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Too Cute For Words

I appreciate author/illustrator Michael Townsend’s sense of humor. How many picture books do you see with wording on the jacket cover like the latest mouthwash or detergent only funnier? Now with added CUTENESS! 

From the striped jacket art to every last delightfully drawn facial expression on the characters’ faces, CUTE & CUTER (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99, ages 5-8), will pull kids in and keep them turning each and every adorable page! Designed in quasi comic book style, this 40 page book will not just help parents broach the sensitive subject of sibling rivalry or tackle the topic of why the new baby demands so much of mom and dad’s attention, it will entertain and amuse. I know because I had a huge grin on my face from the moment I was introduced to Janie Jane, “an expert on all things cute.”

Cute and Cuter illustration 1

The language Townsend uses throughout the story will totally appeal to today’s youngsters who would absolutely name their own new puppy Sir Yips-a-lot just like Janie Jane does. The new pet and owner spend 24/7 together year round until Janie Jane’s next birthday when she receives a new kitty. Suddenly, no longer the cutest pet in the world, Sir Yips-a-lot must take a back seat to Lady Meow-meow, “The World’s Cutest Kitty!” according to Janie Jane.

Watching Sir Yips-a-lot try to win back Janie Jane’s attention is hysterical and his realization that he is jealous will surely be a conversation starter for many families. But my favorite part was the page devoted to Sir Yips-a-lot’s schemes to rid the world of his competition as he launches OPERATION CUTE-BE-GONE!! Things backfire, however, when the puppy feels guilty about his awful deed and is determined to find Lady Meow-meow.

Townsend’s plotting is perfect and he wraps things up or maybe I should say unwraps things (see for yourself) with a happy ending that makes CUTE & CUTER ideal both for story time or for bedtime. TCFW!!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Presidential Elections Are for Little People Too

Reviewer Debbie Glade shows us there’s no better time than right now to teach our children about presidential elections in the USA and to have a whole lotta fun while doing it.

Looking at the cover of Where Do Presidents Come From? : And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance ($14.99, Dial Books, Ages 8 and up) one might think they’re delivered by the stork. Author/illustrator Michael Townsend uses his humor and savvy illustrations in this comic-style book to teach young readers fun and educational facts about presidents.

The book starts out with a clever and humorous chapter about what all the other chapters in the book are about, and all chapters come complete with colorful comic art, speech bubbles and silly knock-knock jokes. What you’ll appreciate about this book is that it is so highly entertaining while being highly educational. Readers are introduced to facts about how America got started, the different branches of government, how a president gets elected, the White House, what presidents actually do and what happens when presidents are done serving. The last two chapters really had me roaring with laughter.

My favorite children’s books are always those that entertain adults as much as they do kids, and this is surely one of those books. Add to that humor, colorful illustrations comic-book style in a sturdy, high quality book, and what you’ve got is a real winner.

With an election two weeks away, what an ideal time it is for Mad Libs for President ($3.99, Price, Stern, Sloan, Ages 8 and up).  Check this out: “Ladies and gentlemen, on this __________ (adjective) occasion it is a privilege to address such a/an _________ (adjective) looking group of _____________ (plural noun). I can tell by your smiling _________ (plural noun) that you will support my __________ (adjective) program in the coming election.” Imagine how hilarious that will read once your family fills in the blanks.

Among the topics of these Mad Libs by Roger Price and Leonard Stern you’ll find Diplomacy, Political Speech, Mount Rushmore, A Great Debate, famous Quotes from the American Revolution, State of the Union, A Typical History Test and much more.

Some of my fondest memories of laughing with my daughter were while playing Mad Libs. If you play around with this one, you’re sure to make some lasting memories too.

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