New stack of picture books awaits at the library

Questions, rhymes, illustrations and fables engage young readers and listeners

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008

"Cornelius P. Mud, are you ready for school?" written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg.

Cornelius, a rambunctious pink piglet, fields questions from his off-page mother and gives her the answers every mother hopes for. "Are you up?" elicits a big "Yes!" from Cornelius - but young viewers can see that he's suspended by his trotters from helium balloons. "Did you make your bed?" shows readers a view of the bed, made up to look like an elephant.

And so on - each parental question positively and truthfully, but not quite fully, answered - until the title question stops action for a moment before coming to a completely kid-satisfying conclusion.

"Who's Hiding?" written and illustrated by Satoru Onishi.

This clever book is a sort of beginning I-spy: twelve blocky animals are shown head on in the first two-page illustration, followed by successive pages, each with a question. "Who's hiding?" comes up several times, and each time, the background color of the page has changed, rendering a different animal nearly invisible.

Other questions include "Who's backwards?" and "Who's crying?" and, at the end, a page of eyes in the night with the question "Who's who?" Elegant simplicity for the very young.

"Fiesta Fiasco," by Ann Whiteford Paul, illustrated by Ethan Long.

It's Culebra the snake's birthday and his friends Tortuga, Conejo, and Iguana head to the market to choose gifts. Bossy Conejo has lots of ideas and makes sure his friends buy them for Culebra. But what will a snake do with a shirt, a sombrero, and pants? All's well in the end, even for the sneaky rabbit!

"Alligator Boy," by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode.

Deliciously, contagiously rhymed, this is the story of a boy who wanted to be something different, something green... With the help of a gift from a loving aunt, he becomes an alligator boy and life carries on. He goes to school and learns his ABCs - as the vet said he must - and uses his new self to keep the school bully under control and save small animals from the dog catcher, and just enjoys his life in this serene book.

Though there are two places where the rhyme doesn't scan, I'd encourage readers-aloud to work around them, because this charming book with old-time illustrations, with a few anachronistic touches, is a keeper.

"Daffodil, Crocodile," by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Tomek Bogacki.

Fans of Daffodil, rejoice! The triplets are back, and Daffodil is feistier than ever. Tired of hearing herself and her dressed-alike, look-alike sisters Violet and Rose described as "nice little flowers," Daffodil rebels and commandeers a crocodile head. It makes the perfect mask and transforms her from a quietly contrary girl into a roaring, stomping crocodile who eats the tea party guests.

Even though a trip to the soggy swamp (bathtime) makes the mask sag, Daffodil's new-found inner crocodile isn't dampened in the least. Raucous illustrations add to this energetic story.

"The Rich Man and the Parrot," retold by Suzan Nadimi, illustrated by Ande Cook.

This story from Persia tells the tale of a merchant whose prize possession is a talking parrot from India. This parrot is truly remarkable and the man has done everything he can think of to reward his parrot, except the one thing the parrot wants: to be set free.

When the merchant takes a trip to India, he relays a greeting from his parrot to the wild parrots in the jungle, but to his shock and dismay, all the parrots fall out of the trees, dead! And to make matters worse, when he returns home and tells his beloved parrot what happened, his own parrot falls over, dead! What did the merchant do?

"A Couple of Boys have the Best Week Ever," written and illustrated by Marla Frazee.

Words alone can't tell the story of James's and Eamon's week at Nature Camp - the bright pictures and comic book style commentary give their week a realistic kid-twist that will make readers laugh. The boys learn to use binoculars, practice quiet meditation, and enjoy the great outdoors immensely while eating banana waffles and avoiding a penguin exhibit at the natural history museum.

How do you eat fried worms? Join us tonight at 6 p.m. (Friday, August 22nd) for our Family Film Night and watch the movie, have fun doing wormy crafts, and, if you're brave, have a little snack!

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold on any material, visit or call us at 586-5249.

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