6 Fabulous Children’s Picture Books for Gift-Giving

There are many, many wonderful picture books that would make fabulous gifts for children in the holiday season or anytime. To pick just six of the books that children will enjoy at any time of year was difficult, but each book will perfectly fit a need for young children in a range of ages and interests.

“ABC Dream” is an incredibly beautiful alphabet picture book by Kim Krans. Each page of illustrations is a work of art, and children will love finding and naming all the things in each letter’s page. Each page is thoughtful and lovely. Read the full review here. (Random House)

“Nanette’s Baguette” is by ever-popular, ever-clever author and illustrator Mo Willems. In this story, Nanette is finally allowed to go to the bakery and get the baguette. Willems is careful to describe baguettes (warm and wonderful-smelling). And the book is filled, completely filled, with rhymes for baguette and Nanette. For example, “Look! There’s Mr. Barnett with his pet, Antoinette! Nanette pets Antoinette. Did Nanette forget the baguette?” The story is sweet and appropriately predictable, and kids will want to hear it over and over again. (Hyperion Books for Children)

iwantmyhat“I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen is a picture book that belongs in the library of every toddler or young child. Children from three and through third grade will enjoy this clever story on several levels. The youngest readers will simply enjoy the story of a bear who wants his hat back. Those who are ready to make inferences will greatly enjoy realizing that through the language in the dialogue, Klassen reveals what has really happened. There are two stories going on; one is the literal story and the other is what must be inferred. Read the full review here. (Candlewick Press)

A picture book about a floating cat named Papillon will enchant children. In “Papillon Goes to the Vet,” A. N. Kang persuades children that going to the vet (or doctor) is not a terrible experience. When Papillon swallows a toy, he feels sick and is unable to float. But an overnight at the vet’s cures Papillon and he’s good as new the next day. (Disney -Hyperion)

Children love rhyming books, and Corey Rosen Schwartz is an expert at creating fractured fairy tales with great rhythm. “Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale” is a book that she labored over for years. It’s about Cinderella and her twin sister, Twinderella. This imaginative fairy tale take-off is filled with fractions and math and twins galore. Unlike many fairy tales, in this one the main character loves to do math! Read the full review here. (Putnam Books)

And a picture book that will be appreciated by older picture book lovers is “7 Ate 9: The 7ate9Untold Story” by Tara Lazar and very cleverly illustrated by Ross MacDonald. The story is filled with double-entendres, homophones, and idioms. 7 is the “prime” suspect when 9 goes missing. During the course of the story, they visit the “pi” shop where the waitress, B, has the scoop. Finally, to the delight of readers, Private I puts two and two together to solve the mathematical mystery. It’s a story that can be read over and over to squeeze out every bit of cleverness. Read the full review here. (Disney-Hyperion)

Please note: This review was based on the final, hardcover picture books provided by the publishers for review purposes.

 

 

4 Children’s Picture Books With Messages for Young Readers

This holiday season, or any time of the year, it’s wonderful to find picture books that share  uplifting messages for young readers. Many picture books, fiction and nonfiction, allow young readers to think about issues such as fairness, inclusion, and just that it’s okay to be different. Here are some really thoughtful books that will open children’s horizons in wonderful ways.

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Sebring, Florida Dogs Have Until Monday to Find Rescue or Die

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Some of the dogs written about in “31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving” were rescued and others were given a reprieve until Monday the 27th. That’s the way it goes in small county shelters. If enough space opens up, the dogs who were going to die get additional time to find a home and leave the shelter alive. But that also means that there is a never-ending cycle of dogs who are urgently in need of rescue.

The dogs who are still in need of rescue are Brinds, Tony, Shyla, Arie, Derby, Bailey, Howze and Plumo. There are also a few new dogs.

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‘The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match’ by Elizabeth Eulberg Is the Second in the Clever Middle Grade Series

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Shelby Holmes was introduced to readers in “The Great Shelby Holmes,” the first book in the series by Elizabeth Eulberg. In the second book, “The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match,” narrator John Watson brings to life another mystery that he and Shelby solve, and in the process gives the reader another view at the complicated genius of Shelby Holmes.

She’s a pint-sized fourth grader who has skipped two grades. Watson is a newcomer to New York City, and in the first book, Shelby shows him around the neighborhood. In this book, Holmes and Watson start school.

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31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving

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Update: Belle, Moon, Rosa, Parker, Silver, Pork Chop, Murry and Maggie (she wasn’t posted yet) have all been RESCUED by Bishop Animal Shelter,SPCA of Manatee County, Please honor pledges at www.bishopspca.org The volunteers at Sebring, FL say, “Thank you!!!!”

Tony was caught on camera with his tail mid-wag. He’s looking sweetly at the photographer with a gleam in his eyes, his body raised up as if hoping that the person taking the picture will stop and give Tony some affection. He wants it, desperately. And now Tony is one of many dogs who will be killed on Tuesday, November 21, unless he is pulled by rescue or adopted.

Tony isn’t petite or graced with curly locks. His nose doesn’t wrinkle up like a Boston Terrier’s. He doesn’t have a long plume of a tail like a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. In fact, Tony looks like many of the other dogs at this shelter. He’s a mix — that healthy blend of many breeds that gives the lucky ones longevity and few diseases and the unlucky ones death at the local county shelter.

While city and suburban shelters receive a mix of purebred dogs and mixes, rural county shelters like the Highlands County Animal Services get mostly mixed breeds, many of which look like pit bull mixes and hunting dogs. The shelter’s director tries to learn about the dogs and their personalities, but as with  most shelters, and especially small ones with few resources, dogs’ behaviors in shelters are often quite different from their behaviors in a home. That’s why responsible shelters advise adopters to take all animal introductions slowly and give new animals time to decompress and relax. (Read a great article about this here.)

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Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa, FL in the News for Putting Animals in Danger and Refusing to Work with Rescue Groups

 

Want to make a quick buck in Hillsborough County, Florida? If you live in Tampa or its environs, just visit the county shelter on a weekend when they are adopting out dogs for free and get a couple. There’s no adoption fee, no application, and best of all — you can sell a dog for $50 the very next day! Just say it’s a good “hog hunter.”

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‘Terrific’ Is a Heck of a Terrific Picture Book by Jon Agee

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Like most of Jon Agee’s picture books, “Terrific” will be one of those books that kids want to hear again and again. The story is of a cynical man whose response to everything that happens to him — good and bad — is to say “Terrific.”

He’s a cynical man. When, at the start of the book, he wins an all-expense-paid trip to Bermuda, he says, “Terrific. I’ll probably get a really nasty sunburn.” Well, he ends up marooned on a desert island with only a parrot for company.

“Terrific,” said Eugene. “What good is a parrot?”
“You’d be surprised,” said the parrot.
Eugene was surprised.

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‘Bow Wow: A Bowser and Birdie Novel’ by Spencer Quinn is the 3rd in this Dog-Narrated Series for Children

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Young readers love books about dogs and Spencer Quinn’s series about Bowser and Birdie is no exception. “Bow Wow” is the third book in the series that began with “Woof” and continued with “Arf.” Adults might be familiar with Quinn’s series about Chet and Bernie, which features the fabulous detective dog Chet, whose narrative sounds suspiciously like that of Bowser.

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‘Invasion of the Scorp-Lions! A Monstertown Mystery’ by Bruce Hale Is a Fun-Filled Fantasy

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With the third book in the Monstertown Mystery series, “Invasion of the Scorp-Lions,” author Bruce Hale shows that he can write a series in which each book brings something new to the plate.

At first, this episode appears to be like the two previous books with the main characters, narrator Carlos and his friend Benny, learning that something strange is going on in the basement of the school. They think it’s a ghost, and because of the kids and teacher who encountered the creature and are now in comas, they know it’s dangerous.

But here the story gets interesting because Hale brings in an additional character, Esme, whose mother creates monsters, and whose family comes from a long line of monster-creators. Their last name is Ygorre (pronounced Igor).

A character from the previous book, Tina, also known as Karate Girl, joins the boys on their monster-hunting adventure, and Esme gives a hand, too. At the end of the book, there is an event that explains why there will be lots and lots of monstery sequels to these books.

While the subject of the books —  monsters — and the clever, catchy lenticular, 3D-ish cover make the books look like light reading material, Hale includes a quite serious secondary plot in each book. In this book, Carlos is worried about his parents divorcing.

Also, Hale’s use of figurative language and imagery throughout the books should thrill teachers as they use excerpts from the book when teaching narrative or descriptive writing. “The mechanical room was as comfy and inviting as a concrete crypt at midnight. Mr. Boo had thoughtfully stacked five folding chairs and a card table in the middle of the room, for that homey touch.” Imagery and a touch of sarcasm in two very funny sentences.

While many readers (this one included) might take offense at Hale’s characterization of Barry Manilow’s music as “A scorp-lion’s worst nightmare” and “soppy strings and drippy vocals,” he does have Carlos admit to humming along with one of the songs after a while. Hale also gives Benny some humorous lines when he mixes up words. A teacher thinks the monster smell is from feral cats, so Benny asks, “What are Will Ferrell’s pets doing here?”

This series is a perfect choice for reluctant readers and adventure lovers from third grade through middle school. Humor and horror – a great combination. Also an excellent choice for teachers looking for a read aloud that will teach kids about imagery.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion Books, for review purposes.

Two Great Dog Books for Children: Inside and Upside-Down

Two dog books for children have titles that match in a strange way even though the books are different views of dogs. One book, by Serena Hodson, is about the outside of dogs and looks at them as “Upside-Down Dogs.” “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” is by Alexandra Horowitz, and is all about what goes on inside a dog.

Get your child both books. One is fun to look at, with pictures of adorable dogs in many silly positions. The other is filled with nonfiction, scientific information about our canine best friends.

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