Archive for February, 2009

PIPPA AT THE PARADE by Karen Roosa, illustrated by Julie Fortenberry

pippaRemember what it felt like the first time you went to a parade? This picture book captures the wide-eyed wonder of a parade from a child’s perspective.  Roosa’s text is simple yet rhythmic, following the movement and rat-a-tat sounds of a marching band. Local illustrator Fortenberry combines muted backgrounds with beautiful swirls of vibrant color, perfectly conveying the thrill of trumpets flaring, gymnasts flipping and fireworks bursting.  The charming illustrations create warmth and excitement, and express Pippa’s sheer joy.  Just right for a parade storytime.

Picture Book

Recommended- Jody Sitts (Peekskill)


February 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm 1 comment

SUPER DUCK by Jez Alborough

superduckIn a slightly larger format than the previous titles in the series, Alborough indulges the superhero fantasies of his protagonist.  When he dons a mask and cape, Duck is convinced that he is transformed into “Super Duck”, a character whose actual extraordinary powers are not much in evidence.  The plot line—concerning a runaway kite—is not very suspenseful, but fans of the other books and fellow superhero impersonators may enjoy the breakneck pace and jaunty, rhyming text.  To me, the most phenomenal thing about Duck is his ability to sprout digits and opposable thumbs on his wingtips.

Additional- Miriam Lang Budin (Chappaqua)




February 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

BIRDS by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek

birdsIt should probably not surprise us that Kevin Henkes, himself a major luminary in children’s literature, should be married to someone else who’s a genius (though it does seem a little inequitable to have so much talent concentrated under one roof…sort of like the Bach family…) The good news is that when they collaborate their work rises to a new level.  This simple book about birds reminds me of A TREE IS NICE with its understated observations:  “In the morning, I hear birds singing through the open window” which become more expansive as the book progresses:  “Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire./They didn’t move/and they didn’t move/and they didn’t move./I looked away for just a second…/and they were gone.”  It reads like poetry:  “Sometimes, in winter,/a bird in a tree/looks like one red/leaf left over.” But it’s poetry a child could have written and to which they respond with recognition and joy in the wonder of the world.

As we’d expect, the text and color-drenched acrylics are exceptionally attuned.  Check out the pages where the seven birds sit on the wire until the page turn, when they—DON’T!  Or the spectacular two-page sequence of double-spreads showing a tree filled with dark bird silhouettes until, “SURPRISE!” they all take off at once.  Sure to elicit the same thrilled response at story time as the event would cause in real life.  Absolutely superb.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Miriam Lang Budin (Chappaqua)

February 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

WOMBAT WALKABOUT by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

wombatSix endearing wombats go for a daily walkabout, without noticing a hungry dingo following them. One by one they disappear, as they explore the beauty of the Australian bush; the sun, flowers, gum trees, scenery, birds. When the last two notice the quiet due to their missing mates, they set a trap and trick the dingo, freeing the others.  This rhyming wombat adventure will be appreciated by older children who can grasp a little wordplay and are curious about wildlife in Australia.  A few indigenous words are introduced, with the help of a short glossary.  The illustrations are soft and beautiful.  It isn’t text heavy, which provides the unusual rhymes and new words to create a story that is sure to delight readers.  Pair this with Jackie French’s, Diary of a Wombat and Caroline Arnold’s, A Wombat’s World for a storytime in the bush.

Picture Book, ages 6 and up

Recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

February 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

CAT by Matthew Van Fleet

catThis interactive concept book about cats provides as much opportunity for exploration and fun as Dogs and Tails.  Twenty – three different breeds of cats are photographed with various expressions, playing or posing.  Pulling a flap could surprise readers; a kitten popping its head out of a boot, or making a tail wag.  There are wonderful touch and feel features; a silky tail, a wrinkly body, and a squeak toy.  Other flaps open for more surprises; “Catastrophe,” a photo of a cat that broke a vase, and an imposing Bull Dog, “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”  The book will wear in time, but is well worth the hours of delight and opportunities for play and fun. Leave this book out on a table or in a cozy reading area for children and caregivers to enjoy or take home. Local Author.

Picture Book

Recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

February 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

IF YOU WERE A PENGUIN by Florence Minor and illustrated by Wendell Minor

penguinBoth author and illustrator launch the reader’s imagination on this playful and lightly informative journey through the daily surprises and life of penguins.  Children will love this clever, concept story told in upbeat rhyming text; “You could fly underwater/or sing a duet/You could live on land/but get really wet.”  The lively illustrations in gouache watercolor feature ten different species of adult and young penguins engaged in joyful activities.  The details of the penguins on the double page spreads are eye-catching and fun. The use of both soft and sharp shapes and colors bring out the harshness and softness of the environment penguins inhabit.  The title will naturally lead to one-on-one conversations and group discussions children will enjoy, as will the ending; “Penguins do lots of things that you can do too.” This book is a perfect introduction for a unit on penguins or wildlife that live in both temperate and Antarctic waters, as well as an excellent storytime addition. This delightful book includes wonderful back matter including fun facts, easy identification of the ten penguin species and some good web sites.  Unquestionably, an excellent addition to all libraries and K-2nd grade classrooms.

Picture book, ages 4-7

Recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

February 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment


scaredy-squirrelScaredy Squirrel targets bedtime and nighttime fears for his latest obsession. His strategy is to stay up all night to avoid bad dreams that could include polka-dot monsters, dragons and a host of other creepy creatures.  Energy loss and poor reflexes are just a few unpleasant side effects he discovers from his all-night endeavors.  He decides to deal with the fear of bad dreams with unexpected and humorous surprises, only to find out that bad dreams don’t always occur, and the benefits of a good night’s sleep outweighs staying up all night to avoid them.  Like the other books in the Scaredy Squirrel series, the text and illustrations are presented using graphs, lists, charts and cartoon-like diagrams creating a busy feel. A hilarious feature of this title includes a glow-in-the-dark smile on the cover to help keep other scaredy kids awake.  Pair this book, with Mercer Mayer’s, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, Eleanor Taylor’s My Friend the Monster, or any of the Kevin Henkes Wemberly Worried books.

Picture Book ages 5-8

Recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

February 25, 2009 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

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