Funny Fare for Summer Fun


A very amusing reimagining of The Prince & the Pauper,  “The Prince & the Porker”  (Abrams, 3/17) is laugh-out-loud.  Pignatius the pig who adores desserts ends up in the palace kitchen.  He then makes his way into the princes room where he tries on his wig and clothing.  The servants mistake him for the prince and he eats to his heart’s content.  Then the real prince returns.  He decides to let the pig stay and be his double.  The prince gets out of an awful weekly event when he sends the pig in his place.  The illustrations are fabulously funny!


XO, OX A Love Story,” (Roaring Brook Press, 1/17) is a delightful one-sided love story between a besotted ox and a graceful conceited gazelle.  The letters back and forth are written with a wry sense of humor.  The illustrations are hilarious.  It’s hard to describe how funny this book is, but it will bring a smile and a chuckle to all kids and adults alike.


The tale of “Raymond” (Candlewick Press, 5/17), “an ordinary dog, for a while, led an extraordinary life.”  This dog loves his family, and they adore him back.  One day when the family leaves the house for the day, Raymond ventures out into world.  Within days, he begins to act “more like a human.”  He spots “Douge” magazine at the newsstand and goes to interview for a job there.  Raymond becomes a reporter and begins to excel at it.  At night when he returns home to his family he writes on the computer and “he worked himself to the bone.”  He becomes a newscaster on “Dog News.”  Raymond eventually becomes overwhelmed and misses his old life.  He finally returns home to live a “dog’s life.”  The illustrations are simple and wonderfully humorous!

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


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.


Siblings in the Snow


“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.