Spring has Sprung!

The Butterfly Garden by Laura Weston

The Butterfly Garden,” (Big Picture Press, 4/17) is an exquisite journey of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle.  At first, the pages are black and white, but as you lift the flaps, the most gorgeous colors lay underneath.  This is at once a nature book, an art book, and an interactive book.  It’s a standout!!

Plant the Tiny Seed

An uncomplicated Spring story, “Plant the Tiny Seed” (Greenwillow 1/17) is a toddler’s delight. “There’s magic in this tiny seed,” begins the book. With some sun, a bit of rain, and a little assistance from bees and birds, we navigate the simplicity of how a tiny seed grows into a beautiful flower.  With a gentle nudge to press the seed, a wiggle of your fingers, and a clap of your hands, a magical bloom will appear.  Delightfully, the book concludes with instructions on how to grow zinnias.

Hooray for Birds!

A must-have book for its vibrant color and dynamic illustrations is “Hooray for Birds“(Candlewick Press, 3/17).  The pink flamingo “stand very tall on just one leg,” and “run like an ostrich, go, go, go.”  This oversize playful book will delight your toddlers over and over again!  Another fabulous book from Lucy Cousins.

Wonders and Dreams

Everywhere, Wonder

Everywhere Wonder” (Imprint, 2/17) begins with “I have a story to share —You never know what you might see or where your mind might take you.  So keep your eyes wide open as you go.”  We start on a journey with our narrator and guide, a young boy.  He encourages us to explore the jungles of Brazil, the Arizona canyons, the pyramids in Egypt.  After visiting the North Pole we return home to discover stories and beauty in everyday things.  The illustrations are simple, yet colorful and engaging.  This is a wonderful book for all ages that stretches the imagination and allows the reader to create their own stories and adventures.

If i had a little dream 9781481439244 hr

A lovely sweet new picture book “If I had a little Dream” (Simon & Schuster, 2/17) has an inspiring theme.  The illustrations are whimsical and dreamlike.  Like “Everywhere Wonder,” this book also suggests that the world is full of possibilities.  Each page is a rhyme “If I had a little Book, I would name it Friend.  Friend would go wherever I went our story would never end.”  The enchanting drawings and exquisite words make this book a treasure to share.

 

BookSmart “Family” Member Debuts Novel

sardinian-sky

How delightful to hear from a former “BookSmart” employee who’s an actor (of course), now residing in London.  He told me his wife’s first book will be published by Kensington Books.

Cory English sent me a galley of Sara Alexander’s “Under a Sardinian Sky.”

Beginning in London 2007, the story travels back to Sardinia, Italy 1952 to uncover a family’s secret.

It’s a compelling story about a Sardinian woman,her devotion to her family, her loves and ambitions. Do not read this book if you’re hungry — the details and descriptions of the Italian food are tantalizing and mouth watering!

It’s a great debut novel!

“Under a Sardinian Sky” will be published on April 25, 2017.

Favorite Fiction of 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

While I regularly write about children’s books, I digress to share my favorite adult fiction books of the year.

In 2016, I read 56 novels.  Choosing my top 10 was difficult — but I did it, and wanted to share this list.  In no particular order.

Railwayman’s Wife (Atria).  Set in Australia this sad, yet beautiful tale of grief and love is the most exquisite prose I’ve encountered.  I read each page slowly and deliberately to take in each perfectly placed word.

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Reputations (Riverhead).  A spare but overwhelming story of a hugely influential and powerful Columbian political cartoonist who suddenly has to question and re-evaluate his past.

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Another Brooklyn (Amistad).  A gorgeous lyrical poetic novel about childhood friendships in 1920’s Brooklyn filled with promises.

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The Nix (Knopf).  Written with a sharp wit and dark humor, this is a large book about a mother-son relationship involving politics and pop culture.

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Leaving Lucy Pear (Viking).  This is historical fiction set in 1920’s New England.  An engrossing and moving story about women and motherhood.

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Britt Marie was Here (Atria).  Britt Marie is a fussy and intolerant woman.  The story of her transformation into an emotional and thoughtful character is outrageously funny and had me laughing out loud.  Brilliant book!!

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History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press).  An elegantly crafted book about a teenage girl living in frozen tundra Minnesota.  It’s tragic and moving and thought provoking.  (This is a January 2017 release.)

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Swing Time (Penguin).  A tale of two young racially mixed girls in London dreaming of becoming dancers.  It’s an engaging story of race, class and childhood friendships and how they develop and diverge.

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The Mothers (Riverhead).  A compelling story of motherhood in every aspect.  Intelligent and moving, it captures the essence of loss, secrets and love.

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Wangs vs. the World (HMH).  A scorchingly funny saga about an ultra wealthy Chinese-American family.  They lose it all, and embark on a hilarious cross-country field trip.

 

Gentle introduction to gender identity

Media of Introducing Teddy

A lovely story, “Introducing Teddy, a gentle story about gender and friendship,” (Bloomsbury, May 2016) helps young ones understand gender identity and transition.

Teddy knows in her heart that she is a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.  She is so sad until her best friend Errol exclaims that whether she is called Teddy or Tilly, he will always be her friend.  It’s a compassionate book about being true to yourself, and the importance of friendship and acceptance.

One of the best new picture books of 2016.

#transgender

Siblings in the Snow

Pigloo

“Pigloo”  (Henry Holt, October,2016), is an explorer.  He is determined to make it to the North Pole.  His big sister Paisley is discouraging.  Pigloo knows he must be brave and patient to be an explorer.  With humorous text and adorable illustrations, this book is about a big sister helping her baby brother follow his dreams.  And they don’t even have to leave their backyard!

How to Build a Snow Bear

Another new sibling snow book, “How to Build a Snow Bear” (FSG, September, 2016), is about two brothers.  Thomas wants to build the “biggest and best snowman ever.”  He tries his best, but he needs some assistance.  He tries to wake his little brother who is already dressed, and thinks he’s a bear.  Thomas tries everything to wake up his brother. He sings, he tickles — nothing works.  He decides to bake the “bear’s” favorite treat — chocolate chip cookies, and the smell lures him out of bed.  Then, they bundle up, go outside, and make their snowman.  The little brother has brought two cookies with him and uses them to make the snowman’s ears.  They have created together, the “biggest, best snow bear ever!”  They play together until dusk, and go inside for cocoa and a favorite book. This is a sweet book about two brothers.

Children of the World

Two very different picture books, both inspiring and relevant.

“The Barefoot Book of Children” (Barefoot Books, October, 2016) is a wondrous book about children all over the world.  It begins: “Every morning, millions of children open their eyes and start another day.”  The opposite page has 21 pairs of eyes of every  color and shape. The first part of the book has lovely illustrations with simple text describing children from around the world.  The second half of the book navigates the reader through lifestyle specifics around the globe.  It describes diverse homes, clothes, hobbies, work, food, languages, holidays, and faiths.  This book encourages thoughts and discussions.  The illustrations are straightforward and bright.  I endorse this book to children of all ages to be inspired and engaged.

A very unusual and artistic picture book is “What is a Child” (Tate/Abrams, September, 2016).  Also an over-sized format, the book has text on one page and an illustration opposite it.  It begins: “A Child is a small person.  They are only small for a little while, then they grow up.  They grow up without even thinking about it.”  The pictures are vibrant and dynamic. Some are silly, and many are witty, and they represent a medley of kids.  This stands out as an expressive art book in which each child is unique.