Book Review: Edgar Gets Ready for Bed by Jennifer Adams

9781423635284_p0_v1_s260x420“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.

Book Review: The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell

The Mermaid and the ShoeAll of Triton’s mermaid daughters have special skills and interests, except for Minnow, who just seems to get in the way.  Minnow asks too many questions, like “Why don’t crabs have fins?” and “Where do bubbles go?” But when Minnow finds a mysterious object, that tireless curiosity leads her on a journey to discover what it’s for, and maybe even to discover what it is that makes Minnow unique.

I love that where most mermaid books are aimed at pre-teens or teenagers, this sweet, beautifully illustrated story is for the younger set.  It’s also nicely reminiscent of The Little Mermaid, without any of more “grown-up” aspects of the original story.  Its simplicity, innocence, and fairy-tale feel make The Mermaid and the Shoe really stand out from the mermaid crowd.

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell; Kids Can Press; 16.95; 3-6 years old

Book Review: Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play with Your Food! by Bob Shea

dont-play-with-your-food-by_bob_sheaRARR!!  Buddy the monster has his eye on some bunnies!  But how can he eat them when they’re about to make delicious cupcakes?  Or go swimming?  Or go to the fair?  Every day Buddy promises to eat them tomorrow.  But Buddy may have forgotten the rule… you don’t play with your food!  Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play with Your Food! is fun and colorful and hilarious in the way only Bob Shea can be.  The headline implies that there will be more of these books, and I for one can’t wait!

– Emily

Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play With Your Food! by Bob Shea; Hyperion Books; 16.99; 3-6 years old

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food book cover

Got a curious grade-school gardener? How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti would be for you. The book discusses how various food items get from farm to table: bread, cheese, veggies, cookies,  showing the process in picture book format with simple text that anyone can understand.

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti; Candlewick Press, 2013, $5.99. Ages 3-6.

Not a Valentine story

Bear has a secret admirer. Not the kind that sends unsigned notes, but the kind that leaves him yummy treats every morning. When Bear wakes up, he finds a carrot on the rock outside his cave, and on each succeeding day, he finds more: first two carrots, then three, then a bunch, and even a flower. Bear busies himself in finding stuff to give back to his new friend, singing “I wonder who it is.” Each night he tries to wait to see who is coming by, but as hard as he tries, Bear always falls asleep. Until one night when he hears someone singing back. Could it be that he has found his new friend?

This book is another extra-special story from Daniel Pinkwater. We’ve loved his others books about bears in the past; this book is no different. Though the title is Bear in Love, don’t confuse it with yet another Valentine’s Day story. I think that the story is a sweet friendship story as well. It’s great for teaching a child to share with others, and it’s also a good story if a child is worried about having a friend that is different than he or she.

Bear in Love, by Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by Will Hillenbrand; Candlewick Press; hardcover; $15.99; ages 3-6

Happy Reading,

Maryam

The Story of Hand-Me-Downs

Are you the youngest? The youngest sibling, cousin, friend? Well then you know very well that hand-me-downs have a story, a history, some carry a novel within them. You didn’t know that? Well then maybe this book will change your mind. All old clothes have been somewhere else before and withstood many adventures. In Mary Ann Hoberman‘s story, a brother and sister have fun imagining the adventures these clothes have been on, imagining adventures for them to have, and also imagining who will have the clothes next. Do you still think that your hand-me-downs are boring?

Not only do the clothes in this book have a story, but so does the story itself. Mary Ann Hoberman originally published I Like Old Clothes in 1976 with different artwork. Now, Patrice Barton‘s illustrations bring a new life to the story, showing different styles and fun in the clothes.

I Like Old Clothes by Mary Ann Hoberman; illustrated by Patrice Barton; Alfred A. Knopf; hardcover;$16.99; ages 3-6

Happy Reading,

Maryam

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Where do I begin describing this book? It is absolutely fantastic for kids and grown-ups, which is my favorite combination in a children’s book. “Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books.” reads the first page. Sound familiar? The book tells the story of Morris, whose life was turned upside down when a tornado blew his whole word apart and even scattered the words of his book. He wanders down a trail which leads him exactly where he needs to be: a library, or as the book describes it “An extraordinary building where many books apparently ‘nested.'”  Here he finds it his job to nurse the books back to health and share their stories with the whole town. My favorite part here is how the illustrator, Joe Bluhm, has everyone in black-and-white until they receive a book, as we all know life would be very dull without books. Morris continues caring for the books for days, and months, and years, until his story is complete and it is time to pass along the stories to another.

As I mentioned before, I love books that can be read and loved by adults and children. I can see this book being given to a book lover (big or small) or to a librarian or teacher. Or, to someone whose story is ending, or someone whose story has just begun, or even to someone who doesn’t quite know what their story is yet.

The book accompanies an Academy Award winning short film which is definitely worth the watch after reading the story.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce; illustrator Joe Bluhm ; Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Happy Reading,

Maryam

Our Indie Next picks

In the independent bookstore world, we have something called the Indie Next List, in which booksellers from all over the country submit reviews of the books they’ve been enjoying, which are then published into a newsletter and sent to all the indie bookstores across the country. It’s great word of mouth for both the books and for the store, if someone from your store happens to have one of their reviews featured.

Our staff spends a lot of time submitting reviews for books, because we love to spread the word on ones we loved reading. Here are a couple of our recent reviews that were chosen to be published in the Indie Next Newsletter:

Legend, by Marie Lu; $17.99; Penguin Group USA; Ages 14+

“Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, 15-year-old June is a military prodigy committed to her country. Her complete antithesis is a 15-year-old Day, the country’s most wanted criminal and the prime suspect in the murder of June’s brother. June sets out to capture Day, but, in a shocking turn of events, the teens discover a sinister conspiracy that pits both o them against the government. Filled with action and suspense!”

Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; $16.99; Balzer + Bray; Ages 3+

The town where Annabelle lives is a very boring place–a dull gray city where nobody wheres anything colorful at all. One day Annabelle finds a box full of yarn, so she knits herself a sweater. But she finds that she has extra yarn left over. Soon, she is knitting sweaters for everyone and everything (even a pickup truck!) and her town is becoming brighter by the stitch. Somehow, she always has extra yarn!”

Rob Scotton Is Coming to Hooray for Books!

If you haven’t read the hilarious Splat the Cat series, now’s your chance! We love this mischievous, clumsy black cat and his various adventures, so we’re pretty excited that Splat’s creator, the one and only Rob Scotton, will be at the store on March 20th!

In Splat’s latest installment, Secret Agent Splat (out March 13th), our favorite furry friend sets out to solve the mysterious disappearances of several ducks. Spoiler: hilarity ensues! Little ones will love this delightful new story with all of Splat’s signature verve and energy!

Don’t miss your chance to meet Rob Scotton on Tuesday, March 20th, from 6-8 pmCall us now to reserve your copy of Secret Agent Splat (or any of Scotton’s other titles)! 703.548.4092

Secret Agent Splat by Rob Scotton; Ages 3-6; HarperCollins; 16.99

Wordless Picture Books with Emily

I love wordless picture books for a few reasons. I love their focus on art, and I love how thoughtfully created they are. They kind of have to be – without text, the pressure is on for illustrations to show us the story clearly. Good wordless picture books flow from one page to the next like a movie. But the best wordless picture books – and all of the books on this list – use their textlessness as an opportunity to take off on ingenious artistic flights of fancy. These are a few of my favorites right now.

Shadow by Suzy Lee

Shadow, by Suzy Lee, Chronicle Books, Ages 3-6

A little girl turns on the attic light and entertains herself by making shadow puppets. Her fantasies take over the whole room, and soon she’s swallowed up in a shadow adventure full of princesses, elephants, and monsters who may not be as scary as they seem. Shadow is mirrored into two, split along the spine of the book, with the left-hand pages depicting “real” world, and the right-hand pages depicting the shadows. Everything is in black and white, except for when the little girl starts to use her imagination – then things take on a glowing yellow aura. Done in smoky charcoal and spray paint, Lee’s shadows positively smolder with that dark, magical shapeless feeling that real shadows give. This is a great book for practicing comprehension skills, since in addition to following the shadow adventure, the young reader can point out which real-life objects, such as ladders and bicycle wheels, correspond to which palm trees and moons.

Sea of Dreams Dennis Nolan

Sea of Dreams,by Dennis Nolan, Macmillan Publishing, Ages 3-6

Sea of Dreams follows the secret journey of a tiny family fleeing the crumbling sand castle where they lived before the tide came in. Nolan’s soft, sumptuously colored illustrations give this story the air of a fairy tale. One of the most magical aspects of this book is the scale: we get to reexamine familiar things from our world from the point of view of someone very small. The towering seagulls and megalithic cliffs really help create a sense of wonder. Nolan’s art conveys a great deal of movement, so that although the story is quiet, high-action moments like the huge wave that threatens their boat, or the rescue of a boy overboard by young mermaids, are breathless encounters. This is the perfect bedtime book: exciting enough to hold the young reader’s attention, but calm enough to encourage that sleepytime hush.

The Conductor by Laetitia DevernayThe Conductor, by Laetitia Devernay, Hachette Book Group, Ages 3-6

A conductor enters a forest, climbs a tree, and begins to conduct the leaves. First one, then two, and then countless leaves peel off the trees and fly away like birds under the conductor’s direction. Framed like the movements in a piece of classical music, each double-page spread in this visually breathtaking book shows the flight of the leaf flock. Some pages show only one or two leaves, drawn in large, intricate detail; some pages are flooded with wings. The Conductor is one of the best visual representations of music I’ve ever seen in a book. For musically inclined children, or those in the process of trying to understand music, this book would be a great tool for explaining the different aspects of a piece of music. It could even be read while music is playing, so that the child could connect the pictures with sounds. For attention span reasons, I’d recommend this for children on the older end of the 3-6 scale, but if your child can sit through a story that’s more art than plot, don’t hesitate to pick up this gorgeous book.

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Chalk,by Bill Thomson, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 3-6

Swathed in rain gear and armed with a bag of chalk, three children go to the playground on a rainy day. They quickly realize that the things they draw come to life, which is all fun and games until someone draws a dinosaur. This vividly photo-realistic adventure is painted from dramatic perspectives and drenched with light so that all the colors really pop off the page. Even in the rainy beginning, the colors are warm and strong. The art is really amazing; Thomson used reference photographs, but Chalk is painted entirely, and painstakingly, by hand. That realism makes it even more magical when the chalk drawings come to life. It’s like it really happened! Bonus point for suggesting that drawing is the source of incredible experiences. Here’s hoping that Chalk inspires a lot of young ones to enter the arts, and here’s hoping it leads them on imaginative journeys as fun as this one!