With December holidays right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some children’s books I’ve recently read and reviewed. Hope you find something of interest for the young (and young-at-heart) readers on your list and that all Writers’ Rumpus blog readers have a safe and peaceful holiday season.
Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year was illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, poems were selected by Fiona Waters; published by Nosy Crow. This lavishly illustrated big sturdy book is filled with some of my favorite poems as well as many new ones. It’s fun to look up the birthdays of your family and friends to see what poem has been chosen for their special day. There’s a handy index of poets, titles, and first lines at the back and an attached ribbon bookmark. A coffee-table sized book that’s great for all ages with delightful illustrations of wildlife throughout.
Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse was written by Alexandria Giardino and illustrated by Felicita Sala; published by Cameron Kids. A beautifully written book that imagines the creative process behind the poem, Ode to the Onion by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Pablo is feeling gloomy about everything during the writing of a long, sad poem. Then he realizes it’s time for his lunch date with his lively friend Matilde. With a big bunch of poppies in hand he arrives at her home. They stroll through the garden and with Matilde as his guide, his sadness lifts as he discovers a happier way to look at life, even at a simple onion. The pictures are warm and gorgeous. Lovely details, endnotes with the poem in its original Spanish and also translated into English, and onionskin endpapers add much to this tale!
Paul and His Ukulele was written by Robert Broder and illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky; published by Ripple Grove Press. I adore this tender celebration of a life well lived. The beautifully written story follows Paul, a gentle spirit and lover of music, from childhood to adulthood. His relationship with his parents is warm and loving. The watercolor and ink illustrations are gorgeous and worth looking at again and again. Possible spoiler alert: it was fun to see Paul’s future love interest appear early in the coffee shop scene. But what they accomplish together is the best surprise of all!
Potato Pants was written and illustrated by Laurie Keller; published by Henry Holt & Co. The illustrations were created with markers, colored pencils, pen & ink, acrylic paint, potato stamps, collage, and digital drawing. What a refreshing sense of humor Laurie Keller has. It shows on every page, even on the title and copyright pages. In the back matter, we get to meet Tuberto, creator of potato pants and see his “full line of potato fashions for both the active and the couch potato.” Underneath all the laughs is a good reminder that assumptions about others aren’t always accurate.
Too Much! Not Enough! was written and illustrated by Gina Perry; published by Tundra Books. This bright, cheerful book introduces us to Moe and Peanut. When one friend always wants more, taller, bigger, messier, etc. and the other friend always wants less, smaller, softer, tidier, can they ever find a way to get along? A good story of accepting differences. The cute artwork was surprisingly created with Photoshop and the endpapers are fun, too!
You Know What? was written by Carol Gordon Ekster and illustrated by Nynke Mare Talsma; published by Clavis. This colorful book about a curious little boy makes a fun bedtime story. Like many children, Oliver has a lot of interesting questions, especially when asking those questions delays bedtime. His sleepy mother does her best to keep up the conversation and is rewarded by his last words. Children will enjoy finding the comical bunny in each double spread of this sweet story.
A World of Cities was written and illustrated by James Brown; published by Candlewick Studio. This is a beautiful big book, and I’m talking really big as in an 11″ x 15″ format. Seeing all that takes place in the bold, graphic prints, plus the fascinating facts and huge populations of so many different parts of the world made this reader feel an enormous sense of just how huge the world really is. Wonderful for classrooms and armchair travelers of all ages.
The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall was written by Kirsti Call and illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin; published by Mazo Publishers. A charming book filled with bright, cheerful illustrations. I never knew a raindrop could be so cute, soft, puffy and plump! Even Plink’s grandmother is adorable in her spectacles. Plink really wants to float down from the clouds like all the other raindrops, but she’s too afraid. The story shows young children how sometimes you just have to keep trying. An added bonus are attractive information tags inserted every other spread or so. These additions explain different aspects of water (such as evaporation, condensation, and rainbows) in clear, easy language. And the back matter, filled with a glossary, recipe, crafts, and a game, keeps the fun going. Overall, a wonderful combination of fiction and nonfiction about the magic of raindrops!
Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches was written by Julie Fulton and illustrated by Rachel Suzanne; published by Maverick Arts Publishing. This fun book is a great choice for story time. The lyrical repetition throughout will have kids squealing in anticipation of the title line, which is the bear’s response each time Jack politely and patiently offers egg sandwiches. The big ol’ gruff bear is certainly hungry, but what DOES he eat? I have to admit I kept worrying about Jack’s safety as the bear received his large eating supplies. The suspense builds throughout, but all turns out well after Jack’s clever solution, followed by a cute punchline. Bright and cheerful illustrations are a great match for this fun story.
Fire Truck Dreams was written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram; published by Running Press Kids. A fun rhyming story. Beautiful pictures have the appearance of a lot of soft textures on each page. This is such a cute series, Fire Truck Dreams being a follow-up to Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams. And the busy little fire engine even stops at a Rescue Readers Library on his way back to the station.
Lost in the Library was written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Stevie Lewis; published by Henry Holt & co. The rhyming is spot on and I love the personable lions with their big expressive faces. Beautiful digitally rendered illustrations and endpapers along with an interesting page of back matter containing fascinating facts about the New York Public Library. The muted color palette works perfectly for the luxurious rooms of the NYPL.
The Book Tree was written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh; published by Barefoot Books. A lovely work of art from the embossed title on the cover to the beautiful book-filled endpapers. The mixed media illustrations are stunning and the words are gentle and flowing–all resulting in a comfortable folktale-for-the-ages style. And the message is of course perfect, because really, where would we be without books?
Drawn Together was written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat; published by Disney-Hyperion. This gorgeous book reaches across generations and language barriers to set a young boy and his grandfather on a magnificent adventure that, through their mutual love of drawing, brings them a lasting and close companionship. The amazing artwork was created with markers, oil-based inks, brush pens, watercolors, and colored pens and pencils.
How Rude! was written by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Olivier Tallec; published by Quarto Publishing PLC. This cute story is about Dot and her friend Duck. Duck is being very rude during the nice tea party Dot has kindly spread out for him. The words are filled with humor and the expressive illustrations are adorable. This is a wonderful book that shows why it’s important to be polite and how people feel sad when others are rude to them.
Ten Horse Farm was written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda; published by Candlewick. The paper cutting and folding genius has done it again. Horse lovers in particular will love the detailed pop-up illustrations. Each beautifully constructed horse leaps right off the page. There aren’t many words, mostly just one per page, but it is definitely a treasure for gentle story-times and pop-up book fans of all ages.
I Love You for Miles and Miles was written by Alison Goldberg and illustrated by Mike Yamada; published by Farrar Straus Giroux. An adorable book—each page is filled with colorful details and interesting transportation action. An energetic mama bear takes her little cub on one adventure after another to prove her devotion. The stanzas, each beginning with: My love for you is… are lyrical and well thought out. Preschoolers are going to love this story at bedtime or anytime!
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah was written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky; published by Schwartz & Wade. For the many fans of Sydney Taylor’s classic series, this new picture book is a great find. Based on her own childhood, Taylor, in 1951, was the first to write about Jewish children and culture. This new book is aimed at a slightly younger audience and features little Gertie who wants desperately to help prepare for Hanukkah. After being told she is too small, she finally gets to do the biggest job of all. I’ve always enjoyed Zelinsky’s illustrations and the interesting back matter includes his thoughts on technique.
Christmas ABC was written and illustrated by Jannie Ho; published by Nosy Crow. This is a very cute alphabet board book. The alphabet is clearly displayed, one letter per page, in uppercase as well as lowercase on bright checked backgrounds. Simple bold pictures match the one word text throughout. One of my favorites is Qq which stands for ‘quiet’ and shows a little gray mouse tiptoeing along with a special present. Pages are sturdy with rounded corners, perfect for little hands.
Little Christmas Tree was written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle; published by Big Picture Press. This is another beautiful board book for a slightly older group–ages 2-5. The lyrical verse tells of a little tree waking up in the forest surrounded by woodland animals. Surprises unfold throughout Christmas day until night and snowflakes fall. This is a lift-the-flap book with at least three tabs blending into the scene on each double page spread. Descriptive words and colors are hidden on the underside of the flaps. Illustrations are filled with sparkles and other details. The lovely rhythm of the poem put me in mind of Emily Dickinson.
And just to make it an even 20 and not leave out my own latest title, this one might be fun for kids who have moved on from picture books (if one can ever do so!)…
Roller Boy was written by Marcia Strykowski and published by Fitzroy Books. The book’s key audience is ages 8 to 13. Here’s a short blurb: After his baseball dreams fall through, Mateo tries his luck at roller-skating while dodging bullies, avoiding gluten, and falling for Roller City’s star skater. Join Mateo for an incredible ride on roller skates that just might take him all the way to regionals!
Happy reading and if you have any new books to recommend, please share titles in the below comments. 🙂