TITLE: MARIGOLD BAKES A CAKE
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Mike Malbrough
PUBLISHER: Philomel Books/2017
OPENING LINES: Marigold liked everything just so. His fur was always well-groomed … and his calendar was sorted well in advance. Mondays were Marigold’s favorite. Because Mondays were for baking.
As you can probably guess, this story chronicles one of Marigold’s Baking Mondays. He plans to bake a cake that is “fur-sheddingly fabulous!” But, things don’t exactly go as planned. Which, for a kitty who likes everything “just so,” is definitely NOT acceptable. Just how can Marigold bake his cake with smidgeons of pigeons and spoonfuls of loons getting in the mix? I won’t spoil the end, because this is a must-read. The text is fun and the illustrations are superb. From the cover to the title page to the end papers (always a favorite of mine), Mike Malbrough attended to every detail. I love Marigold’s home with retro-inspired kitchen, the cake designs, the birds’ chef hats, even Marigold’s fur. Best of all are Marigold’s expressions -- priceless! Run to your local library or book store. This one is a winner!
Now that’s my kind of day to celebrate! Maybe with a piece of cake? Here’s a little guy who can help us out:
I know a little elephant that is very worthy of appreciation: LITTLE ELLIOT! Isn’t he cute?
TITLE: LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG CITY
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Mike Curato
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company/2014
OPENING LINES: Little Elliot was an elephant. He was different in many ways. Little Elliot loved living in a big city, but sometimes it was hard being so small in such a huge place.
Most young readers (and many adults) can relate to the feeling of being small in huge place. Little Elliot faces some big challenges living in a big city, and he’s certainly learned creative ways to get by, but when he tries to buy a cupcake, poor Elliot goes unnoticed. Aw! But never fear, after a little walk Elliot discovers someone who helps him put things in perspective, and he starts to feel not so small after all. This is a super sweet book with darling illustrations to match. The retro color palette and style suit the story and Elliot’s voice “just right.” I always admire illustrated end papers and under-the-book-jacket surprises, and this book did not disappoint. To me, this book is the whole package: art, text, voice, and theme. Mike Curato’s dedication says,“For anyone who feels unnoticed.” Well, I noticed Elliot and Mike Curato’s wonderful talent, and I hope others will too!
This is a very important day, indeed. Let’s celebrate by eating a big, juicy slice of watermelon while reading a book! Just be careful not to drip on the pages. What book, you ask? THE WATERMELON SEED, of course!
Who can’t relate to a young child wanting “just one more” of something? Or everything, for that matter! That seems to be sweet Ruby’s mantra - one more of this and one more of that. But sometimes a little bit goes a long way, and one is just enough. Or is it? Jennifer’s Rolli’s illustrations and color palette are beautiful (I dare you to look into Ruby’s eyes and not feel her emotions!), and her simple text convey a story relatable to many young children and their caregivers. Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes one is not enough, especially when it comes to books! This one sure made it to my shelf in a hurry.
Many believe that you are either a cat or a dog person. Can you be both? Something to ponder . . . in the meantime, today is all about hugging your cat! So, without further ado, I bring you:
TITLE: MAX THE BRAVE
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Ed Vere
PUBLISHER: Puffin Books/2014
OPENING LINES: This is Max. Doesn’t Max look sweet? Max looks so sweet that sometimes people dress him up with bows. Max does not like being dressed up with bows. Because Max is a fearless kitten. Max is a brave kitten. Max is a kitten who chases mice. Max the Brave just needs to find out what a mouse looks like . . . and then he will chase it.
So, brave Max sets off on a journey to find a mouse to chase. This book reminds me a little of ARE YOU MY MOTHER by P.D. Eastman (a childhood all-time favorite) – the simple text, the protagonist’s encounters with others as he sets out on his journey to find a mouse, and the art! I love the way Max stands out against the solid backgrounds and his expressions are perfect! His eyes say it all. You won’t be disappointed by the end and will want to read this one again and again.
In honor of this day, I have a special tree for you to love.
TITLE: LITTLE TREE
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Loren Long
PUBLISHER: Philomel Books/2015
OPENING LINES: Once there was a little tree filled with little leaves . . . who was surrounded by other little trees who had little leaves of their own. In the heat of long summer days, Little Tree’s leaves kept him cool.
Little Tree likes life just the way it is. But the seasons change and life moves on. For everyone but Little Tree, that is. Little Tree hugs his leaves tightly and refuses to change, despite words of encouragement from his forest friends. As the rest of the forest grows around him, Little Tree is faced with an important decision. You’ll have to read this yourself to see if and how Little Tree comes to terms with change. Loren Long’s beautiful illustrations capture the beauty of the seasons and match the text perfectly and the ending will leave you sighing, "Aw!"
Who doesn’t love a PB & J? Actually, my roommate in college had never even tried a PB & J sandwich. We tried to convince her to eat one, but she just couldn’t do it! I wonder if she’s dared to try since . . . Anyway, in honor of this very special day, I would like to introduce you to a picture book that highlights PB & J with a bit of a twist. So, without further ado, I introduce:
TITLE: PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY BRAINS: A Zombie Culinary Tale
AUTHOR: Joe McGee
ILLUSTRATOR: Charles Santoso
PUBLISHER: Abrams Books for Young Readers/2015
OPENING LINES: Reginald was not like the other zombies. The other zombies wanted brains for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But not Reginald.
I bet you can guess what Reginald wants to eat! But, naturally, he has a little trouble obtaining his heart’s desire. His fellow zombies don’t understand him, and he has even more trouble with the humans. But, Reginald is determined to convince his zombie friends that a good PB & J is even better than brains. I love Joe McGee’s clever twist on a “going against the crowd to achieve your heart’s desire” tale and Charles Santoso’s illustrations are a perfect match. Read the book to see what leads Reginald to a sweet & sticky ending! And – bonus - be sure to peek at the end papers and under the book jacket. I love details like this!
,In honor of this very special day, I would like to introduce you to PEDDLES! I was drawn first to the cover art (I mean, just look at that cutie!), but then I peeked inside and was hooked.
AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR: Elizabeth Rose Stanton
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/2016
OPENING LINES: Peddles was just a pig. He lived on a farm with the other pigs, doing all the usual pig things: eating and sleeping and oinking and rooting and wallowing and . . . . But Peddles thought about the usual pig things differently.
I am a sucker for a character who isn’t afraid to stand out, despite what others might think, and for a character who dreams big. This describes Peddles perfectly. He has his setbacks, of course, but in the end he makes his dreams come true and wins over his friends to boot (you’ll understand my terrible joke if you read it). Pick up this book and Peddles will win you over too!
In honor of this very special day, I would like to highlight two of my favorite books published recently.
First up: IDA, ALWAYS.
Warning – this one is a real tear-jerker. I was warned. I still cried while reading it to my youngest son. The next day I read it to myself, and I cried again! But it is sooooo good!
Next: WHERE BEAR? -- no tissues necessary!
In honor of this very special day, I would like to highlight one of my favorite books published recently -- FINDING WINNIE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BEAR.
One of my earliest story-memories is of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and all the critters from the Hundred Acre Wood were always a part of my life. And even part of my children’s lives. In fact, my oldest daughter’s first word was “Pooh.” So, when I heard someone wrote a book about the bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, I had to read it. And this book did not disappoint.
TITLE: FINDING WINNIE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BEAR
AUTHOR: Lindsay Mattick
ILLUSTRATOR: Sophie Blackall
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Company/2015
“Could you tell me a story?” asked Cole
“It’s awfully late.” It was long past dark, and time to be asleep. “What kind of story?”
“You know. A true story. One about a Bear.”
These lines just beg you to turn the page. And so I did. In this book, I found a story within a story about a veterinarian named Harry Colebourn (notice the similarity between this character and the name of the character who speaks first?) who left his hometown of Winnipeg (notice the name of the town?) in 1914 to help the war effort as a horse doctor. On his way, he encounters a man on the train platform with a baby (you guessed it) bear! I won’t say more because I urge you to read this for yourself -- follow Winnie’s journey from train platform to storybook. But I will say that the clever plot structure and flowing text and gorgeous illustrations (Did I mention this won the Caldecott in 2016?) are sure to draw you in and maybe even shout, “Buy me!” like they did to me.
Heather is a busy wife and mom of five rambunctious children and one lovable pup They all provide lots of distractions, but oodles of inspiration. Sometimes the pictures and ideas in her head turn into children's stories. Sometimes her daydreams end up here.