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The Best Children's Books of Fall 2015

children’s books

Why Do Computers Know So Much?

Book Cover
Jennifer Shand
Daniele Fabbri, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
Hardcover $8.99 (20pp)
978-1-4867-0384-5
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Technology is an ever-increasing influence on young people’s lives, and it’s likely to continue into their adult lives. Children might know how to use computers, tablets, and other gadgets, but understanding how hard drives and other interior parts function is another story. This board book introduces kids to simple engineering concepts, like cell-phone towers, lightbulb filaments, and microwaves to encourage the fulfillment of scientific curiosities. The illustrations are inviting rather than diagrammatical, so it’s entertaining and not intimidating. Ages four and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Where Did My Clothes Come From?

Book Cover
Chris Butterworth
Lucia Gaggiotti, illustrator
Candlewick Press
Hardcover $12.99 (32pp)
978-0-7636-7750-3
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

The processes of making cotton, wool, silk, polyester, nylon, fleece, and rubber are all detailed in this smart picture book. Might sound overwhelming, but Butterworth and Gaggiotti make the science behind clothing materials accessible to youngsters who think that clothes just come from “the store.” Cool, retro illustrations will bring joy to the faces of those becoming more knowledgeable about the world. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Mae and the Moon

Book Cover
Jami Gigot
Ripple Grove Press
Hardcover $16.99 (36pp)
978-0-9913866-2-8
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Mae loves playing hide-and-seek with the moon each night, but she becomes worried when she notices it is waning away into darkness. The endearing young astronomer embarks on a mission to find her luminous friend, and the ease of Gigot’s clear, flowing narrative and night-hued illustrations propel her wondrous journey along. Everything, even the silky quality of the paper, makes this gentle story a perfect bedtime read. Ages two and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

The Last Bargain

Book Cover
Samita Aiyer
Garima Gupta, illustrator
Karadi Tales
Hardcover $15.95 (36pp)
978-818190168-2
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

With both humor and grace, Aiyer and Gupta teach a lesson on gratefulness through the story of a rat who gives a hungry man a dry stick to make a fire and is given a piece of toasted bread as thanks. This is the first in a series of exchanges, each growing more grandiose. As the rat’s pride grows bigger, his selfishness begins to get the better of him. The repetition of dialogue pairs with the progression of the rat’s arrogance to create a build-up that will leave children laughing—and feeling grateful for simple things. Ages four and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Yoga for Kids

Simple Animal Poses for Any Age

Book Cover
Lorena V. Pajalunga
Anna Forlati, illustrator
Albert Whitman & Company
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)
978-0-8075-9172-7
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

A child uses zoo animals as models for his yoga practice in this approachable guide that’s easy to follow along. From the brave lion to the funny camel to the elegant eagle, the asanas this attentive boy attempts are well explained and are paired with cute images of him practicing each pose. Yoga for Kids playfully welcomes children into the healthy benefits of yoga and its natural inspirations. Ages four and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Elizabeth’s Constellation Quilt

Book Cover
Olivia Fu
Tumblehome Learning
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)
978-0-9907829-1-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

A mouse embarks on a remarkable journey to find her father who’s lost at sea in this heartwarming story of love and stars. The adorable, emotive illustrations, like a movie storyboard, perfectly follow the arc of the tale, in which the plot points connect like stars in a constellation. Children with military parents overseas will especially relate to—and find hope in—little Elizabeth’s determination and unwillingness to give up. Ages three and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

In a Cloud of Dust

Book Cover
Alma Fullerton
Brian Deines, illustrator
Pajama Press
Hardcover $19.95 (32pp)
978-1-927485-62-0
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Anna is doing her homework inside during lunchtime since her walk home takes far too long, so she is the last to arrive at the pickup truck that is delivering charity bicycles to her school, and she misses out. Rather than moping, Anna helps her friends learn to ride. Mohammad returns the favor by letting her take his bike the rest of the way home since she has the farthest to go. The dusty Tanzanian countryside and the children’s joyous faces, rendered realistically in Deines’s artwork, shows how simple acts can transform a child’s life. Ages four and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Go West!

Book Cover
Joel Nakamura
Leaf Storm Press
Hardcover $17.95 (32pp)
978-0-9914105-6-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Ah, the Wild West, where alarm clocks have legs and feathers and rocks tell ancient stories. Once they find the courage to face the thorns and howling moon nights, cowgirls and cowboys can dance the two-step off into the sunset of this gorgeous picture book. Nakamura’s bold rainbow of paint colors evokes the timeless natural beauty of the American West, and his whooping prose will echo across the mountain peaks of children’s imaginations. Ages three and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

The Hunter’s Promise

An Abenaki Tale

Book Cover
Joseph Bruchac
Bill Farnsworth, illustrator
Wisdom Tales
Hardcover $16.95 (32pp)
978-1-937786-43-4
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

The loyalty and thanks we owe our family and nature are embedded in this Native American cautionary tale about a hunter who makes a promise to remember his wife and children throughout the summer, even though he only sees them in winter and is offered the hand of the chief’s daughter in his village. Farnsworth’s illustrations gently depict the majesty of nature, with each paint stroke contributing to the texture of the tale. This fine fable brings a traditional indigenous story to a contemporary audience. Ages six and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Edmond

The Moonlit Party

Book Cover
Astrid Desbordes
Marc Boutavant, illustrator
Enchanted Lion Books
Hardcover $17.95 (32pp)
978-1-59270-174-2
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

A painfully shy squirrel named Edmond makes pom-pom hats, an owl dresses up in animal disguises to trick his friends (or does he secretly enjoy empathizing in someone else’s shoes?), an outgoing bear loves to throw wild parties—who could ask for anything more? This eccentric story of coming into your own and out of your shell makes great use of psychedelic colors to give the book a retro feel. Best of all, the world is filled with kids who embrace their weirdness, and those are the ones who befriend quirky Edmond the quickest. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

The Attack of the Giant Stink Bugs

The Adventures of Ru-Lan

Book Cover
Larry Bennett
Basia Tov, illustrator
Heritage Builders Publishing
Softcover $10.95 (56pp)
978-1-940242-73-6
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

As the second book in a series, The Attack of the Giant Stink Bugs builds on the foundation of Chinese Prince Ru-Lan’s precious kindness as he is gifted the ability to converse with insects by the magical woman he cared for when she was hexed and in the form of a rabbit. His special skill and ingenuity come in handy when magically enhanced giant stink bugs begin feasting on his village’s crops. Detailed illustrations and Chinese words bolster the enjoyability of the story. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

How to Deal with Bullies Superhero Style

Book Cover
Wiley Blevins
Debbie Palen, illustrator
Red Chair Press
Softcover $4.99 (24pp)
978-1-63440-010-7
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Vigilante Zach brings bullies to justice by showing how to behave peacefully, stand up for yourself, and gain self-confidence in a noncombative way. His mantras may be cheesy, but they’re riotously fun and affirming for those experiencing bullying. By portraying diverse children both as the taunters and the taunted (and as the heroes, of course!), the authors demonstrate that ruffians, victims, and conquerors can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Shanghai Sukkah

Book Cover
Heidi Smith Hyde
Jing Jing Tsong, illustrator
Kar-Ben Publishing
Hardcover $17.99 (32pp)
978-1-4677-3474-5
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Two boys—one Chinese, one Jewish immigrant whose family escaped Germany before WWII—team up to make the Chinese Moon Festival and the Jewish harvest holiday special for Marcus’s first Sukkot in Shanghai. Cultural heritage information is woven seamlessly into the narrative as the friends play marbles, build a sukkah from bamboo, and march with a paper dragon and lanterns in a parade. The illustrations depict Shanghai and the Jewish community in their historical contexts, but the friendship, and a timeless theme, take center stage. Ages five and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

My Friend Is Hindu

Faith in Friendship

Book Cover
Khadija Ejaz
Purple Toad Publishing
Hardcover $29.95 (47pp)
978-1-62469-108-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Most of us don’t have a friend like Arjun to explain to us about sanatana dharma, varnas, samskaras, and atman, but Cameron’s Hindu pal shows him that we only fear what we don’t know. In this concise, approachable story, Khadija Ejaz opens up a world of cultural awareness that’s both curiosity driven and easy to absorb. Photos, familiar concepts and themes, and charming characters root the educational bits in modern reality, so children can better connect with and understand the religion and lifestyle explored. Ages eight and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Lilliput

Book Cover
Sam Gayton
Alice Ratterree, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
Hardcover $16.95 (264pp)
978-1-56145-806-6
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

In a large bowl, add a pinch of Alice in Wonderland, a spoonful of Gulliver’s Travels, and a smattering of Treasure Island. Stir slowly while pouring in a cup of The Wizard of Oz. Now douse the whole thing with clever tomboy snark, and you’ve got Lilliput, the story of tiny Lily, who’s kidnapped by a giant and whose size can’t contain the bravery she holds. A fantastically fanciful book, Lilliput will fit perfectly in the hands of readers with big imaginations. Ages eight and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Scrap City

Book Cover
D. S. Thornton
Capstone/Capstone Young Readers
Hardcover $12.95 (352pp)
978-1-62370-297-7
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

The safety of two worlds—both equally complex and populated by equally interesting characters—is at stake in this exciting story that will pique the curiosity of mechanically minded kids. Clunky robots, centuries-old mysteries, and unlikely friendships add intrigue to the already appealing premise of a secret city of scrap people hidden beneath a junkyard. With a perfect blend of emotion and humor, the pages practically turn themselves. Ages ten and up.

AIMEE JODOIN (August 27, 2015)

Aimee Jodoin

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