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In the Stacks: New picture books

Posted: January 2, 2014 - 1:00am

New picture books abound! Look for these and other titles in the New Book shelves in the children’s areas at each public library.

Jangles: a BIG fish story, written and illustrated by David Shannon. Better sit down for this tall, tall tale of Jangles, the biggest, slipperiest, slyest fish in Big Lake. He’s so big he eats eagles out of the trees that overhang the lake and beavers who don’t head for their lodge fast enough. Generations of fishermen have tried to catch him and Jangles wears their lures as proof. But one boy, fishing alone, finally catches Jangles – and after going on an adventure, comes home with the evidence to prove it. Shannon, author of the David series, shows a different side of his talent here, with brilliant and energetic (instead of frenetic) oil paintings with great close-ups of Jangles with his mouthful of lures and birds’-eye views of the lake with its boats of determined fisherpeople.

“As the Crow Flies,” by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Kevin Duggan.

Juneau crows are often overshadowed by the antics of our ravens, but crows are here all the same. Here, they are lauded in a lively, witty verse set to beautifully detailed paintings. Readers are invited into the crows’ world as they spy on humanity from the height of a traffic light, dig into our unattended lunches, play with discarded items, and dodge traffic to nibble on roadkill. After playing with clean laundry and teasing the dog, the entire raucous group gathers to sleep in the trees “in place of leaves,” and in the end, disappears into the dark in a sequence of inspired images.

“Vera Goes to the Dentist,” written and illustrated by Vera Rosenberry.

Vera, star of Rosenberry’s autobiographical series, is surprised to find out that she’s old enough to be included with her sisters when they go to the dentist, but she’s not worried. Her sisters assure her she’ll like Dr. Knoll and besides, Vera’s wearing her cowgirl skirt, which makes her feel brave. First, Dr. Knoll checks her teeth, which isn’t scary at all, but nobody thinks to warn Vera about the sputtering, whirring tooth-cleaning machine! She’s so frightened that she accidently bites Dr. Knoll and takes off running through the dentist’s office, out the door, and around the block (she’s too little to cross the street by herself). But after the dentist apologizes for scaring her and lets her take a look at the scary machine, Vera’s willing to give it another try. And in the end, she decides that clean, sparkly teeth are nice to have.

“Black Dog,” by Levi Pinfold.

In this delightful story about the way in which the things we fear grow too big for us to grasp, nearly an entire family is terrorized by the sudden appearance of a black dog in their yard. Mr. Hope calls the police. Mrs. Hope turns out the lights. Adeline Hope closes the curtains. Maurice Hope hides under the covers. But the littlest Hope, Small, puts on her coat and goes outside. In a truly alarming spread, the dog’s black hair, huge yellow eyes and enormous wet nose engulf the space where the yellow-clad tot stands. But she’s not afraid: instead, she starts to play with the dog, and as she does, it gets smaller and smaller, until both she and it can slip back into the house through the cat door. Once Small has introduced the dog to the family, everyone agrees that it’s not so fearsome or large as it first appeared. Pinfold’s cozy illustrations of the family home have a Shirley-Hughes-meets-William-Joyce quality about them that is both charming and eyebrow-raising (they sure have a lot of squid), and you can practically feel the Black Dog’s silky fur and hear the scrabble of his paws bursting free of the frame.

“Dog in Charge,” by K.L. Going, illustrated by Dan Santat.

Pink tutu-wearing Dog is a Good Dog, a Smart Dog, and the Very Best Dog, but when his humans leave him alone and charge him with supervising the cats, he’s afraid he’ll never be a Good Dog again. The five cats don’t mean to be bad, they’re just curious and playful, but by the time they’re through trashing the house, the poor bulldog is out of cat treats and in despair. Fortunately, the cats love their Dog, and while he sleeps out his stressful afternoon, they put things to rights again. When the family returns, they reward their Good Dog, Smart Dog, and Very Best Dog with more treats, and he realizes his lives with Good Cats, Smart Cats, and the Very Best Cats. The cheerful, 60s era pictures offer equal opportunity fun and silliness for cat and dog lovers alike.

•••

Looking for a post-holiday storytime? Come to the Valley library on Friday, Jan. 3, at 11 a.m. for an all-ages afternoon of stories, songs, and activities.

Regular Story and Toddler Times will resume on Monday, Jan. 6.

And, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Douglas Library at 7 p.m., join curator Aaron Leggett of the Anchorage Museum for a virtual tour of the first major exhibition of Dena’ina Athabascan culture.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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