRIFIC EVEN MONSTERS BOOK TRAILER BEFORE YOU READ OUR INTERVIEW.  Even Monsters Book Trailer

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR A.J. SMITH

Hi AJ! EVEN MONSTERS is ADORABLE and something both my kids would have loved when they were younger.  There’s something to discover on every page meaning kids will want to go back again and again to see if they can find something new. Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.43.03 PMGRWR: With that last sentence in mind, did you deliberately include those tiny cute orangey-red, big-eyed creatures for kids to seek out on every page (and perhaps count)?

A.J. SMITH: Certainly I want the story to be fun and engaging in its own right, but yes, the little cooties were added as a way to extend the life of the story by inviting kids to come back for multiple reads and explore the book for cooties. Taking it even a step further, kids can print and play this cootie-counter game: http://www.evenmonsters.com/cootieCounter.pdf

GRWR: I noticed a lot of broken items scattered throughout the book and thought you got into the young monsters’ heads quite well. Were you a monster when you were growing up?

A.J. SMITH: Kids (and monsters) can sometimes be destructive even when intentions are at their best. That said, I was an exceptionally gentle and thoughtful child who never did anything wrong. It’s possible my parents may have their own perspective on the matter, however.

GRWR: What prompted you to take this picture book one step further by introducing the digital element where kids (with help from their parents) can scan the QR codes throughout the book for assorted fun activities?

A.J. SMITH: I like the idea that a children’s book is a toy. Yes, it’s hopefully an eventual gateway to bigger literary endeavors. But in the meantime, a picture book should encourage interactivity and play. QR codes were just one more way for me to help facilitate that, which then brings you to more content online that revolves around Even Monsters. Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.52.51 PM GRWRAside from the fact that you’re obviously very talented, what else would you say influenced you to first enter the world of animation and designing?

A.J. SMITH: Thanks for the kind words. I’ve always liked to draw from a young age … Always enjoyed cartoons and books. I could talk all day about specific influences from pop culture to everyday events in childhood. But mostly I just always wanted to create stories and make people laugh. Animation, design, illustration, and writing became the best ways (for me) to make that happen.

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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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To Yawn or Not to Yawn?

I Dare You Not to Enjoy This Book!

Yawns are contagious as is the new book I Dare You Not to Yawn ($15.99, Candlewick Press, ages 4 and up) by the winning combination of author Hélène Boudreau and illustrator Serge Bloch. I happen to adore Boudreau’s inner-child channeled sense of humor and Debbie Glade is a huge Serge Bloch fan. So what’s not to love?

“Yawns are sneaky.
They can creep up on you when you least expect them.”

It’s true. Watch out, kids! DO NOT YAWN!

0763650706.medThis cleverly conceived cautionary tale is a bit conspiratorial, too. The author/narrator is speaking directly to children to teach them the signs of an approaching yawn and how to keep said yawn from … yawwrrr – popping out. Why does this matter you might ask? Because, along with eye rubbing, the  yawn is a major indicator that someone (and that someone is you,  kiddo)  is getting sleepy.  And the only place that gets you is the dreaded Put To Bed.

Bloch’s bold colors and whimsical characters delight the eye.  Yawns have never looked this funny.  “And WHATEVER YOU DO,” warns Boudreau, “don’t think of droopy-eyed baby orangutans holding their long arms out for a hug from their mamas …” No that simply won’t do.  Practice all the suggested skills needed to shove that yawn right back where it came from and then, only then, will you be the master of your bedtime.  But if you cannot keep that stubborn yawn from escaping, it just might be your body playing one last round of dare before you drift off to dreamland.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Sweet, Sweet Dreams

sweetdreams-gfReviewer Debbie Glade shares her opinion of a cuddle up and get cozy bedtime book.

In a sea of picture books, the cover of Sweet Dreams ($16.95, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Ages 3 and up), written by Rose A. Lewis and illustrated by Jen Corace really caught my eye, beckoning me to open it to see what’s inside.

With simple rhyming verse from mother to child, the pages are filled with descriptions about the animals living nearby and what they do at night. The book is meant to be read slowly, and the beautiful watercolor pictures are meant to inspire.  While children learn a bit about animals, they are lured ever so gently to sleep.

“And the very teeny, tiny mouse

Soaking wet from a big puddle,

Curled up under the moonflowers’ vines,

Just waiting for a cuddle.”

Simply put, Sweet Dreams is a charming bedtime story with outstanding illustrations and that calming quality all parents of young readers need to rely on from time to time to get their active kids to sleep.

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Three Snowy Books for a Cozy Night of Reading

I sure wish I could throw a snowball once in a while, but that’s not likely to happen here at my home in Miami. At least in place of the real thing, I am able to enjoy three unique books about winter. One features a snowman, one is about a mommy grizzly bear and her cub and one is about -get this – a sledding pig. Let’s get started!

Making a Friend ($16.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ages 4 and up), by bestselling author, Alison McGhee, is one of those really cozy books you want to read to your child in bed on a snowy night. It’s a story about a boy who is dreaming of winter and is longing for a snowman friend. The first snowfall finally arrives and his dream comes true, but soon the weather warms and he is wondering where the snowman went. The seasons change and he soon discovers something important about his snowman friend and about life. What I like about this book is that so much of the story is told through the wonderful illustrations by artist, Marc Rosenthal. It’s just a subtle, comforting story that celebrates the right of every child to make a snowman, come the first snowfall of the season.

Every child’s library needs some really simple books that warm the heart and feed the soul. Starry Night, Hold Me Tight ($12.95, Running Press Kids, ages 4 and up) by Jean Sagendorph is one of those books. Told in simple rhyme, it is about a day of play and a starry night in the life of a cub and his mommy. The charming illustrations by Kim Siebold, done in black and white on a silvery blue background are fitting for the story. This is a perfect book for a bedtime story for very young children.

Can it be that author Leo Timmers was on Breckinridge with me in 1983 when I “skied” for the very first time, and my chaotic downhill adventures inspired him to write this book? Oops! ($5.95, Clavis Publishing, ages 3 and up) is a funny, darling book about a pig that has lost all control as he sleds down hill. He is forced to make instant decisions to keep from crashing into other creatures on the mountain. Young readers learn the difference between words such as “over,” “under,” “around” and “between.” Trained in graphic design, Mr. Timmers’ illustrations are colorful and crisp and very cartoon-like. Both parents and kids will get a good laugh out of the story and are sure to enjoy reading it over and over again.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Welcome to the World

My son and I just loved editor and author Valerie Wyatt’s How to Build Your Own Country which I reviewed in the November 2009 issue of L.A. Parent. We spent countless hours discussing that book so when I received a copy of Welcome to the World ($14.95, Kids Can Press, ages 0-3 ) written by Valerie Wyatt with photographs by Lennette Newell, I knew it would be terrific, too. In just 24 pages, half of them adorable close-ups of babies, animals and nature, the author succeeds in capturing the emotions a parent feels and wishes to share with their child.  It begins perfectly with:

Dear Baby,
Welcome to the world
and all its wonders.

You will feel the sun on your skin
and be warmed by it.

And ending no better way than with:

You will be loved.

While this is not a board book and so must be handled more carefully with infants, reserve it for bedtime when the endearing messages can be firmly planted in a little one’s heart just before nodding off.

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Daddy, You Can Drive My Car

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Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 3-7) is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

With some strong neck muscles, and an eager driver, Mitchell’s dad hoisted his son upon his shoulders nightly to play a bedtime game of  “Remote-Control Dad.”  According to author Hallie Durand, her husband invented the game, guaranteed to get kids in gear for a road trip to dreamland. The inimitable Tony Fucile added the V6 powered artwork making this a fun-fueled story for preschoolers to second graders with a penchant for running on empty.

Meet Mitchell who, until his dad creates this nighttime ritual, will do whatever it takes to avoid his bedtime routine. Dad, however, has another plan in mind. He makes his shoulders the driver’s seat, his head the steering wheel and his eyeglasses the windshield. Together the father-son team steer clear of boring and head straight for adventure. Once Mitchell’s been assured that his father’s in tip top, road ready condition, the duo are off! But watch out, there are obstacles ahead and no signs to warn the car or driver! And while the horn and brakes work just fine, occasionally Mitchell’s dad (aka the auto) could use a tune up, an oil change and even some gas.

This laugh-filled, creative story may become part of your own family’s ritual so get those shoulders in shape for some serious driving and remember to look both ways before turning the page.

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Born To Run Wild!

cvr9781442406735_9781442406735CHICKS RUN WILD ($15.99, Simon & Schuster, ages 2-6), written by Sudipta Bardan-Quallen and illustrated by Ward Jenkins, really tickled guest reviewer Lindy Michael’s fancy! Find the enthusiastic Lindy at BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City and she’ll take you right to where a copy of this terrific new children’s book can be found.

I think we all know how hard it is to get a wee one to go to bed, especially if they don’t want to, which as a parent and grandparent, I know is almost all of the time. After yet another story, another drink of water, another song, how many times have we kissed our child’s forehead, hoping, beyond hope, for not another peep out of them?

Well! What if you’re a mama hen with five little chickies, none of whom want to lay their little feathered heads on their pillows? After mama tucks them in their feathered beds and kisses them for the umpteenth time, then tip-toes out of the room for some much needed rest, yes, those CHICKS GO WILD!

“First they wiggle and they jump
Then they giggle and they thump,
Playing, swaying in pajamas,
when they hear their tired mama…”

Now, of course, like all smart little ones, they fake “catching zees” when mama peeks in the room and is finally satisfied her babies are indeed, asleep. But then, wait for it… CHICKS GO WILD, yet again… and again… and again.

But don’t mess with mama. She has a plan to finally get her babies off to dreamland. And she’s one smart, albeit, weary and worn out mama hen.

After reading this delightful story, I give all of you frustrated and tired and at the end of your rope mamas (and papas, too), permission to definitely try this at home. Then you can drag your exhausted selves onto your living room couch and run wild, also, just like mama hen does!

lindymichaelspic2The very versatile (and energetic) Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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