Spring 2000 Shoppe Talk San Marino Toy&Book Shoppe

Welcome to Spring 2000. We are still startled to see copyright dates on our new books that read “2000”. Before we leap entirely into this new millennium we want to take one last look at the treasures published in the last year of the century. In 1999 there came such a bumper crop of fiction for young readers that even the committees that dole out awards and honors hardly overlapped in their choices. And of course there are new books arriving daily. So we want to begin the year with some new titles, as well, to help celebrate the holidays of Spring.


And the Winners Are ...

The Newbery, Caldecott and National Book Award Winners and Honors for 2000

The librarians who met in mid-January to select their annual Newbery Medal winner for children’s fiction found Christopher Paul Curtis’s beautifully crafted, bittersweet tale, BUD, NOT BUDDY to be as appealing as we did. Set in the heart of the depression, Curtis writes the story of one orphaned youngster who sets out on a journey from Flint to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to find a bass fiddle player who he thinks is his father. Bud is a sweet kid who has learned lots about surviving in orphanages and foster homes. He has had his fill of both and knows it’s time to take his destiny into his own hands. In his afterword, Curtis pays tribute to his own grandfathers on whom some of the story is based. They would be proud to know their descendant has also been given the Coretta Scott King Award for the best book of the year written by an African American. (Ages 9-13, 15.95)
 


Two Newbery Honor novels share a common theme — the loss of a young sibling. 

Audrey Couloumbis’s GETTING NEAR TO BABY begins and ends on a house rooftop. The house belongs to Aunt Patty and Uncle Hobart. Willa Jo and Little Sister are visiting because their aunt has insisted on taking the two girls home with her until their mother can get her life back in gear. First their Dad left months earlier to find work, and he’s stopped calling and then their sweet Baby Sister died. Little Sister has stopped talking, but then Aunt Patty seems to talk enough for everyone anyway. Willa Jo and her aunt are at odds about everything, especially the across-the-street neighbors. Aunt Patty tells the girls they are “not to associate with them.” Of course these are the very friends to whom they are drawn. The two sisters have already failed vacation Bible School on account of Willa Jo refusing to sit under a tick infested tree. As the story begins she’s climbed on the roof to see the sunrise. Why she won’t come down, she doesn’t exactly know. Gradually she relates the story of what has gone before this very early morning and how, as the day goes on, the roof sitting drama is unfolding. The reader becomes the privileged observer of the family as it begins to sort out feelings and events that have led to this day. Couloumbis has written a strong first novel. We look forward to more by this gifted writer. 

(Ages 10-14, $17.99) 

Jennifer L. Holm’s OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA offers a picture of pioneering life at the end of the nineteenth century. Twelve-year-old May Amelia lives on the Nasel River in Washington State with her family of Finnish immigrants. Farming is hard work and everyone is expected to help. May spends most of her time cooking for her seven older brothers now that Mamma is expecting again. May says she is sure wishing for a sister. Even though she’s a girl, she manages to play and work as hard as her brothers, and gets into far more mischief than the rest of them put together. When her baby sister is born, May is put in charge of looking after the newborn since Mamma is “in a real bad way since having the baby”. May is devastated when Baby Amy dies on Christmas morning, just a month after her birth. She and her closest brother run away to their Aunt’s in the wild frontier seaport of Astoria for the rest of the winter while she recovers from her grief. Finally in March, her Pappa comes to fetch his two youngest children home. Returning to the farm with much reluctance, she finally recognizes the importance to her family, the “only May Amelia they have.” Holm’s novel, rich in the details of day to day farm life one hundred years ago, reaches into the heart of one very likeable and unusual young lady grappling with the hard realities of living in that difficult but dynamic time. (Ages 9-14, $15.95) 

The fourth title honored by the Newbery Committee was Tomie de Paola’s family memoir, 26 FAIR-MOUNT AVENUE. Much of this first chapter book chronicles the saga of building the family house. One of the funniest moments occurs when his mother takes him to see Walt Disney’s “Snow White.” He is incensed at the liberties Disney takes with the Grimm Brother’s fairy tale as he knows it. Readers of Tomie’s picture books have encountered many of the members of his immediate family in Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, Tom, and The Art Lesson. We take it as a good sign there will be more installments since Tomie’s last words on page 57 were “The End (for the time being.)” Maybe this Newbery recognition will spur him on to continue what promises to be an endearing look back to growing up in the 30’s and 40’s by one of the most talented and prolific children’s book illustrators and writers active in the second half of the twentieth century. Here’s to more from Tomie in the new millennium.
(Ages 5-9, $13.99) 

The National Book Award has, in the past few years, resumed recognition of outstanding books for young readers. 
 

It was a life-changing summer WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN. Not that Zachary Beaver wouldn’t have made it a memorable summer anyway for thirteen-year-old Toby Wilson. After all how often does a 643 pound kid show up in a little place like Antler, Texas? But besides that Toby’s mother has taken off from their rural Texas town to try her luck singing in Nashville and his best friend’s brother is fighting in Vietnam. Kimberly Willis Holt creates a set of characters and a small town that feel as comfortable to the reader as an old flannel shirt. We’re right there with Toby, experiencing a sympathetic curiosity over an obese teenager billed as a sideshow freak, suffering major denial over his mother’s defection, and learning to come face to face with other people’s tragedies. Toby tells his own story with a clear, honest voice. Holt’s first novel, My Louisiana Sky, (Ages 10+, $4.99) has just been issued in paperback. It too has a strong, likeable main character caught in a changing family dynamic. One of the best things about the National Book Award is the opportunity it provides to discover writers like Holt.  (Ages 10+ $16.95) 
 


Among the finalists for the National Book Award is Lynne Rae Perkins for her poignant and humorous first novel about friendship and growing up, ALL ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE. Debbie and Maureen have been best friends forever, until the inevitable other girl shows up who is determined to break up the friendship. Debbie becomes the third wheel. She wishes Glenna Flaiber “would evaporate”. Instead she seems “to have congealed, like cold gravy and then cement, and I was the one turning into thin air.” Debbie has a nice family, good neighbors, and understanding teachers but summer drags into fall, and finding a new friend takes motivation, time and a little luck. Perkins’s novel rings true as one very likeable young teen learns that sometimes losing a best friend can lead to other important discoveries like finding out a person is not ALL ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE. (Ages 10+, $16.00) 

Another first novel, SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, is also about friendship and its travails. The novel explores one youngster’s agonizing start of high school as “the outcast.” We discover through Melinda’s own journal entries that something terrible has happened over the summer that led to this turn of events. Melinda has always had a close circle of friends but now she is shunned by all of them. Only one new girl who doesn’t know about her “fall from grace” has attempted a friendship. Often she hides out in an abandoned janitor’s closet, cutting classes, and almost dropping out of life entirely. One bright spot in her day is the art class where one of her former friends begins to talk to her again. Little steps towards opening communication finally lead Melinda to admit what happened to her on that scary August night at the start of her freshman year. Her narrative voice is witty, brilliant actually, never sappy. We all know bright, insightful teenagers who see the world through a clear light and Melinda is one of those. She is funny, ironic, and suffering but finally she takes charge of her own recovery. Her art teacher says to her, “You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you?” And we cheer when, in the last lines of the book she says, “Let me tell you about it.” The writing is superb. It’s our job to hand a book like this to teens.  (Ages 13+, $16.00) 

Mysterious Aunt Sally comes from Canada to Ohio to stay with Melissa, Amanda and their younger brother Frank while their parents are in Paris. The children have heard very little about their father’s upbringing on Vancouver Island but during the week they spend with Aunt Sally, the family stories become their dinner and bedtime entertainment. The stories from the past shed light on the reason why their father has distanced himself from his own sister. Through Aunt Sally’s seemingly entertaining tales, the two older girls are given the opportunity to avoid some of the mistakes made by the previous generation. Author Polly Horvath’s novel, THE TROLLS, another National Book Award Finalist, is as eccentric, subtle, and intriguing as its main character. Earlier novels, like When the Circus Came to Town, (Ages 9-12, $4.95 paperback), also reflect the author’s irreverent humor that serves as an effective vehicle for exploring some of life’s bigger issues. 
(Ages 8-12, $16.00) 

New Books by Two Favorite Authors
  Number 12 in the Redwall saga is here!

With the issue of THE LEGEND OF LUKE, master storyteller Brian Jacques fills in a missing piece in the Redwall epic. Early in the building of Redwall Abbey, a spirited young hedgehog arrives. While hoisting a beam she is invited to sing a shanty that tells the story of brave warrior Luke. Martin the Warrior, “the very backbone of Redwall Abbey,” realizes at once that the song is about his own father. Stirred by troubled memories and the need to know his father’s fate, Martin sets out from Redwall to discover the truth behind THE LEGEND OF LUKE. This twelfth volume in the Redwall series continues to hold Jacques’s legions of fans spellbound as good creatures battle evil vermin in swashbuckling adventures.  (Ages 11+, $22.95)
 

“Sometimes,” says Sophie’s father, “there are things you just have to do.” For thirteen-year-old Sophie, that thing is to sail with her uncles and cousins on a forty-five-foot sailboat, THE WANDERER, across the Atlantic to visit her grandfather in England. Author, Sharon Creech tells the story of Sophie’s adventures through the device of two journal keepers, Sophie and her cousin Cody. There are some mysteries about Sophie and her parents that the uncles know but that Sophie hasn’t openly acknowledged although her cousins try to open up the topic with her. During the voyage Sophie tells stories about her grandfather and in some ways his unseen presence is a unifying element of the story. This latest Creech novel reminds us of Chasing Redbird and her Newbery Medal-winning Walk Two Moons. In each the protagonist is searching for some understanding of a family event that has occurred when they were too young to fully comprehend it, and are now ready to take in the information. THE WANDERER’s setting has more action as the family battles the challenges the sea can bring but its essence is another well-told “coming into an age of understanding” story.   (Ages 9-13, $15.95) 


Award Winning Picture Books

The Caldecott Committee 2000 awarded the Medal to a charming picturebook and awarded three Honors besides.

JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT. It was old and worn.” And so he refashioned it into a jacket, And when that became too shabby he sewed it into a vest, and so on, until all that was left was a button. And when that got lost he had nothing left at all but the story. And it became this perfectly wonderful book in the hands of ingenious Simms Taback. Remember him from the innovative and Caldecott Honor Winning There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly? Well now he has the Caldecott Medal to keep it company. From the front of its clever book jacket that hints of the die-cut pages within, to the very colorful, button-filled back page, Taback delights us with humorous illustrations created with paintings and collage created from snippets of cloth, photographs, and only he knows what. And into the pages are cut the newly fashioned diminishments of the original coat. Once in a while you just want to give a book a big hug. This is one of those moments. 
(All Ages, $15.99) 
There are few illustrators who can match David Wiesner’s skill at storytelling without words. His expressive art, exquisitely rendered, leads readers on a visual adventure that invites repeated visits. Come along with one boy whose class field trip to the top of the Empire State Building leads him up into the sky far beyond the reaches of its highest observation decks. A mischievous cloud takes him to SECTOR 7, a cloud dispatch center where current assignments are issued. The clouds, finding their orders too dull, turn to the boy to draw up more interesting specifications much to the chagrin of the official designers. The next time you look up in the sky and see a whale or dragon float by, Wiesner’s clever picturebook is bound to come to mind.  (Ages 4+, $16.00) 
We’re warning you! WHEN SOPHIE GETS ANGRY — REALLY, REALLY ANGRY… you’d better watch out. She kicks, she screams … and more. But then she goes out into the comforting world of trees and rocks and ferns. A bird sings and “the wide world comforts her.” Molly Bang does an extraordinary job of matching her story and words. Her palette has a rich vibrancy that is in perfect hormony with Sophie’s emotions. When Sophie is angry the aura surrounding her is bright red. As she calms down it turns to orange. By the time she returns to her home she is surrounded by the sunny yellow of a happy child. Any family experiencing the stormy trials of childhood will appreciate having Sophie’s story on the bookshelf at ready. 
(Ages 2-7, $15.95) 
A year of poetry and artwork grace the pages of A CHILD’S CALENDAR.  John Updike’s poetry observes each month’s qualities, September’s breeze tastes of apple peel, November’s “maple grieves the loss of her departed leaves”, and April says “farewell to chills and colds.” The year is observed, month by month, in words that inspire twelve lovely paintings by Trina Schart Hyman. We are charmed by the scenes of domestic life, the gentle playfulness of children interacting in their families and within their world, rich with the artifacts of living. One wants to drop in on July’s picnic with friends and family gathered and the artist herself emerging from the house into the yard bearing a bowl of salad. Then stay around for a trip to the seaside in August when “the trees are bored with being green.” Readers will keep this “calendar” for many revisits. 
(Ages 3-8, $16.95) 

New Picture Books
Just when we think we’ve seen the definitive Mother Goose, another lovely one lands at our doorstep. This latest is SYLVIA LONG’s MOTHER GOOSE, over 100 color filled pages, include more than seventy-five poems. In Long’s “artist note” she says that through her drawings she tried for more gentle interpretations of some of the rhymes. For example, when “Humpty Dumpty” cannot be put back together again, perhaps there is a duckling inside that broken egg just waiting to hatch. She has also made an effort to reuse images as a way of linking the pages. It adds another dimension to the book to search from page to page to discover an element from one page making another appearance on the next. Since we are great believers in choice, its nice to know there’s yet another good one from which to make your selection for the special children in your life. 
(Ages Newborn-6, $19.95) 
Imagine a picture book text that is just one side of a conversation. In Chris Raschka’s clever RING! YO? that minimum dialogue becomes brilliant, especially when creative teachers get their hands on this gem. First the reader reads the text, usually one punctuated word to a page, accompanied by illustrated body language of a youngster we have previously met in Raschka’s Yo! Yes? Then a question is posed: “What just happened there?” Raschka supplies one possible scenario. Students can model his sample and take off from there, recreating their own versions of the unheard half of the conversation. If that isn’t a good enough reason to have your own copy of RING! YO?, keep in mind what a clever tool it is for demonstrating when to use exclamation points, and question marks! 
(Ages 5+++, $15.95) 

New Nonfiction


Two cookbooks and a picture book to enjoy all year long

Next to reading together, one of our family’s favorite activities is cooking together. Jane Breskin Zalben gives families a tasty way to celebrate every holiday with recipes from TO EVERY SEASON; A Family Holiday Cookbook. Every section of recipes is introduced with an explanation of the featured holiday And then besides her artwork, she also adds little notes at the top of each recipe to further enlighten the cook. When you discover “Molly’s Potato and Barley Soup” this St. Patrick’s Day you will also learn that Ireland was the first European country to grow potatoes. Cooks preparing the “seder plate” will find her full color illustration an invaluable guide along with the accompanying text which explains why each item on the plate is included. We may not even wait until Passover to bake “Fanny’s Flourless Chocolate Cake.” It looks yummy. If you’ve wondered about the way to celebrate Kwaanza, you will not only learn its “Seven Principles” but how to make vegetarian cutlets using black-eyed peas and chickpea flour (available at health food stores). And, if you whip up a “Patriotic Cheesecake” this Fourth of July, please call us over to help you eat it. 
(Ages 8++, $19.95) 
Chef Gary Goss‘s BLUE MOON SOUP; A Family Cookbook presents a delicious and nutritious collection of soups that provides hours of satisfying family interaction and four seasons worth of yummy cuisine. Stave off winter with “spicy and flavorful” “Ch-Ch-Chili”, welcome March 21 with “Spring Chicken Soup” or get really daring this summer with “Best Buddy Soup” that combines tomatoes and (yes!) oranges. Goss’s humor is cleverly reflected in watercolor artist Jane Dyer’s paintings, as together they provide an entertaining browse through the recipes. BLUE MOON SOUP is a wonderful mixture for motivating kids to cook and read and for getting grown-ups to do it with them. And the recipes really are yummy.  (Ages 8-adult, $16.95) 
While waiting for the soup to cook, bring out a copy of GRANDPA’S SOUP by Eiko Kadono with lovely illustrations by Satomi Ichikawa (illustrator of those endearing Tanya stories). Originally published in Japan, its message crosses all cultures. After Grandma died, Grandpa was too sad to do anything. What finally roused him from his lethargy was the wish to eat a bowlful of the good hot meatball soup that Grandma used to make. Each attempt to remember its ingredients improves the soup, and each time he cooks it, he has more friends who want to share it with him. And finally it tastes the way he remembers it, and he looks forward to the next day when he will have to use all the pots in his kitchen in order to feed all the children and animals who will join him for the feast. 
(Ages 3-8, $16.00) 

About “the birds and the bees”
When Robie Harris and Michael Emberley published their ground breaking sex education book, It’s Perfectly Normal, they filled a long-standing need for a contemporary guide for adolescents on the facts of life. It was just the book to hand to middle-schoolers for their journey through the rough seas of puberty and young adulthood. Now this talented pair have published IT’S SO AMAZING! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. This one is for the younger siblings in elementary school who need to know the facts of life without some of the more explicit details of sexuality more appropriate to teenagers. As the title suggests, the book covers reproduction with chapters on menstruation, differences between males and females, and what’s sex (both meanings). It also gets into some of the other issues that made their first book so valuable. For example, in the chapter “What’s Love,” there is a straightforward explanation of heterosexual and homosexual. The authors use terminology that is already part of an elementary aged child’s world. Another chapter, “Keeping Safe,” talks about “Okay Touches”—“Not Okay Touches.” Masturbation is discussed with the caveat “every family has its own thoughts and feelings about masturbation.” There is also a chapter explaining HIV and AIDS. Harris and Emberley have both continued the commitment in this younger version to include information that will ultimately protect the children for whom it is intended. It is their conviction that the well-informed child is the best protected one. What we hope is that parents will use these books as springboards for discussions with their own youngsters. Using them should only make the necessary task that much easier.  (Ages 8-12, $21.99)
It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it is to hatch one Emperor Penguin egg. But if you’re an Emperor Penguin Dad and it’s May and you’re in Antarctica, well then that’s just what you are doing. Sitting on an egg, day after day, keeping it off the ice and out of the wind, and eating NOTHING for two whole months while you wait for the chick to hatch. And if you do a good job, you get to feed the new hatchling, and wait patiently for Mama to return, bringing the food reinforcements and relieving you for a long deserved R & R. With an ample dose of good humor and very appealing illustrations, author Martin Jenkins and illustrator Jane Chapman present an informative and truly delightful nonfiction book, THE EMPEROR’S EGG
(Ages 3-8, $16.99) 

Now that January First, 2000, has come and gone …
Well, the hoopla is just about over (except for those of us who refuse to celebrate the new millennium until January 1, 200l) and we can take a reflective look back at the past century. With Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster as our guides to THE CENTURY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, we are witness to one hundred years of history. The authors have organized this handsome 242 paged reference into decades, highlighting the significant events that shaped them. One of the best features is the quoted pieces by individuals who lived through and witnessed major events. Some were bystanders, at the right place at the right time, like Mabel Griep, a neighbor of the Wright Brothers, who was taken by her father to see one of their earliest flights and said, “It was like witnessing a miracle.“ Others, like Victor Reuther, actively participated in many of the significant events that led to industrial unionization in the 1930’s. Two eyewitness accounts, one by a nineteen-year-old German soldier and another by a ten-year-old Polish child, describe the invasion of Poland in September of 1939. The volume is rich with voices of people who, like our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, lived through these times. This is a significant volume to pass on to next generations who will continue to face the challenges the new century will bring. 
(Ages 8+++, $29.95) 

“The twentieth century looms before us
big with the fate of many nations.”
Theodore Roosevelt — April 10, 1899

Cheryl Harness begins her imaginative survey of the last century by invoking Roosevelt’s words and reminding young readers that the GHOSTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY will continue to haunt us well into the next. Albert Einstein steps out of an exhibit to lead one youngster on a tour of the century’s highlights. The takeoff point is a panorama of the December 17, 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. Below the two paged spread is an illustrated survey of other major events that occurred in the first five years of the young century. We appreciate how Harness tucks the dates of major works of children’s fiction into the consideration of important events. The first five years brought the world two important “Peters” (Rabbit and Pan). And it was in 1905 that our “tour guide”, Einstein, wrote his “revolutionary ideas about tiny particles of Light”, about Time, Matter and Energy: E=MC2. Some of the other featured two-page spreads are 1916 on the Western Front of “The Great War”, a coffee shop during The Great Depression, a very detailed page showing the locations and dates of some of the major battles of World War II, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, and a view of the 90’s as represented by two school aged girls, corresponding by computer, trying to decide whether to do their science report on sheep cloning or the Pathfinder’s journey to Mars. This is a much more informal approach than the Jennings/Brewster reference reviewed above, but it packs a healthy serving of information in an appealing and colorful format.  (Ages 7++, $17.00)

A Literary “Twinsicle”
Whether a child’s interest is meteorology or geography, he will find ON THE SAME DAY IN MARCH; A Tour of the World’s Weather an interesting introductory non-fiction picture book. Somewhere on a day in March, a snowsuit is the clothing of choice where elsewhere shorts or bathing suits would be far more comfortable. The winter season is just finishing with some snowpatches still on the ground in Alberta, Canada, while in Barbados a day at the beach would be a perfect outing and don’t forget your snorkel and mask. It can be hailing in Darjeeling, India while in Central Thailand it’s just hot. Frané Lessac colorfully illustrates this weather tour written by Marilyn Singer
(Ages 3-8, $15.95) 

Two All-American biographies
NORMAN ROCKWELL, one of America’s most beloved artists, is the subject of Beverly Gherman’s splendid biography. She has subtitled it 
Storyteller with a Brush”, which is what Rockwell was. His 332 covers for Saturday Evening Post reflected a major chunk of American life and history, beginning in 1916 and ending in 1963. Even during his own enlistment in World War I he was able to continue illustrating for the magazine. Fortunately the Navy had the wisdom to keep Rockwell from combat, assigning him to staff the base newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina. His art celebrated the birth of international aviation with Charles Lindbergh’s first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, to the achievements of the astronauts’ landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon. After he left The Post, he continued to produce covers for Look Magazine’s editors who asked him to “go out into the world ” to depict contemporary social issues, something he had been constrained to do with The Post. One of his most poignant portraits appeared on its covers on January 13, 1964. Entitled “The Problem We All Live With,” it is a painting of Ruby Bridges, escorted by four U.S. Marshals, as she pioneered school integration. As Gherman points out, it still remains one of the most vivid commentaries on the Civil Rights Movement. The excellent text, generously illustrated with Rockwell’s art and family photographs, is a wonderful introduction for young readers to a deservedly popular American figure. (Ages 8++, $19.95)

Think what stories there might have been told if SATCHEL PAIGE had been permitted to play in the major leagues before he was forty-two years old. But it wasn’t until July 7, 1948, that Paige became the first black pitcher to be drafted when the Cleveland Indians offered him a job. Long before he made it into the newly integrated majors, he was one of the recognized stars of the Negro League. His showmanship and amazing skills were legendary, bringing out crowds and keeping the money flowing. Lesa Cline-Ransome with the wonderful assist of her artist husband, James E. Ransome, tells his story, how he hustled for jobs carrying “satchels” for folks at the train depot where he earned his nickname as well as much needed tips to help feed his eleven other brothers and sisters. At twelve he was caught stealing. At reform school where he was sent, the baseball coach told him that if he concentrated on baseball, he had a chance to make something of himself. As an underlying backdrop to the Ransomes’ sympathetic portrait of Paige, we can glimpse the disparities created by segregation that lasted long into the twentieth century.  (Ages 6-10, $16.00)


The Rites of Spring
Another story from the field of dreams
The magic that is baseball shines through Matt Tavares’s picturebook fantasy, ZACHARY’S BALL. Anyone of us who ever hoped a foul ball would land in our glove will connect with his tale. It’s Zachary’s first trip to the ballpark and it’s made even more exciting when his father catches a foul and hands it to him. Suddenly he finds himself out on the field, coming in to pitch for the Boston Red Sox. Of course he saves the game and is given a hero’s acclaim. When Zachary comes back to reality, he tells his father the baseball must be magic. His father tells him, “They’re all magic.” Years later, as a young man, Zachary has a chance to pass the magic on. With rich carbon-pencil drawings that evoke an earlier time, ZACHARY’S BALL is a timeless story that will be enjoyed whatever the season by anyone who loves baseball. 
(Ages 6-11+, $15.99)

A story for each night of Passover
Any Jewish child who has ever attended a Passover Seder wonders about the mysterious guest, the Prophet Elijah, for whom the door is opened. He enters unseen, sips from a special cup set aside just for him, and leaves without revealing himself. Throughout the generations stories of Elijah’s visitations are told. Often he appears as a ragged old beggar, waiting for a person to show him kindness, a bit of food and a night’s lodging. As the Jewish people have dispersed throughout the world, their stories of this remarkable man have traveled with them. Barbara Diamond Goldin has collected eight of them in JOURNEYS WITH ELIJAH. From China comes “The Blessing”, a story that might have originated with the Jews who began settling there in the eighth century. “Seven Good Years” is set in Argentina where Jewish settlement began as early as the mid-eighteenth century. Added to the richness of the tellings are the exquisite watercolor paintings by Jerry Pinkney. His attention to details like the lace on a tablecloth, the patterned fabrics, landscapes and portraits are a delight. This is a lovely gift to bring if you are invited to share a Seder with a family. 
(Ages 7+++, $20.00)
Editor’s Note: If you are searching for a meaningful and contemporary text for a family seder, you’ll be pleased to discover WHY ON THIS NIGHT?; A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration by Rachel Musleah, with appealing illustrations by Louise August
(All ages, $24.95; $12.99 paperback)

After the Easter egg hunt 
HENNY-PENNY takes on a whole new look under the capable computer graphic creativity of Jane Wattenberg. Combining photos of her own hens, a variety of other appropriate fowl, and a moderately menacing foxy-loxy, plus some of the world’s scenic wonders, she has produced a hilarious and cheeky version of an old favorite. Visual puns abound. The text is a rhyme-riddled romp that begs to be read aloud. It’s a “fresh as a new laid egg” look at the classic tale with its underlying cautionary message. “Beware of unsubstantiated information. Believing and acting on unverified information may lead to serious outcomes.” Now, we do understand that important life’s messages are often couched in children’s classic nursery tales, but it doesn’t stop us from having a good time while we are imparting them. Have a cackle over this one.
(Ages 4-8, $15.95)

One to read for Mother’s Day
MOTHERS ARE LIKE THAT is a stunning debut for illustrator Paul Carrick whose luminous paintings accompany gentle text by his own mother, Carol Carrick. Each mother depicted, whether cat, duck, goose or contented sow, looks after her babies in her own way. As Carrick reminds children, “mothers are like that.” When a human mother gently tucks her own child into bed with a kiss good night we know he’s been fed, bathed and read gently reassuring bedtime stories like MOTHERS ARE LIKE THAT.    (Ages 2-5, $15.00)

In celebration of Earth Day
In a lyrical reminder of the gifts this Earth shares with all its creatures, Linda Glaser and artist Elisa Kleven bring their considerable talent together. OUR BIG HOME; An Earth Poem surveys all we have, the water, rain, sun, dirt, air, wind and sky. All that lives within Earth’s bounteous glory, and is sustained by it, celebrates the life it provides. Kleven’s collage art with its bright colors and intricate detail, swirls through the pages, setting off Glaser’s poetic text.
(Ages 3-10, $14.95) 


Poetry
Ever since we discovered Paul Fleischman’s poems for two voices, the Newbery-winning Joyful Noise, we have been on the lookout for more books by him like that. Fleischman is so prolific and experimental that it must be almost impossible for him to duplicate anything (in fact book series must be anathema to him.) So instead of poems for two voices, he has doubled our pleasure by giving us BIG TALK; Poems for Four Voices. Find three more friends and try these three scripted read-aloud romps. Your next gathering of the relatives will be enlivened by a quartet of readers who take the parts of four ghosts watching a family feast. 
(Ages 10-Adult, $14.99) 


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