Summer 2000 Shoppe Talk San Marino Toy&Book Shoppe

Let the Summer 2000 Reading Fun Begin!

HARRY POTTER NUMBER IV (THE DOOMSPELL TOURNAMENT?) will arrive on our doorsteps in time to make it available to you on July 8. Unlike the previous book, Jo Rowling has asked the publishers not to release early reading copies. That means we can’t review the book ahead of its official publication date. We can only tell you that it is over 700 pages. Reserve your copies early. We’ll be reading alongside the rest of you.  (Ages 10-99, $25.95)

But until July 8, here are some other good suggestions starting with …

Some delicious fantasies

In one London’s busiest rail stations, King’s Cross, there is an abandoned platform. Unless one was in on THE SECRET OF PLATFORM 13 no casual observation would reveal that this derelict platform conceals a “gump”. The gump is an opening that connects the everyday world to a magical island where the siting of a mermaid, ogre or dragon is no strange occurrence. Access to the island is available every nine years for nine days only. Island dwellers are free to visit London and those wishing to leave the city are free to pass through the gump to reach the island. In one of those open periods the island’s infant prince is carried into London where he is kidnapped. Now nine long sad years have passed and it is time to rescue him and bring him back to his grieving parents. Eva Ibbotson leads young readers through a delightful gump into her own fantasy world. (Ages 8-13, $15.99 or $4.99 paperback) 

All he knows is that at one moment he was a rat, and the next moment he was a boy dressed in a page’s uniform, larking about the palace, while his human friend Mary Lou was inside dancing with the prince. And he can’t seem to turn back into being a rat and hasn’t anywhere to go until a kindly elderly couple takes him in. Although his confession, “I WAS A RAT!”, seems almost delusional, they are determined to help him in whatever way they can. For a time they lose him when he falls into the hands of an unscrupulous promoter of side-show freaks, but ultimately they are reunited and the mystery of his tale is fully revealed to them. Philip Pullman’s novel twist on the traditional Cinderella story is fun. Illustrator Kevin Hawkes’ drawings will also appeal to young readers who might find this a good follow-up to Stuart Little
(Ages 7-11, $15.95) 

Gail Carson Levine has her own takes on classic fairy tales, including the Cinderella story Ella Enchanted that earned her a Newbery Honor. Her latest novel, while incorporating a fairy godmother device, is set smack dab in contemporary New York. Wilma Sturtz is suffering through her final weeks of junior high school as a girl very much out of the “in group.” One fortuitous encounter on the subway when she gives up her seat to an elderly woman, gives her the chance to change into the most popular girl in Claverford Junior High. It is THE WISH come true until she realizes that in just a few weeks she will be graduating. Then the spell will end, sending her back to where she began. Couched within Levine’s make-believe, THE WISH is a perceptive story of the difficulties of navigating the social realities of adolescence. This is a good choice for a youngster entering middle school. (Ages 10-14, $15.95)

About twenty-five years ago, author/illustrator Jill Murphy initiated THE WORST WITCH four-book series. Mildred Hubble, beginning her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches would be a great friend of Ramona Quimby’s if these two literary characters were ever to meet. Mildred is truly THE WORST WITCH at the boarding school but her incompetence, though vexing for the disapproving form-mistress, Miss Hardbroom, is a source of entertainment to young readers. These newly reissued paperbacks with Jill Murphy’s ink drawings and comfortable large-print format for kids transitioning into chapter books offer a satisfying alternative for kids not quite ready to read Harry Potter independently. (Ages 8-11, $4.99 each title paperback: The Worst Witch, The Worst Witch Strikes Again, A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch, and The Worst Witch at Sea). 


The Worst Witch



The Worst Witch Strikes Again



A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch


Endearing family narratives

With HERE WE ALL ARE, Tomie dePaola continues the story of growing up at 26 Fairmont Avenue. This second installment of this early chapter book series begins with two important firsts. The family moves into their very own house in plenty of time for the arrival of a new baby sister. And Tomie begins school life as a very talkative and creative kindergartner. Not only is he showing great talent as an artist, his dancing and musical abilities are recognized when he’s given additional parts in his dance class recital. Even to this day, anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Tomie has been entertained by him, and anyone who reads his books is equally rewarded. Tomie’s move into a “beginning chapter book” format has already garnered him a Newbery Honor and extends the years his readership has to enjoy this talented artist and author. (Ages 6-11, $13.99)

The Michaels Family may only be the fictional creation of author Johanna Hurwitz but after reading so many titles in this best-selling series, we’ve enjoyed watching Russell Michaels sprout from a pre-schooler to a pre-adolescent. We’ve welcomed the arrival of baby sister Elisa and then baby Marshall. In the latest installment, SUMMER WITH ELISA, Russell is eleven and is going to sleep-away camp for part of the vacation. At seven, Elisa is glad to still be at home where she won’t have to contend with homesickness. The family takes their first trip to a house in the country and Elisa experiences the freedom of living out of the city where she can safely go outdoors to play by herself. This wholesome series makes good read-alouds for younger children who are ready to listen to chapter books as well as children who have just discovered the joys of independent reading. (Ages 5-8, $15.95–Earlier titles in paperback) 

Girls Just Want to Have Fun!


Also newly issued in paperback are the first two titles in Cynthia Rylant’s Cobble Street Cousins series. Two sisters and their cousin, all aged nine, are spending a year with their aunt while their parents are on a world tour with their ballet company. In the first story, IN AUNT LUCY’S KITCHEN, the girls become entrepreneurs, opening their own informal cookie company and meeting a number of interesting neighbors in the process. In the second story, A LITTLE SHOPPING, the girls devise another creative project. This time they decide to surprise Aunt Lucy with a replica of the little flower shop she operates in town. The stories have an old-fashioned flavor with charming black and white illustrations by Wendy Anderson Halperin. As we noted when we reviewed these books when they were originally published two years ago in hardcover, we found them a refreshing change of pace. We especially appreciated that the children could find positive and creative ways to entertain themselves without television or any other electronics. (Ages 6-9, $3.99 each — Note: We will continue to stock these and subsequent titles in hardcover.)

Engaging Fiction for Older Readers
An intriguing murder mystery


DOVEY COE tells you in the very first paragraph of her story that although she hated Parnell Caraway, she didn’t kill him. Author Frances O’Roark Dowell’s powerful opening sets the stage for an entertaining and compelling novel set in mountains of North Carolina in the late 1920’s. Dovey worries that her beautiful older sister Caroline is going to be persuaded by rich kid Parnell’s s lavish courting to give up her dream of attending teacher’s college. Dovey despises the way Parnell treats their deaf brother Amos and flatters her parents. And since she isn’t one to hide her feelings, Parnell is well aware of her disapproval. When Parnell is found dead, twelve-year-old Dovey is the prime suspect.
(Ages 8-13, $16.00) 

A delightful dog story

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, India Opal Buloni’s move to Florida turns out to be easier than she feared it might. Her father is a preacher and he is raising India alone since his wife left them when India was three years old. India tells us about the fortuitous day that she discovers a mangy stray smack dab in the midst of the produce section of the local grocery store. Naming the creature the first thing that comes to her mind, he is dubbed Winn-Dixie in honor of the store where she has found him. Getting the dog is the easy part, convincing her father to let him keep it is another story. But Winn-Dixie wins him over with his appealing personality. This remarkable dog becomes India’s inseparable companion and entrée into the life of the little Florida community. Told with great charm, author Kate Di Camillo has created a memorable book.  (Ages 8++, $15.99)

A thought provoking father-and-son story

Jack Rankin has begun fifth grade at a new school. Actually it’s the old high school being recycled to temporarily house students until the new schools are built. When the class snobs discover that Jack’s father is the school janitor, their teasing makes Jack furious. Unfortunately the butt of Jack’s anger is his “quiet and thoughtful” father. Jack plots revenge against him and when he is caught his punishment is three weeks of “after school gum patrol” as THE JANITOR’S BOY. During his arduous stint Jack learns a lot more than the secret of chewing gum removal. Andrew Clements whose previous school story, Frindle, was also a favorite of ours, has written another thoughtful novel for both kids and parents. (Ages 8-12, $15.00) 

Have a good yell

If you’re planning a bit of outdoor camping this summer, Betsy ByarsME TARZAN would be fun to read aloud out there in the woods somewhere, or maybe at home with all the windows closed. Dorothy (probably named for that famous Oz character) has just begun attending a new school and already thinks she has an enemy in a boy named Dwayne. When parts are given out for a class play she beats him out for the role of Tarzan because of her formidable AHHHHH AHHHH. In fact, she is so good she unwittingly unleashes a jungle spirit that creates temporary havoc.  (Ages 7-10, $14.95) 

Kids won’t need a second reminder to OPEN WIDE when they get hold of Laurie Keller’s zany picture book on teeth. Spend a day at tooth school with all thirty-two essential players present, seated in their proper locations. Instruction includes a student report on “Baby Teeth” and a “video” narrated by the tooth fairy. Reader’s who enjoyed Keller’s The Scrambled States of America will be glad to find the same design that packs loads of information laced with kid-appealing humor delivered by colorful cartoon-like illustrations. Dental hygiene was never taught any better than this or at the very least any more entertainingly. 
(Ages 5-10, $16.95) 

The husband and wife team, Ed and Robin Krupp, have combined considerable know-how for their latest collaboration, THE RAINBOW AND YOU. Dr. Edwin Krupp is the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and Robin Rector Krupp is an artist and children’s book writer and illustrator. The Krupps explain the natural requirements that cause a rainbow to appear (sunlight and rain), why the colors are arranged in a particular order, and ways of remembering the order. The mnemonic “roy g. biv” or the saying, “run onto your gold before it vanishes,” are both suggested. Dr. Krupp who is also an expert on ancient astronomy, discusses the stories and explanations provided by ancient cultures to understand the gift and meaning of the rainbow.  (Ages 6-12, $15.95) 

National Geographic’s BEGINNER’S WORLD ATLAS is an excellent introduction to the world and to map terminology. Both a physical and a political map represent each continent. The maps are enhanced by additional snippets of information and supporting photographs. The value of a first atlas of limited scope is to get young readers familiar with map concepts and this volume does it well. It provides a starting point that is continued in the National Geographic’s information packed World Atlas for Young Explorers and its companion volume United States Atlas for Young Explorers suitable for Ages 8-12 (24.95 each volume). The Beginner’s World Atlas is intended for ages 5-8. ($17.95)

One of our favorite months of the year is July. Why? Because it’s National Ice Cream Month. Actually we didn’t really know that before, or lots of other things about ice cream but now we know a freezer full of facts thanks to Lee Wardlaw’s WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!; The Scoop on America’s Favorite Dessert. Her lively narrative traces the beginnings of what was once considered the dessert of kings through its travels to the New World where George Washington was one of its earliest fans. We learn about the exacting current manufacturing standards from Wardlaw’s interview with an employee of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream whose taste buds are insured for one million dollars. She also spoke with Ben and Jerry’s director of Research and Development who describes the delicious process of creating five to ten new flavors a year. Wardlaw has made this book so much fun to read, one could almost imagine it as a read-aloud, provided the freezer was well enough stocked.  (Ages 8+, $4.95 paperback)

Getting Inside the Heads of Your Pets

Newbery Award winning writer Jean Craighead George brings years of insight and her own charming humor to two informative books, HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CAT (illustrated by Paul Meisel) and HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOG (illustrated by Sue Truesdell). The beginnings of cat and human interaction began in ancient Egypt when the wild Kaffir cat learned that places where humans lived also provided reliable sources of food for them. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, around 2000 BC, a slightly more sociable version of the wild cat appeared, one that even as an adult animal could tolerate the company of humans. But as George points out, and it is a fact that every cat owner has observed, the cat chooses its owner, and at the heart of the cat there remains an independent creature. On the other hand, George says that “no one will ever love you as much as your dog does.” Some important things about talking to your dog include establishing your position as “leader.” She gives readers clear instructions on how to accomplish that message. Another bit of information is that a dog shows complete submission by lying on its back, paws bent. She warns that often a child, when playing with a dog will also roll on his back. She says, “Don’t do it.” It gives dogs the wrong message. Both books are clearly illustrated in an amusing but useful combination of photos of the author demonstrating techniques to the artists’ drawings of cats and dogs. The books deliver clear solid information in an approachable format. (Ages 6-10, each book $9.95) 

And speaking of dogs, IT’S ABOUT DOGS, a collection of poetry by Tony Johnston, would turn anyone into a dog lover. With the most appealing paintings by Ted Rand to accompany the forty plus poems, he and Johnston have cooperated marvelously to catch the essence of dog, old and young, waiting and digging, sleeping or begging, or remembering when he was wolf. 
(Ages 4++, $16.00)

In a new twist on the journal format, this diarist is a horse named Pontus who reports on the events of his life. He’s a three year old gelding who has been sold and will go off to live with his new family. He describes the month of significant events, including the trip to his new home and the early days of adjusting to new experiences. Illustrations by Catarina Kruusval expand the text by Ann-Sofie Jeppson. They label and describe the myriad of items that accompany the care and keeping of a pony from the variety of brushes and combs used to groom it to the equipment that comprises the rider’s habit. HERE COMES PONTUS is a lively and  inviting first look at owning a pony. (Ages 6-10, $14.00) 

We know this is a stretch but if you or anyone you know is thinking of GROWING FROGS then before you leap, check into Vivian French’s informational picture book. You will discover how to collect frog spawn, see how it grows and develops into wriggling tadpoles and then into full-fledged frogs. Told as a story with details plugged in for additional facts, and illustrated with Alison Bartlett’s bright tempera paintings, this provides a good jump start for frog fanciers.
(Ages 4-7, $15.99) 

Just One More Pet Story

Mr. and Mrs. Noah are the perfect pair to run a pet shop at the ARK IN THE PARK. They have almost any sort of pet anyone could possibly want. But what they most impossibly want is a grandchild of their own, but since they never had children, they know it can’t be. From not very many blocks away, lonely Sophie gazes out and wishes she could have relatives. Her parents are busy with the new twins so she doesn’t have much companionship. For her seventh birthday her parents agree to take her to the intriguing Ark to look at the pets. And in due course the wishes of Sophie and the Noahs do come true. Wendy Orr’s early chapter book illustrated with Kerry Millard’s line drawings has an appealing freshness that will serve as a good read-aloud or read-alone. 
(Ages 7-10, $15.95)

Picture Books
Harriet didn’t mean to spill her juice, dribble the jam, drip paint on the carpet or pull the tablecloth with dishes off the table. These things happened “just like that.” And Harriet’s mother who didn’t like to yell, almost never did. She knew that Harriet was sorry. But even mothers yell once in a while. That happens too, “just like that.” Mem Fox’s gem of a story, HARRIET, YOU’LL DRIVE ME WILD, illustrated with exquisite understanding by Marla Frazee, is destined to be a classic. Present this to new parents as a parenting model, and read it often to young children to reassure them they do not hold exclusives on creative havoc. (Ages 2-7, and parents, $16.00) 

So often we have requests from parents for books that deal with honesty and stealing and there are not a great wealth of them. So we give a big hooray for Holly Keller’s new picture book. Horace finds a great little yellow truck in the school playground but when he takes it out to play with in class, Walter says, “THAT’S MINE, HORACE.” Quickly Horace pockets the truck and tells the teacher it is his. Then he compounds the lie at home but telling his mother that Walter gave it to him. Keller’s resolution works out well but not every situation follows this exact script. However a book like this helps parents and teachers improvise to fit the scenario. It provides a good beginning to a discussion about taking things that belong to others.
(Ages 3-7, $15.95)

The sensitive issue of quarrelling with a best friend is the subject of Sam McBratney’s I’M SORRY. One pre-schooler tells how he and his best friend play. She lets him be the teacher when they are teaching their toys to read, and he lets her fix his broken bones when they are playing doctor. One day they SHOUT at each other and they won’t play together. But then they remember that best friends can say I’M SORRY and play together again. Illustrator Jennifer Eachus uses soft pastels to illustrate this gentle lesson.(Ages 2-6, $15.95)

In bold bright paintings and pleasing text, Manya Stojic conveys the miracle of RAIN to the African Savannah. Before it actually arrives, all the animals are anticipating its return. Once it comes, the parched land bursts into green and the animals partake of its gifts of fruits and shade. The rhino lies in “soft, squelchy mud” and the zebras can drink from the freshly filled water hole. And then again the land dries up, waiting once more for the return of precious RAIN.
(Ages 3-7, $15.95) 

Emperor Leo Golden Mane had it all; an obedient feline populace, scads of money, a fancy palace and a beautiful wife. The birth of young Prince Leo II made life complete. Even the fact that Prince Leo had been born with a pair of wings, didn’t ruffle the contented Emperor. The only thing that niggled was that another ruler, King Otto of the North had a palace faraway whose walls were lined with “some unnamed treasure.” Prince Leo II was raised with every luxury with two exceptions. “No flying lessons.” Birds were a scarce item in a land of cats. And the second was “no story books”, for books were non-existent in a land of illiterates. But one day, accidentally, a breeze carried the young prince off and when he finally crash-landed, he was in the territory of King Otto. It proved to be a happy accident because Prince Leo learned about the two things that had not been provided in his own kingdom. Chris Conover’s original and appealing story, THE LION’S SHARE is a pleasing book all around. The generous-sized artwork is really fun, filled with whimsical details. And of course, Conover’s message of the value of reading warms the heart of every book lover.(Ages 4-9, $16.00) 

What is so brilliant about HENRY HIKES TO FITCHBURG is that in a really delightful and handsomely illustrated picture book, comes the most elemental economics lessons of “comparative advantage” and “opportunity cost.” “What in the world are they talking about here,” you might ask. Well here’s the plot of D. B. Johnson’s very first picture book. Henry the Bear and his friend decide they both want to go to Fitchburg from Concord, a distance of thirty miles. Henry says he will walk. His friend prefers to work to earn enough money to take the train and bets he will arrive sooner than Henry. So while the friend fills Mrs. Alcott’s woodbox, sweeps the post office, pulls weeds in Mr. Hawthorne’s garden, Henry is carving a walking stick, collecting ferns and flowers as he hikes along. The story chronicles the forward motion of each friend working out his own method of getting to Fitchburg. Based on an incident in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Johnson’s imagination takes us on an intriguing journey.  (Ages 4-8. $15.00)

“Keeping busy in the backseat” Stuff
As any parent knows, a long family car trip requires much planning and ingenuity on the part of the adults to keep things tolerable. One of our favorite activities is the singing part of a trip — good lusty songs filled with humor are a good choice. Now we all know and have sung “The Wheels on the Bus” for years, but have you ever sung THE SEALS ON THE BUS? Lenny Hort’s version, appropriately illustrated with Brian Karas’ mixed media drawings, will certainly help send imaginations soaring into higher octaves. We especially liked it that the rabbits on the bus hop up and down but we know you will come up with even better verses. This book will get you off on a giddy start. (Ages 2-10 — even if they will hardly admit they like it, $15.95)

BUZZ BUZZ, BUMBLE KITTY can turn into a “buzz buzz, bumble queen” or … “cowboy” all with the turn of cleverly aligned pages. Nick Sharratt’s precision engineering is bound to entertain pre-readers who will enjoy changing the pictures … and it will appeal to new readers who will be challenged to practice their new skills by sounding out the simple, bold text. This split paged book should give you miles of contentment and when it palls, bring out its predecessor, A CHEESE AND TOMATO SPIDER to cook up a whole other set of silly picture mixtures.  (Ages 3-7, $13.95 each book.) 

Meet the “Bender Family.” There’s Joe and Brenda and their dog, Fender. They are wiry, with personal magnetism, really easy to have around and great travel companions. They each fit into their own special pocket-sized metal container. They are as happy on an airplane, riding in the back seat of a car, sitting in church or keeping someone quiet while confined to bed rest. They each come with a little book THE ADVENTURES OF JOE BENDER, THE ADVENTURES OF BRENDA BENDER, and … FENDER BENDER, that gives its new owner some ideas about how Joe or Brenda or Fender can be dressed or accessorized, but basically they are quite undemanding as playthings. No batteries even. Leave it to that zany publisher Klutz to keep a fussy five-year old entertained … or his cranky fifty-five-year old grandpa.  (Ages 5+, $9.95 each) 

Preparing for Those Memorable “Firsts”
First Experiences with all the accompanying anxiety can be eased considerably by introducing a story to fit the situation … a story that can lead to talking about any incipient apprehensions. Here are a few suggestions to smooth the way.
Beginning school or daycare
Kathi Appelt’s OH MY BABY, LITTLE ONE offers the most tender reassurances a mother can give a child as she tells him “even when I’m far away, this love I have will stay and wrap itself around you every minute of the day.” The poetic imagery reminds any child that a parent’s love is with him “like the sand is with the sandbox” and “the kite is with the breeze.” Her words are given wings with the exquisite images of Jane Dyer’s gentle watercolors. Mama Birds need this soothing book as much as little fledglings.
(Ages 2-6, $16.00) 

Oh that clever Rosemary Wells! She’s written a perfect “now and later” book. Her EMILY’S FIRST 100 DAYS OF SCHOOL begins on day one when Emily says she is so excited about beginning school that she doesn’t even cry. Her teacher tells the students that they will count the days until they reach the 100th day of school and then they will have a big party. Emily can hardly imagine being in school for so many days. Wells offers up an amazing variety of events to match the countdown. As she herself points out, some numbers just automatically lend themselves to obvious associations like “nine planets in our solar system.” Other entries are inventive like “twenty-two” is the total of the two football teams players on the field at one time. Forty-five is pictured with a triangle showing two forty-five degree angles. (That’s courtesy of her big sister who “thinks she knows everything.”) As the days and weeks pass by, Emily is beginning to learn her letters (see #26) and mark the end of September on the calendar (see #30). Wells’ artwork is always a treat with its bright and appealing images of rabbits and other friendly creatures. Her humor twinkles through the art and text.   (Ages 3-6, $16.99) 

First Camp out
When Monk decides that tonight is the perfect night to have his first alone, outside in a tent in the backyard campout, his parents worry but understand that he should be permitted to try it. Of course they are certain he won’t last the whole night. Emily Arnold McCully’s MONK CAMPS OUT with its bright watercolors and sympathetic humor is perfect supplementary family reading for “Independence 101.” 
(Ages 3-7, $15.95) 

Who Knows Where This Fits? 
… But we want you to know about it anyway 
Sara Fanelli, who we think is unique in her artistic representation of whatever topic she conveys, has another zinger for us in DEAR DIARY. This fetching picture book besides being irrepressibly entertaining could also be a useful tool for modeling journaling and teaching “point of view.” The entries are related in surprising ways beginning with Lucy who tells about bringing a ladybug to school to show the class even though she wanted to bring her dog, Bubu. She reports also that a chair “got thrown over by mistake.” The next entry in the journal is by “the chair” who likes the quiet that comes at the end of the school day. We also get reports from a spider, Bubu the dog, the ladybug, silverware, a firefly, and finally a P.S. from Emily who ties up all the loose ends. Fanelli has hand lettered all the text herself with each entry having a distinctly different handwriting. Her artwork is collage. She simply charms us.
 (Ageless, $14.99) 

Even the title of Eve Bunting’s new beginning to read chapter book I LIKE THE WAY YOU ARE sends a great message of confidence to a newly launched reader. Five chapters about Turtle and his best friend Spottie highlight their differences and how they compromise in a variety of situations in order to get along. The refreshingly upbeat nature to the stories dispenses good ideas about the qualities of friendship. For example, at the movies Turtle likes to sit in front but Spottie prefers the back. They end up sitting in the middle. Bunting, with her slightly wicked sense of fun, keeps the stories from getting saccharine. I mean they eat worms and bugs, slug nuggets and cricket fries for heaven’s sake — no sugar coated petit fours here. And with John O’Brien’s droll illustrations it serves as a tasty read-aloud picture book for younger listeners too.  (Ages 4-8, $15.00) 

Fascination with SPACE GUYS will spur a brand-new reader on in Martha Weston’s amusing “level 1” reader. One boy has a brief alien encounter. When his parents wonder who made the mess, he has a photo to back up his story.    (Ages 4-7, $14.95) 

Shelly Moore Thomas’ beginning reader, GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT, doubles as a slightly extended bedtime story. One night, one knight standing guard duty hears a loud roar which he, being conscientious, immediately rides out to investigate. One of a trio of baby dragons needs a glass of water before bed. The knight brings the water and leaves, and the scenario repeats itself, as number two dragon needs a story. And so on. It’s a great patterned story with the extra pun kick so appealing to seven-year olds getting a handle on language and sense of humor. Art by Jennifer Plecas has just the right touch of sweet innocence.
  (Ages 4-8, $13.99) 

Addressing a Very Special Need
Too many times a year we are asked to provide books for children dealing with death and dying. Perhaps because it is the natural order of life, many books have been written on the loss of grandparents. But books on serious illness and death of parents is more difficult to address. So when a book like Pat Brisson’s SKY MEMORIES is published, we want you to know about it and hope that it might help someone who has the need of it. In a first person narrative, told by a young girl named Emily, her first sentence begins, “The year before my mother died, we gathered sky memories.” She tells how her mother made her look at the sky, see its wonder, and capture the moment by taking a mental photograph of it. They would squeeze each others hand and say “click.” Mother and child each recorded the moment and recognized it as a special one. Through the time of the diagnoses of her mother’s cancer, her illness, and the sad, tearful days and weeks following her death, Emily shares with the reader the significant moments when the SKY MEMORIES marked changes and new understandings of what was and what was to come. The book itself is a comforting and lovely gem of a book, with the addition of Wendell Minor’s color paintings that draw the reader into each significant memory. Brisson said she was moved to write this book after losing two of her friends to cancer. She wonders how a parent can successfully prepare a child for such a loss.  This lovely, sensitive book may be a helpful beginning.    (Ages 9+, $14.95) 

Newsletter text Copyright © by Jody Fickes Shapiro.  All Rights Reserved
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