“Edgar, finish your vegetables!”
“Nevermore!” quoth the tiniest little raven you’ll ever see. The literature-themed board book series BabyLit gets an even more adorable addition with this Edgar Allen Poe-inspired picture book. Edgar struggles through dinner, clean-up time, bath time, and bedtime stories, until his mama finally assures him that no matter what, she will love him “evermore”. Will you ever find a cuter introduction to important American literature? I think you know the answer to that…
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed by Jennifer Adams; Gibbs Smith Publishers; 16.99; 3-6 years old.
MoWillems at his best! A fun, energetic read-aloud with a repeated refrain and a mischievous twist at the end, presented in a cinematic style reminiscent of silent movies. When Mother Goose meets a charming, flirtatious wolf in the woods, the little goslings try to warn her of impending doom. Reading this book aloud is not a good idea, it’s a great one! We tried it at a story time for kindergarten graduates, and it was a big hit!
That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems; Balzer & Bray, $17.99
The Mighty Lalouche is a feel-good, inspiring story to start off the summer! Lalouche is a French postman living in a Paris apartment without a view. Although Lalouche is small and bony, he is also nimble, fast, and strong. All the qualities of a great postman! One day the postal service decides to buy a fleet of cars to replace the walking postman, leaving Lalouche out of a job and worried about where he and his pet finch, Genevieve, will live. On his way home, Lalouche sees a sign for the Bastille Boxing Club and goes to inquire. The boxing manager discounts Lalouche based on his size and stature, but Lalouche is determined to be a boxer. With his speed, strength, and agility, Lalouche takes on on the biggest and best boxers of the world, proving to all that looks aren’t everything.
Not to be left out is a brief discussion of the art. The pictures are delicately crafted out of paper cut-outs, then layered and arranged to create intricate and beautiful scenes. My two favorite depictions are the 2-page spreads of the victory scene and the view of Paris from Lalouche’s apartment.
The Mighty Lalouche, by Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall; Schwartz & Wade, $17.99
If you’re an art lover, or if you’ve been following the latest news in the Isabella Stewart Gardner case here, we have a few books for you.
The Gardner Heist: the True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. Written with the pacing of a novel, but including meticulous research, Boser recounts the crime, various leads pursued by art detectives, and eventually his own obsessive search for the lost masterpieces. This book showed why the largest unsolved art heist in history has captivated so many, and may light the fire of obsession in a new generation of readers and art lovers.
If fiction is more your style, The Art Forger is a must read for any art lover. Claire is a talented artist who has been unjustly blackballed by the art establishment. Then a successful gallery owner asks her to forge a Degas stolen from the Gardner museum in exchange for a one-woman show at his pretigious gallery. Almost immediately she suspects the stolen painting might be a forgery, but the more she works on her own forgery, the more entangled she becomes. This novel has so many rewarding twists and turns it is impossible to put down.
And for a new picture book to interest your little one in art (both the masterpieces and creating their own), try The Museum by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. A child makes her way through a museum and reacts to the some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. And, of course, is inspired to create her own.
The Gardner Heist: the True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser; Harper Collins; $14.99
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro; Workman; $23.95
The Museum by Susan Verde illus by Peter H. Reynolds; Abrams; $16.05
Caldecott-winner Jon Klassen and The Series of Unfortunate Events author Lemony Snicket (talk about a dynamic duo) tackle one of childhood’s toughest topics: the dark.
Readers are led into a dark basement in this charming and beautifully illustrated tale about conquering your fear of the dark. Just slightly spooky, but ultimately sweet, this picture book will have you reading and rereading long after lights out.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen; Little Brown; $16.99
Award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone (Almost Astronauts, The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) brings her nonfiction expertise to picture books. In Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? Stone tells the fascinating story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from medical school and practice as a doctor. I’m not normally a huge fan of nonfiction picture books, but Stone’s narrative isn’t too long, and it flows like a bedtime story. She leaves the extra facts and specific details for her author’s note, and keeps the text appropriately simple.
Even if I didn’t love the text, I would buy this book based on the illustrations alone. Two-time Caldecott Honor winner, Marjorie Priceman brings the text to life with bright and whimsical illustrations. This book is the perfect introduction to nonfiction for the 3-6 year old crowd.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Price; Henry Holt & Company; $16.99
It’s taken quite a long time this year, but the air is finally chilly enough outside to start reading books about winter. One of my favorites of this upcoming season is Eileen Spinelli’s Cold Snap. It’s perfect for sharing with your loved ones as a fire roars in your fireplace (or, if you’re like me, the electric baseboard heaters warm the room) and you sip on some toasty hot chocolate.
The story is the perfect mixture of cozy and sweet, perfect for reading on a chilly day. Included is a recipe for Miss Dove’s Sugar-on-Snow Candy, which would be great to make after reading the story! Yum! The temperature in Toby Mills is COLD and as each day passes, it just gets colder and colder. Icicles are hanging from the General Toby’s statue and no one can seem to get warm. Everyone is discouraged and lonely and COLD, until the Mayor’s wife has a brilliant idea, bring the entire town together for a fun surprise to ride out the cold snap.
Stay warm, Amanda
Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli; $ 17.99; Knopf; Ages 4+