New picture books for little ones at Juneau Public Library

In The Stacks

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2003

We've got several new books aimed at the wanna-be heavy equipment operators out there:

"I Stink," by Kate and Jim McMullan, is a book that's sure to delight young readers and disgust their parents with its frank pictures and conversational talk. The subject is a garbage truck, who loves his job eating an entire alphabet of trash from apple cores to puppy poo and points out that he's doing us all a public service by taking care of our trash. For less strong-stomached parents, there is "Dig Dig Digging," by Margaret Mayo, which pairs colorful pictures of dump trucks, fire engines, road rollers, and more with short paragraphs about what each machine does, ending with a repeating phrase the kids can join in on. Third is the very light, very sweet "Minerva Louise and the Red Truck," by Janet Morgan Stoeks, in which the feather-brained Minerva Louise, a farm chicken, is enchanted by what readers can see is a construction site, but which she interprets as a truck farm filled with trucks playing.

"Do Like a Duck Does," by Judy Hindle, illustrated by Ivan Bates, is the story of Mama Duck and her five ducklings and a hairy-scary fox who claims to be a duck, too. Mama Duck's no fool - she puts him through his paces and watches him closely as she gives her ducklings lessons in quacking, bug-eating, mud-wallowing and, finally, swimming. Buoyant pictures accompany the jaunty rhymes of this charmer.

"Giggle, Giggle, Quack," by Doreen Cronin, is illustrated by Betsy Lewin. And there's more farmyard fun with the literate Duck of "Click,Clack, Moo." When Farmer Brown goes away for a much-needed vacation, he leaves his brother with a stack of instructions, and a warning to keep an eye on Duck. But Farmer Brown drops his pencil and Duck is off. Bob is very good at following instructions, but not so good at knowing when he's being flim-flammed.

"Dear Mrs. LaRue," written and illustrated by Mark Teague, features a champion flim-flammer, Ike, who has been sent to obedience school by his owner, Mrs. LaRue, for two months ("Do you know how long that is in dog years?"). After many letters home detailing his mistreatment at the hands of the trainers (the color pictures show what's happening, and the black-and-whites show what Ike, the drama dog, imagines), Ike escapes from school and arrives home just in time to save Mrs. LaRue from being run over by a truck. But has his schooling had any effect?

"Jam and Jelly by Holly and Nellie," was written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. School will start in the fall, and Holly's mom doesn't want Holly to miss any school when winter comes. The pair spend the summer picking berries and making jellies and jams to sell so they can buy a warm coat and boots, helped out by Holly's dad, who makes the jam and jelly stand. This is a quiet, thoughtful gem of a story, illustrated with luminous, jewel-like paintings.

"Dinnertime!" was written by Sue Williams and illustrated by Kerry Argent. It's another foxy tale - farm animals (and the scarecrow) join together in trying to keep six young rabbits safe from a hungry fox. Or, wait - maybe it's five... four... hey! Where'd all the rabbits go? (Spoiler: they're safe.) Sly, personality-filled illustrations featuring sheep, mice, geese and of course, rabbits and a fox and a surprise ending make this a winner. For extra viewing pleasure, keep an eye on the mice.

"Salmon Creek," was written by Annette LeBox and illustrated by Karen Reczuch. It is rare that I think I've found the quintessential book about anything, but this graceful story may be the only salmon story for me. It is beautiful to look at, lovely to read aloud, and deftly balances storyline with information that a child can easily absorb about the life cycle of a salmon. There is even a glossary in the back in case you need a more concrete definition than what you'll get from the text. Bravo.

Special hour-long summer storytimes with crafts are in full swing for school-age kids. Call any public library branch for days and times. If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and looking at our catalogue. Placing holds on items featured in In the Stacks is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalogue: simply look up the column, click on the title you want and you will be ready to place a hold.

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