Picture books for the young-at-heart include 'Phooey!'

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2008

Here are some picture books for the young and the young-at-heart.

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"Waynetta and the Cornstalk," by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Diane Greenseid. When Waynetta's Ma sees that Waynetta has traded the last longhorn cow on the ranch for a handful of lucky corn kernels, she throws the corn out the window. The next day, there's a cornstalk so tall it blots out the sun, and when Waynetta climbs it, she finds a giant, his wife, a magic lariat and bucket, and a longhorn that lays golden - well, not eggs - in this rollicking Texas remake of a classic.

"Phooey!" written and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. The redheaded boy in this story is frustrated by his neighborhood - "Nothing ever happens around here!" - and kicks a can that knocks a cat out of a tree to be chased by a dog ... the chain reaction grows until it includes a stampeding elephant, some freshly baked pies, pirates, and a lady in a funny hat. None of which the boy notices, so absorbed is he in being bored... until the elephant stops, catapulting the cat into the boy's lap, making him decide things aren't so bad after all. The delightful comic book style illustrations hearken back to the round-edged era of Babar, the many, many sound effects ought to make this a raucous read with a child at your side, and the sheer silliness and many details of the mostly visual plot rewards re-reading.

"How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?" by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Charlie's teacher, Mr. Tiffin, brings a small, a medium, and a large pumpkin to class one day for a project. After the class guesses how many seeds are in each one, open the pumpkins up and scoop them clean, and dry the seeds, they divide into groups to count them. Charlie, the smallest in the class, finds himself alone with the seeds from the smallest pumpkin, but to everyone's surprise, Charlie finds himself in sole possession of the most seeds. The light-handed moral about the value of small packages works nicely with the other story elements: problem solving, counting by groups, and the fun of playing in pumpkin goo. Mr. Tiffin shows the class how to tell approximately how many seeds are in a pumpkin before it's opened, perhaps leading to a little competition amongst readers next Halloween.

"Casey Back at Bat," by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. There still is no joy in Mudville, even though Mighty Casey, who struck out in a crucial Mudville game, is back and eager to save the day. The crowd holds its breath, ready for disappointment. Strike one! Strike two! And then Casey wallops the ball out of sight and crosses home plate, to the crowd's delight. Out of sight, the ball has its own adventures with a tower, a statue, and some dinosaurs before returning home - to be caught by the shortstop!

"The King's Chorus," by Linda Hayward, illustrated by Jennifer P. Goldfinger. Boldly colored pictures tell the story of Kadoodle, the king of the barnyard, who shows his authority by crowing whenever he feels like it. As a result, no one on the farm gets any sleep. Finally, the wise goose Honketta tells him a story about the King of the Sky and the chorus of roosters that keeps him from falling asleep on the job. Resolving to be part of the choir (made up of only the best crowers, of course), Kadoodle finally rises at daybreak to crow for the King of the Sky.

"On Meadowview Street," written and illustrated by Henry Cole. Caroline can't find the meadow that her new street is named for, but she does spot a flower in the lawn. She creates a "wildflower preserve" with some sticks and string, and that preserve gets bigger and prettier until one day her dad gets rid of the lawnmower and buys a maple tree for shade. That leads to birds, which leads to a pond, which leads to changes up and down the block until finally, it's easy to spot the meadows on Meadowview Street!

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There will be an evening of bedtime stories, songs and snacks for kids at 6:30 tonight at the downtown library. Put on your jammies and come on over.

The World of Film series continues at 7 p.m. Saturday at the downtown library, with a Brazilian-themed potluck and movie, "Favela Rising," at 7:30 p.m.

For information about any Juneau Public Libraries programs or to place a hold on any material, visit us at www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.



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