Foreword Reviews

Fall Children's Book Reviews are Here; Something to Learn on Every Page

Children’s Picture Books

This collection of children’s books, reviewed in the Fall 2016 issue of Foreword Reviews, features something to learn with every colorful page. These sixteen books may hold the attention of any rambunctious child, and parents will love the morals and facts slipped in alongside the story.

Hey, That’s MY Monster!

Book Cover
Amanda Noll
Howard McWilliam, illustrator
Flashlight Press
Hardcover $17.95 (32pp)
978-1-936261-37-6
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Most kids would panic at the thought of a monster lurking underneath their bed, but not Ethan. He’s desperate to get his back. Hey, That’s My Monster!, from Amanda Noll, is a quirky bedtime story with plenty of good humor, thrills, and sibling exasperation. Bold and colorful, the illustrations by Howard McWilliam are reminiscent of Monsters, Inc., with their large, expressive eyes, gleeful movement, and hideously charming monsters. Spot-on interactions and conversations between Ethan and his sister Emma, an active, sleep-resistant toddler, will resonate with families everywhere. So whether little sister is a sweetheart, a monster, or maybe a bit of both, bedtime has never been so entertaining.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Sleepy Solar System

Book Cover
John Hutton
Doug Cenko, illustrator
Blue Manatee Press
Hardcover $17.99 (32pp)
978-1-936669-49-3
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Adorably drowsy planets gather under a tired sun as they prepare for bedtime, in Sleepy Solar System, by pediatrician John Hutton. Smiles are inevitable with Doug Cenko’s charming renditions of each planet; Earth with cloud curlers and an ever-so-slightly grumpy Mars washing the red “from his rusty, dusty head.” Each planet gets its own rhyming bedtime venture, and while traditionalists will be pleased with the inclusion of Pluto, astronomers will approve of the breakdown into terrestrial or dwarf planets and gas or ice giants. A lovely fusion of fact and fancy, little stars will want to fall asleep with the solar system night after night.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

On Bird Hill

Book Cover
Jane Yolen
Bob Marstall, illustrator
Cornell Lab Publishing Group
Hardcover $15.95 (32pp)
978-1-943645-02-2
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

First in a collaborative new series from award-winning author Jane Yolen and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, On Bird Hill reveals the wonder of a newly hatched baby chick emerging on a beautiful day in a nature-filled park and his sense of kinship with a wandering boy enjoying the sights early one morning. Short but sweet rhyming couplets describing the scenery and events are set amidst the imaginative drawings of illustrator Bob Marstall. Sure to inspire the bird-watcher in everyone, nature, conservation, and an appreciation of both are the key components of this feather-friendly venture.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

One North Star

A Counting Book

Book Cover
Phyllis Root
Beckie Prange, illustrator
Betsy Bowen, illustrator
University of Minnesota Press
Hardcover $16.95 (36pp)
978-0-8166-5063-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Shining bright from the corner of each page, one twinkling star remains constant throughout Phyllis Root’s One North Star: A Counting Book, inspired by the natural wonders of Minnesota, the North Star State. Kicking off with one lone moose shadowed in moonlight, the counting quickly escalates up to ten blue-winged teals, going backwards in a partridge-in-a-pear-tree manner, but with no repetition other than the “under one north star” refrain. Roughly hewn illustrations by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen combine wood cutting and watercolor, resulting in raw, organic depictions of the local woods, lakes, bluffs, marshes, and their many inhabitants. The included flora and fauna are described and defined in great detail after the counting is done, making this an excellent choice for both young and middle-grade classroom libraries.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Cat in the Night

Book Cover
Madeleine Dunphy
Joshua S. Brunet, illustrator
Web of Life Children’s Books
Hardcover $16.95 (32pp)
978-0-9883303-6-8
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

As Gwenn sleeps soundly, her curious cat, Rusty, stalks the neighborhood using all of his feline senses to explore, in Madeleine Dunphy’s Cat in the Night. Bright stars and flashing eyes flicker across the deep blues and purples of Joshua S. Brunet’s nighttime illustrations, creating a hushed, peaceful tone for Rusty’s sniffing, slinking, stalking, and searching. Children are encouraged to look out for all the critters Rusty encounters on his way as well as instances of his heightened use of hearing, vision, touch, balance, and smell, all integral cat behavior, whether snuggling with a friendly little human or getting ready to pounce on a backyard predator.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Seasons of the Bear

A Yosemite Story

Book Cover
Ginger Wadsworth
Daniel San Souci, illustrator
Yosemite Conservancy
Hardcover $15.95 (32pp)
978-1-930238-66-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

A mother bear and her two young cubs awaken one cold morning in their den and venture out into the wild, capturing the spirit of the national park, in Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story, from Ginger Wadsworth. The snows of winter, hungers of spring, summer tourists, and autumn forest fires are no match for the indomitable strength and majesty of the American black bear. Thoughtful paintings from Daniel San Souci complement the straightforward narrative, gracefully showcasing the blend of both bear and human inhabitants, while an array of fun facts shared in the author’s note are a welcome addition for campers, park rangers, naturalists, and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Abigail the Whale

Book Cover
Davide Cali
Sonja Bougaeva, illustrator
Owlkids Books
Hardcover $16.95 (32pp)
978-1-77147-198-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Translated from the original French by Karen Li, Abigail the Whale, a.k.a. Marlène Baleine, by Davide Cali, follows young Abigail over the course of a week as she learns to use the power of positive thinking to overcome her fears and insecurities, while gaining a new appreciation and enjoyment of the little things that make up her day. Abigail’s imagination and sweet temperament are highlighted by the colorful brushstrokes of Sonja Bougaeva’s whimsical illustrations, and the harsh words of bullies become insignificant as Abigail faces the waters with confidence, pigtails, and an orange polka-dotted swimsuit. Perfect for virtues programs and character building at home or in classrooms.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Little Dead Riding Hood

Book Cover
Wiley Blevins
Steve Cox, illustrator
Red Chair Press
Hardcover $23.99 (24pp)
978-1-63440-102-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

There is no happily-ever-after for this Little Red, but there are plenty of eye-popping, jaw-dropping twists in Little Dead Riding Hood, part of the Scary Tales Retold series from Wiley Blevins. Channeling its Grimm roots, this and other classic fairy tales are given a decidedly dark and sinister makeover, with illustrations by Steve Cox that fluctuate somewhere in between creepy and endearing. Gallows humor will have young fans of the paranormal simultaneously giggling and cringing as Dead Riding Hood haunts the village children. Perfect for the next generation of thrill seekers who aren’t afraid of the big bad wolf.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Little Home Bird

Book Cover
Jo Empson
Child’s Play
Hardcover $16.99 (36pp)
978-1-84643-889-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Mixing soft watercolor brushstrokes with bold colors and eye-catching landscapes, Little Home Bird, from author and artist Jo Empson, is a visual treat as well as charmingly told tale of a wee bird hesitant to leave his beloved nest as the rest of his flock migrates south for the winter. Little Bird’s wide-eyed appreciation for the world around him, and determination to carry his treasures through storms and rough weather, will earn him a place in every child’s heart, particularly those who have moved to new homes, traveled to far-off places, or perhaps just spent a weekend away from their nests.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Du Iz Tak?

Book Cover
Carson Ellis
Candlewick
Hardcover $16.99 (48pp)
978-0-7636-6530-2
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

A group of excitable insects are inspired and astounded by the appearance of a growing flower in Du Iz Tak? Written entirely in the playful and amusing language of bugs, it isn’t necessary to speak fluent moth or ladybug to enjoy the growth and metamorphoses creatively combined through Carson Ellis’s delightful words and fanciful illustrations as the seasons subtly transform. Damselflies, ants, and a bespectacled pill bug mister and missus all rally together to build a bug-sized treehouse with some surprising results, and, as an added bonus, all the major players are ready to be perforated into finger puppets, adding to the pageantry of story time and wonder of nature as seen through the eyes of its tiniest inhabitants.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

What Could It Be?

Exploring the Imaginative World of Shapes

Book Cover
Sally Fawcett
EK Books
Hardcover $17.99 (32pp)
978-1-925335-02-6
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

If your children weren’t excited about geometry before, they will be after experiencing Sally Fawcett’s What Could it Be? Challenging young minds to think outside the box or square, art, nature, math, and creative thinking all converge as a spiderweb becomes a hexagon and the tip of a wooden spoon, covered in chocolate and ready to lick, becomes an oval. Starting with basic shape outlines, then progressing to more involved scenes, children are asked to find a variety of different colored shapes within a given setting, ranging from a cozy kitchen to snow-covered mountains and the sunny seaside. Little fingers will be itching to turn rectangles into rocket ships as children view the world around them in a whole new light.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

That’s Not a Hippopotamus!

Book Cover
Juliette MacIver
Sarah Davis, illustrator
Gecko Press
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)
978-1-927271-96-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Hijinks and hilarity ensue when a safari field trip turns into a hippo hunt as a rambunctious class and their beleaguered chaperone search high and low for the elusive mammal, in Julie MacIver’s That’s Not a Hippopotamus! Clever, rhythmic lines roll off the tongue, and detailed drawings by Sarah Davis give each child a distinct personality while adding to the merriment, as first a giraffe then a parade of other land and water animals are roped, wrangled, and dragged by eager boys and girls to be presented as the misplaced hippo, lurking ever so subtly in the shadows. A must-have for school, public, or home libraries in need of some lighthearted adventure, or for anyone who can appreciate the many innovative ways to rhyme hippopotamus.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Move Your Mood

Book Cover
Brenda S. Miles
Colleen A. Patterson
Holly Clifton-Brown, illustrator
Magination Press
Hardcover $14.95 (32pp)
978-1-4338-2112-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Get ready to wiggle, twist, hop, and shakety-shake your way to feeling great in Move Your Mood!, from psychologists Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson. Based on the idea that exercise and movement are vital to balancing and controlling emotions, particularly for children, boys and girls are encouraged to begin the day positively with a wide range of motions and affirmations, while adults are invited to use the pictures and text as a springboard for helping youngsters to foster a better understanding of emotions, fitness, and their symbiotic relationship. Illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown show a delightful range of agile animals moving their own heads, tails, hooves, and tentacles, proving that healthy minds and healthy bodies are just a shimmy away.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Introducing Teddy

A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship

Book Cover
Jess Walton
Dougal MacPherson, illustrator
Bloomsbury USA
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)
978-1-68119-210-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Beautiful in its simplicity, Introducing Teddy, by Jessica Walton, turns the pain and confusion often associated with gender identity and transition into a celebration of friendship and happiness. Young Errol, a boy who enjoys both playing in the park and having indoor tea parties when it rains, supports his stuffed teddy, who feels much more at peace as a girl teddy named Tilly. Expressive drawings by Dougal MacPherson showcase a range of emotions as Teddy’s bowtie becomes Tilly’s hair bow. Young audiences will relate to the bonds of friendship and pursuit of quiet exploration and fun times, regardless of where a teddy places his or her bow.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library

Book Cover
Julie Gassman
Andy Elkerton, illustrator
Capstone Young Readers
Hardcover $14.95 (32pp)
978-1-62370-651-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Unfortunately, for all the fire-breathers out there who also love a good book, dragons and libraries just don’t mix, and Julie Gassman will tell you why in Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library, a rhyming misadventure through the shelves and story corner of a local library. Dragons and patrons are a multihued variety shown in lively illustrations from Andy Elkerton. The scene at the library is happening, even with the disruptive behemoths, and boys and girls will be inspired to check out books and story times—just remember to leave your dragon at home, please.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

Is It Sukkot Yet?

Book Cover
Chris Barash
Alessandra Psacharopulo
Albert Whitman & Company
Hardcover $16.99 (32pp)
978-0-8075-3388-8
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

The excitement of an upcoming festival builds as a family observes the seasonal changes and makes preparations together, in Is It Sukkot Yet?, by Chris Barash. Simple illustrations by Alessandra Psacharopulo combine nature and tradition, all aglow in fall colors. Flowing rhymes that beg to be read aloud precede the refrain “Sukkot is on its way,” encouraging chants or call and response as a growing sense of wonder and anticipation captures the joy surrounding a Sukkot feast. Through the book’s light and lyrical tone, children everywhere can have a new appreciation for this Jewish holiday.

PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE (August 26, 2016)

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