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A Children’s Book for Every Size Dream

Children’s May/June 2017

Children are big dreamers; with just imagination they can go to space or rule massive kingdoms. But sometimes, the wishes of children are on a smaller scale. Sometimes, they want to connect with their parents or simply find a quiet place to read. (Don’t we all.) These books, reviewed in our May/June 2017 issue, address those desires.

Color Blocked

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Ashley Sorenson
David W. Miles, illustrator
Hardcover $16.99 (40pp)

Oops! The color factory has malfunctioned, and turtle needs help as he rushes about attempting to put a riotous rainbow explosion back to rights, in Ashley Sorenson’s visually delectable Color Blocked. Clean black and white lines of industrial pipes juxtapose brilliant drips, splats, and fusions from illustrator David Miles in this interactive introduction to colors and blending. Small hands are prompted to shake, tap, and twist as each turn of the page reveals another color catastrophe.

Daddy’s Girl

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Helen Foster James
Estelle Corke, illustrator
Hardcover $15.99 (32pp)

Girly girls and pretty princesses can still spend quality time with Dad, especially if he’s willing to wear a crown and attend a tea party. In Daddy’s Girl, by Helen Foster James, one excited little sweetheart flits about as she decorates for just such an occasion, spouting lively rhyming verses. Estelle Corke mixes delicate pastels with bold hues while making room for all the ribbons and bows a girl could want, along with one good-natured Daddy.

Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family When a Loved One is Incarcerated

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Becky Birtha
Maja Kastelic, illustrator
Albert Whitman & Company
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)

When a parent goes to jail or prison, children are often left with conflicting emotions. In Far Apart, Close in Heart, Becky Birtha explores the fallout with compassion and insight. Maja Kastelic’s softly inviting vignettes show Rafael, Atian, and Emily, along with a culturally diverse group of boys and girls, as they share their experiences at school and home, giving children and caretakers useful tools for coping, even when mom or dad are far away.

Go, Green Gecko!

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Gay Hay
Margaret Tolland, illustrator
Starfish Bay Publishing
Hardcover $17.95 (40pp)

A lone lizard travels across the wild landscape of the New Zealand bush-munching bugs and traversing branches, always keeping a watchful eye out for any lurking threats in teacher and environmentalist Gay Hay’s Go, Green Gecko! Brilliant paintings by fellow Kiwi Margaret Tolland zoom in on details from gecko’s scaley skin and blue mouth to the scarlet blooms of the rata tree. Fun facts about this wee reptile round out the entertaining and educational walkabout.

The Little Doctor /El Doctorcito

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Juan J. Guerra
Victoria Castillo, illustrator
Pinata Books
Hardcover $17.95 (32pp)

Salvador dreams of becoming a doctor after translating for his Spanish-speaking abuela at a crowded clinic with an uncaring physician. Inspired by his own experiences as a young boy helping his El Salvadorian grandmother navigate the US health-care system, Juan J. Guerra’s insightful, bilingual account highlights the need for culturally sensitive medical practitioners, in The Little Doctor: El doctorcito. Notes of despair and hope shine through in the strikingly animated artwork from Victoria Castillo.

Little Sister Rabbit Gets Lost

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Ulf Nilsson
Eva Eriksson, illustrator
Susan Beard, translator
Floris Books
Hardcover $17.95 (32pp)

An adventurous, fun-loving bunny skips rocks, explores by the river, and turns cartwheels through the forest, happy to be away from her bossy older brother, in Ulf Nilsson’s Little Sister Rabbit Gets Lost, a Swedish classic reminiscent of the world of Beatrix Potter. Sepia tones with softly muted hues from Eva Eriksson create an old-fashioned playfulness when Little Sister’s wandering takes her away from the burrow until she’s maybe wishing Big Brother was with her after all.

Mr. Tanner

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Harry Chapin
Bryan Langdo, illustrator
Ripple Grove Press
Hardcover $17.99 (40pp)

Originally released in 1973 as a music track from singer-songwriter Harry Chapin’s Short Stories album, Mr. Tanner tells the tale of a midwestern dry cleaner with a passion for singing. Adding artwork to lyrics, Bryan Langdo’s cuddly rendition of Mr. Tanner as a baritone bear gives the bittersweet story-song a fanciful twist when he travels to a New York City concert hall but doesn’t get quite the reception he was hoping for, in this soulful journey of self-discovery.

A Place to Read

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Leigh Hodgkinson
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)

With an oversized book clutched to his chest, one small reader visits a variety of exotic locales from sunny safari to frozen north and outer space in A Place to Read, by Leigh Hodgkison. Simple, rhythmic verses accompanied by boldly patterned collage-style drawings show an increasingly frustrated lad and his growing entourage complete with lion, polar bear, and alien as he comes to a delightful conclusion about where best to enjoy his book.

Off to the Beach!

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Child’s Play
Cocoretto, illustrator
Child’s Play
Hardcover $14.99 (12pp)

Golden, glistening, gritty grains of sand shimmer and shine in Cocoretto’s Off to the Beach! A tactile delight with terry towels and slick sunglasses, the textured pages, complete with embossed braille symbols, use simple words and phrases while including everything necessary for a day of fun and sun as children are encouraged to explore with all of their senses the wonders of an afternoon spent by the ocean, swimming, playing or simply listening to the crashing waves.

The Alphabet Thief

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Bill Richardson
Roxanna Bikadoroff, illustrator
Groundwood Books
Hardcover $16.95 (40pp)

A sneaky letter larcenist wreaks havoc by stealing ABCs from around town, in Bill Richardson’s The Alphabet Thief. Hilarity escalates as rhyming verses, accompanied by creatively quirky drawings from Roxanna Bikadoroff, tell how an entire hockey team and group of mice can turn into a pot of tea poured on ice, all due to a hijacked letter M. Never fear, though—an unexpected hero has a daring plan to turn oil back into soil and pants back to paints asap.

Around the World Right Now

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Gina Cascone
Bryony Williams Sheppard
Olivia Beckman, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)

No matter the hour, something exciting is happening on the mountains, shores, and cities found in Around the World Right Now, from Gina Cascone and Bryony Williams Sheppard. Explore cultures, countries and climates while meandering across the globe, passing through each of the twenty-four time zones. Olivia Beckman’s lively illustrations chase the setting sun as a girl from Ipanema goes walking and a moose wanders the sleepy streets of Anchorage, with playfully depicted clocks hidden in each scene.

The Amazing Dinosaur Detectives: Amazing Facts, Myths and Quirks of the Dinosaur World

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Maggie Li
Hardcover $13.99 (32pp)

Boasting a multitude of fun facts, interactive games, and activities, Maggie Li’s The Amazing Dinosaur Detectives: Facts, Myths and Quirks of the Dinosaur World dives into the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods with humor and enthusiasm. Join dozens of tiny khaki-wearing paleontologist guides as they explore the tallest, heaviest, and meanest prehistoric beasties ever found in fossil form, then roll the dice in the “Danger Zone” as the end pages double as a game board.

The Case of the Poached Egg: A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery

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Robin Newman
Deborah Zemke, illustrator
Creston Book
Hardcover $15.95 (48pp)

Eggspect plenty of “fowl play” and a healthy dose of puns as another Wilcox and Griswold Mystery unfolds in Robin Newman’s The Case of the Poached Egg, a Geronimo Stilton crime caper where two police mice follow the clues, interview suspects, and crack a few eggs and jokes along with the case, this time finding a ransomed egg named Penny. Adding to the merriment, Deborah Zemke’s illustrations depict a comically expressive barnyard full of memorable characters.

The Secret Kitten: Pet Rescue Adventures

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Holly Webb
Sophy Williams, illustrator
Tiger Tales
Softcover $7.99 (126pp)

Two critter-friendly series, one heartfelt idea that wild or tame, animals and humans have a lot to learn from one another. Meet cuddly kittens and playful puppies in Holly Webb’s Pet Rescue Adventures, and twins Ella and Caleb who rehabilitate wild animals and find homes for goats, bunnies, and more in Tina Nolan’s Animal Rescue Center. With dozens of titles to choose from, it’s easy to find a bit of adventure and a lot of adorable.

Daddy’s Sandwich

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Pip Jones
Laura Hughes, illustrator
Faber & Faber
Softcover $9.95 (32pp)

Intent on making a snack for her father, a thoughtful young girl creates a monumental sub, in Daddy’s Sandwich, from Pip Jones. Even Dagwood would be impressed when she decides to include everything that Daddy really likes, from slightly stinky cheese and jelly beans to pop-up books, jigsaw puzzles, and Mum’s bubble bath. Laura Hughes’s colorfully quirky illustrations complement the imaginative and lighthearted tribute to dads everywhere as the sandwich reaches epic proportions.

The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr

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Lucie Papineau
Caroline Hamel, illustrator
Hardcover $16.95 (40pp)

Rising up from humble origins The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr, by Lucie Papineau, chronicles the amazing true story of Cyprien-Noé Cyr from his hardworking boyhood as the oldest of seventeen children through his transformation from lumberjack to professional weight lifter and world-class champion. Caroline Hammel’s charmingly offbeat characterizations perfectly capture Cyr’s mix of Victorian Era immigrant and circus strongman, and a bonus dust jacket doubles as a poster complete with timeline and photographs.

Pallas Gates McCorquodale

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