New picture books include 'I'm a Pill Bug,' 'My Friend is Sad'

Posted: Friday, October 05, 2007

Here's a sampling of some of the new picture books at the Juneau Public Libraries that will make you and your young listener smile.

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"Today I will Fly!" and "My Friend is Sad," by Mo Willems. Willems is back with two new primary readers. No pigeon to be seen (except for a cameo on the endpages), just best friends Gerald and Piggie, whose antics are both uplifting and goofy. In the first book, Gerald the elephant, who is naturally inclined toward gloom and pessimism, insists Piggie will never fly, although she insists (pig-headedly) that she will. Convinced that with the right help, even a pig can fly - Piggie does! Gerald's hopes are raised and Piggie gets an opportunity for one of her trademark zingers. The second book once again pits the down-in-the-trunk Gerald against Piggie's ebullience as she tries to cheer her friend up. Everything she does makes him sadder, but when she finally gives up, she finds that Gerald is suddenly very, very happy. Zing! The same bold line drawings that grace Willems' pigeon books are here too, and Gerald and Piggie are exuberant over-actors in their own dramas, making it easy for kids to read the story in pictures as well as words.

"365 Penguins," by Jean-Luc Fromenthal and Joelle Jolivet. The doorbell rings and the lucky family in this extravagantly-sized book receives a New Year's gift of a penguin. Who sent it? Why? And won't this penguin be lonely? Not to worry! The next day, another doorbell, another penguin - 365 days' worth! The son is delighted, his sister less so, especially as the penguin population ratchets up, up, up in this surreal and delightful story. The flat, retro-style illustrations add to the fun, showing the surprisingly expressive penguins bursting forth from every nook and cranny, organized, stacked, numbered and sorted for (temporary) easy storage by Dad.

"The Show-and-tell Lion," written by Barbara Abercrombie, illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath. Matthew doesn't mean to lie, he just wants to impress his class when it's his turn for show-and-tell. But when he opens his mouth, a bit of a story pops out, and he says he has a lion at home. The more he tells the class about Larry, the more real Larry seems, until the class decides to take a field trip to Matthew's house to meet Larry. Now Matthew's worried: how's he going to tell everyone that he made Larry up?

"I'm a Pill Bug," written by Yukihisa Tokuda, illustrated by Kiyoshi Takahashi. Illustrated with cut-paper collages that emphasize the important parts of a pill bug's world, this will entrance young readers from the beginning. All kinds of questions important to very young kids are answered right here, from what pill bugs eat to what eats them. Readers will also discover what pill bug poop looks like, where they live, how they reproduce, and what they do during the winter. Emphasizing gentleness, the author even instructs readers on inviting a pill bug home as a guest for a short time. Delightful and deceptively simple, this is a great introduction to science for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

"Little Lost Bat," written by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks. This is another excellent beginning science book in the guise of a read-aloud picture book. Deep in a cave in Texas, a baby bat is born. His mother nurses him and keeps him warm and always finds him when she returns from catching insects each night. Until, one night, she doesn't come home and he is left alone for several nights. But one night, as he's hungrily wandering the cave roof, calling to her, he hears another bat mother calling for her lost child, and the two adopt each other. Lovely pictures in night colors illustrate this realistic (though somewhat speculative) story, and the end page has lists of further reading and web surfing, bat facts, and an author's note discussing ongoing research on Mexican free-tailed bats.


Local author Emily Wall will read from her new book "Freshly Rooted" in the first of the new Literary First Fridays series at 7 p.m. tonight at the downtown library.

The first of this season's World of Film movie and potluck evenings will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at the downtown library. The first movie will be "Thelonius Monk: Straight, no chaser," with pan-Asian and Tex-Mex fusion potluck.

As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: Call the Juneau Public Libraries at 586-5249, or go online to

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