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Two New Joyful Picture Books – Stardust and The Whole Wide World and Me

A flower in a field. 🌸
A star in the sky. 
Simple things seen and sensed
through the eyes of a child
help them find and define their place in the universe
in two beautiful new picture books
from Candlewick Press and Nosy Crow.

 

 

Stardust book cover art

STARDUST
Written by Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Briony May Smith
(Nosy Crow; $16.99, Ages 2-5)

STARDUST features a thoughtful young girl who tries and tries to shine as brightly as her talented older sister. She cannot knit as well, find a missing ring first, or design the best outfit for the costume competition. When she seeks solace under the starry night sky, her grandfather joins her for a quiet chat. Once there was nothing, he tells her, but after a BANG and a series of twinkles, stars were born. Willis sends the duo off on an imaginary journey to explore the subsequent creation of planets, moons, seas, trees and even, sisters!

interior spread from Stardust by Jeanne Willis with art by Briony May Smith

STARDUST. Text copyright © 2018 by Jeanne Willis. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Briony May Smith. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

Smith’s richly colored illustrations will carry young readers into the fantastical realm to introduce the Big Bang and how all is created from stardust. The tender relationship between the girl and her grandfather is light and sweet but never heavy-handed, leading to a delightful conclusion that reaches decades into the girl’s future.

 

Stardust by Jeanne Willis with art by Briony May Smith int illustration

STARDUST. Text copyright © 2018 by Jeanne Willis. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Briony May Smith. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

The book jacket is generously speckled with silver stars and a shiny title, a bright and cheerful exterior feature that highlights and compliments this book’s encouraging message about being true to yourself.

 

book cover illustration from The Whole Wide World and Me by Toni YulyTHE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME
Written and illustrated by Toni Yuly
(Candlewick; $15.99, Ages 2-5)

A tiny red ladybug has captured a girl’s attention on the cover of Toni Yuly’s THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME. Open the book, and the ladybug creeps up a single blade of green grass. Suddenly a bright yellow flower dominates the page, as if from the bug’s perspective. Two boots arrive on scene, signaling the girl’s arrival and her tender exploration of the natural wonders that surround her.

 

interior illustration from The Whole Wide World and Me by Toni Yuly

THE WHOLD WIDE WORLD AND ME. Copyright © 2019 by Toni Yuly. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

The simple lyrical text is placed sparingly on the page, pacing the story with a gentle, slow unfurling from land to sea, sky and mountain.

 

the Whole Wide World and Me by Toni Yuly interior illustration

THE WHOLD WIDE WORLD AND ME. Copyright © 2019 by Toni Yuly. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

Yuly’s captivating illustrations are a combination of ink, charcoal pencil, torn tissue, cut paper and digital collage. The colors are bold and textured, beautifully conveying the gritty beach, crisp blades of grass, and fuzzy cotton dandelion seeds. “I am a small part of it all,” proclaims the young naturalist, joyously exploring and connecting with the world around her. Readers will be duly inspired to get outdoors and join the fun.

Starred Review – Kirkus Reviews

 

  • 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.

 

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Best Valentine’s Day Books for Children: We Love Each Other, Never Too Little to Love & Love Monster

 Read about: We Love Each OtherNever Too Little to Love & Love Monster

Our Valentine’s Day Roundup from Rita Zobayan♡ 
features a selection of faves for the whole family!

Valentine’s Day is almost here. For many adults, the day is a fun indulgence of chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and the beverage and meal of choice. With children, however, the celebration is so much purer: to love and be loved.  These three books wonderfully encapsulate the true sentiment of Valentine’s Day for children.

mne_HK_We Love Each Other_Cov_z_Layout 1.jpg

We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu, Minedition, 2013.

We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu (Minedition, $9.95; Ages 2-5) is a cleverly disguised shapes and colors die-cut board book. Six colorful animal pairs and one trio love each other and form shapes. The red birds are cozy next to each other and create a heart.  Parent elephant shelters baby elephant and together they form a gray semi-circle. The cuddly brown bears don’t like to be apart, so they hug and create a square.

The text and drawings are appropriately simple for a young audience. Mice love each other. Rabbits love each other. Cats love each other. The animals are presented on a white background that does not distract from the purposes of the text: to highlight love and to teach shapes and colors.  We Love Each Other is a Valentine’s Day book that can be read all year long.
What’s a mouse to do when he’s in love with someone a lot taller?

Never-too-Little-to-Love-jpg.

Never Too Little To Love by Jeanne Willis with illustrations by Jan Fearnley, Candlewick Press, 2013.

Never Too Little to Love (Candlewick Press, $8.99; ages 3-7), written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Jan Fearnley, chronicles Tiny Too-Little’s quest to kiss his beloved, Topsy Too-Tall, a giraffe. Tiny Too-Little painstakingly and ingeniously stacks items to help him reach the heights:

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a matchbox,

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a teacup,

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a clock,

                  Tiny Too-Little reaches way up. Wobble…wobble…wobble…CRASH!

Alas, all his hard work is in vain! Poor Tiny Too-Little! But, Topsy Too-Tall loves him and she has an idea. Will her idea work? Will Tiny Too-Little and Topsy Too-Tall finally get their innocent kiss?

Children will enjoy this book, perhaps especially for its unusual use of pages. As Tiny Too-Little stacks his “ladder” of love, the page lengths become progressively shorter. It’s a clever and engaging technique that helps the young reader visualize Tiny Too-Little’s efforts. Jan Fearnley’s artwork is spot on.  The pastel colors and endearing details, such as little hearts floating up to Topsy Too-Tall, fit beautifully with the sentiment of the story.

Never Too Little to Love proves that when it comes to true love, your size doesn’t matter. What matter is the size of your heart.

Love-Monster-Rachel-Bright-jpg

Love Monster by Rachel Bright, Farrar Straus, Giroux, 2014.

Sometimes being a monster isn’t easy, especially if you happen to live in Cutesville: Home of the Fluffy.  Love Monster (Farrar, Straus Giroux, $16.99; ages 4-7) by Rachel Bright presents the heartfelt and brave undertaking of Monster, who does not quite fit in Cutesville.

When everybody loves kittens…and puppies…and bunnies. You know, cute, fluffy things, it’s hard to be a slightly hairy, I-suppose-a-bit-googly-eyed monster. But, Monster is not one to mope and decides to take matters into his own hands. He sets off to look for someone who’d love him, just the way he was.

His journey is not easy, and Monster searches far and wide.  Along the way, he must overcome disappointment and fear.  And, just as Monster has reached his limits, he unexpectedly learns that things can change in the blink of a googly eye.

In a society that bombards children with the idea that self-worth and overall acceptance are tied to a cuteness factor, this book is a breath of fresh air. I love that at no point does Monster attempt to make himself cute or change who he is. No, instead, he looks for a love that will accept him as he is. It’s a powerful message of unconditional love for and acceptance of oneself as being worthy of love.

The illustrations are as monstrously enjoyable as the storyline. Children will have fun reading the titles of Monster’s self-help books and his list of places to look for love.

Love Monster is a must-read for Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

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Live for Each Moment

mayfly-day

Debbie Glade, who absolutely loves insects, weighs in on a picture book for young readers.

Mayfly Day ($8.99, Anderson Press, Ages 3 and up) is a special picture book about the insect known as the Mayfly. Why write a book about a Mayfly  you ask? Well, Mayflies are not your typical insects. They live only for one single day. But as we learn in this story, they make the most of every single moment of that most important day.

I love the way author Jeanne Willis writes about the Mayfly’s daily activities. Her style is informative, yet poetic and reads much like non-rhyming verse.  Readers learn about about how the Mayfly lives –  being born, mating, laying eggs and dying all in the same day.  And they also learn what she is thinking; the book is very positive, giving the perspective of a creature most grateful for the life she has, no matter how short that may be.

English artist Tony Ross (perhaps best known for his Horrid Henry work), who has illustrated other Jeanne Willis books, does a marvelous job with Mayfly Day. His pastel illustrations are colorful and wispy and and are just perfect for this wonderful story.

If you love insect books, you might want to also check out these other titles: Step Gently Out and What’s Lurking in the Garden?

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