Goodnight Songsby Margaret Wise Brown (Author), Various Award Winning Illustrators
Lost and found!
Editor Amy Gary was on a mission to find the lost or unpublished manuscripts of Margaret Wise Brown’s works. So when she visited Ms Brown’s sister a while back, she was delighted to find a treasure of work left in a trunk. What Ms. Gary discovered was a collection of poems and songs that Ms Brown was working on in her last few days. A collection of these are now printed and published as “Goodnight Songs”. Thankfully the book comes with a CD of songs to enjoy and not just at bedtime!
This delightful collection of songs and poems for children come beautifully illustrated by 12 award winning artists. Jonathan Bean’s black and white ink drawings, softly colored in hues of soft greens and winter whites and grays are perfect for the song “The Mouse’s Prayer” . Philippine Children’s National Book award winner Isabel Roxas illustrates the song “Sleep like a Rabbit”. Her impression of the poem will make you lie down right away and spread out for a quite night’s sleep.
And who can forget the soft sweet illustrations from Renta Liwska’s The Quiet Book and The Loud Book? Renta’s little bear floating on a cloud art makes me seek out my own little cloud on which to rest and float away in dreamland
The soft gentle rhythm and poem/songs in these book are gentle and sweet to listen to. When asked, Ms Brown sister said that Ms Brown really wanted to write songs for kids. She noticed how children made up songs just about anytime and anywhere. Ms Brown wanted to capture that spirit in her songs just as she did in her stories.
The Noon Balloon:The Noon Balloon Wlil be leaving soon For the sun or the moon. And wherever it goes, It will get there too soon. Aboard was a bear And a crazy baboon In the Noon Balloon. And a monkey, a troll, And a tiny little mole One a trip to the moon.
What The Witch Leftby Ruth Chew (Author, Illsutrator)
“A Matter-Of-Fact Magic Book”
What would you do if you found “magical” things in the bottom drawer of your dresser?
Louise and Katie find the bottom drawer locked. Katie explains that Aunt Martha had to leave some of her things in the drawer before she had to go away. Curiosity gets the best of the girls and they seek out the key. What they find inside will take them on an adventure!
At first, the things they find (a pair of gloves, a bathrobe, a pair of boots, a mirror and an old dented metal box ) seem quite ordinary. The two girls have no idea that each of these objects have a magical quality about it.
Katie tries on the gloves first. They fit perfectly! Not only that, it feels as if she isn’t wearing the gloves at all. Before she gets a chance to take them off, her piano teacher arrives and she has to sit down for her lessons. Then it happens! As she starts to play, she finds her fingers easily flying over the keyboard. Her music is not just better, it’s impressive. Even the piano teacher is very surprised. After the session, she takes them off and puts them away. She then tries to play the piano. What do you know? Her musical abilities are back to where they were before! Louise wants to try them next. So she puts them on and takes her chalk to draw on the sidewalk. Lo Behold! Her drawings are indeed marvelous!
One by one, the girls figure out the magical qualities of the rest of the items. You have to read the book to find out what happens next
I first “discovered” Ruth Chew’s book and series at Randomly Reading. Alex’s review convinced me this would be a great chapter book to either read aloud or read on your own for 6+ year old’s. And I was not disappointed!
Ruth Chew’s books are super simple to read. The language is natural and conversations are fun. This magical adventure is not scary at all. The situations in her stories are every day events. This mix of every day happenings with a bit of magic makes it fun to read. We found ourselves wanting to turn to the next chapter and then the next and the next..
Now we can’t wait to get the next one to read. Fortunately, there is a series of fantasy chapter books by Ruth Chew. Hope you get to give this one a read!
The Magic Nesting Dollby Jacqueline K. Ogburn (Author), Laurel Long (Illustrator)
A Magical Matryoshka
One day Katya’s grandmother takes out a little Matryoshka, a magic nesting doll, and gives it to Katya. She warns Katya to only “open” the doll when she is in trouble. The dolls can be opened only three times and after that the “magic will be gone!”
Katya’s grandmother passes away and Katya sets out into the world on her known. She arrives at a city where “it’s always winter and it never thaws, the night is without a moon and a dark without dawn”. Also, the handsome young price Tsarvitch who has been turned to living ice! Katya is so intrigued by the Ice Prince that she decides to go take a look at him at his palace.
Katya decides to climb a tree to take a peek. She gets a glimpse of the frozen prince and her heart fills with pity. But the evil Grand Vizier catches her and asks the guards to put her in the dungeon. Poor Katya is trapped in the dark tiny cell and longs to get out. She remembers the Matryoshka dolls and decides to open one of her magic nesting dolls. As soon as the top half of the doll come out, a sleepy bear steps out.
The magical bear asks Katya what her wish was. Katya says “I swore to break this spell, and I would like to get out of this dungeon”. The bear immediately asks Katya to jump on his back and he tears out of the cell and dungeon. The bear then gives a great roar and immediately the cold wind changes and warm winds blow and thaw out the trees. The bear then takes Katya to see the Trasvitch.
The bear takes Katya to the Tsarvitch’s room and disappears, but the spell has not broken. The prince is still in deep slumber although he is less icy than before. When Katya sees his handsome face, her heart fills up with emotion that is more than pity. But once again the evil Grand Vizier catches Katya and this time puts her in a deep ravine. Katya then finds herself opening the second Matroshka doll.
Will Katya finally break the spell? Will the magical Matryoshka dolls work their way into putting an end to town’s spell? Will there be a happy ending for Katya and her prince?
This charming Russian fairy/folk tale will keep you wanting to read more. The story telling is easy to read and read aloud. But it is beautiful art in this book that makes it an amazing book to read. You will find illustrations that art detailed and and rich in purple, blue and red hues. Full page oil paintings of the inside of palace, the beautiful countryside and the incredible detail work on each page makes this book very special.
A wonderful folk tale with brilliant art work!
Arthur and Guenby Jon Koons (Author), Igor Oleynikov (Illustrator)
An Original Tale of Young Camelot
Arthur looks at his father Sir Ector and brother Sir Kay, brave knights as they prepare for the tournament. “I will one day be a knight” little Arthur says. But Kay looks at him and laughs. “You can hardly carry my shield, Grunt” he calls out to Arthur. Arthur hates to be called “Grunt” so he saunters away towards the woods.
Princess Guenevere (Guen) is bored as she stares at the minstrel playing different instruments and the a magician conjuring birds out of a hat. She had come with her father to watch a tournament, but what Guen really wanted was to BE a knight in the battle! Guen thought she was tough and brave just like a knight! She decided to go out for a walk in the woods to get some fresh air!
Arthur and Guen stumble into each other in the woods. “I am princess Guenevere “ says Guen. “ I am Arthur” says Arthur not really believing that Guen was a princess. As the two “kids” introduce themselves and get to know each other, they find that the woods have some hidden dangers that they are about to encounter!
In this funny, charming and very original tale, Arthur and princess Guenevere meet accidentally. The two find themselves in the midst of some unpleasant company very suddenly. Arthur decides to step up to the challenge at this young age and decides to take matters in his own hands to save his princess friend Guen. It’s the same kind of courage that he would need in the very near future once he would become the king.
We loved this story. Jon Koons really draws a great picture of Arthur and Guen as little kids trying to have some fun. Imaginative and charming, Koons writes up a highly entertaining tale of the two beloved and well known characters in historical fiction. Igor Oleynikov uses board brush illsutrations with vibrant rich colors. Arthur and Guen’s expressions, Merlin’s appearance and the “bad guys” demeanor are perfectly captured!
A fabulous tale, imagination at its best!
Mr. Pout-Pout Fishby Deborah Diesen (Author), Dan Hanna (Illustrator)
Deep in the water,Mr. Fish swims about
With his fish face stuck in a permanent pout.
Can his pals cheer him up?
Will his pout ever end?
Is there something he can learn
From an unexpected friend?
Poor Pout-Pout Fish has a permanent frown on his face! Wherever he goes, he spreads his “dreary-wearies” in the deep blue sea.
His friends, Ms Clam, Mr. Jelly, Mrs. Squid and Mr. Octopus, try to cheer him up every now and then. But all Pout-Pout Fish has to say is ..
“I’m a pout pout fish
With a pout pout face,
So I spread the dreary-wearies
All over the place.”
“Blub… Blub… Bluuuuuuubbb!”
It seems like nothing could really cheer him up! Mr Pout Pout was doomed to be pouty for the rest of his life! Until, an unusual fish friend swims by and surprises him
Reading the Pout-Pout series of book is a sheer delight.. and not just for the kids! Try this book to read aloud in class and you will hear the kids echo you when you read “Blub.. blub..bluuuuubbb”! Kids will love the gently rhythm, alliteration and rhyme of this tale.
Adults will love the simple but important message. Sometimes we all have “pouty” days like Mr. Pout-Pout Fish. Then, we need friends to show us the bright side of things and to give us a little pick up. This story is a great way to teach kids that there is always a rainbow after a storm
Read this one, and you will be looking for more! Mr. Pout-Pout Fish is a series that you will keep coming back to for quite some time.
Greg’s Microscope (Science I Can Read Book)by Millicent E Selsam (Author), Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
An “I Can Read” Science Book
Greg’s friend Billy recently got a new microscope. The box also came with some glass slides. Billy can see very tiny things really clearly. He can hairs on a spider’s foot. He can see little hooks in a bird’s feather. Greg wants one too. Greg wants to see tiny things too.
Greg’s father explains that microscopes can be very expensive. But seeing Greg’s enthusiasm, he decides to look for one and finally finds a nice one for Greg. But there are no slides for Greg too see into! So dad asks him to “go find his own tiny things”.
Thus begins Greg’s journey into looking at tiny things under a microscope. This little book is a wonderful “I Can Read” Level 3 book. This reader is the perfect companion gift if you were considering buying a Microscope. As Greg leans into his microscope, he finds a world of tiny things to discover.
Greg’s enthusiasm and curiosity is addictive. Greg’s mom and dad get excited too and want to take a peek into Greg’s microscope every now and then. We loved looking at all the wonderful things that Greg could see under his microscope.
I personally loved this book! A reader + science book. The words are simple and the sentences are short. The science “experiments” are also very simple. A pinch of salt, a little dust, even a piece of wool. Under the microscope, these simple things look absolutely fantastic.
Be warned this book is contagious! Once you read it, you simply have to have a microscope! Read “Greg’s Microscope”, you’ll find your little one discovering a completely new world of tiny things!
Diggin’ Dirt: Science Adventures with Kitanai the Origami Dogby Thomas Kingsley Troupe (Author), Jamey Christoph (Illustrator), Paul McDaniel (Consultant Editor), Lindgren & Smith Inc (Contributor), Terry Flaherty (Contributor)
An Origami Science Adventure series book!
Capstone Publishers bring together a series of Non Fiction picture books where “Art and Science collide in exciting science adventures”. Each book in the series features a fold origami character that journeys through a scientific exploration.
In “Diggin’ Dirt”, Kitanai is a fold origami pup. His “master” sets him out into the garden where the newly formed Kitanai finds himself surrounded by dirt! At first his papery feet feel filthy. Kitanai has no idea what dirt is. Along comes help in the form of a little earthworm called Roger. Roger shares with Kitanai all the important facets of dirt.
This 24 page book is filled with interesting facts. Kids will learn about the many layers of the soil and the ones below. In friendly tones and simple to understand language, Roger explains what makes “soil” special, and where the “nutrient” in the soil come from.
Roger further explains how he himself is such a crucial part of the healthy soil. He explains how earthworms like him help break down the dirt and help the rainwater and air go deep into the soil when the earthworms dig tunnels.
“Diggin’ Dirt” has clever illustrations, a mix media of realistic nature photographs and digital illustration. This book is sure to capture the attention of the youngest in the household. Our favorite part was at the end of the book, where we found simple instructions to make our very own, cute little origami dog!
Soccer Starby Mina Javaherbin (Author), Renato Alarcao (Illustrator)
Paulo Marcelo Feliciano, aka “Felino”, the captain of the local soccer team dreams of big wins! After all, he has a strong team. Carlos who shines shoes during the day, will score goals with his fancy footwork. Jose who dives off of bridges for tourists, will one day dive for the team. Givo who works tirelessly on carnival floats for the dancers, will dance with the ball as his fans cheer him on. And Pedro climbing the coconut tree at the coconut grove will climb to glory with his trophies.
But for now, Felino must dribble his way towards the docks. He is headed out to the ocean with Senhor da Silva on his boat to catch fish from the sea. Later that evening the boys have a big game. Felino looks up at the sky, at the wild storm clouds gathering and hopes that the clouds will simply disappear.
Finally it is time to head back. Felino’s friends are already there waiting. They prepare and plan for the big game.
Just then Maria, Felino’s sister arrives. Like her brother, Maria loves soccer. She watches her brother and his team play the game. She practices some moves with Felino as they walk to school daily. She impresses Felino with her bicycle kick! But when it comes to playing the game, the boys have one rule: “no girls!” But Maria doesn’t lose hope. She runs to the team and asks “Please can I play on your team”. Although Felino supports her, the other boys frown and say no.
The game begins. The team is strong. Jose jumps to fend the attack.. and whoosh! He falls on his wrist. It’s not broken, but Jose needs rest. The team is short one player. Maria watches eagerly… will this be it?Will the boys finally let her play?
“Soccer Star” is a story set in the Brazilian favelas. The boys on the street carry the burden of supporting their families. Born and raised in the midst of poverty, these kids face unusual responsibilities. Instead of going to school, they go to work. However, despite their circumstances, the kids have a passion that brings them together. One that lifts them from their daily drudgeries and give them a dream to rise above their circumstances. “Soccer Star” is a beautiful picture book that tells the story of these boys, who above all else want to be just that.. Soccer Stars!
“Soccer Star” is also the story about Maria. A girl who dreams of playing like her brother. A girl who works hard and plays hard. This is the story about Maria who wants to prove herself .. given a chance!
Renato Alarcao’s digitally colored ink illustrations are refreshing. There is an unusual warmth to the characters, a die-hard optimism that he captures in the faces and to the pages adding to the theme of hope and inspiration. Children will delight in the art that joyfully depicts the sport and the sheer fun factor of the game.
Three Ladies Beside the Seaby Rhoda Levine (Author), Edward Gorey (Illustrator)
“Once there were three houses
That stood beside the sea;
In each house lived a lady
Of great Nobility.”
The three ladies, Edith, Catherine and Alice were friends who lived in the three houses beside the sea. Edith was a jolly lady, Catherine was always smiling. Alice however had the unusual hobby, she loved to climb a tree.
Now Edith and Catherine were not the kind to interfere. The two ladies thought that it would be very indiscreet to talk about this unusual activity!
Edith, Catherine and Alice liked to sit by the sea shore and play music occasionally. On one such occasion, while Alice was fetching tea for everyone, Edith and Catherine mused why they simply didn’t ask Alice about her tree climbing and gazing obsession.
Alice admits that her unusual passion to be very inconvenient, but she is still driven to climb the tree. Edith and Catherine, being good friends, offer to help of course! But will their suggestions work? Will Alice ever come down the tree?
“Three Ladies Beside the Sea” is a charming and eccentric story, with an Edwardian style to it. Written in rhyme, this imaginative tale is illustrated by Edward Gorey. Fans will relate to his pen and ink sketches. Although Gorey is known for his “dark” Poe like artwork, his drawings work superbly in this short poem-story.
We liked this simple tale of friendship and trust. The underlying message seems to be that friends can be unusual and quirky, but they are still friends! For grown-ups there is a more sublime message of loving, longing and of dreaming on!
A lovely little treasure to read and re-read.
Mapsby Aleksandra Mizielinska , Daniel Mizielinski (Authors, Illustrators)
Big Picture Press released “Maps” a “celebration of the world, from its immense mountains to its tiny insects – and everything in between”. And indeed what a visual delight this book turned out to be! With 52 HIGHLY detailed and illustrated Maps, this book is a gem. It’s an atlas for the very curious child.
Here is what you will find inside!
This gigantic book (14.6 inches * 10.8 inches) opens to inside cover page “Contents”. The contents itself is a double spread illustrated map of the world. This page allows the reader to quickly jump to a map of the region or country of interest.
Right after the title page, the book opens to a gorgeously illustrated double page spread of a world map showing the seven continents of the world, the five oceans of the world,a compass and a sample of few sea creatures that one would see at a 50,000 feet view of our world.
Following which comes the main contents of the book: the Maps! The maps in this book is organized by Continent, so the opening page for each “group” of countries is the map of the continent to which it/they belong to along with a few highlights such as : how many countries, overall population and the size in Km. and Miles.
Let’s take a quick glance at what the actual page of a country looks like. These are the real highlight of the book. Each country is a double page spread either in portrait or landscape mode. Each map has delightful details to be discovered. For example, this map of Iceland gives you a small info detail at the right hand corner. This includes, the capital, the language, population, area/size and the map.
Apart from the “statistical” facts that you find on the map, we delighted in finding details such as different kinds of flora and fauna that one finds in Iceland. We found cultural curiosities like who are some of the famous personalities from this region. What do people in Iceland traditionally dress like? What are the natural wonders that one would visit if we made a plan to travel to Iceland? What is the local food in this area? I could go on… but there is just TOO much to discover, to find, to learn and enjoy.
The author/illustrators go above and beyond traditional cartography and show surrounding geography. In the case of the map of Iceland, we see the sea life in the oceans around Iceland.
Our only complaint would be that this is not a complete world map. The countries/maps highlighted in this book:
1) Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Romania, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland
2) Asia: Russia, Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, Thailand, Japan, Jordan
3) Africa: Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, Namibia, Madagascar
4) North America: Canada, United States of America, Mexico
5) South America: Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile
6) Australia and Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji
7) The Arctic
8 ) Antarctica
The author/ illustrator duo make use of earth tones for the basic art layout giving this a genuine “old world” feel. Decorative borders adorn each page. Fine line drawings and cartoon like rendering of illustrations add to the charm of the book. We simply loved pouring over the book looking for small nuggets of information about various places that we had visited in the past.
In summary, this book is not just an educational tool, but a fun visual treat for anyone looking for learning about geography and cultures around our world. It was tempting to make a big list of places that one wants to visit and mark them off of this big book of Maps!
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
by John Steptoe (Author, Illustrator)
An African Folk Tale
In a small village somewhere in Africa, a man named Mufaro had two very beautiful daughters, Manyara and Nyasha. Everyone agreed that the girls were very beautiful and Mufaro was a proud father.
But the two girls were very different in personalities. While Nyasha was kind, considerate and caring, Manyara was rude, selfish and bad-tempered. Manyara knew that the villagers favored Nyasha for her gentle nature and was extremely jealous of her sister. When their father was working, Manyara took every opportunity to be mean to her sister and put her down.
One fine day, the king who lived in the neighboring city declared that he was looking for a wife and invited “The most worthy and beautiful daughters” to present themselves before him. Mufaro decides that both his daughters should present themselves to the king. Manyara, however, has other plans. She wants to reach the city before her sister does, to get an advantage over her sister.
So Manyara sets out in the middle of the night, hoping to reach the city before her sister. What happens next? On a magical journey through the forest, Manyara learns that all is not what it seems.
“Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” is a story of test of character. It builds upon themes such as sibling rivalry and jealousies. Beautifully illustrated, this Zimbabwean folk tale is memorable. A folk tale with a great moral to learn from and a story that is stunningly illustrated captures the essence of the African culture. Steptoe’s illustrations have an element of realism to them. He does a superb job of introducing the culture, lifestyle, the flora and fauna of the region.
A delightful story, enchanting plot and engaging illustrations. A making of a perfect Folk tale!
The Man Who Lost His Headby Claire Huchet Bishop (Author), Robert McCloskey (Illustrator)
In 2003, the New York Review of Children’s Collection started publishing children’s books “in an attempt to reward readers who long wished for the return of their favorite titles and to introduce those books to a new generation of readers”. The NYR books publishes books for pre-schoolers through to chapter books and novels for older children.
“The Man Who Lost His Head” is a New York Review Children’s picture book, written by author Bishop known for her books like “The Five Chinese Brothers” or “Pancakes-Paris” and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, best known for his books “Blueberries for Sal” and “Make way for Ducklings”.
This is a story about a man who wakes up one morning and finds that he has lost his most agreeable and handsome head! Literally! Frantically, the man “looks” for it everywhere!
But it was not to be found anywhere! So he tries really hard to remember.. but that was hard to do without his head! Fortunately, his hands and legs remind him of the pig that he had taken to the fair to be sold yesterday. So the man who lost his head decides to go back to the fair and look for his head there.
But, he couldn’t possibly go out without a head, can he? So he decides to make a new one!
But no matter what he tries on, the “new” head was just not right! Finally, he settles in for a head carved out of wood. It wasn’t like his head from before, but it would have to do.
As he walks through the village, the people greet him pleasantly. The man who lost his head thinks that this new head might not be so bad after all. Finally, he reaches the fair and wonders “where shall I look for my head?”
It turns out that a young chap who knows no discipline saves the day before the man who lost his head loses it forever! How? Read this book to find out
This is a delightful story, with just the right amount of “craziness” going on! Entertaining, yet bizarre, the story about the man who lost his head is fresh and exciting right from page one. Bishop’s story telling is masterful, funny and amusing.
What makes this book special is McCloskey’s exquisite graphic pen and ink art work. Each page has detailed black and white illustrations with graphite and brush shadings to give it a realistic look. This striking contrast of colors and texture adds to the book’s quirkiness. The details on the artwork are pretty amazing! One can spend a great deal of time just enjoying this little book for its art work.
First published in 1940, this book is still accessible to children and adults today. We loved turning the pages to find out how this story would end!