Children’s Books

Monkey Business by Wallace Edwards

From Publishers Weekly

As he did in Alphabeasts, Wallace pairs deadpan text with multilayered illustrations that are at once humorous and absurd, likely to elicit grins from both adults and children. His latest title focuses on idioms (a definition of the term appears on the first page), with a cast of anthropomorphic animals set in bizarre situations. All the scenes make jokes that should have easy kid appeal. Owen, the literal “bull in a china shop,” unconsciously manages to entwine his horns, tail and cane around several ceramic pieces (“Not again,” he sighs). A walrus who “had no intention of sharing his cupcake” sports a candy cane in place of a tusk (a “real sweet tooth”). Attentive readers can also spot a monkey hidden in each scene—these visual tricks and other hide and seek-type games echo Graeme Base’s works.

Far From Shore by Sophie Webb

“Another fascinating expedition:.the you-are-there immediacy of the narrative-and the clear and colorful watercolor-and-gouache landscapes and drawings of the birds form an appealing travelogue that is as exciting as it is informative.” –School Library Journal, starred review

Once Upon a Starry Night by Jacqueline Mitton & Christina Balit

“Take an illuminating ride through the starry night sky, and learn how the heavens pay tribute to the gods of Greek and Roman mythology. Once Upon a Starry Night explains the ten ancient figures whose legends are written large across the universe. Every page shines with Christina Balit’s vibrant art, studded with shiny stars, and provides the perfect backdrop to Jacqueline Mitton’s poetic text” – Amazon.com

There’s a Frog in My Throat! by Loreen Leedy & Pat Street

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 2-5. This book is just ducky! It’s the cat’s pajamas! In fact, it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys! These enthusiastic endorsements are among the many animal expressions defined in this unusual collection that maximizes the humor of sayings that are common to English usage but nonsensical if taken literally. And take them literally Leedy does in her hilarious art. A “social butterfly” wears a party hat and has a balloon; a “clotheshorse” is a handsome stallion, in a top hat and men’s shoes, shown tying a tie. Even the page numbers are part of the fun; the number for page 24 appears in a 24-karat gold egg lying beneath the goose that laid it. This same bird is pictured with a thought bubble in which she imagines herself served on a silver platter: “My goose is cooked.” The illustrations continuously work together in this way–up, down, and across the double-page spreads, which are loosely arranged by themes according to their animal subjects, from house pets to farm stock to wild critters. To round things out, each boldface figure of speech or phase is accompanied by a succinct explanation, making the book useful for classroom enrichment as well as great fun for personal enjoyment. Even children older than the target audience will agree that this is, indeed, a volume to crow about! Ellen Mandel

How Many Kisses Do you Want Tonight? by Varsha Bajaj

“As nighttime falls, each precious, little animal nestles into its own cozy place and waits for good-night kisses” – book jacket

Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell

Booklist

*Starred Review* Curious about the city into which he ferried goods during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, pilot Gail Halvorsen stayed over to visit, met some children, and offered to drop candy and gum when he next flew over. This simple idea grew into a massive project with reverberations today. Tunnell tells this appealing story of a cold war soldier who made a difference clearly and chronologically, weaving in just enough background for twenty-first-century readers and illustrating almost every page with black-and-white photographs, many from Halvorsen’s own collection. Opening the book with a shot of a nine-year-old boy looking for the plane that will wiggle its wings, the author captures young readers with the very idea of the chocolate pilot and keeps them with a steady focus on the German young people, including their letters and drawings. He concludes with a chapter describing Halvorsen’s successful military career, his meetings with children who caught the candy, an anniversary drop, and more—highly satisfactory results from his spontaneous good deed. Halvorsen contributes a prologue; biographical, historical, and research notes add information; and selected references, including further-reading suggestions (though no source notes), close out this accessible and positive portrayal of a serviceman who wasn’t on the battlefield. Irresistible. Grades 4-7. –Kathleen Isaacs

In November by Cynthia Rylant

“Curl up with your loved ones and enjoy the sights, the sounds, the scents–and the traditions–of this very special time of year with Newbery medal-winner Cynthia Rylant and artist Jill Kastner”  Book jacket

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

Booklist

*Starred Review* A young girl is given a golden key to a house. “In the house / burns a light. / In that light / rests a bed. On that bed / waits a book.” And so continues this simple text, which describes sometimes fantastical pleasures as a bird from the book spirits the child through the starry sky to a wise-faced moon. The cumulative tale is a familiar picture-book conceit; the difference in success comes from the artwork. Here, the art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes’ illustrations expand on Swanson’s reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, “This is the key of the kingdom”) to create a world as cozy inside the house as it is majestic outside. The two-page spread depicting rolling meadows beyond the home, dotted with trees, houses, barns, and road meeting the inky sky, is mesmerizing. The use of gold is especially effective, coloring the stars and a knowing moon, all surrounded with black-and-white halos. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children. Preschool-Kindergarten. –Ilene Cooper

Trouble on the Tracks by Kathy Mallat

Discover hidden surprises, look for clues…because things are not always what they seem with a mischievous cat named Trouble around.

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-To-Be by Mini Grey

Modern version of the fairy tale as told by the Very Smart Pea.  Fun!