Picture books are always arriving at the library for Juneau's youngest book-lovers

Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2009

New picture books for babies through early elementary school arrive regularly at the public libraries. Here are a few of my recent favorites.

"Jack's House," by Karen Magnuson Beil, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

For lovers of big machines and fans of the story of Jack and the house he built, this picture book tells the other side of the story and pokes a bit of fun at spiffy-looking Jack. Meet Max, the contractor for Jack's house, who isn't one to let his part in the project go unnoticed. He shows off his crew, who use bulldozers, backhoes, cement trucks, and more to get Jack's house built.

Then, the twist: Jack appears, ready to kick back in his new digs and claim credit - but is it really his house if Max built it? Max is an appealing doggy narrator for this fun variation on a familiar story.

"The Doghouse," written and illustrated by Jan Thomas.

What happens when the ball that four friends are playing with lands right in the doghouse? Someone brave is going to have to get it out. Will it be Cow? Or Pig? Or Duck? One thing's for sure: it won't be Mouse!

In fine dramatic form, the sky darkens and flashes with lightning and bats fly overhead as the friends go into the doghouse one by one - but none come back! Mouse is left alone, until the final page, when readers and Mouse both get a pleasant surprise.

"Little Panda," written and illustrated by Renata Liwska.

Everyone knows that tigers don't fly! But Grandfather Panda tells his grandson the story of Bao Bao the panda cub and the flying tiger - and says every word is true. (Can you figure out how he knows?) Bao Bao loves living in the misty mountains with his mother Lin Lin. All day long he eats, plays, sleeps, and learns the ways of the world from Lin Lin. When she goes off in search of food one day, a tiger comes along who is also searching for food.

But tigers, of course, don't eat bamboo like Bao Bao and Lin Lin - they eat pandas! Liwska's muted tones and soft edges make even the tiger look cuddly, and the story of how Bao Bao escapes the tiger and how the tiger flew make a delightful tale for both Grandfather Panda's grandson and for small human listeners alike.

"Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes," written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

One at a time, babies and toddlers from a number of races and cultures are introduced, playing together and showing off their fingers and toes. Though clothing and skin tones vary widely, the underlying message is of the pictured children's shared humanity, and their pleasure in each other's company and their empathy for one another are made clear in Oxenbury's charming drawings. Simple and elegant, this rhyming picture book gives little listeners what they love best in books: rhyme, repetition, and images of other babies, and gives their caregivers all that plus a springboard for counting, talking about activities, and cuddling with their little ones.

"Birds," by Kevin Henkes,illustrated by Laura Dronzek.

Birds in many colors gather here in tree branches, on window sills, and on telephone lines in this book for the very young. Their varying numbers can lead to counting and color naming games between child and reader and also entice both into flights of fancy and wonderment. What if birds painted their flight paths with their tails? Where do they go when storms come?

Short declarative sentences support the colorful drawings, and the pictures have just enough detail let viewers focus on the important parts without distraction.

•••

Kids going into grades 3-5 can come to the library every Thursday for the month of July at 6 p.m. downtown for the "I Love to Read" Reader's Club.

And kids going into grades 6-8 who want a Reader's Club of their own can come every Tuesday for the month of July at 6:30 p.m. downtown for "Stories Alive!"

Ever hear a quote and wonder who it was from? A bit of poetry that struck you as just right for your mood? If so then let the Juneau Public Libraries help you track down the rest of it with Columbia Grangers World of Poetry. Search for more than 400,000 poems by title, author, first and last lines, and keywords. 50,000+ poems are also available in full-text. There are also over 1,100 commentaries, nearly 500 biographies, and definitions for nearly 200 poetic terms. Available from home with your library card as well as in-library use.

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



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