Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Ice Palace


It was the hottest season in a hot, dry land.
Anna was unwell. Her mother made a bed in the little garden room,
and her father laid her gently down.
“When the cool winds come they will find you here,” he promised.
But the cool winds didn’t come.

In a time before electricity, a little girl grows more and more feverish. As she grows sicker and sicker, her father tells her stories of cold and ice and those stories continue in her dreams. Finally, a cool breeze arrives, and she is cured. The story is unusual (if rather frightening for adults); the illustrations are absolutely beautiful.

Author: Angela McAllister
Illustrator: Angela Barrett


The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments


Long ago there were no colors in the world at all.
Almost everything was grey,
and what was not grey was black or white.
It was a time that was called The Great Greyness.

Every morning a Wizard who lived
during the time of The Great Greyness
would open his window to look out at the wide land.
“Something is very wrong with the world,” he would say.
“It is hard to tell when the rainy days stop
and the sunny days begin.”

When the dissatisfied Wizard eventually makes a color (blue), everyone is thrilled. They paint everything blue and The Great Blueness begins. But soon people begin to grow sad. So the Wizard tries again. And again. And again. Until, “[a]t last, the world was too beautiful ever to be changed again.”

This is a fun story with beautiful pictures. It subtly teaches about primary and secondary colors (like The Color Kittens). It also demonstrates the perils of too much of a good thing (like Bread and Jam for Frances).

Author: Arnold Lobel
Illustrator: Arnold Lobel


Birds of a Feather


This book doesn’t have many total pages, but it is enormous (well over a foot tall and almost a foot wide), heavy, and attractive. It very well designed; filled with interesting flaps, pop ups, puzzles, and avian tidbits; and recommended for kids large enough to pick it up easily and treat it gently.

Author: Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau
Illustrator: Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau


Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel


She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine,
but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.

Miss Bridie chose the shovel from the peg in the barn, and
she took it to the dock, where she stepped aboard the ship.
She leaned on the shovel as she rocked in the cabin while
she lived on the ship on her way across the sea.

Miss Bridie flung the shovel with her pack on her shoulder
when she stepped off the ship in the harbor in New York.

This quiet, beautiful book covers most of a lifetime and is a pleasure from beginning to end.

Author: Leslie Connor
Illustrator: Mary Azarian


Three Strong Women: A Tall Tale from Japan


Famous sumo wrestler Forever-Mountain thinks very highly of himself. But when he plays a joke on a young woman she (literally) drags him home to her mother (who carries around their pet cow around to spare its delicate feet) and grandmother (who pulls oak trees out of the ground if she trips over their roots) and the three of them offer to make a truly strong man out of him. When he agrees:

Every day he was made to do the work of five men, and every
evening he wrestled with Grandmother. Maru-me and her mother agreed
that Grandmother, being old and feeble, was the least likely to
injure him accidentally. They hoped the exercise might be good for
her rheumatism.

We love this book. It is unexpected, funny, and satisfying from start to finish.

Author: Claus Stamm
Illustrator: Jean and Mou-sien Tseng




[T]he children drew pictures
of their chicks to post on the walls. All
of the other children’s pictures were cute
and yellow and very much alike. Sally’s
picture… wasn’t.

“Good work, children,” said Mrs. Henshaw. “Now let’s
investigate what our little chicks like to eat.”

“Mine likes seeds!” said one boy.

“Mine likes beetles!” said another.

“Mine is trying to eat the other chicks,” said Sally.

One of these chicks is really not like the others. But every time Sally tries to point this out, her teacher simply tells her not to be difficult. While the teacher’s careful refusal to acknowledge the elephant (dragon) in the room is increasingly absurd, Sally begins to love her “chick” despite the many challenges it presents.

Ultimately, this sweet, dryly funny book is about differences, unpredictability, and loving the one you’re with.

Author: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrator: Andrea Wesson


The Night Before Kindergarten


This cute book was a kindergarten orientation present. If you tweak the grade, it makes for a nice night-before-the-first-day-of-early-elementary-school tradition.

Author: Natasha Wing
Illustrator: Julie Durrell