Children’s Books

I See a kookaburra! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4–This colorful introduction to six different biomes mixes clearly presented information with seek-and-find fun. The book opens with a glorious two-page collage made of cut and torn paper that depicts a desert in the American Southwest. Eight indigenous animals are included in the picture, but readers will have to search hard to find them as they are mostly camouflaged by cacti and rocks. On the next spread, the creatures are shown against a white backdrop; each one remains in the same position on the page, allowing youngsters to refer back and find the ones they missed. Each animal is introduced by name and given a brief yet tantalizing descriptive line. The same pattern is repeated for a tide pool on the English coast, a rain forest in the Amazon River basin, the grasslands of central Africa, an Australian forest, and a pond in the American Midwest. As an added challenge, and to make the point that ants live all over the world, one of these insects is hidden in each scene. Additional, well-chosen facts about these habitats and the depicted creatures are appended, along with an outline map of the locales. Filled with vibrant colors and palpable textures, the illustrations are breathtaking and give a real sense of the vitality, diversity, and beauty of nature. A first-rate foray into ecology that will encourage readers to explore the world around them.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown


Margaret Wise Brown, best known for her classic “Goodnight Moon” book, was a prolific author. Her books have been reprinted often of late, usually with a new illustrator more suited to modern tastes and the better printing techniques. In this case cat artist extraordinaire, Anne Mortimer, has been selected and the results are simply stunning.
The story itself is fairly simple: Sneakers, a plump and handsome black and white cat, accompanies his human family to the seaside for the first time. He explores the seashore flora and fauna; the repeating line is “My, I am glad I saw that.”

The Henhouse by Carol Shorey Dean

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2–Based on an incident in the author’s own life, this picture book recalls a simpler time on a family chicken farm in Maine. Finally allowed to help with the chores, young Carol enters the henhouse and is bombarded by sights, sounds, and smells she’d not imagined. She quickly becomes distracted, loses track of her father, and panics when the aggressive roosters come after her. Within minutes, Dad comes to her rescue. Told in the style of a reminiscence, this story will be easily understood even by young listeners. The sketchy, average-quality watercolor illustrations suit the mood of the text. The country family of the past is represented well with Mom in dress and apron. The “mean” roosters are realistically portrayed, with just enough animation to convince readers of Carol’s fear of them. This tale will appeal most to families looking for a book to share and discuss, and can be the stimulus for telling and hearing their own stories.–Carolyn Janssen, Children’s Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel


I’m not sure who loved this book more – me or the kids! Set around one very special tree, “Our Tree Named Steve” traces the life of family and the changes that they go through. But through all of the changes, one thing remains constant – Steve’s presence in their lives. The family quite literally grows up around Steve, the tree that greeted them in the yard as they moved in. This story, told with earnest simplicity, teaches children about the “roots” of family and how to cope with loss. This book is filled with humor, warmth and heart. Children of all ages will love “Steve” – and parents will love reading it to them.

“Sweet and funny and charming” – Billy Crystal

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 3—Henry loves books. In fact, he literally devours them. And the more he eats, the smarter he gets. When he starts eating too many too fast, he can no longer digest them, and their contents get all mixed up. The simple cartoon illustrations twinkle with humor and feeling. Done in paint and pencil on smart backdrops—pages from old books—the pictures set the stage for the quirky story. When forced to give up eating his favorite volumes, Henry eventually learns to enjoy reading them. However, an actual bite taken out of the back cover suggests he still succumbs to the occasional indulgence. This well-done package will charm its audience. The snappy text works well for reading aloud, but older children will enjoy exploring the subtle details hidden in the illustrations and backgrounds.—Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Made in Mexico by Peter Laufer

“I learned to play guitar on an instrument made in Paracho, Mexico.  This lovely book with its charming illustrations is a fitting tribute to the town and the culture that produces these fine-sounding instruments.”  Linda Ronstadt

LaRue For Mayor by Mark Teague

From  Those familiar with this wonderfully hilarious series will be familiar with the very effective format that Mark Teague has used in the past and has pretty well perfected in this third installment of the Adventures of Ike LaRue. If you are a dog person, or an animal person, for that matter, you will instantly recognize our own dog or a dog you have known in the antics of Ike.

Squids Will Be Squids by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Scieszka and Smith, creators of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, turn their attention away from fairy tales to reinvent the fable, thinly disguising sage bits of advice as pithy morals. Foxes and grapes are too pedestrian for these veteran absurdists, who tackle boastfulness in “Duckbilled Platypus vs. BeefSnakStikR” and who denounce vanity in the story of a skateboarding frog. Unusual characters notwithstanding, each piece highlights an everyday, modern situation in the manner of Aesop’s classics.

Nacho and Lolita by Pam Munoz Ryan

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. If you think Jeanne Willis’ Tadpole’s Promise (2005), in which a romantically involved tadpole and caterpillar metamorphose into predator and prey, is too much of a downer, here’s a happier interspecies romance–one that puts magical flourishes on a Mexican folktale Ryan heard from her grandmother. Nacho is a pitacoche bird that “carries all the colors of the world in his feathers,” but he longs for a companion. Then he meets a migratory swallow named Lolita, and ooh-la-la! He cannot fly well enough to return with her to South America, so he converts his enchanted feathers into bright flowers that cloak the landscape and guide the returning Lolita back to his side. Although the seams between truthful animal behavior and anthropomorphic fantasy seem a bit rough, Ryan’s cozy storytelling will draw listeners close, and the Colombian-born illustrator cleverly exploits the contrast between the drought-scarred backdrops and Nacho’s brilliance to achieve a vibrancy that is unusual in colored-pencil illustrations. A fanciful, broadly appealing affirmation of the transforming power of love. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Lizette’s Green Sock by Catharina Valckx

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2–What is the use of one green sock? That is the central question asked (and very satisfactorily answered) here. When an intrepid young bird finds and sports her verdant treasure, she is teased by the nefarious feline brothers, Tom and Tim. Their limited imaginations can only conceive of socks in pairs. Lizette’s rodent pal, Bert, envisions another use for the footwear, proudly modeling the cap concept. More teasing, a caring mother, and a fishy friend add interest to this celebration of the ordinary–and of friendship. Valckx’s droll caricatures, executed in watercolor, are brimming with personality. Adept at understatement, the illustrator uses spare backgrounds and strong outlines to convey a mood in a minimum of strokes: dejected shoulders, a wilted flower, a coquettish kerchief on Mama speak volumes. Pair this with Kristine O’Connell George’s One Mitten (Clarion, 2004) or other favorite tales of creativity.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.