Tag Archives: USA

Home

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Where and what can a home be? Some of Ms. Ellis’ answers are conventional (for example, a nest), others are pure fantasy (see the picture above). Her drawings are deceptively-simple and peaceful–perfect for before bed. But what gives the boys the most pleasure is that every double-page spread in this book contains a dove. Sometimes the dove is easy to spot. Sometimes it is very well hidden. The boys always love finding it.

Author: Carson Ellis
Illustrator: Carson Ellis

Architecture According to Pigeons

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This book purports to be written by a pigeon. And it is about architecture. (Let us accept from the beginning that it is deeply odd.) It is also jam packed with real information; while my oldest has read most (all?) of it, I have not read very much of it aloud. Instead, I’ve focused on the names of the buildings (human and pigeon) and the eye-catching pictures, which had the unexpected result of my youngest (already a huge pigeon fan) becoming sure he spoke fluent pigeon. About six months ago, he frequently approached pigeons asking them excitedly if the were going to see the Great Worm (also known as the Great Wall of China) and was very disappointed when they flew away without responding.

Author: Speck Lee Tailfeather (aided by Stella “Pigeon Whisperer” Gurney)
Illustrator: Natsko Seki

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis

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In a 1989 interview with The New York Times, celebrated chef and author Edna Lewis said: “As a child in Virginia, I thought all food tasted delicious. After growing up, I didn’t think food tasted the same, so it has been my lifelong effort to try and recapture those good flavors of the past.” This book focuses on that childhood, those good flavors, and how the rhythms of growing and gathering food affected the day-to-day life of Ms. Lewis’ family.

The boys love this book; the pictures and lovingly-described foods keep them spellbound. I do have a few small caveats: the recipes included at the end of the book are inspired by Ms. Lewis, but are not her own; the speech of the characters is highly stylized (old poetry and rhymes about food make up much of the dialogue, which may take some getting used to); and we all agree the author of this book likely has never actually heard a whippoorwill (we have learned from camping that its call is anything but melodious–instead it is a dead ringer for an hours-long car alarm).

Author: Robbin Gourley
Illustrator: Robbin Gourley

 

Ice Cream Summer

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In this book, a boy composes a rather plain-vanilla letter to his grandpa sharing what he’s been doing and learning over the summer (the toothsome illustrations reveal that it is all related to ice cream). Locating ice cream lurking in unexpected places is a large part of the fun–nearly all the pages are highly detailed and lend themselves to close examination.

Author: Peter Sis
Illustrator: Peter Sis

 

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South

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Genius squirrels follow wintering birds to a tropical paradise. Will their grumpy friend Old Man Fookwire be far behind?

Like the first book in this series, Those Darn Squirrels!, it is difficult to read this book once; as soon as it is done, the boys ask me to read it again. Since they are laughing their heads off for much of the book (no matter how many times we read it), I’m happy to comply.

Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri

 

Duck for President

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Like When Dinosaurs Came with Everything and Monkey and Me, this book arrived in a Cheerios box in 2008 (as I’ve mentioned before, the best year ever for the spoonfuls of stories promotion in our house). Although they don’t get the legion of historical/political references yet, the boys love Duck (who was first introduced in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type) and this book (in which Duck makes his way from the farm to the Governor’s Mansion to the White House and back home again) is very popular.

Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

The Circus Ship

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Five miles off the coast of Maine
and slightly overdue,
a circus ship was steaming south
in fog as thick as stew.

There is something about Chris Van Dusen–I’m not sure if it is his bouncy rhymes or his bright, beautiful pictures–but the boys go wild for his books. We haven’t had this book terribly long, but it is very frequently requested and seems on track to be as popular as perpetual favorite If I Built a Car. In it, fifteen circus animals find new, much improved, homes on an island in Maine when the ship they are traveling on sinks (finding the animals on the pages is a large part of the fun).

Caveat: The inspiration for this happy story was incredibly grim; Mr. Van Dusen has completely reimagined a true story of an awful shipwreck. Therefore, I suggest saving the author’s note in the back of the book for adults.

Author: Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Little Elliot, Big City

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Elliot is a tiny, pastel-spotted, New-York-City-dwelling elephant. He generally works around his size limitations, but often goes unnoticed and is nearly overcome by loneliness (and cupcake cravings) until he finds “someone even littler than himself, who had an even bigger problem.” In helping this someone (an adorable white mouse), Elliot’s problems are solved. This deeply cute book manages to stop short of being saccharine and is very popular.

Author: Mike Curato
Illustrator: Mike Curato

Jack and the Bean Tree

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This variant on Jack and the Beanstalk is a pleasure to see and read. Although we found it after Jack and the Fire Dragon, it is the first tale in the series. My youngest loves it even more than Fire Dragon; my oldest loves them both “to infinity.”

Author: Gail E. Haley
Illustrator: Gail E. Haley

 

Jack and the Fire Dragon

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Old Fire Dragaman is about the wickedest
and biggest giant that ever roamed these hills. Some
people believe he dug right up from the center of the
earth bringing fire and brimstone with him. Nothin’
or nobody could stop him, and no one would live in
the places where he hung out. He was famous for
takin’ people’s money and daughters.

Now wouldn’t ye know Jack–that reckless
feller–would run across him?

This book is full of gorgeous pictures, magic, swords, and dragons. Unsurprisingly, it is a huge hit. (Don’t worry about the dialect. It rolls off the tongue quite well, regardless of whether you’ve spent much time in the American South.)

Author: Gail E. Haley
Illustrator: Gail E. Haley