Archive for the ‘girls’ Category

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Press Here

February 19, 2012

Title: Press Here
Author: Hervè Tullet
Illustrator: Hervè Tullet
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780811879545
Publisher: Chronicle (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $15.99

I have a little bone to pick with the world. And that little bone is that we have become quite an impatient bunch of individuals. Spoiled by our iPhones, iPads, iEverything, we want what we want when we want it. And we want it right now. Delayed gratification is just not an option. And, to be honest, we’re not even that great at simply sitting still anymore.

Thus, it isn’t too surprising that “plain old” picture books are being tossed aside for interactive ebooks; in which, letters glow, pictures move, and characters come to life. But the question must be raised: Is the child even reading anymore at that point?

So for those naysayers out there, who claim that printed books are not nearly as entertaining or interactive as their technological brethren, I present Press Here.

Hervè Tullet’s imaginative and engaging picture book is practically flying off bookshelves everywhere (we can barely keep in it stock at my bookstore because it is in such high demand). Tullet greet’s his eager readers with a single yellow dot in a sea of white, and one word, “Ready?”

Seriously, what child wouldn’t be?

After turning the page you see the same yellow dot, and a simple request, “Press here and turn the page.” When you turn the page you see that the single yellow dot has turned into two yellow dots, and you’re asked to press the same dot again. So you do as you’re told, and you turn the page to find that there are now three yellow dots. Tullet congratulates you on your work so far, and urges you on,  “Perfect. Rub the dot on the left… gently.” You rub the dot on the left, turn the page, and see that the yellow dot on the left is now red.

On and on, Tullet has his readers pressing here, tapping there, shaking the book up and down, tilting it too and fro, blowing on the the pages to move the dots this way and that, and clapping to make the dots grow.

Kids (especially those aged four to six) LOVE this book, because they feel like they are in charge of something magical! Little do they know that they are actually learning how to follow directions, and absorbing important information like knowing right from left.

Tullet’s dots are colorful and imperfect, which gives the reader the feeling that each page has been freshly finger-painted just for them. And to make the book even more kid-friendly, it is published with a hard cardboard cover, which provides the sturdy casing needed to meet the demands of all that pressing, poking, and shaking.

Now, a lot of adults don’t understand this book. You want proof? How about the fact a number of big name publishers actually rejected Tullet’s ingenious proposal. Thankfully, the fabulous, and über creative, Chronicle Books, located in San Francisco, saw Press Here for what it was– a silly, but brilliant, text that children could not only learn from, but actually interact with.

Press Here is an automatic favorite with little ones everywhere!

So, TAKE THAT, ebooks!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Season’s Readings!

December 14, 2011

Sometimes, I get the sneaky feeling that the majority of book-buyers out there think How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express are the only two Holiday titles in existence…

Don’t get me wrong, I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I actually had it memorized for a few years when I was little because I would listen to the book-on-tape every night before bed. And, well, I think the jury is still out on Polar Express… maybe my parents ingrained “stranger danger” into me too well or something… seriously though, does no one else think it’s weird that the little boy just hops on board a random train that pulls into his yard?

My point is, there are so many fantastic Christmas and Holiday themed picture books out there! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Olivia Helps with Christmas (Hardcover, $18.99): Who doesn’t love Olivia? As equal parts Ramona Quimby, Eloise, and Curious George, dear old Olivia is a wee bit sassy, pretty darn stubborn, remarkably creative and, unfortunately, incessantly “helpful” in all of the wrong ways. Ian Falconer’s witty text and mixed-medium illustrations are entertaining for parents and children alike. And the fold-out page in the middle that display’s Olivia’s method of decorating the dinner table will have you laughing out loud.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas (Hardcover, $16.95 / Board Book, $7.99): You may recall my minor obsession with bears (see prior post on Very Hairy Bear). Well, Karma Wilson has a whole picture book series about an adorable bear and all of his woodland-creature friends. Though Wilson’s simple rhyming narratives are well written, and perfect for reading out loud to little ones, it is Jane Chapman’s illustrations that make this series really stand out. Bear Stays Up for Christmas is just as sweet as the rest of the books in the series, but I think this is my favorite because it really highlights the importance of friendship, and spending time with one another, during the holidays. I’m warning you though… it is dangerously adorable…

Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert (Hardcover, $16.00 / Paperback, $6.99): While often overlooked, Marla Frazee’s silly Santa book is my latest (and greatest) discovery. Though it was published in 2005, I just got my hands on a copy and I don’t ever want to let it go. Readers will love this original, and entertaining, look at all of the hard work Santa puts in before Christmas, as he tries to find the perfect gift for each boy and girl. Frazee’s illustrations are vibrant, playful, and wonderfully detailed! Whether it is the mini file folders where Santa keep all of his post-it notes, the ever-growing mass of cocoa mugs that litter each page, or the back-brace and walkie-talkie that Saint Nick dons in his warehouse, adults and kids will love to look for all of Frazee’s fun details in this hilarious holiday find. *This book is also available as a “Send -A-Story,” a cute little paperback storybook that you can throw a stamp on and mail directly to a friend!

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking to get glamorous, and expand your vocabulary this Christmas, check out Fancy Nancy. A crowd favorite among little girls right now, Nancy loves everything to be fancy, including the way she speaks. Nancy teaches her readers elevated language on the sly, “I love Christmas so much. It is important to find a tree with a wonderful aroma (That’s a fancy word for smell). I think bigger is always better, but my dad says we must compromise. That means we end up with the tree my mom wants.” Author Jane O’Conner presents readers with a great story about how to make any Christmas splendiferous, even when things go wrong. And Robin Preiss Glasser’s intricate and elegant illustrations will have little ones oo-ing and awe-ing for hours.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Sized Holiday Lessons (Hardcover, $12.99): Follow up Fancy Nancy with another sneaky way to introduce new vocabulary. Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s holiday follow-up to her earlier book Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons, teaches little ones the meaning of words like “celebrate,” “tradition,” and “appreciative” through baking. “Tradition means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons.” Jane Dyer’s illustrations of cherubic children and anthropomorphic animals are as sweet as Rosenthal’s words. And the recipe to make your own sugar cookies, located in the back of the book, is also wonderful touch.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama (Hardcover, $17.99): If you are looking for something slightly sillier, pick up Anna Dewdney’s latest book in her Llama Llama series. Though a bit repetitive, this is a great rhyming book for early readers to practice on this holiday. Kids love Llama Llama, and can relate to his total and complete impatience for Christmas to arrive. But in the end, a cuddle from Mama Llama reminds him that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”

So this holiday season, give that old Grinch a rest and reach for something new! And don’t forget to support your local independent booksellers if you can!

From my bookshelves to yours, Season’s Readings!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Out of Print Clothing

December 10, 2011

It is that time of year again folks. Time to make your list, check it twice, and freak out about how on earth you are going to think of gifts for everyone on said list. Well dear friends, I bring good news (of great joy), Out of Print Clothing recently launched their new Children’s Line !

What does this mean? What am I saying? How is this helpful? Let me explain…

Out of Print Clothing is a [really wonderful] company that makes t-shirts, sweatshirts, iphone cases, tote bags, stationary, journals, etc., using the classic cover art from all of your old favorite books. Now, it is every literature geek’s dream to be fully decked out, from head to toe, in their favorite authors, and Out of Print is making that dream a reality. I own the Pride & Prejudice t-shirt (obviously), as well as the ridiculously comfortable Catcher in the Rye fleece. Not to mention that their Great Gatsby tote-bag, and Wonderful Wizard of Oz long-sleeved tee are on my personal Christmas wish-list. And what is even more wonderful is that, for every item you purchase, Out of Print donates one book to a community in need through Books for Africa.

I had the amazing opportunity to speak with the co-founder of this fabulous company last spring, to help their team narrow down the list of Children’s titles for their new and improved Kids’ line. We discussed old classics, new favorites, and everything in between.

And I am so excited to announce that the updated line for little ones has officially launched! I couldn’t be more pleased with Out of Print’s final collection of tees. It is so exciting to see so many familiar titles! I love how they chose a wide variety of old and new favorites; from Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Corduroy, to In the Night Kitchen and Olivia. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that this picture book was banned in parts of the U.S. because the Police are depicted as pigs?

"Miss Binney stood in front of her class and began to read aloud from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a book that was a favorite of Ramona's because, unlike so many books for her age, it was neither quiet and sleepy nor sweet and pretty" - Ramona the Pest

 

So if you are searching for great gifts to give to the little (or big) bookworms in your life, look no further than Out of Print!

Not only will you give them the opportunity to wear their favorite titles, you will also be giving them quality products & comfortable clothes, as well as the satisfaction of donating a book to a community in need!

 

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Very Hairy Bear

November 18, 2011

Title: Very Hairy Bear
Author: Alice Schertle
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Best for Age: 0-4
ISBN: 9780547594071
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011)
List Price: Board Book, $7.99

I’m not going to lie… I kind of have a thing for bears. I mean, not in real life… I’ve actually never encountered a bear in real life but I hear that it is terrifying. No, I have a thing for picture books about bears. They are always adorable. It is like it is some sort of literary rule. If you want to write a cute book that sells well and melts hearts, just add a bear. Case in point: Winnie-the-Pooh.

And Very Hairy Bear, by Alice Schertle, is no exception. This un-bear-ably (sorry… I had to) cute book was originally published in 2007, but the brilliant people over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt decided to reprint it as a more baby-friendly board book. Now don’t get me wrong, older readers (ages 4-6) will definitely still enjoy Very Hairy Bear as well, and you can still get the larger hardcover version. But I couldn’t agree more with HMH’s decision to give this tale a new format. Some picture books are just meant to be printed on sturdy cardboard and held by tiny slobbery hands.

Schertle’s story is part tongue twister, part bed-time book, and 100% pure poetry.

“Deep in the green gorgeous wood lives a boulder-big bear with shaggy, raggy, brownbear hair everywhere… except on his no-hair nose.

Each spring, when the silver salmon leap into the air, fisherbear is there to catch them.

He stands in the river with his brown coat dripping. A very hairy bear doesn’t care that he’s wet.

Kerplunk! He’ll even dunk his no-hair nose. In it goes when he smells fish!”

I love Schertle’s descriptive language, as well as her strategic yet playful use of alliteration and rhyme. Many authors can go overboard when it comes to rhyming, the effect of which is oftentimes abrasive to the ear or impossible to get through. Schertle edited herself well, and thus produced a text that is enjoyable and easy to read because it presents a natural rhythm for its reader.

Matt Phelan’s pastel-and-pencil illustrations are beautifully light and airy. Each page is packed with colors, and scenes from nature, that harken to the four seasons that Schertle’s bear explores. Phelan blithely plays with perspective and point of view. For example, during the Fall when the Very Hairy Bear delights in a squirrel’s stash of acorns, Phelan uses gorgeous hues of yellows, reds, and oranges to complete an illustration of squirrels looking down a tree-trunk at the chubby, acorn-eating, bear below.

I believe that Alice Schertle and Matt Phelan’s Very Hairy Bear is a true classic in the making. And it is the perfect board book to give to new parents, or to a little loved one this holiday season!

Other Bear Books I Adore:

 

A Visitor For Bear, by Bonny Becker

The Bear Who Shared, by Catherine Rayner

Bear Wants More, by Karma Wilson (this is a really great series!)

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Me… Jane

May 12, 2011

Title: Me… Jane
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780316045469
Publisher: Little Brown (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $15.99

Buy on Amazon

So… I’m pretty much famous. Why? Well, it is not for my amazing cupcake-baking abilities. Not yet at least. I’m one step closer to fame because I got to write a review for the San Diego Union Tribune (Page F4, Sunday May 22nd)! I reviewed Me…Jane, Patrick McDonnell’s latest picture book about Jane Goodall. Below is the review I wrote for the Union Tribune. It was hard to write a review for a newspaper; because, as I quickly learned, it could only be 150 words or so. Go ahead and look at my previous reviews on this blog, I can guarantee that NONE of them are anywhere near 150 words. I can’t help it. I’m loquacious. And when I love a book, I like to yammer on and on about it. So to make up for the short review, I have a slew of pictures from the book itself. McDonnell’s illustrations are just too lovely not to show off. Enjoy!


“Me…Jane is a charming introduction to the inspiring life of Jane Goodall. This shy little biography, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the comic strip MUTTS), is disguised as a simple and sweet bedtime story, perfect for young readers aged four to eight. McDonnell effortlessly portrays the childhood of a girl named Jane, and the adventures she encounters with her favorite stuffed toy, a chimpanzee by the name of Jubilee. This picture book tenderly depicts Jane’s early appreciation for, and unrelenting curiosity regarding, nature, animals, and Africa. McDonnell’s illustrations are just as heartwarming as his words. Each page presents a combination of his classic cartoon sketches, as well as various ornamental engravings that help evoke Jane’s passion for detailed scientific observations of the natural world. McDonnell also includes a number of Jane Goodall’s own original drawings from her youth. Simple, but deeply inspiring, Me…Jane is a true delight!

Want to check out another McDonnell book that I adore? Take a peek at  Hug Time!

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Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids

April 18, 2011

Title: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids
Author: Jill O’Connor
Photographer: Leigh Beisch
Best for Age: 5-12
ISBN: 9780811867825
Publisher: Chronicle (2009)
List Price: Spiral-bound, $19.95

Buy on Amazon

When I’m not poring over children’s books, I’m usually pouring out the contents of various mixing bowls into cupcake pans. I absolutely love to bake! So you can just imagine how excited I get about cook books for kids! They are, after all, the intersection of my passion for pastry and my love for children’s literature.

I have very fond memories of the beautiful, 80’s-tastic, cook book you see to your left. My grandparents gave it to my older sister for her birthday in 1990, and it quickly became one of our favorites. Now, Meghan is brilliant and meticulous, and always has been. I, on the other hand, came out of the womb impatient and hungry, and not much has changed. So as I recall, she was the one who actually made most of these treats for us (probably while I perfected my drum solos on the pots and pan), but I remember reading this cook book cover to cover, as though it were a picture book, because I loved the illustrations so much. Our favorite recipes were for the raisin cookies, and for the melted ham and cheese sandwiches.

To take this discussion of culinary arts for kids back a generation further, you will see my mom’s first cook book to your right. Her older sister, my lovely Aunt Chris, gave her this copy of Better Homes and Gardens’ Junior Cook Book: For the Hostess & Host of Tomorrow in 1965.  Now, I have always been quite certain that I was born in the wrong era; therefore, one shouldn’t be surprised that I am completely in love with this cook book. It is so fun to look through! The photos and illustrations alone will make you think you’re in an episode of Mad Men. But most of the recipes are really good too, my sister an I loved to make the “Lime Fizz” when we were younger. My mom pointed out that this was before America got lazy and obsessed with the word “instant.” She showed me another cook book of hers from a few years later that actually included “1 box of yellow cake mix” in a list of ingredients. But this book is definitely dated; for example, my sister and I were always really grossed out by the “salads” in the vegetables section. “Banana-Roll Salad” with lettuce, mayonnaise, canned grapefruit, and walnuts? Or how about the “Peter Rabbit Salad” with lettuce leaves, cloves, canned pear halves, maraschino cherries and marshmallows? Or even the fancy “Pineapple Double Ring,” with lettuce, canned pineapple, and even more maraschino cherries and walnuts? Ya… no thank you…

I am determined to own these piggie containers, if you find them please let me know where!

I say all of this merely to illustrate that having a good kids cook book is a great way to fill time on the weekends or after school, get kids away from the television, and make memories. And if you are looking for a great book of kid-friendly recipes, you can’t go wrong with Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Parents, do not fear, these recipes are not as messy as they advertise. But I should warn readers that this is not a cook book for just kids; young chefs will definitely need help from their parents with these recipes. They aren’t too tricky or advanced by any means, but they certainly require adult supervision.

O’Connor’s recipes for various breakfast, after-school, and party treats are delicious and fun. From “Cinnamon Toast Soldiers with Mostly McIntosh Sauce” to “Banana Montana After-School Cake,” kids will love these fantastic snacks. O’Connor provides not only easy instructions for each of her 30 recipes, but she also gives them silly names that are often borrowed from popular children’s stories. I would have to say my favorite recipe from the book would be the “Quickberry! Quackberry! Blackberry-Apple Crumble” (those familiar with Jamberry, by Bruce Degan, should recognize the name). And if you have some little princesses who love the Pinkalicious books by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann  (despite my rather vocal dislike for the series), you can find a recipe for “Pinkalicious Princess Cupcakes” on page 73. O’Connor also provides parents and blooming chefs with helpful explanations, hints and tricks for common baking problems; for example, according to the author, the key to fail-proof “Ghostly Meringues”  is a VERY cold metal mixing bowl and a little lemon juice.

I think what I love most about this cook book is the quotes from O’Connor’s own kids, nieces, and nephews. For example, she writes that Sam Farnsworth, age 10, said while making meringues, “This is what clouds should taste like.” Or seven-year-old  Emma Galeckas’ wise words: “When I grow up, I want to be a baker and the weather girl.”

Like ALL of the books Chronicle publishes, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids, is beautiful to look at. Chronicle is a very visual and artistic independent publishing house. Which means that they have complete freedom to produce exactly what they want, and what they want to produce are amazingly gorgeous books that are little works of art in and of themselves. This cook book’s lay-flat, spiral binding, is practical and sturdy, but the scalloped pages, recurring use of doily prints, and colorful, floral-fabric-esque graphics make this book positively pretty. Not to mention that Leigh Beisch’s photography will have you drooling all over each page.

So if you are looking for an excuse to get your kid in the kitchen with you, or even just to eat something delicious, pick up a copy of Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids!

Want a more grown-up version? Get O’Connor’s original cook book, simply titled Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.

Looking for a picture book about baking? I can’t say enough good things about This Little Bunny Can Bake, by Janet Stein. It is SO adorable!

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Miss Rumphius

April 9, 2011

Title: Miss Rumphius
Author: Barbara Cooney
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780140505399
Publisher: Puffin (1985)
List Price: Paperback, $7.99

Buy on Amazon

In the spirit of spring, I just had to tell you all about Miss Rumphius!

This lovely picture book, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, is one of my favorite springtime stories from when I was little. Although it was published a good 25 years ago, people still come into my bookstore looking for it. Probably because it is amazing. Or maybe because it is a story about growing up, traveling the globe, and making the world a more beautiful place. Or perhaps, they seek it out because it is a story about lupines, blue and purple and rose-colored lupines, but I will get to that later.

Cooney writes about a little girl who lives in a city by the sea. This little girl is named Alice, and she works with her grandfather (an artist, who every now and then lets her paint the skies into his pictures). Alice loves to hear her grandfather’s stories of faraway places, and she always tells him, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.” But her grandfather responds by saying that she must do a third thing, she must do something to make the world more beautiful.

Alice grows up, and Cooney writes about her adventures to tropical isles, through jungles and deserts, and to tall mountains where the snow never melts.

But as Alice gets older, she realizes it is time for her to find her place by the sea:

From the porch of her new house Miss Rumphius watched the sun come up; she watched it cross the heavens and sparkle on the water; and she saw it set in glory in the evening. She started a little garden among the rocks that surrounded her house, and she planted flower seeds in the stony ground. Miss Rumphius was almost perfectly happy. “But there is still one more thing I have to do,” she said. “I have to do something to make the world more beautiful.” But what? “The world already is pretty nice,” she thought, looking out over the ocean.

The following spring, Miss Rumphius is surprised to find that the blue and purple and rose-colored lupines that she had planted popped up not only in her garden but over the hill from her house as well. “‘I don’t believe my eyes!’ she said as she knelt in delight. ‘It was the wind that brought the seeds from my garden here! And the birds must have helped!’ Then Miss Rumphius had a wonderful idea!”

She decided to scatter lupine seeds all over her town that summer. With her pockets heavy with seeds, she wandered over fields and pastures, along highways and down country lanes sowing lupines.

When spring arrived there were blue, purple, and rose-colored lupines everywhere! Miss Rumphius, or The Lupine Lady as she came to be known as, had finally done the third, and most difficult thing! She made the world more beautiful!

Barbara Cooney’s story is interesting, unique, and inspiring, and her illustrations are gorgeous! If you are looking for a great springtime picture book, or really just a fabulous tale for anytime of the year, be sure to pick up Miss Rumphius!

[This is my favorite illustration from the whole book, if I could have it framed I would. I just had to include it here!]

Like Cooney’s paintings as much as I do? Check out her illustrations for Alice Mclerran’s Roxaboxen, another great picture book about adventure, childhood imaginations, and growing up.