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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Have You Seen Elephant? Written and illustrated by David Barrow. Gecko Press, Thomas Allen & Son. 2016. $26.99 ages 2 and up


Ready or not!

Where could he be?

Not under here.

Dad, have you seen

Hide-and-seek has never been so much fun! When a little boy and a humongous elephant decide to play a game, and the elephant is tasked with doing the hiding, Elephant offers a thought:

"I must warn you though.
I'm VERY good."

The boy is willing to do his darnedest to find his opponent. He counts down, and is then off to make a concerted effort to discover the hiding place. Wee ones will be aware of every single spot that Elephant chooses ... behind the drapes, not under but on the bed and under the comforter, behind Dad's television set, and even under a lampshade. When the search moves outside, Elephant keeps up the suspense. Again, little listeners will take note that the boy's pup always knows exactly where the hider is, and will be offering loud and exuberant advice.

The illustrations are beautifully fashioned in mixed media, with wonderful use of light and shadow to keep the game going for as long as the two are willing to hide, and to seek. So funny that it is sure to charm and entertain every time it is read. And oh, that surprise ending!


Friday, December 30, 2016

Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words, written by Ruth Rocha and illustrated by Madalena Matoso. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $24.50 ages 4 and up

"From his window and
along the streets, Pedro
saw all kinds of posters,
billboards, and signs. He
could understand some of
what he saw, like the
pictures of tigers, apples
and roosters.

But there were other pictures
that Pedro didn't understand."

Learning to read can be difficult and it takes time. In this book about a little boy who is just beginning to understand literacy, we watch Pedro as he carefully observes all that is going on around him. Pictures, posters, signs are evident wherever he looks. Some of the pictures are easy to understand, others make no sense at all. Street corners befuddle him, as does the bus route banner that tells he and him mother which one to board.

His mother is very patient with her explanations, and encouraging of his learning:

"One day, Pedro's mother told him, "Tomorrow you
will be starting school! You will learn to read and
you will understand many more things."
"What things, Mom?" Pedro asked.
"Well, to begin with, the letters and numbers
you are always asking about."

She's right, of course. As Pedro learns each new letter, he begins to see them all around him. Although we know that reading is about more than just knowing the letters of the alphabet, that knowledge is an important part and a big incentive to a child's awareness of what reading is. Pedro's joy in the knowledge and his constant search for what he is learning as he and his mother make their way in the world is infectious and joyful.

Madalena Matoso's gorgeous and meaningful artwork, done in a palette of red, black, olive, blue and pink, shows an awareness of the print environment that surrounds us, and our young children. It is sure to encourage those who share the book to have a closer look around them and to find meaning there. Skilled readers may find themselves returning to a time when they too saw 'lines, squiggles', then 'letters, words.'  It is worth a very careful look!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

THIS IS MY BOOK! Written and illustrated by Mark Pett (and no one else). Alfred A Knopf, Random House. 2016. $2016. $ 23.99 ages 4 and up

"(ahem) As I was saying ...

Rule #1: My book needs
to stay nice and clean.
Look around at these
spotless white pages.
Aren't they lovely? Let's
keep them that way."

There have been some new books in 2016 about books and how they are made. Mark Pett starts with an introduction to himself as both author and illustrator of his new book. To prove that he truly is the illustrator, he draws a panda. BIG mistake!

"This is Percy the Perfectly Polite Panda.
He's going to help me explain the rules
of my book."

The panda has other ideas and tells Mark that he prefers to be called Spike. It is their first disagreement. Now, we are ready to hear the rules of bookmaking. Spike is definitely a hindrance. First he colors, adding interest to its 'boring white pages.' Back to the beginning ... a fresh white page and now he's adding 'panda facts' for readers.

It is a very funny lesson in patience, and pushing the envelope. The author's intent for his book quickly goes out the window when Spike adds a flap (A FLAP? I don't want any flaps in my book!) and then a pull tab (I DON'T WANT PULL TABS!) and finally, a pop-up! The other characters added by Spike are delighted ... not so, poor Mark.

The interactive ending is a real winner!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Goodnight Everyone, written and illustrated by Chris Haughton. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $22.00 ages 3 and up

"the hares

are sleepy 

they sigh

AH ...........


I have quickly become a huge fan of Chris Haughton's work. He has his finger on the pulse of little ones and shows it clearly in this captivating bedtime story. What is it with me and bedtime stories, lately? It must be the anticipation I am feeling for Sicily's arrival in three weeks. She is just past her second birthday, and she LOVES books! I can't wait to share many with her, and with her wee sister.

The engaging palette of colors is so lovely and slumber-inducing. The orange-red of the sunset and the encroaching deep blues of the night draw us into this tale of forest animals as they prepare for a time of rest. Of the four tiny mice, one is already sleeping, as are two of the three hares, while the deer and bears can barely keep their eyes from shutting. They are all very sleepy!

Young readers will find cut pages drawing them from the light into the darkness that is enveloping the animals. Each cut page grows progressively bigger as the animals do. From mice, to hares, to deer, to bears ... wait, the bear cub is showing no interest in sleep.

"well, I'm not sleepy."
says Little Bear
"wanna play?" asks Little Bear
"we're too tired,"
say the mice.
we're too
tired, too,"
say the hares"

The pages grow darker, there is no one to play with, and soon Little Bear is also fading, and stretching, and yawning. Great Big Bear knows exactly what is needed.

Chris Haughton creates a world of welcome darkness and peaceful slumber in digital images that beg readers to return to them again and again. There is much to see as he builds his forest world, and takes his readers from waning light to deep night. The front endpapers offer a look at the Southern Hemisphere and its constellations, while the back turns to the Northern Hemisphere and its constellations which make Little Bear and Great Bear front and center. I will be on the lookout for them tonight!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can I Tell You A Secret? Written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant. Harper, 2016. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"You're probably thinking,
"But you're a frog."

I know. But I'm afraid. I
have been ever since I was
a tadpole.

How did I keep the secret
for so long?

Good question."

Aw, look at that anxious little face? You know that you are going to listen to the frog's secret ... and keep it, don't you? How could anyone resist the plea?

As we are drawn into the drama that appears to be unfolding, the frog invites us to come closer, then closer until, with a lot of trying to reassure himself, he finally speaks the words he finds so hard to say.

"I'm afraid of the water."

It is, of course, a huge surprise that a frog could be afraid of the water. Look, that's where they spend most of their time. But, he's been afraid of it forever and has always kept it a secret. He offers up the many ploys he has used to protect those feelings. He's even sad about his secret - he really wants to swim.

Will he take our advice? He wants to do that:

"What's that? You think I should tell someone?
Like my parents?
Are you sure? POSITIVE?
You wouldn't lie to me, right?"

Of course, we wouldn't.

I can hear all of his young compassionate readers encouraging him to fess up, and let someone important know just exactly how he is feeling. It does take courage and our support to move him forward.

The dialogue between frog and reader is on point, and full of angst. Christopher Weyant's watercolor and ink artwork is full of expression and fun. I love the lineup on the bulrushes as tiny frogs wait patiently for their next dive into the pond, the grumpy-looking, watchful toad lifeguard, the floaties, the hilarious visual descriptions of the tiny frog's ploys to avoid being in the water.

Kids are going to enjoy this very much, and it might even help someone break free of a long-kept secret fear to let another know about it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bunjitsu Bunny's Best Move, by John Himmelman. Square Fish, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $8.50 ages 4 and up

"Max made me think that I should practice my bunjitsu kicks, so I did. Wendy made me wish I could go make music, so I did. And Ben made me think of my grandma, so I went and got a nice big grandma hug." The other three bunnies stood up.
"Where are you going?" asked Isabel. "You are right," said Ben. "Doing something is better than talking about it."

This is Isabel's third book, following Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny and Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon. If you were impressed with her simple Zen tales in the first books, you will not be disappointed to share the wise and simple tales shared here.

As we look to share books that exhibit kindness and strength in chaotic times, Isabel stands tall for her unique and heartwarming way of sharing wisdom in the best possible way. She may be the best bunjitsu bunny in her class - she CAN throw farther, kick higher and hit harder than any of her classmates. Those skills are used for honing her craft. She would much rather use her mind and her innate sense of kindness when dealing with the world around her.

In the short stories presented here, she finds out that passing a test may be harder than first thought, but learning that to be true is the best lesson of all. She acknowledges a lesson from her teacher about bullies and how to outwit them. She learns about making goals and accepting that you may not always reach them, but the journey is worth it. She finds out that compromise makes for better friendship. Oh, and that practice makes perfect! She teaches these simple tenets to her readers. It's a win-win situation.

In final pages, we are given step-by-step instructions for folding a Bunny Face; we promise to do our best to follow the Bunjitsu Code; and we read a short question and answer visit with author John Himmelman. Another terrific read!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Before Morning, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016. $24.99 ages 3 and up

"In the deep woolen dark,

as we slumber unknowing,

let the sky fill with flurry
and flight.

Let the air turn to feathers,

the earth turn to sugar ... "

Joyce Sidman chooses to write an invocation as text for this wonderful third collaboration between two fine artists. She explains it in an afterword:

"How powerful are words? Can they make things happen? Stop them from happening? Can they rotect us? Comfort us? Enchant us? This book is written in the form of an invocation - a poem that invites something to happen, often asking for help or support. Humans have been using invocations for thousands of years, to soothe the body and strengthen the soul. Do they work? Maybe."

Kids aren't the only ones who long for snow days - that inability to pursue the many obligations and activities that accompany most other days. When snow falls heavily, leaving roads nearly impassable, shops closed, transportation tied up, we can all appreciate the peace, quiet and real beauty it brings to our world. If we are lucky, everyone is together to enjoy it.

As we open the cover of this amazing book, the endpapers show a dark and cloudy sky with planes flying in all directions, and a landscape of city streets and roads. The title page has pigeons on the cobblestones; a woman, a child and a dog are walking past. One more turn sees the three leaving the park onto a bustling street filled with passing cars and many walkers. They seem to be headed home. No time to stop and savor the enticements in the bakery window, the child and mother finally climb the steps to their front door.

The child seems sad. Then, we notice a suitcase with a pilot's hat lying on top. After dinner, mom and daughter share a story about Amelia Earhart. The child has the pilot's hat hidden behind it. The invocation begins as we watch mom folding laundry while the family sleeps. She is headed to the airport,  just as the snow begins to fall. The simple, meaningful plea for snow is placed on beautifully detailed full page spreads - it is a wish to slow down and spend time together. As luck would have it (or does wishing make things happen?), the snow blankets everything.

Mom arrives at an airport lounge filled with waiting passengers, and looks out at a tarmac where nothing but snow plows are on the move. No flights tonight. She finds her way home in time to have breakfast with her thankful family, ready for a day of fun. Wish granted!

It is almost impossible to fully describe the scratchboard and watercolor wintry images! They are filled with warmth, light, and the gentle beauty of a winter snow, as well as the joy found in a loving family. You will not want to miss one tiny detail. As happens rarely, this is one of those perfect pairings of text and art - we are blessed to be able to share it.

If you want to see even more wonder from the two, please check out Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) and Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

This Is Sadie, written by Sara O'Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad. Tundra. 2015. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"This is Sadie."

You probably think
it's a tree, don't you?

It is, but way, way up
at the top is Sadie,
chit-chatting with the

Sadie has wings, of course."

Are we too old to see the world as Sadie sees it? I wish that were not true, but I fear it is. Sadie fills every minute of her day with imagination, happy play, and endless reading ...  she is fully alive in her world. She can sail on a boat that is really a cardboard box. She chooses her own favorite clothes to wear, and plays for endless hours with her friends. Not all of her friends live in her neighborhood; some are found in the pages of her books. Her connection to the books that engage her allows her to live lives of incredible heroism, power and joy.

Sara O'Leary tells a timeless story, sure to be enjoyed by all who read it. It is an open invitation to see ourselves in Sadie's world, always exploring, always enchanted, and forever wishing for longer days. Julie Morstad creates that world with gouache, watercolor, and her own touch of wonder. Switching from the real to the imaginary with practiced ease, she takes readers into the heart and mind of the beautiful little girl.

As an added bonus, if you would like to have a poster as a reminder of this glorious book and the pleasure it brings, check the book jacket. It is worthy of display. Bravo!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Penguin Problems, written by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith. Random House, 2016. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"It snowed some more
last night, and I don't
even like the snow. It's
too bright out here.
I'm hungry.
       I'd like a fish.
         Where are all the fish?!

Can we all admit to one friend who has great difficulty finding the good in a day? It's worthy of a short conversation, isn't it? Do you find that those are the people you rarely see, or would prefer not to spend much time with? I think so.

So, you might feel the same about the grumpy protagonist in this first collaboration from two exemplary artists. Jory John's dry humor is brought to clever life in Lane Smith's pensive and perpetually bleak penguin. Nothing makes him happy, as evidenced by his demeanor from start of day till dark night sets in once more.

It's early when he gets up ... and cold ... and there's too much noise! The snow that fell overnight makes the sunshine too bright. The fish are submerged, the ocean is salty, diving underwater spawns constant pursuit as dinner for those who live below the surface. All those things we likely find endearing, he finds annoying - he waddles when he walks, he's flightless, and he has no defining characteristics to make him stand out from the crowd. Poor, poor guy!

When a walrus stops to spout rhetoric about the glories of the penguin's surroundings and how truly lucky he is to be living his life, the penguin is taken aback, and then thoughtful. Will it provoke a change?

Loved it from start to finish! Cannot wait to share it, and then share it again. Don't miss it!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wolf in the Snow, written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $24.99 ages 5 and up


A wolf cub is lost.

How will they find
their way home?"

Aren't we all feeling the need to be reading books for our kids that exude kindness? In tough times, they need to see through windows that help them learn about the greater world and the people who live here. Then, to know how to treat them with empathy and understanding. It seems so easy when we are talking about animals. Why not all people?

At the beginning of a brand new day, a little red-cloaked girl heads away from home, waving goodbye to her dog as it barks its own farewell. Snow is falling. As readers we can see in a facing page that a wolf pack is also setting out. A tiny cub is at the center of the pack. That is our lead-up.

As the book begins, school is now over for the day. The snow still falls. Turn the page and the menacing wolves - breath steaming from their toothy mouths are moving in a pack through the prairie landscape. It is hard to for all to see as the snow gets heavier! The girl plods on. Another peek at the wolves shows the little one lagging behind the rest. The two, out of breath and cold, meet on a path in the trees.

The cub is scared and runs. It doesn't get far before it sinks into the snow and must accept help from its rescuer. It howls, which results in a howling response from the pack. The girl trudges toward the sounds, dealing with terror of her own. The howling grows ever closer! In a poignant scene, mother and cub are reunited.

Exhausted, the girl picks herself up and moves on. She can see a light ahead of her and she can hear her dog barking. But - she is so cold. She must stop to rest. The wolves then repay her kindness in the only way they can.

Matthew Cordell's brilliant, emotionally-charge artwork will astound those who share this memorable
tale.  He expertly  evokes cold, terror, bravery, exhaustion and certainly relief from both sides of the drama using pen-and-ink and watercolors drawn with a heart that is wide open to kind gestures and powerful storytelling.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Are You Sure, Mother Bear? Written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Laura Tobia. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $22.00 ages 3 and up

"Little Miss put her nose to the window. The stars were bright that night. Little Miss loved the stars. "I will miss my stars," she said. "Of course," Mother said. "But your stars will be right there, in their very own place, when we wake up next spring." "Are you sure, Mother Bear?" Mother Bear was sure. The moon was round that night ... "

It's the first night of winter. Little Miss Bear cannot sleep while snow is falling outside the window. She won't do it!! Mama snuggles in, shares toast, and watches the snow fall., her tiny daughter at her side. Still, sleep does not come.

Despite her mother's suggestion that winter is a time for bears to be sleeping, Little Miss is worried. There is so much she will miss. She will miss the stars, and the moon. She will miss the hills. Mother's quiet and soothing voice is always positive. Little Miss has the same question every time.

"Yes," Mother said. "You are very keen on rolling.
But your hills will be right there, in their very
own place, next spring, for rolling."
"Are you sure, Mother Bear?"
Mother Bear was sure."

Little Miss has a request ... a final nighttime roll in the snow. Mother exhibits patience and love when she takes her out into the winter landscape for an invigorating roll down a nearby hill. Will sleep come now?

Filled with rounded edges, a welcoming home, smiling faces, and plenty of detail, this is a lovely, reassuring story that might just bring the calm needed to put your little one to sleep. At least, you can always hope so.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pablo in the Snow, written by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet. Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $23.99 ages 3 and up

"With Rabbit's help, they stack the snowballs one on top of the other. Squirrel finds an acorn for the nose. Rabbit places frozen berries into a big smile. Pablo reaches up with two flat, round stones for the eyes. And, with Fox's help, Shrew adds a warm, fuzzy scarf. "Snow is for making friends," says Pablo, laughing."

It is Pablo's first winter. He has never seen snow, and he is pretty excited to get outside and make friends with it. As he goes, he quickly discovers the way it feels, and what happens when you walk in it.

"Snow is for making a trail," says Pablo."
Only then does he notice another trail, and wonder about it. It leads him to Rabbit and her sled. Pablo hops on and has great adventure on the nearby hill. It lands them in the middle of a snowball fight. OOPS! As they follow one set of tracks after another, Pablo continues to learn about snow and its many attributes.

Fox provides something even better - a new friend. Together, the animals build a smiling snowman. As the storm strengthens, the animals return to their homes. Pablo sits alongside this new friend, not wanting to leave him alone. It soon becomes apparent that his staying behind is not a good idea. But, he can't find any tracks to lead him home to the farm. The snowman can't help. Who will?

Rosalinde Bonnet's lovely watercolors make wonderful use of white space, allowing little readers full access to the winter wonderland meant for Pablo to explore. The brilliant snowy afternoon gives way to a darkening sky as evening approaches and the storm worsens. All that snow surrounds the tiny lamb. No wonder he is fearful! That is made very evident on a double page spread where his tiny form is overwhelmed by dark trees and enveloping snow.

A happy ending is satisfying, and much appreciated. No doubt Pablo will have much exploring to do after a good night's sleep!

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love, written by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House. 2016. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"An icy wind blows Mrs.
Goldman's hair left and
right. It turns her ears
pink. "Where's your hat?"
asks Sophia. "I gave it to
Mrs. Chen,' she explains.
Mrs. Goldman's keppie
must be cold, worries
Sophia. At home, Sophia
thinks and worries again.
Worries and thinks."

It's so important, at this time of year, to teach our children to think of others. It is awfully easy to become caught up in our own wants and wishes. Sophia is a little girl who notices things. She sees that her neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, is always more concerned with others than she is with herself. That is why everyone else needs a hat, while Mrs. Goldman's hat is missing during a cold winter walk with Sophia. She has given it to someone in need.

Sophia helps with the hats her friend makes by fashioning pom-poms to trim them. Now, she decides that she will help her friend even more by making 'the most special in the world' for her. It takes a great deal of time and hard work, and is not quite as perfect as Sophia would like it to be. Sophia does not give up; she carries on with persistence to do what she set out to do.

This is a book about love, admiration and caring. It has all the warmth needed to make it a favorite shared read. G. Brian Karas does a terrific job with mixed media to show the love that exists between the generations. I especially love the series of spot pictures he creates for the hard work undertaken by Sophia before she finally throws her needles in the air in celebration of the completed work. Well, almost completed! To add to the feeling of authenticity for his lovely images, Mr. Karas did learn to knit. Now, that is commitment to your art!

If it puts you in a gift-giving mood, instructions for your own 'Sophia Hat' are included in back matter. Add some wool and a helping hand, it's the perfect gift for someone who cares about others.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey, written by Margriet Ruurs and artwork by Nizar Ali Badr. Translated by Falah Raheem. Orca Publishers, 2016. $20.00 ages 6 and up

"The war came to our country.
Life in the village changed.
Nothing was as it had been.

Soon there was not enough food. "Rama, share this bowl of soup
with Sami."

I feel so blessed to have received a very special book in the mail from Orca recently. I had read about Margriet Ruur's discovery on Facebook of the stone artwork that is so beautifully created by Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr. It took time and a lot of effort for her to finally find and communicate with him, and to have him agree to take part in the creation of this amazing work.

His inspiring artwork compelled the writer to craft a verse story about the plight of the Syrian refugees and their escape from their war-torn country. Rama and her family are forced to flee the village that has always been home to them ... a peaceful and welcome place for all who live there. As the civil war rages ever nearer, Rama's parents make the painful decision to leave all they know and most of what they own behind them. As is the case with so many refugees, they have only what they can carry. Rama, her brother Sami, her parents and her grandfather set out for Europe, a place that offers freedom. Their journey is arduous as we have come to know through media reports and the shared stories of those who have arrived in Canada to begin a new life.

The text is beautifully written, matching the moving storytelling of the artist himself. Written in two languages, English and Arabic, it is a testament to the hard work of the folks at Orca who believed in and supported the project, ensuring that some of the revenue generated will go to helping the plight of refugees. The author has donated most of her royalties and Nizar is now also receiving royalties which have greatly improved the life he lives in his home country.

Our children need to see the world through mirrors and windows. This book offers a look through a window into a world that is unknown to them, and it allows them to respond with empathy and concern for the children of the world who face such tragedy in their young lives.

This is a powerful and poignant book, worthy of being shared with your students and your own children. It deserves your attention! It also allows those Syrian families we have welcomed to Canada to see a book about themselves and the events that have brought them so far from home.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas for Greta and Gracie, written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. Nosy Crow, Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $22.00 ages 4 and up

"Anyway, coloring is boring. Let's go outside." So Greta and Gracie put on their jackets and went to help decorate the big tree in the village. "Do you think Santa Claus decorates his Christmas tree?" "I don't think so. He has elves to do things like that. Did you know there are 597 elves at the North Pole? Or maybe it's 598."

Two rabbit sisters are very excited about Christmas! They are as different from one another as they can be, in both personality and in the way they choose to approach each new experience. Greta is older, and expects to be in charge. She talks endlessly, likes to make any decisions that need making, and enjoys being the center of everyone's attention ... especially Gracie's. Gracie prefers to spend her time in quiet pursuits. She is tentative, and ever courteous.

"Greta was chitty-chatty and Gracie was quiet.
That was just fine because
Greta loved talking to Gracie,
and Gracie loved listening.

Most of the time."

The text is straightforward, sharing with readers the joys and anticipation that all children feel at this special time of year. The fun unfolds in speech bubble dialog between the two sisters. Laugh-out-loud funny at times and such fun to read out loud, listeners will be glued to their seats no matter how many times you share it in the coming month.

Greta jabbers on, Gracie follows up with pertinent questions. When asked about Santa, Greta has this to say:

"Oh, Santa is WONDERFUL!
He is the best and nicest man,
and he has a sleigh and reindeer,
and he gives presents to good little
girls and boys, and he has a HAT
and a red coat and a big white bushy
beard, and he eats COOKIES! ... "

And Gracie answers:

"He is magic."

Imagine the courage it takes for Gracie to leave their shared bedroom when she hears a noise on Christmas Eve, and wonders if it might be Santa. Quietly she moves through the house and peeks into the living room. What a surprise, and what a helper she proves herself to be! The tables turn, and we leave the two with hopeful hearts that we will soon see them again.

The digitally created illustrations are wonderful - bright colors, warm and engaging characters, and plenty of white space to keep our attention on the sisters and the many activities they love as the days move quickly toward Christmas and Santa's visit. The differently colored speech bubbles make for a perfect shared reading.

This is MAGIC, indeed!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Christmas Crocodile, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by David Small. two lions, Amazon. Thomas Allen & Son, 1998. $25.99 ages 5 and up

"Aunt Figgy's scream shattered cobwebs in the attic, and made the dust dance on a bottle of wine in the cellar. "I'll save you!" roared Uncle Theodore, waking with a start from a dream about cannibals. "Run for your lives!" shrieked Cousin Elwood. "There's blood!" gasped Aunt Figgy pointing to a pinprick of red on her little toe."

What would you think if your kids found a crocodile under the Christmas tree? Alice Jayne does, and is aghast as she watches it devour almost everything in its path. Who sent him? What to do?

Every family member has a solution to the mayhem created. Alice Jayne ends up locking him in the back room, as she has been ordered to do. She cannot help but worry about him and his insatiable hunger. So, she secretly slips him a cake and a pie. Then begins the conversation about ways to handle the situation.

"He's nice," said Alice Jayne.
"Maybe we should keep him."
"Unheard of!" protested Aunt Figgy.
"But, it's Christmas," said Alice Jayne.
"Irrelevant," harrumphed
Uncle Theodore.
"He's a little hungry,
that's all," said Alice Jayne.
"Perhaps the zoo would take
him," said Father, worriedly.
"He needs a real home!" cried Alice Jayne."

The crocodile's nighttime snacking does nothing to endear him to the assembled family members. The cellar for him! Poor Alice Jayne. The joy that is Christmas dissipates as she lies in bed worrying about the poor, lonely beast. Apparently, the family has been sharing her concerns. They all troop to the basement to spend the night alongside him. In the morning, when they discover that he has escaped once more and eaten everything in sight, they are furious. Only then do they see the single present left under the tree. The note inside clears up their concerns and provides a solution. Thankfully!

The crocodile doesn't mean to be bad. It is just his nature. The often hilarious, and always expressive illustrations created by David Small in watercolor, pen and ink will have readers nearly rolling on the floor every time it is shared ... and you will share it, a lot! It is sure to become a Christmas tradition at our house. I'm so happy that Nancy Perl championed it, and that two lions made it possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What Light, by Jay Asher. Razorbill, Random House. 2016. $24.99 ages 12 and up

"Before they split, the whole family used to go nuts this time of year," he says. "We went hardcore, from decorating to all these things we did with our church. Sometimes even Pastor Tom would go caroling with us. But when Dad moved to Nevada, I found out everything did stop for him. His house was this dark and depressing place to visit. Not only were there no Christmas lights ... "

I have waited ten long years to read a new novel by Jay Asher. The waiting is over, and he does not disappoint. In this Christmas charmer, we meet Sierra and learn she is the daughter of Christmas tree farmers. They live their life in Oregon except for the month they spend every year in California, selling the trees they have so carefully grown for customers, new and old.

Sierra's dad knows what can happen during the busy Christmas season. He fell in love with Sierra's mother while they were still in high school and working at a Christmas tree lot. So, he imposes strict, unreasonable rules for his daughter to prevent the same thing happening to her while she is so young. Those rules have not much bothered Sierra - until she meets Caleb.

They have an instant connection. Caleb has a troubled past, and doesn't want to talk about it. As she learns more about him, his kind and generous spirit, and his feelings for her, Sierra falls hard. Of course, there is going to be conflict. When she learns about his broken family, and the part he played in his sister leaving to live with their father, Sierra must come to terms with the Caleb she knows and the one that has others talking. Will they overcome the issues causing her conflicted feelings? Is it even worth it when Sierra will soon leave for Oregon and may not even be back next year? There is enough drama and charm to keep readers turning the pages, and wanting to know the decisions they make together.

This family story of love, hope and forgiveness is sure to find a legion of fans. The writing it witty, personal, and an exploration of accepting the past with the help of someone who cares deeply. If you know a teen who likes romance, mixed with realism and overcoming diversity, this is a great Christmas gift.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Christmas Boot, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2016. $23.99 ages 4 and up

And since her feet were fully freezing, and since it looked to be such a nice boot, she slipped her rag-wrapped left foot deep within it. "Ahhh," Hannah said,. "That does feel nice." It surely must have, for when she slid her tiny foot into the very large boot, it suddenly took on the shape and size of Hannah's own foot. The boot fit perfectly."

Hannah Greyweather spends every day working hard to gather what she needs to keep her warm during a long and cold winter. Christmas Day is the same as every other day for her. She has no mittens, no boots - until she finds a boot in the snow.

That boot begins the magic. When she puts it on, it changes size to fit her foot perfectly. It keeps her one foot warm. Imagine her surprise when she makes a bedtime wish for another, only to find her wish has been granted when she awakens in the morning. Gathering wood with two warm boots and a joyous heart is enough to encourage making a snow angel. Next day, it's mittens.

"If the boot is magic," Hannah says to the mittens, "will it give me more?
Will it give me a fluffy feather bed? A fabulous feast? A big fancy house?
The mittens stayed mute.
"I suppose that is too much to ask," said Hannah. "I best get about my chores."

Another surprise? She returns home to exactly what had hoped for. A knock at the door brings a stranger.(Children will recognize him, Hannah does not.) He needs his lost boot. Hannah quickly invites him inside for a bit of food, and a lot of conversation. She returns his boot, and her circumstances quickly change. Needing little, her only wish is granted ... and then some! A gentle reminder, in a time of abundance, that what we need is so much more important than what we want.

A dramatic and descriptive story well-told, with stellar artwork by the incomparable Jerry Pinkney, it is a welcome addition to my stash of Christmas favorites. I can't wait to share it with family in a few days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Giant Squid, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Book Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $21.99 ages 6 and up

"In the murk ... an eye!
Some are as big as soccer balls.
The biggest eyes on the planet.

So it can spy pinpoints of light
in its pitch-black world.

I did not do justice to this remarkable book when I shared it at my fall workshops! I had only read it once, and it deserves multiple readings for the beauty of its language, the richness of its oil paintings and the intriguing information it shares. Now that I have read it a number of times, I am ready to tell you about it so you can tell others.

I know - it is not likely a subject you thought you would find yourself wanting to know more about. Doesn't everyone have a bit of an uneasy feeling even considering what it might feel like to be wrapped in tentacles, and then squeezed? You need not worry. It is hard not to be captivated by Candace Fleming's free verse account of what has been learned about the giant squid in a very short time.

"So elusive is the giant squid that the first time scientists ever saw a living one was in 2006. And only in 2012 did they capture brief film footage of one swimming in the cold, dark depths of the Pacific Ocean, 2,066 feet below the surface."
She has done meticulous research to create an amazing and articulate text that shares what scientists have learned and continue to learn. She also voices many questions that remain unanswered concerning these giants.

"It is a mystery.
After all, how can you know
about an animal hidden from view?"

Eric Rohmann's teal backdrop allows readers to see the squid only in parts - the tentacles, the enormous eye, the hard tooth, its inky protection from predators. After foiling a barracuda on a hunt for dinner, a gatefold opens to help readers grasp the enormity of the creature itself.

The book's design is dramatic and atmospheric. White text on a dark background is easily read and almost gives off a light of its own. Front matter takes readers into the deep sea, teases with questions and shares clues used by scientists to conduct studies, and then invites us to learn even more as we move past the title page. Back matter adds a labeled diagram of the giant squid, an author's note, a bibliography, online websites, and a list of other books that might be of interest.

Among the many awards it is sure to receive, in November it was named an Honor Book for the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. There will be more.

Monday, December 12, 2016

King Baby, written and illustrated by Kate Beaton. Scholastic. 2016. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"But your king also
has many demands!


It is good to be king."

Oh, the woes of the new parent! I have always said that if babies were born screaming for the first three months, parents might think more carefully about having another one. But, they are just so darn adorable!

King Baby is the same. Handsome, loved, anticipated with wonder! Friends and family line up to meet him and to coo and cuddle with him after he makes his auspicious arrival. King Baby is bound to bring blessings upon all who honor him with their presen(ce)ts. He makes that promise early in life. We know because he tells us so from the opening pages.

"You will have smiles
and laughs and kisses.
You will have wiggles
and gurgles and coos!"

It isn't long until the demands are outweigh the joys. Mom and Dad are not yet adept at deciphering his wails and groans. They do their best, cajoling all the while. King Baby is not pleased - so he decides to get it himself! When crawling is met with praise, he's ready to take the next step - all the way to 'a big boy'.

That is when he gets a rude awakening!

This is too much fun, and will be appreciated by all who share it. Kate Beaton creates a story that bears repeating, and it is sure to delight little ones who can appreciate an earlier time in their own short lives. The controlled, demanding voice, as well as the fun in the artwork created to show the extent of King Baby's power and his quick rise from newborn to toddler to big boy are a hoot and worthy of your attention. Get a copy for any family experiencing the changes that a baby brings.

I am left to wonder if there will be a sequel ... I do hope so!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Little One, written and illustrated by Jo Weaver. Peachtree, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2016. $25.95 ages 3 and up

"By her side, half asleep
and blinking in the spring
sunshine, wobbled a tiny
cub. "There's much to
discover in your new
world, Little One." said
Big Bear. She led her cub
to the forest, where new
life was stirring among the
trees. "This is where your
journey begins," she said."

A mother bear starts teaching her bear cub about the world in a journey that lasts a full year, beginning as they emerge from their den in early spring. She is quick to point out that the cub has much to learn. We watch as she gently eases her baby into a world of wondrous and meaningful experiences.

Always patient and ever watchful, she helps Little One learn how to treat forest friends, how to savor the beauty of a summer day, how to fish for food needed to sustain life, and how to swim to ensure safety. Their travels lead them to all parts of their forest environment, and take them from one season to the next - until mama recognizes the signs that tell her cold weather is coming. They must leave the forest and find shelter in the home where Little One was born almost one year ago.

It has been an eventful and growing year - for the teaching and the learning, for the joy found in being together, and for the circle of the seasons. The charcoal artwork is beautiful, placed on large scenic double page spreads and offering a gentle look at a loving pair. I love the way Ms. Weaver uses light and shadow to full effect as the two wander through their natural world. Their last look at that world as they sit atop a hill snuggled so close together is perfect. Then, it's time for a well deserved winter rest.                                                                         

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Refuge, written by Anne Booth and illustrated by Sam Usher. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2015. $20.99 ages 5 and up

"The shepherds came first ...
And after them
came the kings ...

When the last king left,
the scent of frankincense
lingering in the air, we all
slept and the man had a

A dream of danger."

The donkey is the voice for a tale told of a difficult journey to Bethlehem. The man takes the lead, the donkey carries the woman and their arrival is timed perfectly. A baby is born! The shepherds are the first visitors, then the kings. All is well, until the man has his dream.

He heeds the warning, packs up his family, and they begin another journey:

" ... under starlight, through empty streets,
while people were sleeping,
hoping for the kindness of strangers.


It is a frightening, and a long time until they find a new place to settle ... and refuge.

So many people of the world feel helpless in the wake of the refugee crisis that affects millions of families. It is unfathomable to think of our own children in such dire straits, always dependent on strangers who show kindness and offer a safe place. Finding a book to help them begin to understand the terror that refugees feel as they are forced to leave their homes, their communities, their countries and seek shelter with others is not always easy.

At this time of year, when many have so much and want for little, Refuge may be just the book for us. It is beautifully written, elegantly presented with soft artwork that matches its gentle, hopeful tone.

Except for the cost to print it, all money raised goes to  to help care for Syrian refugee children. Two gifts in one this Christmas, and well worth your attention.

Friday, December 9, 2016

It's Not Time for Sleeping (A Bedtime Story), written by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Clarion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016 $23.99 ages 3 and up

"When dinner is over,
Dad runs water in the sink.
I squeeze the soap and make
"It's getting dark," he says,
while he scrubs and scrubs.
"It could be darker," I tell

It is not time for sleeping."

If you are a parent of grown kids, you will remember back to the time when they used every excuse in the book to postpone the inevitable. Bedtime does come and with it, well earned rest for all. If you are parents to a toddler, you will be learning daily the many valid and reasonable ways a child can find to delay bedtime.

In Lisa Graff's first picture book, she uses repetitive, cumulative text to bring a sense of peaceful calm to the end of this little boy's day. It starts as the family sits at the supper table. Mom wants to talk about how good the day has been. The little one reminds her that the day is not yet done. It is definitely 'not time for sleeping.' His dog Jasper agrees, with a tail wag. With each after dinner ritual completed - dishes, bath, favorite pajamas, teeth brushed, a romp with Jasper, a tuck-in, a story with Dad, and one final special moment - it seems the time has finally come.

Laura Castillo's warm and cozy signature images, done in ink and watercolor, perfectly match the tone of this comforting story you will want to share and your children will want to hear. The sky darkens and the moon rises. Soft lighting and shadows create a visual hug that is as welcome as the one that ends this little one's good day!

Lovely - and now ready to be shared with my toddler granddaughter who has some bedtime rituals of her own. She unwraps it today.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Polar Bear, written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $25.95 ages 5 and up

"She read that the polar bear is also called a sea bear, and that this huge marine mammal spends most of its life on the ice and snow of the frozen Arctic Ocean. In the spring and autumn, the flexible sea ice can bend and give way under the polar bear's colossal weight. In the summer, there is virtually no ice to hunt across ... "

If you want to know more about polar bears, while also being fully drawn in by brilliant artwork, this is definitely the book for you. A little girl, obviously interested in the Far North (her bookshelf attests to that), finds the perfect book for today, and sets to reading it.

In the narrative that informs her search for facts, readers will learn right along with her. There is much to know. The weather poses little difficulty for a bear so well-equipped to withstand every harsh moment in its northern environment. Their adaptations are many, and quite remarkable. Thick fur, layers of fat, huge feet, tremendous strength and endurance, an excellent sense of direction, powerful swimming strokes, and persistence at finding the good food needed to sustain them - all important and essential if they are to survive.

Jenny Desmond writes in a conversational tone that makes the text accessible to the audience she wants to reach. She uses mixed media, finishing it digitally, to create the superb artwork that graces the pages of this lovely book. Dramatic and beautifully designed, the spreads are sure to draw readers of all ages to its high realism. Being at the edge of the ice as the bear peers into the deep blue water, and the little girl holds her tiny fishing line, you can only hope that something much too big will not rise out of the depths and tug on it. I feel as if I am sitting right beside her. The textures are impressive, the colors bold, the ever-changing perspectives are full of wonder.

And polar bears can be a little like the children who will share this book, and love what it has to teach them.

"Polar bears do not hibernate. They like to sleep though, and can sleep almost anywhere at any time. Like humans, polar bears sleep in different positions. On warm days, they might stretch out on their back with their feet in the air or lie down on their stomach. On cold, stormy days, they curl up with a paw over their snout for warmth, letting the snow cover them like a blanket."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Samson in the Snow, written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $20.50 ages 3 and up

"Samson trudged through valleys and over rolling hills. The wind blew the snow into fantastic shapes - but Samson did not stop to look. "The little red bird is not made for this kind of weather," he thought. Samson swung his tail and stomped his feet ... "

Samson is the friend we all want to have, and he has no idea. In fact, he doesn't have a friend. Only after he meets a tiny red bird does he wonder what it might be like. You see, Samson loves his dandelion patch, caring for it tenderly. When the red bird asks if she might have a few of the flowers to share with a friend who's having a bad day, Samson immediately agrees. The bird flies off, and Samson is left to wonder what it might be like to have one himself.

After a peaceful sleep, Samson awakens to a storm, and bitter cold. He now wonders if the bird is all right, and worries for her safety. He is philosophical about the state he finds himself in: "It is better to walk than to worry."  Off he trudges.

Finding a tiny mouse, almost indistinguishable in the snowscape and in need of protection, Samson offers warmth and comfort. Both are looking for someone, and worried. Both admit that their favorite color is yellow, as they find rest near a patch of the bright flowers. Guess who is hidden beneath that bright spot of color? Both were searching for the same tiny red bird! Samson finds nearby shelter for the three of them, and they wait out the storm sharing tales of adventure.

We should all have a woolly mammoth named Samson for a friend, don't you think? This tale of friendship and being kind is a familiar theme for Philip Stead. He has written some of my all-time favorite books, and created some memorable characters - Bear, Ruby, Amos McGee, Bird, and Sadie and her Aunt Josephine. Kindness is at the heart of what they do, and we would do well to emulate each of them and to introduce our kids to them. Be sure to check his bibliography to see what you have been missing!

In the best picture books shared with our kids, they see that it takes both words and pictures to tell a marvelous story. Here, the wordless spreads showing Samson's dreams and the danger that faces the tiny bird speak volumes. You need it for your collection, I think.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree, written and illustrated by Lori Nichols. Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin. 2016. $22.99 ages 3 and up

"This year, Maple and Willow were getting a real Christmas tree. Choosing the right tree was the hardest work of all. But when the work was done, the girls were convinced their Christmas tree was the best Christmas tree ... in the whole wide world."

These endearing sisters are back; and I am happy to welcome them.  Red-cheeked, smiling faces show the delight they find in the wintry wonderland and soon, their thoughts turn to Christmas. There is much to be done. They work together to hang lights, and bake cookies.

This year is very special. This year they are going to a tree farm to find their own 'real' Christmas tree. It is a much-anticipated outing and, after careful thought, they make the perfect choice. Only when they get home and bring the tree inside do they realize there is a big PROBLEM.

It takes no time until Willow notices her sister's watery eyes, red cheeks, and hears the sneezing. It lasts all afternoon. Once outside, the symptoms go away. The tree must go.

"At least we have an outside tree,"
said Maple.
"I wish you weren't allergic
to Christmas," said Willow.

"I'm not allergic to Christmas,"
said Maple.
"Just Christmas trees."

Sad that her sister is angry, Willow decides to fashion a special surprise. Using ingenuity and available resources, it is a most inventive and ideal solution! Young readers will get great enjoyment as they pore over the pictures, remembering similar Christmas joys from their own lives. Delightful!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Toad, written and illustrated by Elise Gravel. Tundra Books, Random House. 2016. $12.99 ages 6 and up

"The toad eats mostly bugs, worms and spiders. The toad is a pretty lazy hunter: she sits and waits for her PREY to walk by her, and then catches it with her long tongue. 


Sigh. Maybe someday an ice cream cone will walk by ... "

Fans of the informative and eew-inspiring Disgusting Creatures series will have their hands out, waiting in high anticipation for the laughs and learning any addition brings. They will not be disappointed here.

With characteristic cartoon artwork and limited text, the author entertains, while also plying her readers with information about traits, food, talents, development and what causes some to squirm in their presence. There are more than 5,000 species of toads and frogs; some have very weird characteristics, and all are in constant need of having water within close range. The focus in this book is on the common toad.

Here's the moment that is likely to elicit the loudest and most animated EWWW!

"The toad sometimes sheds her skin to
keep it healthy, and that's kind of gross.
It means she gets rid of the old skin,
and then ... SHE EATS IT!"

That's right, she eats her own skin. BLECCH!

You know they are going to love it, don't you?

Fun, factual and a great addition to your collection of nonfiction for young readers.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buddy and Earl and the great big baby, written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff. Groundwood. 2016. $16.95 ages 4 and up

"After Earl finished cheering, he turned to Buddy and said, "So! What's a baby?" Buddy was very surprised by the question. "Is a baby something you drive around in?" asked Earl. "No," said Buddy confidently. "Is a baby something you plug into the wall?" asked Earl.
"No," said Buddy, a little less confidently."

Earl has so much to learn about the world he is living in, and Buddy does his level best to make the learning happen. Having never seen a baby before Earl obviously has many questions.

As Buddy tries to help him understand, Earl relishes the fact that he and a baby have much in common.

"Babies are small and
adorable," explained Buddy.
"And I am small and adorable,"
said Earl.
"Babies like to eat things off the floor," said
"I like to eat things off the floor," said Earl."

They are just too funny, and they will have readers and listeners smiling with great pleasure as they get to know them better. Their third adventure is as much fun as the first two. It will surely gain a legion of fans who appreciate the friendship, the fun and the endless curiosity that fuels their conversations.

The baby's arrives for a visit. His rampant destruction of most things in his path has Earl rethinking his position on a baby's assets. It isn't long until that baby finds himself looking out of the bars of a playpen. He does not want to be there. He finally settles down, but does not sleep. While everyone else takes a needed nap, Earl keeps his eye on the bundle of energy. It isn't long before the baby escapes.  Earl enlists Buddy's help to get him back.

As they search, Earl imagines the many dreadful things that may have befallen a helpless baby bent on adventure of his own. Kids will howl when the lost is found and the searchers get a good look at the mayhem he is creating. In the end, there is one important lesson learned ... and Earl is happy to share it with friend Buddy.

As in the first two, Carey Sookocheff uses her winning artwork to show both sides of the story. They clearly match the story's events and every bit of fun.

Oh, it's great to have you back, Buddy and Earl! Can't wait to see you in your next adventure.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pigloo, written by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Lorna Hussey. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan, Raincoast. 2016. $19.50 ages 3 and up

"In the morning, Pigloo puts on his boots and mittens and hat. His mother tells him to take off his hat to eat his eggs. (Hats at the table are the sort of thing mothers of explorers don't like.) "Are you going sledding today?" she asks. "I am going to the North Pole," Pigloo says. "With Paisley."

Pigloo wants to go exploring. Loving the snow, he sets the North Pole as his destination. He even knows what it will look like - a peppermint striped pole and a polar bear are sure to be visible upon arrival. He has everything he needs, except the snow!

His family members are not sure about this exploration. They ask him to exercise caution, and patience. His sister Paisley is not very supportive at all. Once the snow falls, and before setting off, he must have breakfast, dress to suit the weather and voice his plan.

"I am going to the North Pole," Pigloo says. "With Paisley."
"You know Admiral Byrd already found it, right?" Paisley asks.
"And I'm not going."

Pigloo is brave and prepared for his trip. He knows the markers, he knows a shortcut, and he finds a hill. Sledding is his only option if he plans on being home for lunch. Off he goes ... at a fast clip. He slows when he sees the pole, the bear and Paisley. Apparently, she took a 'shorter'cut. It means they arrive just in time for hot chocolate and warm soup.

Disappointed that he saw not one penguin, and learning that they only live at the South Pole, he makes a new plan for the afternoon. What about Paisley?

Warmhearted and sure to please kids wanting to hear seasonal stories starring snow, and seeking winter adventure.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ming Goes to School, written by Deirdre Sullivan and illustrated by Maja Lofdahl. Sky Pony Press, Thomas Allen & Son. 2016. $25.99 ages 3 and up

"It's where she meets new
friends ...

and introduces the old.

It's where magic fairy
castles are built from
sticks ...

and growing up takes time."

I wish I had been able to share this with you in September when school started for most children. Children entering preschool can begin at other times during the year. So, this might be just what you need as you take or welcome a new child.

The text is perfectly suited to Ming's circumstance. It is her first day. Her father brings her in and goes off to start his day. As the seasons change and the year moves forward, Ming learns alongside her classmates. There is much to do, both inside and outside. And, there is time to wait until you are ready to try something brand new and a bit challenging.

This truly lovely book is a gentle introduction to the many joys and reflective moments that a school year for a young child entails. The soft, quiet watercolor artwork that depicts the classroom, the playground, the children who share the space and the gentle, encouraging teacher adds beauty to the strength of the sweet text.

"It's where all things ...
are worth waiting for."

It's a perfect for any child who will soon leave home to spend their days in new surroundings, and would make a lovely gift to share as they anticipate the experience.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Waiting For Snow, written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016. $20.99 ages 2 and up

"My granny says a snow
dance will bring snow,"
said Vole. "But it has to
be a special dance, danced
with good friends." They
stomped and rocked. They
bopped and boogied. They
whirled and swirled. It
was a special dance!"
grumped Badger."

It's winter. Shouldn't there be snow? Badger is upset that there is none. Hedgehog, ever the optimist, allows that snow is sure to come. It might just take its own time to do it. Waiting is a worthwhile pursuit.

Badger feels as I do when my computer doesn't boot up fast enough to please me. He's tired of waiting! So, he pounds loudly on pots and pans, hoping to attract some attention from the sky. What he does attract very quickly is the attention of all his woodland friends - but, no snow.

Rabbit has a helpful idea. Perhaps they should throw small pebbles that will punch holes in the clouds. You can surely anticipate what happens next. Badger is disconsolate. No matter what Hedgehog suggests as likely to happen, Badger is unconvinced. That leaves it to his other animal friends to offer their own suggestions. Sleeping with his pajamas on backwards sends Badger to bed with high hopes. In the morning, it's snowing! Or is it?

Lovely scenes of the warmth of the indoors and the beauty to be found outside entertain readers with humor and a feeling of hope that Badger's wish will soon come true. There is much to be savored as you share its pages.

Let's leave the final word to the patient and thoughtful Hedgehog:

"Crocuses always bloom in spring, the sun rises every
morning, stars shine every night," said Hedgehog.
"Sometimes they come late and sometimes early,
but they always come, in their time."