Illustrations take center stage in these new picture books for the youngest audiences

In the stacks

Posted: Sunday, October 17, 2004

Picture books for little one and big ones to read together!

"Me Baby You Baby," written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff: A day in the life of two moms and their toddlers is told in rhyming couplets, from morning stretches and breakfasts to a meeting of strollers at the corner followed by a trip to the zoo. Soft illustrations show the delight the babies take in their day out and the fun their moms have with them. The animals pictured at the zoo are mostly familiar ones, but just in case the three-toed tree sloth doesn't spring immediately to mind, there is a list of animals in the front of the book.

"Duck, Duck, Goose!" by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey: A clue to this delightful rhyming story can be found on the dedication page, but the story starts when two birds see something coming towards them - maybe a coyote! They run for their lives, telling all the other animals along the way about the coyote that's following them, until the entire barnyard population is cornered in the farmhouse and discovers...? Read it and find out! Ariego and Dewey's colorful illustrations match the energetic text perfectly.

"Miss Bridie chose a Shovel," by Leslie Connor, illustrated by Mary Azarian: A quiet and lovely story about a young immigrant from an unnamed country who could have chosen a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine when she left home in 1856, but instead, took a shovel on the long sea trip. She uses it to improve her new life: to dig a garden in the city, to clear snow off the river so she can go skating (and meet her husband-to-be), to plant an orchard and dig a root cellar for the apples, and so on. A lovely story of a life's ups and downs, brought to life in elegant and expressive woodcuts.

"Sidewalk Circus," by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes: This mostly wordless book shows posters going up on a wall, advertising a circus coming to town. As they go up, a young girl watches from the bus stop across the street, noticing how the butcher resembles the circus strongman and the steel monkey is walking on the steel frame of a new skyscraper above her like the tightrope walker. She gets to watch a whole show, while waitingfor her bus, from clowns and jugglers to stilt walkers and sword swallowers. When her bus arrives, she leaves and a young boy gets off, and a whole new show begins.

"The Foot-stomping Adventures of Clementine Sweet," by Kitty Griffin and Kathy Combs, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka: A tall tale about a little town called Lovett, deep in the heart of Texas, which has the bluest bluebonnets, a spring that never dries up, and one of the best dancers in all of Texas. But it wasn't always that way. For a whole year, the town's toes were terrorized by the youngest of the Sweet family, little Clementine, who went sour and started stomping feet after a bad birthday experience. But with the help of Kyle and his Large Band and a passing tornado, Clementine found a use for her extra-strong legs and tough feet that made everyone happy - even her!

"Superdog: the Heart of a Hero," by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner: Dexter is a small dog with big dreams: he wants to be a superhero! He trains hard, running up and down the block, doing push-ups, and climbing mountains of trash bags, until one day he sees muscles in the mirror. When his superhero suit arrives, it fits perfectly, and he's off to work, escorting puppies across streets, finding lost wallets and kittens, and rescuing mice from the sewer. But what will happen when he's called on to get the big bully Cletus out of a tree?

"Diary of a Wombat," by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley: Wombats (shaped a little like a small bear, or a porcupine without the quills) don't really have too much on their minds other than eating, sleeping, and digging holes, and the sparse text reflects that. Their enchanting nature is reflected in the charming illustrations of the title wombat as she deals with the day-to-day details of her life, which is pretty ordinary, for a wombat. One day though, neighbors move in, and our wombat has many (low-key) adventures discovering carrots, dispatching an intruder, and finding new scratching posts and places to dig.

"Myrtle," by Tracey Campbell Pearson: Myrtle lives a happy life with her parents and her little brother, until Frances moves in next door. Frances is mean. She sings mean songs, calls Myrtle mean names, and hides in the bushes and scares Myrtle and her little brother so much that one day Myrtle decides not to go outside at all anymore. But when Myrtle's Aunt Tizzy comes to visit, bringing souvenirs from Africa with her, Myrtle discovers that she can be in control. Not only a fun story on its own, but also a well-done book on bullying that shows kids a useful and memorable trick todealing with some kinds of bullies that doesn't rely on adult intervention.



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