Dog Loves Drawing by author/illustrator Louise Yates ($16.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, Ages 4 and up) is a most imaginative book. It is a story about Dog who loves reading books so much he opens his own book store. One day his aunt sends him a blank book, which he finds to be refreshingly different than the books he’s used to reading. This one is a blank book – a sketch book with no words and no pictures. So Dog sharpens his pencil and gathers his brushes and draws a stickman. Miraculously that stickman comes to life and together, with one drawing after another, they doodle their way into a glorious imaginative adventure.
I have no doubt that Dog Loves Drawing will stir up creativity in your child in a most clever and original manner. Dog teaches us that we are limited only by our own imaginations. What’s better than a dog who loves to read and owns a book store? The darling drawings are made to look like those a child might make, but only more advanced. And I love the fact that Dog writes his aunt a thank you note for the sketch book she gave him. I’m a major advocate of writing thank you notes!
Before Dog Loves Drawing was written, Yates penned Dog Loves Books. Both of these titles would be a lovely addition to any child’s library. Consider making a holiday gift package with a set of colored pencils and a sketch book for the child in your life.
The award-winning team of Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis tackles bullying from behind a bully’s eyes.
Each Kindness($16.99, Nancy Paulson Books, ages 5-8), an exceptional children’s picture book written by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis, will touch you and your children in ways you hadn’t expected and that’s a good thing, a very good thing.
Asking us to walk in a bully’s shoes, in this case narrator Chloe’s, author Woodson takes us down a path of a child’s unkindness that is certain to strike a chord. How many of us have been in young Chloe’s position choosing not to befriend someone based on appearances only to regret that decision when it was too late? Can we imagine the pain the bullied child feels?
When a new student, Maya, joins Chloe’s class and is seated beside her, Chloe turns toward the window, ignoring Maya’s friendly smile. Why? Simply because her clothes were tattered. Though Maya makes many gestures to become friends with Chloe and the other kids, they continue to whisper about her second-hand clothing and ostracize her, never once thinking how hurtful those actions might be.
One day, well into the school year the teacher, Ms. Albert, gives a seemingly simple yet ultimately powerful lesson using a bowl of water and a small stone dropped in. She explains how kindness works. “Every little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Unfortunately for Chloe she realizes too late that she, like that tiny stone’s ripples, could have had a positive effect on another person. Maya does not return to school and that chance is lost forever.
Though Maya’s family circumstances are never clearly explained, this worked for me and perhaps is deliberate. Maya becomes symbolic of all those vulnerable children often targeted by bullies whether it be for financial reasons, a disability or just not having the right clothing. Between its lyrical text and the marvelously moving watercolors, Each Kindness provides an opportunity for parents and educators to broach the topic of bullying from both the perspective of the bully and the bullied. This meaningful and moving book is a must-have that is certain to make a difference in many a youngster’s life.
Ronna Mandel reviews Mine!($6.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 1 and up) by Shutta Crum with pictures by Patrice Barton.
I’m particularly partial to board books with few to no words so that parents can spend more time discussing what’s going on in a story than actually reading. This is exactly the case with Mine!
Two toddlers on a play date find fun and friendship as one proclaims all the toys are “Mine!” and the other sits patiently watching calamity after hilarious calamity ensues as the other gathers up all that’s hers (or his because the toddlers’ genders are not pronounced). When the child, not keen on sharing, notices the visiting child pick up one dropped toy, the chaos begins. Enter playful pup and you can guess the rest. The story unfolds seamlessly with tumbles and tosses that need no description because the artwork is so vivid.
The joyfulness of this story is evident from giggles and grins galore on the characters’ faces including the dog (okay the dog doesn’t giggle, but he does woof). You will love the beautiful illustrations by Patrice Barton, and your children will be captivated by Mine! as will you.
Today Karen B. Estrada weighs in on the incredibly cool BabyLit board book series from Gibbs Smith ($9.99, ages 1 and up).
As an English teacher, I was excited when I saw the BabyLit series and happened upon the Little Master Stoker and Little Master Dickens books. I was not sure quite what to expect from these durable cardboard baby books which purport to introduce young children to classic literature; to be honest, I was skeptical. But when the books arrived, I was instantly delighted.
utilizing a red, purple, black, gray, and white color palate make the 19th century classic seem contemporary and fresh. The story begins with “1 castle” and moves through counting up to 10 using relevant and important aspects of the actual novel. While the book does not really tell the story of Dracula—not that it is a story you’d want to read to your infant or toddler anyway—it offers enough details to familiarize them somewhat with elements of the story. When your child comes across Dracula again as a teen or an adult, perhaps he will recall the 1 castle and 2 friends who read 7 letters and diaries in the Little Master Stoker book he read as a child.
In A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer, equally punchy illustrations depict an image in which the color of an object tells the story. While I felt Dracula more closely related to the actual novel, the images and colors in A Christmas Carol will nonetheless provide your child with the same familiarity of this classic work of literature. Share the story now with your youngster to foster an appreciation for Dickens’ complete version in the future. In other words, if you are looking for some wonderful, timeless holiday reading that is appropriate for your child who is just learning numbers and colors, check out the Baby Lit Little Masters series by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver. Like the original novels, these books should be on your shelves!
My kids loved interactive books when they were toddlers and it will be easy for you to understand why when you share Sniff!($9.99, Simon & Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book, ages 2-6) with your little ones. New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Matthew Van Fleet “nose” what kids like in touch and pull books and in Sniff!, he’ll draw them in instantly with the cute moving elephant on the cover and then continue to keep them engaged with all the tactile pleasures youngsters could imagine.
Van Fleet introduces a skunk (pee-yew!), a pig (wipe that drippy nose!), a mouse (with twitchy whiskers), a bear (with his squishy nose), a tiger (touch that fuzzy nose), and a whole lot more creatures who, in just a few sort board book pages and gentle rhyme will captivate your child. Meet the author and get activities at KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com.
Percy and TumTum ($14.95, Running Press Kids, Ages 4 and up) is a book that teaches kids an important lesson, but in a very sweet and subtle way. Percy is a sausage dog who lives with a loving family. One day a fluffy, friendly dog, named TumTum, becomes the newest member of his family. Percy is not happy when he quickly realizes that all the attention he used to get is now going to TumTum. Percy cannot get control of his jealousy, so he plots and schemes and plays unkind tricks on TumTum. Finally one of Percy’s pranks seems to go too far, however the outcome even surprises Percy himself, making him reevaluate what he’s been up to.
What made me want to dive into this book is that it’s a story about dogs, but what kept me reading is that it relates to people, too. The message is wonderful – being jealous is normal but it doesn’t solve any problems. Author and illustrator Jen Hill does a perfect job matching the delightful and colorful illustrations to the story, and I really like the matte finish of the paper and just the whole look of the book.
There’s no doubt that everyone gets jealous at one time or another. The story of Percy and TumTum let’s youngsters know that there’s a wonderful way to turn that negative feeling into a positive one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and your kids will, too!
When I choose new picture books to carry in the store, I may select five out of fifty the publisher shows me. I try to choose books that kids will want to hear over and over, and that parents won’t mind reading forty, fifty or a hundred times.
I look for great characters, and wonderful, perhaps wacky artwork. I look for books that are fun for adults to read aloud, because the language is rhythmic or because there’s a chorus kids can join in on. I love books where children find surprises hiding in the artwork that adults might miss. And I adore books that make children laugh.
Picture books are made to be shared between an adult and a child. Even after children can read on their own, they will often return to a favorite picture book for the memory of togetherness with someone they love.
Here are some fun, new titles you may not have seen yet.
THIS MONSTER NEEDS A HAIRCUTby Bethany Barton ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers)
Stewart is a young monster who’s afraid that if he gets a haircut, he won’t be scary so he won’t get it cut. His dad wants Stewart to get a haircut, because things keep disappearing into Stewart’s out-of-control locks. Wacky artwork that both boys and girls will adore. Great for ages 3-5 years.
THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG DINOSAUR by Richard Byrne ( Tiger Tales Books
Kids will laugh at Jackson the dinosaur who protects his jar of jelly beans from a larger dinosaur by claiming the beans belong to his friend. The bullying dino tries every trick to get Jackson to turn over the candy, but in the end Jackson and his friend turn the bully around. Lively, perfect read aloud for adults who love to act out books. Ages 2-4 years.
ABC ZOOBORNS by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland ($12.99, Beach Lane Books)
Fans of the outrageously cute photography in the original ZOOBORNS will swoon over the new ABC ZOOBORNS. One look at the minute koala on the cover and you’ll be hooked. From A is for Anteater to Z is for Zebra, ZOOBORNS is adorable. Ages 2 and up.
1-2-3 PEAS by Keith Baker ($16.99, Beach Lane Books)
You may already know Baker’s LMNO PEAS alphabet book. 1-2-3- PEAS has the same infectiously charming artwork. Peas in hats and glasses and tutus help readers count up to ten and then one hundred. Fun, engaging, repeating text with lots of hidden details to engage children in the art. Ages 3-5 years.
SQUID AND OCTOPUS: FRIENDS FOR ALWAYS by Tao Nyeu ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers)
Squid and Octopus are friends, but even friends disagree sometimes. Three short gentle and loving stories show how friends explore the world together. Charming artwork, and silly jokes. Ages 3-5 years.
Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads and relax over a great cup of coffee. Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.
Because You Are My Teacher (Abrams Books For Young Readers, $16.95, ages 4-8) written by Sherry North and illustrated by Marcellus Hall is a book that will get kids excited about going back to school while also celebrating the dedication teachers bring to the classroom. If readers happen to get bitten by the travel bug along the way, then that’s just an added bonus.
I found myself hooked immediately by the cover image depicting a teacher and her students high up in a hot air balloon observing some spectacular scenery. Author North has teamed up with illustrator Hall for yet another installation in the successful series that brought us Because You Are My Baby and Because I Am Your Daddy. With this new picture book told in rhyme, readers will travel the world all because of a teacher’s commitment to sharing her knowledge in a colorful way.
Imagine learning about the world through every mode of transportation. Any book can introduce exotic sites and cities to children. What works so well with this story and what will excite children is that they’ll study the Atlantic on a schooner, get a peek of the pyramids while atop camels, tour the Amazon on a river raft, and dive deep down into the ocean to discover illuminating sea life. They’ll even get to hang glide over the Australian outback! All the while the students are journeying courtesy of their teacher’s imagination, they are discovering what makes going to school so special – teachers. End pages include info on the seven continents visited and all the animals or places mentioned.
When I first read My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson ($16.99, Viking, ages 2 and up), I burst into commiserative laughter. This story rings true for anyone who has raised a toddler or has seen a toddler in full-fledged fit. Bella, l’enfant terrible, is not having a good morning. Her baby brother, Bob, has gotten into her room and licked her jewelry, and that is only the beginning of a very bad day for Bella, Bob and their enduring mother.
Patterson has a talent for capturing the experiences, discontent and language of young children. As one thing after another upsets Bella, she expresses her anger in that special way that only young children can. Then I came downstairs and I saw that egg. I cried and cried and said, I can’t eat that!And Mommy said, “You could eat it last week. Look at Bob eating his mashed banana.” After the terrible egg I didn’t like my shoes either. So I took them off all by myself, shouting, No shoes!And then we had to go shopping and Mommy said, “Please stop all that wriggling, Bella.” But I couldn’t stop wriggling and in the end I shouted, Get me out!
Patterson is also the book’s illustrator and does a great job of depicting the situations and facial expressions that parents dread: a toddler having a tantrum in public and lying on the floor; the tearful, angry, pinched face of the toddler; the annoyed or sympathetic faces of onlookers; and so on. Patterson does an especially nice job of adding expressions to the plush toys and animals that witness Bella’s bad day.
I read this 32-page book to my three-year-old daughter while she was in the throes of a tantrum. After a few minutes, she stopped her crying and yelling, and settled down to hear about Bella’s battles. As we read along, I asked my daughter about Bella’s behavior and what she thought of it. Through her tear-streaked face, she replied and recognized that Bella was “grumpy,” and that she was “having a hard day.” We then talked about why my daughter was also having a hard day. The ability of children to recognize other children’s behavior reflected in their own is a wonderful learning tool and My No, No, No Day! does a great job of facilitating that.
Debbie Glade reviews a book that reminds her of her own childhood, way, way back when.
You know you’re dating yourself when you say, “When I was your age, we did not have electronic toys. We went outside and made up games, playing and running around all day long.” Frankly, I thought those days were over until I readGo Out an Play: Favorite Outdoor Games from KaBOOM($11.95, Candlewick Press, Ages 5 and up). KaBOOM (nonprofit) was created by Darell Hammond with the mission to keep children active and playing, while using their imaginations. What a stellar idea that was and what a big hit KaBoom has been!
Go Out and Play is simple, yet delightful. Page after page, you will find indoor and outdoor tag, hide and seek, ball, team, sidewalk, circle, race and other games to keep your little ones active and busy all day, just like you did when you were a kid. Remember Marco Polo, Mother May I?, Egg and Spoon Race and Red Rover? There are plenty of games like these in the book, plus some new ones your kids will want to try. There’s an intro from Darrell Hammond as well as information in the back of the book about getting and keeping kids active with a call to action.
In this age of sedentary living, computers, iPads and video games, any book, toy or product that encourages kids to get up, get out and play is a winner. There’s nothing like seeing children engaged in old-fashioned good fun, burning up energy and staying fit while having a ball. And perhaps just as wonderful is the fact that these activities don’t cost a dime!
Reading this book reminded me of a sidewalk game with chalk and a ball my older sister and I played for years called Rolly Polly. I remember winning much more often that she did, but she insists I’ve got that all wrong.
Now I’m in the mood for playing Follow the Leader. I’m the leader. Are you in?
Want Your Kids to Read? Be a Reader–a message from Catherine Linka
If we want our children to eat their peas, we get there by eating our own peas with enthusiasm. We model the behavior we want so they will follow our example.
So if you value reading, you need to model it. And that means, making time to read in front of your child. Turn off the TV, the computer, your phone and sit down and read where they can see you–not just in bed after the kids are down for the night.
Andrew Smith, teacher and author, insists that it is especially important for fathers to model for their sons that reading is masculine. He says that boys “ look at what their father does, and what their older brother does and what their best friends do.”
Be a reader to raise a reader.
Books for Fantasy Lovers Who’ve Read Everything
THE UNWANTEDS($16.99, Aladdin) by Lisa McCann – My pick for kid-pleasing. At 13, kids are tested and sorted into Wanted and Unwanted and the Unwanteds are taken off to be executed. But it turns out that what looks like a prison is really a sanctuary that takes creative, artistic, musical kids and turns their talents into strengths when the Wanteds invade. Gentler than HUNGER GAMES, but with lots of action. (ages 8+)
EMERALD ATLAS($7.99, Yearling)by John Stephens – Our community read One Summer-One Book for kids. A little like NARNIA, a little like A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, a little like LORD OF THE RINGS. The first in a trilogy. The second is due this fall. For the strong reader 9+. It has three brave kids, an evil countess, a magical book, terrifying Screechers and donut-loving dwarves. Funny and scary. (now in paper, ages 9+)
NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT($6.99, Puffin)by Gennifer Choldenko -Now in paperback. Unlike Choldenko’s other realistic fiction, this story follows three children who tumble into a fantastical world where their every desire if fulfilled–except their desire to leave. Appealing to both guys and girls. (ages 10+)
GHOST KNIGHT($16.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)by Cornelia Funke -Set in a present day English boarding school, a boy calls upon the ghost of a famous knight to fend off the other ghosts who are threatening him. Funke’s setting is real and many of the ghost knights she introduces were real people whose brief bios she includes at the end. (ages 10+)
THE FALSE PRINCE($17.99, Scholastic Press)by Jennifer Nielsen -A conniving noble trains four street urchins to impersonate a missing prince. Only one will survive the training as the noble attempts to take over the throne. Twists and turns and double-crosses. Lots of action. So well-written an adult would love to read it aloud. (ages 13+)
Ronna Mandel, today’s reviewer, is hooked on Jon Klassen.
If you loved the subtle hilarity of author-illustrator (and L.A. local) Jon Klassen’s multi-award-winning 2011 picture book, I Want My Hat Back, prepare yourself for yet more fun and understated humor with This Is Not My Hat ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 4 and up). In his new book, on sale this coming October 2012, Klassen has swimmingly cornered the market on black humor and hat thieves while still keeping things suitable for children since (spoiler alert!) the culprit once again gets caught or as I like to put it, beaten and eaten!
In his first book Klassen introduced readers to a big bear in search of his stolen red hat. Now with his latest title, one that is certain to secure an even bigger fan base, Klassen lures us in ever so easily. Meet one small, overly confident fish wearing a blue bowler he has just nicked from a rather large sleeping fish who “probably won’t notice that it’s gone.” It may suit him and he may convince himself he deserves it more than its owner, but it’s just not his.
What works so well in this story is that rather than sharing the story from the perspective of the victim (the bear in This Is Not My Hat), Klasssen switches narrators and this time chooses to give the thief’s point of view. Will this little crook manage to outsmart the big fish by keeping several strokes ahead and hiding in a place where the plants are big and tall and close together? Or will he get his just deserts?
I’ll admit I may have initially found myself rooting for the small underdog of a hat thief, but it did not take long to get Klassen’s message loud and clear; hat swiping will not get you ahead. Undeniably funny and fab fodder for a storybook, but for young readers what’s also important is that the big fish gets his bowler back and will achieve that end one delicious way or another. I raise my hat to Klassen’s fab follow-up work, an irresistible easy-to-read or be-read-to picture book that has left me with bated breath as to what thefts are in the works.
It’s summer and the latest Kohl’s Cares program that gives back to kids is featuring the mucho exciting Skippyjon Jones picture books from Judy Schachner. Kids will love the books and merchandise and parents will love the $5 price tag. Plus who can resist the adorable antics of the beloved Siamese “kitty boy” who thinks he’s a fierce Chihuahua? Take advantage of this fun, affordable opportunity now through September and join Skippyjon Jones and his amigos today.
Author Schachner has teamed up with Kohl’s to touch “the lives of countless children across the country,” through the popular Kohl’s Cares program supporting children’s health and education initiatives nationwide that donates 100 percent of the net profit from every purchase.
The following books and merchandise are available to buy:
Skippyjon Jones – The first in this bestselling series
Skippyjon Jones, Class Action – Skippyjon Jones sneaks into doggy obedience school.
Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House – Children learn about the importance of minding their parents.
Skippyjon Jones, Lost in Space – Travel to Mars way before the Mars Rover!
Online Exclusive: Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones – Skippyjon Jones and amigos are searching for the elusive Skipposaurus. This book and its coordinating plush are available exclusively at Kohls.com.
Take a gander at this great lineup of books, plush toys and backpack for $5. There are even note cards and three terrific cookbooks for parents: Crock-Pot Busy Family Recipes along with Eat This, Not That! for Kids! and Campbell’s Best-loved Recipes, an online exclusive making back-to-school less stressful and more tasty.
Shop onlineor visit aKohl’s near youto purchase these great Kohl’s Cares® cause merchandise items and help kids in your community.
Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolersby Stephanie Zvirin is reviewed by Krista Jefferies.
In her book, Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers ($18.95, Huron Street Press), Stephanie Zvirin offers parents numerous helpful tips to encourage their children to read, along with a comprehensive catalog of kid-friendly books. Zvirin, an editor for the American Library Association (ALA), provides insight about the types of books that are appropriate for each age group and how to share the experience of reading with children at the various stages of their early lives.
This book is logically organized, each chapter building on the previous one like adding train cars to a locomotive on this journey to literacy. Each list of suggested reading is alphabetically ordered, and filled with a variety of books for both boys and girls. Among Zvirin’s recommendations for infants and toddlers are books that include bright colors and vibrant pictures, subjects that include everything from animals to sports, stories that teach anything from opposites to counting (in English and Spanish), and multi-cultural characters that expand a child’s scope of the world. Her lists for older children, ages 4-8, include books that adhere to a child’s growing sense of the world, offering themes like family, friendship, nature, and make believe.
This book is a great tool for parents, but it’s also useful for family members, friends, daycare providers, and anyone else with an opportunity to read to kids. I recognized strategies I’ve used with my nieces and nephews, and even my students while reading aloud with them, such as changing inflection to capture characters’ voices or to show enthusiasm. There are also plenty more to try out in the future, simple tips that make reading a constant fixture in a child’s life. I plan to pass this book along to a friend who has recently mentioned he’d like to read more with his children but doesn’t really know where to start. This is a terrific starting point for any parent, and Zvirin’s advices don’t stop here—the final pages offer an array of reputable resources for reading guides and book blogs that will connect anyone to the wide world of words.
Debbie Glade shares her thoughts on this imaginative chapter book.
Mrs. Noodlekugel ($14.99, Candlewick Press, ages 5 and up) is a charming chapter book about a boy and his sister, who discover a tiny house sandwiched between tall buildings behind their apartment. The janitor in their building tells them a nice old lady lives there, though they should not bother her at all. But kids being kids, naturally their curiosity leads them to explore where they are told not to go.
What they discover is a secret garden and a friendly old lady whose house smells like fresh-baked goodies. It is there that Mrs. Noodlekugel introduces the children to a cat who can bake and play the piano, among other things and a few other interesting creatures too. There’s a nice surprise for the children when they tell their parents they have been to the old lady’s house.
Here’s a book that in addition to being very imaginative, also reads like a quirky, yet wholesome adventure every young child would love to have. Who wouldn’t want to be treated to yummy fresh-baked goods while interacting with endearing animals with human characteristics?! Along with the story are some cute cartoon-like black and white illustrations by Adam Stower. Author Daniel Pinkwater, who has written many popular books, generally bases his characters on people he knows in real life. This leaves us asking the question: Who is the Mrs. Noodlekugel in his life?!
If you read and love this book, you’ll be happy to know the adventures continue in 2013 with Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice.