Fall 2000 Shoppe Talk San Marino Toy&Book Shoppe


As always we eagerly await the newly published books anticipating the enjoyment we will have reading them ourselves and then getting them into your lives — like interesting new friends. Each author’s offering is unique and each reader relates to the book at a very personal level. At the bookstore and through this newsletter we have the privilege of connecting the author to the reader. And we know that’s only the beginning of the hours and years of pleasure each new book may bring to you. Wishing you all a happy holiday season — filled with the pleasures of family, friends, and good reading.


Three Treasures to Complete a Child’s Book Collection

For the longest time we have been feeling the lack of a good, basic collection of nursery tales. Happily our wait is over. THE RANDOM HOUSE BOOK OF NURSERY STORIES retold and illustrated by Helen Craig has ten of the first stories every child should hear before starting kindergarten, the ones they will pick up and read independently in second grade. Craig’s soft colors fill the pages with folksy images and tree-filled forests. In one of our childhood favorites, “The Magic Cooking Pot”, a two-page spread shows an entire village awash in the porridge from the pot gone amok. Somehow Craig manages to give her collection an old-fashioned look while feeling entirely fresh. (Ages 3-8, $19.95)

The second is Jerry Pinkney’s 96 paged collection of over sixty AESOP’S FABLES. Pinkney, whose paintings are filled with richly colored images spares nothing in this luscious feast of foxes and frogs, tortoises, boastful hare, lion and mouse. This welcome collection also marks an auspicious beginning of a new publishing venture, Sea Star Books.
(Ages 4+++, $19.95)

Michael Hague’s THE BOOK OF FAIRIES begins appropriately with an excerpt from James Barrie’s “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” which defines and describes these elusive creatures — hard to spot, often pretending to be something else. Over 120 pages are filled with Hague’s signature artwork including “Thumbelina” and “The Flower Babies”, as well as stories of goblins, brownies, and elves. Bound to enchant fantasy lovers of all ages, it is a graceful companion to his handsome The Book of Dragons. He also includes personal notes concerning each story. “Fairies may not be easy to live with,” he says, “but we don’t want to live without them either.” Certainly Tinker Bell will approve of this lovely volume that assures children’s belief in fairies for generations to come. (All ages, $19.95)

Fiction
This season’s newest novels offer readers an amazing range of stories. 

Annabelle Doll is bored and restless. Being eight years old for a hundred years can be a dull proposition, especially when Kate and other humans are around and Annabelle has to resume her lifeless facade. Her family has lived in their Victorian dollhouse for four generations. The dollhouse resides in Kate Palmer’s bedroom, and like her mother and grandmothers before her, Kate enjoys playing with the house and its seven member doll family. Of the original eight dolls that arrived at the household in 1898, only Auntie Sarah is missing, having mysteriously disappeared about forty-five years earlier. Annabelle has only recently discovered her adventurous Aunt’s diary dating from 1955 and is willing to risk entering “permanent doll state” in order to find her. Then a second dollhouse arrives in the Palmer’s house for Kate’s six-year-old sister, Nora. Unlike the antique china dolls, the new “Funcraft” family are “real pink plastic.” For the first time in her long doll life, Annabelle has a friend and partner to help her search for missing Auntie Sarah. THE DOLL PEOPLE is a delightful invention of two talented authors, Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin. Along with illustrator Brian Selznick, this inspired pair have provided us a charming entertainment, as fresh as today and as classic as a Victorian doll house. (Ages 7-12, $15.99)

Above and below ground in a schoolyard two dramas were being played out. A worm hatched below and a plot hatched above. Fip, upon emerging from his cocoon, was supposed to take a bite of dirt but at that moment, a scrap of paper landed in front of him and he ate the words “Macks Thumbtacks” off the paper instead. On the playground, a rather unhappy Lerner was in the midst of a club initiation in order to become a “Most Powerful One On Earth” member. Temporary failure afflicted both worm and child but this unlikely twosome were destined to meet. Mary Amato’s THE WORD EATER is one of the most interesting “what ifs” to come into our lives in a long time. Here is the premise: “What if a worm ate words instead of dirt, and whatever word gets eaten, that thing disappears?” So there’s the plot and it’s juicy and lots of fun. Great read aloud material in this book too, what with its twists and turns of classroom politics.  (Ages 7-12, $15.95)

A quintet of award winning authors serve up mystery, history, humor, and science fiction through their compelling story telling.

As Leo Barlock says, Mica Area High School, tucked away in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, was not exactly a hotbed of non-conformity. So when STARGIRL Caraway, formerly home schooled, showed up her first day wearing a dress that could have been her great-grandmother’s wedding gown and sporting a ukulele strapped across her back she definitely attracted attention. And although everyone wanted to get a look at her “she didn’t seem to notice. She seemed marooned in a sea of staring buzzing faces.” For weeks the kids listened to her serenade them, waited to see what outlandish costume she would wear, and were recipients of unique kindnesses. She was the friendliest girl in the school and yet was friendless. Gradually, and for a brief time, she became stunningly popular and admired, but was so unlike anyone else, there was no way for the other students to understand her. Some just went along with her differences, the reigning ringleader despised her, and Leo fell head over heels in love with her. Then he found himself being shunned because of their friendship. He tried to help her, pleading with her to become more normal. Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli’s STARGIRL is a sympathetic look at first love and a thoughtful exploration of issues of conformity. It is reminiscent of two of his previous award winners, Maniac Magee in its treatment of an almost magical child with an ability to overcome traditional restraints, and of Wringer for its look at the pressures of non-conformity.   (Ages 11+, $15.95)

 

Two time Newbery Medalist, E. L. Konigsburg’s, psychological mystery, SILENT TO THE BONE will intrigue mature and intrepid readers. Branwell Zamborska and Connor Kane, both age thirteen, have been friends all their lives. Connor noticed that their relationship had begun changing sometime around mid-October when Branwell, normally very open and garrulous, became quiet and secretive. But then, on the day of the terrible accident involving Branwell’s baby sister, he stopped speaking altogether. Now it is up to Connor to get Branwell talking again and to discover what actually happened on that fateful Wednesday, November 25. He is convinced that Branwell could not have caused his sister’s near-fatal injuries. Connor is resourceful, and has some intelligent help, particularly from his older half-sister who is also very close to Branwell’s family. Konigsburg creates an interesting cast of characters caught up in a difficult situation. She keeps the reader at Connor’s side as he peels away Bran’s silence to get to the truth. One piece of trivia for fans of her Newbery Medal winning View From Saturday; the story is set in the same town of Epiphany, New York.  (Ages 10-14, $17.00) 

The year is 1937 and with Dad out of work and Joey working out west in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Mary Alice describes A YEAR DOWN YONDER spent living with Grandma Dowdel. In this equally entertaining sequel to his Newbery Honor-winning A Long Way From Chicago, Richard Peck continues the story of an invincible grandmother who can out-prank and out-bully any kid in town. And when the Daughters of the American Revolution Washington’s Birthday tea is held at Grandma’s she even manages to turn the tables on pretension and snobbery. 
(Ages 10+++, $16.99)

Although Lois Lowry’s thought-provoking novel, GATHERING BLUE, is set in some future time, at first it seems to be the deepest darkest time before the first rays of the middle ages. Kira’s mother has died, leaving her all alone in a harsh place where the women plot to take her land. The cruelest takes the women’s case against her to the Council of Guardians telling them she should not be allowed to live, with her crippled leg making her unable to do hard physical labor. What the Guardians know is that she has the gift of needlecraft much needed by them to mend the precious Singer’s robe. Into the robe is embroidered the history of the world which is chanted at the annual day long Gathering. Rescued by the Guardians, Kira is moved into her own room in the Council Edifice, far different than the primitive hut she had shared with her mother. There she learns the skill of making dyes to color thread and uses her special gifts to repair and restore the ancient garment. At first Kira accepts what is told to her but begins to grow uneasy about contradictions about what is told to her and the things she observes. Lowry’s GATHERING BLUE  flows in such a way that the reader begins to understand there are much more fundamental issues involved than first appears. Within her tale is a richness of detail, and a depth of storytelling that is compelling. As in The Giver, her Newbery Medal winning novel, there is a strong central character faced with a moral dilemma. Appealing side-characters like the young, impish Matt and steady Thomas the Carver add another dimension to this novel. (Ages 10+, $15.00)


 Fans of Karen Cushman who have traveled into the medieval world with Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice, can revisit that colorful time once again in the telling of MATILDA BONE. In this gritty novel, fourteen-year-old orphan, Matilda, raised among gentlefolks and able to read not only English, but Latin and Greek as well, is practically dumped into a medieval English village by her priest-tutor en route to London. She is to assist Red Peg the Bone-setter of Blood and Bone Alley who will teach her the current medical practices of her day. Along with the medical knowledge comes even more valuable life lessons in the importance of common sense and good friendships. Cushman packs an enormous amount of medical history into a colorful story. After reading her well-researched novel, we are reminded to be profoundly grateful for the current practice of medicine in this early 21st Century. (Ages 10-14, $15.00)

Lucky number 13 for Brian Jacques fans who will be happy to have LORD BROCKTREE in their hands this Fall, way ahead of the holiday. In response to requests for more about the most esteemed Badger to rule Salamandastron, Jacques tells of the time of the terrible vermin invasion led by evil Ungatt Trunn who defeats Stonepaw, the father of LORD BROCKTREE. The stage is set for the ultimate retaking of Salamandastron by the new Badger Lord, and his irrepressible side-kick, Dotti whom he encounters as they are both en route to the fabled Badger’s mountain. Neither knows how fortunate it will be for all peace-loving creatures when they finally arrive. Yet again that master of storytelling Jacques stirs the pot to blend humor and adventure that keeps us reading every one of the 370 pages and makes us wish for more. (Ages 10+, $22.95)

Picture Books
Gifts for newborns are a cinch. We’ve got bassinetful of suggestions for you. But what is the perfect one year old gift? Ahh, there is another story. Not to worry. For here it is … Ta da … THE EVERYTHING BOOK by that clever Denise Fleming. Within its richly colored 64 pages are life’s basics, like colors, shapes, fruits, alphabet, and a few rhymes. The “find the ladybug on the page” game will elicit even more squeals of delight from your favorite toddler. This really is a treasure trove.  (Ages 9 mos. to 3, $18.95)

A remarkable adoption book appeared on our doorsteps this fall, I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY CAKES. A mother tells her newly adopted baby daughter how they came to be a family. Somewhere in China a baby was needing a mother and in America there was a woman knowing she was needing a baby. When word came to her that there was a baby waiting for her she flew to China to meet her and together they journeyed back to America to be greeted by family and friends. In such a short time this pair, mother and child had become close. With a poetic tenderness that conveys the joyous miracle a child brings into the world and into our lives, author Rose Lewis’s words are beautifully bonded with Jane Dyer’s delicate watercolors in this lovely book. (All ages, $14.95)

Something magical has happened to MADLENKA for the very first time. Her tooth is wiggling and she needs to tell everyone in her very diverse neighborhood about this amazing event. Mr. Gaston the French baker, Mr. Singh at his newspaper stand, Mr. Ciao the ice cream man, Eduardo in his green grocery shop, Mrs. Kham who fills her store with wonderful things from Asia, and her school chum who is named after the famous Egyptian princess are all given the news about her loose tooth. Each encounter becomes a momentary journey into a different land and culture, so that when she returns home and her parents ask her where she has been, she replies, “Well … I went around the world.” Peter Sis and his family live in such a neighborhood in New York City, where a walk around the block is almost like a walk around the world. Through his stunning art each reader can experience MADLENKA’s walk even to the slight vertigo one feels looking up at the tall buildings that rise from the street. We can’t tell you any more plainly than this — you must see this book! (Ages 4+++, $17.00) 

OLIVIA gets a perfect 10 from us for “utterly adorable.” This irresistible little piglet would be a perfect buddy for our friend Eloise. Whether singing (from a collection of 40 Very Loud Songs) or building a sandcastle (hers is a skyscraper) she tackles life with gusto. She wears out her mother who really is mostly unflappable, except when OLIVIA decides to outdo Jackson Pollack’s art (after a museum visit) on her own walls. Ian Falconer earns high marks from us too for taking time away from set and costume design and other painting pursuits to create a book for kids (and grown-ups!). 
(Ages 3-7+, $16.00)

For years we hounded the publishers to reissue one of our favorite read-alouds. Finally, finally, THE BABY BEEBEE BIRD is back in print with almost the same text by Diane Redfield Massie and lively new illustrations by Steven Kellogg. For those of you who never had the fun of hearing or reading aloud this classic, here’s the scenario. A very wide awake new arrival at the zoo is singing his song, all night long. All the other animals try to quiet him so they can get their rest, but nothing seems to work. Until…   Be prepared for many re-readings of this gentle and funny story. (Ages 2-7, $15.95)

Poor Henny’s eggs are snatched up each morning by Tomten who has tired of porridge for breakfast. Henny wants little chicks but she knows that without eggs, there are no chicks. Hedgie comes to her rescue with his culinary diversions and his own HEDGIE’S SURPRISE. Finally Tomten gives up on taking Henny’s eggs and reverts back to his mother’s tasty porridge. Jan Brett’s illustrations take us into the comfortable tidiness of a Danish farmyard. Finely detailed traditional Scandinavian needlecraft art serve as set pieces for her trademark borders that provide windows into the events taking place outside the main view of the story. As always Brett’s books invite hours of revisits to study the intricate details of her lovely artwork. (Ages 4-8, $16.99)

There was once a quiltmaker who made beautiful quilts but they were not for sale. THE QUILTMAKER’S GIFT was to give the coverlets to those in need. At that time, there lived a greedy king who loved presents so much that he even celebrated his birthday twice a year to get more. But nothing made him happy. Hearing of the remarkable quiltmaker, he was determined to buy one of her exquisite masterpieces. But her terms were too severe. She would not sell him one but he could earn it by giving away all his presents. Furious, he punished her but ultimately yielded to her terms and found unexpected joy in giving to others. Jeff Brumbeau’s moral tale provides a setting for Gail de Maracken’s paintings of glorious quilts, including the inside of the book’s jacket where a collage depicts the king’s gifts with 250 quilt patterns hidden in the picture.
(All ages, $17.95) 

The Texas cowboys joke that Tia Lupe’s tortillas are so light they could jump right off the griddle. One day that’s just what happens and everyone is off and running to catch THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA. That tricky temptress rolls faster and faster, chased by Tia Lupe, Tio José, horned toads, donkeys, buckaroos, and a host of others. But watch out for crafty Señor Coyote! Randy Cecil’s palette, tuned to colors of the Southwest, creates the visual setting for a perfect sizzle on Eric Kimmel’s western style “runaway pancake.”  (Ages 4-8, $16.95)

Two Picture Books To Really Bug You

Ever since he was a mere mite (termite actually), Roberto has dreamed of building things. His family laughs at him, so he’s off to the big city where no other termites will bug him. He shares a room with some bed bugs, building them their own beds. He is not the only bug with problems. ROBERTO THE INSECT ARCHITECT designs a new neighborhood and searches for the perfect site. Using castoff junk, he transforms the area into a work of art, sending keys to the new owners. Word spreads about Roberto’s amazing abodes. Stephen Shieldbug wants the movie rights! Filled with funny puns and zany illustrations, children will respond to Nina Laden’s message to “Be creative!” and follow their own dreams. (Ages 2-6, $15.95) 
 


Janell Cannon’s CRICKWING is also a creative fellow but he has “issues.” First of all he’s a cockroach. His forest home is filled with predators who make his life a precarious proposition, and even more difficult is his crooked wing, injured in a narrow escape from a toad’s sticky tongue. The one thing that gives him comfort is his artistic nature that manifests itself in designing sculptures out of food. But even that is a risky business when his edible art is snatched away by monkeys, scaly lizards or ocelots. Then he discovers creatures even more vulnerable than he — the lowly hard-working leaf cutter ant. And as often happens a bullied creature turns bully. But not for long because the ant queen takes him prisoner and his punishment is that he is to be sacrificed to the dreaded army ants. But kind-hearted Ms. Cannon would not write a book with a sad ending so a happier resolution is at hand. Once again we are treated to her colorful acrylic paintings that transform mere cockroaches and ants into personable creatures. And we marvel at the details of her pencil sketches that appear on each page of text, and share  her fascination with the subject in notes that follow her appealing story.  (Ages 4-9, $16.00)



 
Two To Make You Chuckle
Sage, who is really a decent student, has the bad luck to catch a heavy cold. When her best friend Starr calls her on Tuesday to give her the weekly vocabulary list, one word gets lost in transmission. Sage works valiantly to get her assignments done despite her raging cold and by the time she is back in school the following week she’s prepared for the Monday spelling test. Of course it is that very confusing word MISS ALAINEUS; (that causes) A Vocabulary Disaster. After being mortified that she has so badly botched “miscellaneous”, Sage manages to turn things around and win a gold trophy for “The Most Original Use of a Word” in the vocabulary parade. Debra Frasier obviously had a good time writing this book. Teachers and students will find this a treasure trove of words including a complete alphabet of sentences that Sage produces for extra credit, displayed around the edges of the story.
(Ages 8-11, $16.00) 

Before your family gets knee-deep into soccer season, we thought you’d get a kick out of Barney Saltzberg’s THE SOCCER MOM FROM OUTER SPACE. The night before Lena’s first soccer game her father tells her a bedtime story about when he was a youngster playing on the Atomic Pickles soccer team. He noticed that his mom began acting strangely at his games, making human siren noises and even worse, coming dressed as a giant cheerleading pickle. It was all too embarrassing so Ruben begged his mother to stop acting like an alien and be more like the other parents. We hope Barney’s happy ending scores with you — that’s our goal too.
(Ages 5-9, $15.95) 


 
Picture Books That Help With Special Problems
WEMBERLY WORRIED about everything. You can only begin to imagine the worries that crossed her active mind when she was about to begin school. “What if … the teacher is mean, I have to cry, they make fun of my name, the room smells bad?” Although her parents tried to reassure her, it wasn’t until she had a successful school experience, that those worries dissipated. Kevin Henkes is a genius at turning little mouse critters into endearing and believable characters with which even us big size humans can identify. For anyone who is a chronic worrier, try this little gem for some bibliotherapy. At least it is an entertaining try. 
(Ages 4+++, $15.95)

One boy tells how a new kid moves into his neighborhood and right on to his enemy list. His Dad says  he has a sure proof method of getting rid of enemies, ENEMY PIE, and he’s willing to bake it but in order for it to work, our hero must spend the day with Jeremy (the enemy) while the pie cools. And he must be nice to him. As they ride bikes and play in a tree house a friendship blossoms. Then Dad invites Jeremy in for some pie! If your child is faced with a bully problem, try serving up a helping of ENEMY PIE and just maybe you may help him turn an enemy into a friend. Derek Munson’s first book for children (and parents) is a healthy snack indeed especially served with Tara Calahan King’s tasty illustrations prepared in colored pens and pastels.  (Ages 3-8, $14.95) 

Laura misses her Mom and is simply not ready to accept her new step mom, Jane. She pulls out THE MEMORY STRING that is her favorite keepsake. It was started by her great-great-grandmother and passed down through the family. The buttons on it are from dresses worn for special events, like a dress worn to a quilting party or Mom’s prom dress or her own christening gown. When the necklace breaks out on the lawn, they find all but one of the buttons, the one from Dad’s uniform. Laura overhears her Dad offer to just cut off another button, but Jane understands what the necklace means to Laura. “It’s like a mother, No substitutes allowed”. Laura has some thinking to do. Eve Bunting has written yet another book to help children negotiate a difficult passage. The soft illustrations by Ted Rand capture the mood of this story of loss and acceptance.  (Ages 4-8, $15.00)


New Picture Books for the Holidays
Halloween
Alonzo King, born on Halloween, grew up loving monsters. He was on familiar terms with all the old horror classics from watching ‘Monsters at Midnight’ hosted by Mr. Shadows. Alonzo yearned to emulate his favorite actor, Lon Chaney, by being THE BOY OF A THOUSAND FACES. He even confided this in a letter to Mr. Shadows but later forgot about it until “The Beast” mysteriously appeared to haunt his town. Then the paper ran a picture of “The Beast”, the very one Alonzo had included in his letter to Mr. Shadows, showing himself disguised as a werewolf. When Alonzo called the television station, he was told Mr. Shadows died years ago! It’s enough to make your hair stand on end. But just in case your hair is a little lazy, author Brian Selznick enhances his story with chilling black-and-white portraits. 
(Ages 8+up, $14.95) 

 
November

IN NOVEMBER, the earth is growing quiet …  animals sleep more,” the smell of food is different, and people come together to celebrate in thankfulness for their many blessings. Cynthia Rylant’s paean to November, with Jill Kastner’s oil paintings, offers an inclusive look at this month of quieter times. 
(Ages 4-8, $16.00)


Thanksgiving
In his own voice, Squanto tells how he became a captive and was carried off to Spain in 1614. By 1621 he had returned to his home among the Patuxet people. And how fortunate it was for the settlers in Plymouth to have a native who could speak their language. The skills he taught them gave them the ability to live through their first year in America. A good harvest at the end of the next year was cause for celebration. Joseph Bruchac’s SQUANTO’S JOURNEY honors a heroic man. Greg Shed’s color palette is rich in autumn tones to complement Bruchac’s story.
(Ages 6-9, $16.00) 

Winter
First to notice are the birds who sound the alarm for all the other woodland animals. Cautiously they come to view A STRANGER IN THE WOODS. They creep closer and there is a jolly snowman sporting a red cap and gloves with a carrot for a nose. Then can it be there are more strangers in the woods! Yes, they’ve come to replace a fresh carrot for the deer and more seeds for the birds. Husband and wife team, Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick have created a unique book illustrated with photographs that must be seen to be appreciated. The animals glisten with a dusting of snow. Photographs capture the natural shades of winter, embellished here and there with the red of cardinals and winter berries. And for kids who know winter snow only by reputation, there’s a recipe to create a snowman of their own that makes one serving and could last for days.  (All ages, $19.95)

Hanukkah … and all the holidays of the Jewish year
DANCE, SING, REMEMBER is our choice for this year’s Hanukkah gift for a young family. Leslie Kimmelman offers descriptions of each holiday, focussing on its place in the yearly cycle, its purpose and how it is celebrated. At least one activity or recipe is included to help enhance the celebration. The text, with art by Ora Eitan, is simple enough to be read to a three-year old but has enough substance for an older child. It is a book that will be referred to throughout the year as parents incorporate the Jewish holidays into the routines of a young family. (Ages 3+, $18.95) 

Christmas
Eve Bunting’s lovely picture book brings children back into the true focus of Christmas. This sacred birth day is honored in its clear simplicity. Each animal is asked “was it you” who was born this day, and each poetic response indicates a different time. Again comes the question when “Clouds filled with angels shimmering bright, singing of joy this dear, holy night. WHO WAS BORN THIS SPECIAL DAY?” And with the most elegant clarity comes the reply, “It was the child.” Leonid Gore’s paintings with their soft luminescence give Bunting’s gentle text a feeling of quiet dignity.
(Ages 3+, $16.00)


Poetry
Get out your umbrella! IT’S RAINING PIGS & NOODLES. Jack Prelutsky and James Stevenson have joined forces once again in a fourth poetry collection meant to be shared with a friend for an enjoyable read aloud. Their affection for the absurd and outrageous is revealed in their wacky use of language and zany illustrations. Some of the poems create word pictures like “I Am Stuck Inside a Seashell” where words spiral on the page and “I’m Caught Up in Infinity”, written as two intersecting circles. Readers will be caught themselves by the abundant humor of all the poetry. Don’t try to save reading these 100+ poems for a stormy day ‘cause IT’S RAINING PIGS & NOODLES any time you please.   (Ages 5 and up, $17.95) 

Travel our fair country, region by region, through Lee Bennett HopkinsMY AMERICA; A Poetry Atlas of the United States. Each section begins with a map of the featured region and basic facts about each state within its boundary. It’s followed by poems highlighting the states, giving a sense of the people and places that make each unique yet connected. “Vermont Conversation” finds a common thread in “Idaho”. Or compare Barbara M. Hale’s “Grandpa’s Trees” “holding earth and sky together” on a farmstead in the Great Plains with Natasha Wing’s “Redwood trees rise like skyscrapers,” in “Behind the Redwood Curtain”. With the addition of artist Stephen Alcorn’s paintings this well designed volume will be as welcomed for its aesthetics as its resources.
(Ages 8+, $19.95) 

Did you know THERE’S A ZOO IN ROOM 22? And it’s not just any old zoo, it’s a “whole pet alphabet.” From Amanda Anaconda to Z??? Miss Darling’s classroom is a pretty exciting place to be. Join in the rhyming antics penned by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg and pass along a copy of this book to the Miss Darling in your child’s life. (Ages 5-9, $16.00)

FARMER’S GARDEN; Rhymes for Two Voices gives beginning readers a rare opportunity to participate in dramatic poetry reading. Illustrations by Arden Johnson-Petrov follow Dog as he travels through the garden questioning each animal or thing he encounters. Author David L. Harrison’s series of related poems present a repeated pattern of question and response that children can learn to read easily and could comfortably memorize later for performance. The poems would work as well with two children as it would with a full classroom divided into two voices.  (Ages 4-8. $15.95) 

For Your Information
Here’s a question for you. What do Tz’u-hsi, Jeannette Rankin, Harriet Tubman and Queen Victoria have in common? Right, they are all women. But what else? They are all included in Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt’s recently published LIVES OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN; Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought). This is the sixth in a far ranging series that continues to be a treat to read. Previous volumes have revealed secrets about musicians, writers, athletes, artists and presidents. This intrepid duo now present twenty women “who wielded significant political power…” often overcoming circumstances “that couldn’t have been more adverse.” From Cleopatra who was born in 69 BCE to Guatemalan leader Rigoberta Menchu, born in 1959, they have highlighted women you would want your children to know, not just on a pedestal but as real people. You find out what they liked to eat and what they did for relaxation as well as what they accomplished in their admirable lifetimes. (Ages 8++, $20.00) 

SO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT? If you aren’t musical or handsome, that probably isn’t a problem. It is good to have been born in a log cabin, but if not, then having a pet might help. Judith St. George is full of great advice and information on the job, especially when she reminds us that every president’s “first priority has always been the people and the country they served.” With David Small’s expressive paintings to match the text, this is a lively and thoughtful commentary on one of the most important jobs in the world. And what fortuitous timing to have it for election year, 2000.
(Ages 7-11, $17.99) 

Russell Freedman’s GIVE ME LIBERTY; The Story of the Declaration of Independence will be a welcome addition to any American history library collection. With his skill at selecting the intimate details that have wide appeal to his audience, he brings to life the key players in the drama, and sheds light on their compelling reasons for proceeding with such a daring and provocative act. This is a book rich in detail, handsomely designed and illustrated with prints and paintings and so interesting that one cannot imagine Freedman is writing about events almost 225 years ago. Nowhere have we ever read, for example, that when Washington’s troops stationed in New York City heard the Declaration read, they pulled down a fifteen-foot high statue of King George III. The monument was put to good use for the Revolution when the metal was melted down and molded into 42,000 bullets for Patriot guns. And that’s just one example of the kinds of information he includes to give readers a fuller understanding of the roots of the American Republic. (Ages 10+++, $24.95)

David Macaulay’s name is almost synonymous with imaginative books on architecture for children. How many thousands of kids have grown up knowing how castles, pyramids or cathedrals were constructed because of his detailed explorations. He’s revealed the way things work, and what is going on underground even when we can’t see all the construction that helps our lives. And now Macaulay, in BUILDING BIG, has examined the basic process of design — why is something built the way it is, exploring the reasoning behind why a particular structure is built a certain way. This is a treasure for any person who has looked at a building and wondered “what were they thinking?” or for a youngster who is showing a glimmer of interest in engineering or architecture.
(All Ages, $30.00) 

APPLES, nutritious and delicious, are the subject of Gail Gibbons latest informational picture book for young readers. Slices of facts are served up with colorful pictures showing the life cycle of the tree and its fruit, and the variety of ways in which apples play a part in our lives. How many of the more than 1,000 varieties have you eaten in your lifetime? And did you know that apples have been in existence for over two million years? Even in a basic picture book for young children, when Gail Gibbons name is on the cover, you know you are getting a healthy bushel full of information.  (Ages 3-8, $16.95)

 With all the interest in survival stories, there is nothing as dramatic as man pitted against the elements. Jennifer Armstrong writes about THE SPIRIT OF ENDURANCE in this account of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to lead the first expedition across the Antarctic in 1914. The Endurance is trapped by ice, leaving the crew marooned. They must try to cross the ocean in an open life boat and trek over unmapped mountains against overwhelming odds. It takes a leader of immense courage to save them all. Original photos and paintings make this an edge-of-your-seat adventure.
(Ages 8-11, $16.95) 

Step right in to ROBERT CROWTHER’s AMAZING POP-UP HOUSE OF INVENTIONS.  His fact-filled tour will take you through the major rooms of the household, including bathroom and kitchen, where you are encouraged to snoop behind every cupboard door, open the refrigerator, and peek under a blanket and rug. What you will discover are over 300 facts on the history of inventions as mundane as a loaf of pumpernickel bread or as exotic as polytetra-flouroethylene tucked under the more than 60 flaps and tabs. Crowther designs the perfect books for a youngster who likes a hands-on reading experience.  (Ages 6-11, $14.99)

For The Artist In Your Life
Be prepared for an extra round of hugs from the budding artist in your life if you present him/her with A BOOK OF ARTRAGEOUS PROJECTS by those clever folks at Klutz with a big assist from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the cover (which is copper foil to be used for several of the projects) onward, this book is crammed with art projects designed to expose kids to a variety of experiences. Try collage, sculpture, painting and drawing (paints and brush included), weaving, etching, sun printing, designing a coat of arms, illumination, and creating an alphabet font. In fact you might need to go ahead and buy one for yourself while you’re at it because you will have a really hard time giving this book away. 
(Ages 8+++, $19.95)

And for less intense art moments, tuck Joy Sikorski’s SQUEAKY CHALK and other Fun Things to Draw (and do) when there is nothing to do! into your backpack, briefcase or purse. You know when the pilot says to turn off all electronics, or your batteries have just run out … well those are two magical moments to open up this charming and tidy little spiral notebook, rummage for a pencil, borrow some paper and get creative. Tucked amongst the simple doodly drawing lessons are little tidbits of imagination and story telling. 
(Ages 7+++, $12.95) 

(P.S. This gets our “Stocking Stuffer of the Year” award!)


A welcome reissue is Molly Bang’s PICTURE THIS; How Pictures Work. This amazing exercise explores “some basic connection between emotions and how we see pictures.” Bang uses the story of Little Red Riding Hood to explore how shape, size, positioning on a page, and shapes in relation to other shapes all affect how pictures work. Anyone who is serious about understanding art will find this fascinating text invaluable.  (Ages 12++, $12.95 paperback) 
 


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