Tired of your children's collection of picture books? Is the bedtime story putting you to sleep, too? In honor of summer – the time for library reading clubs – here are some new kids' titles worth checking out. You and your kiddos will be glad you did.
By Carol Baicker-McKee. Bloomsbury. Ages 4-8. 32 pages. $15.95. ****
Meet Mimi, a handmade pig doll. Mimi loves lots of things – her roly-poly bug Frank (though he has gone missing), her stuffed bunny, cape, tiara, and for the cute little nerds you want your kids to be: library school. Mimi also likes to dance, sing, laugh and “zip down the slide at least a zillion times.” The 3-D illustrations make this a picture book that truly stands out from the rest.
By Betsy Snyder. Random House. Ages0-3. 14 pages. $6.99. ***
Bored with children's books that rhyme in conventional fashion? You need a haiku or two. This board book is just the thing with six haikus – rain, flower, sun, leaf, snow and moon – and pretty watercolor-like illustrations and Chinese characters. Here is “sun”: Under summer sun/ turtle drops in for a swim/ plunk, plop, belly flop!
WYNKEN, BLYNKEN AND NOD
By Eugene W. Field and Giselle Potter. Schwartz & Wade. Ages 3-7. 40 pages. $16.99. *** 1/2
Illustrator Giselle Potter lends gorgeous, dreamy illustrations to this poem, first published in 1889 by Eugene W. Field, a journalist, essayist and poet. Originally called “Dutch Lullaby,” the poem tells of Dutch boys Wynken, Blynken and Nod sailing off in a wooden shoe. “‘Where are you going, and what do you wish?' the old moon asked the three. ‘We have come to fish for the herring fish that live in this beautiful sea; nets of silver and gold have we!'” At the end you learn that “Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes and Nod is a little head, and the wooden shoe that sailed the skies is a wee one's trundle-bed.”
In her illustrator's note, Potter aptly explains what makes this poem unique: “The idea of the characters representing two eyes and a head, and of the night sky becoming a sea of fish … it had a strangeness that often exists in old stories and rhymes for children, a sensibility that is hard to find today.”
By Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock. Candlewick Press. Ages 4-8. 32 pages. $15.99. ***
Here's a book that's perfect for those of us living in ever-growing Charlotte, with its road crews, orange barrels and excavators. When you're stuck in traffic and the kids are asking questions – “What's this? Who's that? What's that truck called?” – here's your reference book. It's a rhyming explanation of how roads are built, from planning and dirt moving to tar spreading and sign raising. “Mark the road. Mark the road. Give the paint a squirt. Paint the lines in nice and straight. Whizz! Slop! Splurt!” There's also a back-of-the-book guide to the machines – bulldozers, graders, steamrollers, etc.
THE BOY WHO WOULDN'T SHARE
By Mike Reiss and David Catrow. HarperCollins. Ages 4-8. 32 pages. $16.99. *** 1/2
Here's the story of Edward, who wouldn't share with his sister Claire. But sis teaches him a lesson by not holding a grudge and sharing her fudge. Illustrations are funny in a grotesque kind of way – sullen-looking kids with big heads and skinny limbs, freakish looking Jack-in-the-box and bug-eyed hobbyhorse.
MAIL HARRY TO THE MOON!
By Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley. Little, Brown. Ages 3-6. 40 pages. $16.99. ***
WELCOME TO YOUR WORLD, BABY
By Brooke Shields and Cori Doerrfeld. HarperCollins. Ages 4-8. 32 pages. $16.99. ***
New baby in the family? Here are two books to help older siblings cope.
In the first, Harry's brother wants to throw him in the trash, flush him down the toilet, stick him in the zoo – mail him to the moon. It starts, “Before Harry was born, there was ME!” Then something happens to make big brother miss Harry. Where'd he go? Down the toilet? To the zoo?” Parents take heart; in the end, there's brotherly love. “Now there's me AND Harry!”
Shields, mother of two young daughters, writes about an excited big sister and all the things she wants to do and share with her baby sister. Big sis will help baby sis decorate her room and get ready for bed. They'll play dress-up, put on a play, have tea parties and sleepovers. Just what I remember planning for my younger sister and me – when I wasn't asking Mom and Dad how long she would be staying with us.