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Wednesday Book Review: “Roar: A Dinosaur Tour,” by Michael Paul; Wee Society’s “Go! My Adventure Journal”; Life in the Country, it’s righteous

April 11th, 2018

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(Star Magnolia — Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

First up…

*“Roar: A Dinosaur Tour,” by Michael Paul (Crown Books, 2018, ages 2-5, 40 pages, $16.99). Super cute (can you say that about dinosaurs?). The illustrations remind me of Ezra Jack Keats’ work, with the paper cut-outs. (I’m not sure if this one was computer-designed or not, but it’s colorful and has good movement.) Why do kids like dinosaurs so much? They’re bigger than parents, and they’re extinct. The pronunciation guide in the front is great, too.

Now, some notes about life in the country. I’ve never lived in the country before. Well, okay, I did once, but I wasn’t there for very long. The plumbing kept breaking, and no working toilets + no working shower/tub means I’m out of there, babies. But we did have a creek, and crawdads, and that was good. I have a creek here, too. It’s a come-and-go creek — it only runs part of the year.

That’s cool.

Spring day/country

(“Pluck-Pluck!” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That’s not my creek, those are my chickens. They lay red eggs and green eggs and brown eggs. They’re versatile as hell.

Spring day/country

(“Up a Crick,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That’s my creek.

Next book…

*”Let’s Go!” (Clarkson Potter, Wee Society, $14.99.) Wee Society also brought us “A Box of Awesome Things,” which was, indeed, awesome, “Me: A Compendium,” “An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things” and “Wee Alphas Postcards.” Very fun book to take along on a trip, so kids can record all kinds of stuff. Postcards and stickers included, score!

Spring day/country

(“Rose in April,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That is one of my roses. The deer haven’t broken down the deer fence yet, so I have about half a dozen in the garden. The chickens weeded all around them and aerated the dirt, so I’m thinking we’ll all going to have a good summer, the chickens, the roses, the deer and me.

Ciao, babies.

WM

Wednesday Book Review, with love from me to you: “Poe Won’t Go,” by Kelly DiPucchio & Zachariah Ohora; “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins; “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick & Chris Raschka; plus an update on your girl, Wacky Mommy

April 4th, 2018

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Hello, loveys!

I’m writing at Starbucks, sucking up their handy free wifi, because the country doesn’t have internet. Well, it will once the cable guy shows up, but who knows when that will happen. Above? Those are my chickens! Hello, ladies! I have a little flock now. They’re not too much work. They like to snuggle, WTH? I didn’t expect that. But they sometimes have ticks, mites and chicken lice and dang, the country is sure fun! One of them laid an egg without a shell, that was weird. (Yes, they’re getting their calcium, it was stress from the skunks living under their coop, I think? So we have an appointment with the pest control guy, the ladies and I. Country living, it’s where it’s at.)

Yes, I do have the theme to “Green Acres” going through my head several times a day, thanks for asking.

The neighbor girls are enthralled by the chickens, my son is great about helping clean the coop and care for them, and I have eggs to sell and give away. So… long-time readers will recall all the times I made fun of “chicken people.” hahahahahahaha, the joke is on me, babies. I (heart) chickens.

Silver linings, here and there. Steve and I got divorced, I moved to a new town, found a new job, made some new friends and caught up with old friends. My kids get some freedom and don’t have to deal with dueling parents anymore, I have a house in the country now (see: ticks, see: skunks, see: my dogs chasing deer), and I still write. And someone gave me a flock of chickens, food and a coop, and there I go. “Reboot Time,” as my late ex-husband would say. The dogs have expressed an interest in “getting to know” the chickens better. This request has been denied.

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Nice, fresh, organic eggs. Because chickens.

On to the book reviews…

* “Poe Won’t Go,” written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). What is up with Poe? He’s sitting in the middle of the road in Prickly Valley and just. Won’t. Move.

“People begged. Please? And booed. Jeez! and bribed. Cheese? But Poe still wouldn’t go.”

Retro illustrations, a funny story, and who doesn’t love a stubborn elephant?

* “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion, on sale June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 48 pages, $17.99). C’mon, Penelope Rex. You can want to eat your friends up, but you can’t actually eat your friends up. Where do people come up with these cool ideas for kids’ books? Cracks me up that they put a disclaimer in the front: “You will never be eaten by a T. rex. They are extinct. I promise.” Lol.

Penelope is nervous about starting school, in spite of being reassured by her parents. In spite of her new backpack with ponies on it. In spite of her lunch of 300 tuna sandwiches (and one apple juice). Will everyone like her before she accidentally eats them up? Cool illustrations, a funny (and educational!) story, and a goldfish named Walter. Perfecto.

* “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Chris Raschka (Disney-Hyperion, release date June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). This book is so good that if I was rich, I’d buy a copy and give it to every substitute teacher I could find. Where’s Mrs. Giordano? Who is this Miss Pelly-like-a-pelican? Doesn’t she know that library is today? And that the classroom turtle might die if his tank doesn’t get cleaned?

Something that adults really minimize is that children worry. Oh, how they worry. Adults know this, but they assume that they know what kids are worrying about.

They don’t.

Sweet illustrations by the ever-talented Chris Raschka, great poetry by Scanlon and Vernick. Two thumbs up.

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Those are daffodils from my yard. I’ve counted half a dozen different varieties. They make me happy. The Lenox vase was a wedding gift, twenty years ago this summer, from my first grade teacher. She was there, with her daughter. Love & marriage/love & marriage. It’s true with (mostly) everything, right? Silver linings. I miss being married, but I don’t miss being lonely.

All for now.

xo and bon appetit!

WM

PS — my disclaimer. It needs an update — I haven’t sold ads on here in years. They kept crashing shit.

Tuesday Book Review: “Groundhug Day,” by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise; “A Hippy-Hoppy Toad,” by Peggy Archer & Anne Wilsdorf; “Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell & Dandy,” by Fiona Woodcock

March 27th, 2018

“Groundhug Day,” by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise, is first on my review list today. OK, “Groundhug,” get it? Super cute. This Valentine’s book is way overdue for a review. Groundhog’s friends try to fake him out — they don’t want him to disappear for six weeks after Groundhog Day and miss candy and hearts day. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of hugging going on in this book. Sweet, funny, and darling illustrations. (Disney-Hyperion, 2017, $17.99.)

“A Hippy-Hoppy Toad,” by Peggy Archer and Anne Wilsdorf, is a good one to read to the kiddos as part of a round-up of spring books. A small toad is minding his own, trying to avoid birds, dogs, crickets and everyone else who is bothering him. Nice earth tones for the illustrations, and a good cadence to the story. (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2018, 40 pages, ages 3-7, $16.99.)

The sweet fairies in “Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell & Dandy” (book by the charmingly-named Fiona Woodcock), want to lively things up colorfully in a world that has turned flat and gray. The author/illustrator uses blow pens, stencils and cool printing techniques for her art. She has a unique style, it’s beautiful, light, and springs off the page. (This is another good one for a spring round-up.) The story? It’s good, too. You know I love a little “hey kids, let’s put on a show!” (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, 32 pages, ages 3-7, $17.99.)

xo, bon appetit, and happy spring from WM

Wednesday Book Review, my friends: “drawn together,” by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat; “A Kiss Goodnight,” Disney; “This Story Is For You,” by Greg Pizzoli & “Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Deck the Malls!” by MacKenzie Cadenhead & Sean Ryan

March 21st, 2018

“drawn together,” by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion Books, on sale June 5th, 2018, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-5). I know that they have to, for sales purposes, but I wish book publishers didn’t tag everything with an “age label.” I love picture books! I always have, I always will, and also? The big kids who are struggling to read can sometimes be coaxed into it with a cool picture book. (Have I gone off on this tirade before? The “don’t pigeon-hole picture books, dang it!” tirade? Possibly.) (Idea #15: You hand a picture book to a big kid, even a grown-up who is in need, and you say, “It will give you ideas for your art.” Alternately, “It will give you ideas.” lol.)

All of this leads to my first review, and this book? This book pulls away from the pack, I must say. (But the others are pretty awesome, too.) You can pre-order from whoever, or just wait until June when it’s released.

Minh Le is first-generation Vietnamese-American who also wrote “Let Me Finish!” and has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book and the Huffington Post. His bio says that he likes to spend time with his wife and sons, and his other favorite spot is “in the middle of a good book.” Awww…

“drawn together” is the (possibly? mostly?) autobiographical story of a young boy and his grandfather. It’s drawn beautifully by Dan Santat (Caldecott Award winner for “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” — brilliant book, my students really enjoyed it), where was I going with this, y’all? Santat illustrates it in the style of a graphic novel, then morphs into explosions of color that would work well as large-scale paintings. It’s a cool surprise, like the “Horse of a Different Color” in the “Wizard of Oz.”

I’m just saying.

Next up?

“A Kiss Goodnight” is what Walt Disney called the nightly fireworks display (which was his idea) at Disneyland. Richard Sherman wrote the song, and Disney came up with a companion book, based on Walt’s hardscrabble childhood, and his journey to create Disneyland. Cool book, sweet song, and it comes with a CD. (Published by Disney, but of course, 2017, $19.99.)

“This Story Is For You,” written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, is a great way of expressing to kids just how important they are to us. (Disney-Hyperion, on sale April 3rd, 2018, 48 pages, $16.99, ages 3-5 — or is it? lol.) Pizzoli’s other books include “Good Night Owl,” “Templeton Gets His Wish” and “Number One Sam.”

I completely overlooked “Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures, Deck the Malls!” over the holidays. (Marvel Kids, by MacKenzie Cadenhead and Sean Ryan, 2017, 77 pages, $4.99.) This lively early chapter book stars Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Venom.

Go, go, go!

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

All-New Sunday Book Review — Grown-up Books: “Seventeenth Century Poetry: The Schools of Donne and Jonson”; “Phenomenal,” by Leigh Ann Henion; and “When Parents Part: How Mothers & Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation & Divorce,” by Penelope Leach

December 11th, 2016

through the fog

“Through the Fog”
Photo by Steve Rawley

* Seventeenth Century Poetry: The Schools of Donne and Jonson, edited by Hugh Kenner. This book will always, always, forever have a place on my bookshelf. One of my favorite classes at Portland State University, when I attended, with the late, brilliant John “Jack” Cooper.

* “Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World,” by Leigh Ann Henion (Penguin Press, 2015, $26.95, 276 pages). Henion got a lot of grief for this book because of course she did, she’s a woman. Moms aren’t allowed to freak out, go on vision quests, leave their wee babies (children, teens, adult children) alone for a week or more at a time. Screw that, eh? Just sayin’.

It’s a cool book, well-written, funny, rich with detail, images and stories. As someone who doesn’t travel a lot, I always do appreciate the chance to be an armchair traveler. Henion was moved by visiting the site where monarch butterflies gather, in Central Mexico. Later, she had a son, then had, as many of us do, a challenging time. I loved this section, in particular:

“One night, when Matt finds me wailing in unison with our son, he tells me I should take a break because my emotions aren’t good for Archer. Only then do I understand I’ve entered a phase of my life when people seldom consider what might be good for me. Even I somehow don’t feel it’s acceptable for me to think about my own needs — physical or otherwise.

“Not long after Matt chastises me for crying, I tell him it’s time for Archer to go to his own room. I want him to feel safe and secure, but I have given so much of myself I feel hollow. An actual shell of my former being. And if I have no enthusiasm, no wonder, no want for life inside of me, how am I going to nourish my child?”

Worth asking, isn’t it?

She checks out the bioluminescence in Puerto Rico, the Great Migration in Tanzania, a total solar eclipse in Australia, the Northern Lights in Sweden, and a bunch of other cool events and places. I got a big smile from this book.

“When Parents Part: How Mothers & Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation & Divorce,” by Penelope Leach (Vintage Books, 2016, $16.00, 272 pages). Did you know that fifty percent of marriages actually don’t end in divorce? People are staying married. About two-thirds of us, currently. Hmmm. You like apples? How you like them apples? So I have a better idea. Stay married. Tough it out. Forgive each other. Love on each other. Show your kids how grown-ups navigate through fire, and come out the other side, stronger and better.

OK, unless there’s violence or sexual abuse or any of that crap going on. Then dump their ass.

That’s all for now!

xo and happy, happy holidays.

wm

On My Nightstand: Tuesday Edition — “Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille,” “Freckleface Strawberry and the Really Big Voice,” “123 Dream” & “Penguin Problems”

September 13th, 2016

* “Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille,” by Jen Bryant, with illustrations by Boris Kulikow, is a fantastic biography of a super-cool inventor. (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016, ages 4-8 (and up) 40 pages, $17.99.) Braille lost his sight at age 5 due to an accident in his father’s leather-working shop. He later went to the Royal School for the blind, in Paris, and was frustrated that there were no books he could read.

Braille improvised and improved on a code invented by a French army captain, and the rest is history. Great storytelling, the art is engaging, and man, do I love young adult biographies and autobiographies. What a lovely tribute to a cool guy whose project, and success in pulling it off, has touched so many. The Braille alphabet (not in Braille, though) is printed in the front of the book, along with a pronunciation guide to French phrases used in the book. Fini!

* “Freckleface Strawberry and the Really Big Voice” is the latest installment in the series by actress Julianne Moore, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham. (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, ages 3-7, $16.99.) There is a time for quiet, inside voices, my friends, and there is a time for BIG, LOUD, OUTSIDE VOICES! Let’s hope someone helps Freckleface’s bestie, Windy Pants Patrick, figure out what’s what. Sweet book.

* “1 2 3 Dream,” by Portland, Ore. author and illustrator Kim Krans, is an ethereal, whimsical picture book. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016, ages 3-7 (and up) 48 pages, $16.99.) It’s a companion book to Krans’ “A B C Dream,” which is another lovely title. She’s from Portland, is she in a band? Why, yes, she and her husband Jonny’s band is called Family Band. In case you were wondering :)

* Penguins are so sensitive, in the words of Lyle Lovett. They are! They have problems, too, y’know. Just ask them. Luckily Jory John (also from Portland, and he teaches songwriting and guitar, so maybe he has a band? What say you?) and Lane Smith are here to advocate for them in “Penguin Problems.” (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, ages 3-7, $17.99.) Their beaks get cold. There is a LOT of squawking. All of that snow is bright. You might get gobbled up by someone bigger than you. Really funny picture book with just the right amount of sass and empathy. John also wrote “I Will Chomp You!” and Smith… oh, he’s just the author of one of the best children’s books ever, “It’s A Book.” And what’s that one book he illustrated? Oh, right… with his buddy Jon Scieszka? “The Stinky Cheese Man.” Buy two copies and give one away.

Bon appetit, babies.

– wacky mommy

On My Nightstand: Monday Book Review — “Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones,” “A Perfect Mess,” “The Perfect Dog,” “Full of Beans” and “Coloring For Moms & Moms-to-Be”

August 22nd, 2016

* The Skippyjon Jones series was always popular with my students. The Spanglish bugged me at first, I thought it was a little much… (“Then, using his very best Spanish accent, he added, “My ears are too beeg for my head, and my head won’t fit into my bed…”) but the kids responded to it, and we would turn the books into fast Spanish lessons, along with a fun story time. Judy Schachner is the author and illustrator of the series. (Scholastic, 2007, $4.99.) Dinosaurs? A Siamese cat who pretends he’s a Chihuahua? A fun, fast rhythm to the words? We’re in.

* “A Perfect Mess,” written and illustrated by Steve Breen (Penguin Random House, 2016, ages 3-5, unpaged, $16.99) is a really cool picture book. (You may recognize the art of Breen, who also writes the comic strip “Grand Avenue,” and is the author of the children’s books “Pug & Doug,” “Stick” and “Violet the Pilot.”) Kids’ books are usually described as “heart-warming,” “tender,” and blah-blah sweetness deluxe, but this one is. Henry McHenry, “one messy rhino,” is so ready for class picture day. He’s wearing his nicest shirt, he has an emergency pack of wet wipes. He’ll be clean by the time pictures are taken… but what about the rest of his class? Good pick for back-to-school.

* “Who has the best dog in all the land?” I was cooing at our new puppy last week. My son, cheerful as heck, says, “I don’t know who, but not us!” He’s wrong. Wacky Dog 2.0 is pretty, pretty good. If only she would learn to stop peeing in the house. And eating the cat food. And devouring the garbage. (She’s got a lot in common with Angus, aka Wacky Dog 1.0.) So Kevin O’Malley’s “The Perfect Dog” has arrived at Wacky House at a very opportune time. And look! Open the bookjacket, look inside, lower right-corner… There’s a Yellow Labrador Retriever, just like our dear Wacky Dog 2.0. Hers a big girl, y’all. (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016, $17.99.)

“My parents said we could get a dog. ‘And I know the perfect dog…’”

Uh. Is it one that doesn’t pee all over everything? Just wonderin’. Anyway. This book makes me happy, and I’m sure the kiddies will love it, too.

O’Malley also co-authors and illustrates the Miss Malarkey series, which is super fun. Check it out if you’re not familiar with the titles. #booksteachersandkidslove

* “Full of Beans” is the newest by dear, sweet and funny Jennifer L. Holm. Do you know the very talented Jenni Holm? If not, you should. She and her equally-talented bro, Matthew Holm, co-author the “Babymouse” and “Squish” series. Her book “The Fourteenth Goldfish” was a big hit, and she also writes some very cool historical fiction (“Our Only May Amelia”) and now, “Full of Beans,” (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016, ages 8-12, $16.99, 208 pages), the sequel to “Turtle in Paradise.”

Now comes Beans Curry, a Depression-era kid whose family, along with lots of others, is destitute. He needs cash fast and doesn’t really care how he gets it. How far will he go, though? Who will he trust? And who will find out? Great read — one of those high/low’s I loved as a teacher. (High interest for low reading level.) Holm works in a lot of interesting info about Roosevelt’s New Dealers, along with a great story and funny sidekicks. “What in the history of cheese?”

* And now, the best for last: “Coloring for Moms and Moms-To-Be” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Little Tiger Press & Bethan Janine, 2016, $9.99.) I’m one of those freaks who never stopped coloring. I used to hide it from people, so now that it’s “a thing,” I’m super happy. Break out the colored pencils and start doodling in the butterflies, flowers and onesies, hot-air balloons, elephants and cupcakes. You may have to hide this one from the bigger kids. :) Awesome baby shower gift, of course. Pages and pencils or crayons would be cute decorating the tables.

Bon appetit, babies.

– wm

Saturday Book Review: For the Kids! “Day Dreamers, A Journey of Imagination,” “Ninja Bunny: Sister Vs. Brother” & “The Opposite Zoo”

August 6th, 2016

New on the nightstand this week…

* We begin with “Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination,” by Emily Winfield Martin (a Portland, Oregon author!). (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, ages 2-5, $8.99.)
This really is a day dream of a book, all soft colors and lyrical words. (My former students were fond of yelling, “It’s a rhyming book!” when I would ask, What sort of book is this?) This is a rhyming book, and it’s darling.

* “Ninja Bunny: Sister Vs. Brother” is here! (Random House Children’s Books, 2016,32 pages, $16.99.) Even though I write, I sometimes do wonder where writers get their ideas. (Harlan Ellison said he got his from a “mail-order house in Schenectady.”) The premise of this book is pretty cute, hi-YAH!. The art is colorful, playful, and engaging. Ninja Bunny (aka a big brother who likes to dress up) is in search of The Carrot of Awesomeness. A little ninja (baby sister) decides to tag along because of course she does. “Play with your sister, dear,” calls Mom. How will it end?

* “The Opposite Zoo,” by Il Sung Na, is a very cool picture book for the littles. (Random House, 2016, 24 pages, $16.99.) Each page, with one or two animals, contains one word. AWAKE!, Asleep, Hairy, Bald, Shy, Bold and so one. I love the stripped-down approach — it gives kids a chance to fill in their own stories for each page. The detail in the drawings is exquisite, rich and inventive. This would make for a great bedtime story.

Bon appetit, babies!

– wm

On My Nightstand, Wednesday Edition… More for the Kiddos: “La Madre Goose,” “How to Mend a Heart” & “Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story”

July 6th, 2016

And now… a few more reviews! (The stack on the nightstand is threatening to topple over, my friends.)

* Well, this one is pretty cool. “La Madre Goose,” by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Penguin Random House/Penguin Young Readers, 2016, ages 5-8, unpaged, $16.99) Beautiful rendition of the classic stories, and in Spanish. Well, Spanglish, make that :) America has become a bilingual country, with our two languages being snark and slang. Kidding. English and Spanish, duh. And the more practice we all get in both languages, the better.

“This little cerdo went to market,
this little cerdo stayed home.
This little cerdo had roasted carne,
this little cerdo had none.
This little cerdo cried oink, oink, oink,
all the way home.”

OK, I don’t know why it never bothered me in English, but it does bother me in Spanish that the little piggy had roast beef, and shouldn’t it be “cerdito,” not cerdo? But let’s not quibble. I love that it’s bilingual, I love that people are making an effort at dual-immersion, and the art? Colorful and light, engaging and with a lot of movement and charm. (Especially for “Three Little Gatitos.” Sweetness.)

July 6th — as good a day as any for a much-overdue holiday round-up, right? Sure thing. Especially since I don’t have any Fourth of July books. So how about…

* Valentine’s! “How to Mend a Heart,” written and illustrated by Sara Gillingham (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015, $16.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages). This one is a companion book to Gillingham’s “How to Grow a Friend.” I am a sucker for anything that reminds me of Colorforms, and the artist’s mixed media does that for me. (Do you know Colorforms? Plastic pieces of happiness.) This is a swell little book about how to deal with life, if you’re getting over heartache, having a big problem or small, what have you. Trim the loose threads, don’t give up! Life lessons. The art is super cute. (Paper/tape/glue? Collage? I don’t know what all Gillingham did to put this treasure together, but it works.) She also co-created the “In My…” series for Chronicle Books and the Empowerment series of board books for Abrams Appleseed, if you’d like to see more of her projects.

* Thanksgiving! “Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story,” written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry. (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015, $17.99, grades preschool-3, unpaged.) The illustrations are pretty — McElmurry used gouache on watercolor paper. It has a “Little House in the Big Woods” feel to it.

Now, a quote of the day, for old times’ sake?

“I failed typing. I failed draping. I was fired from Anne Klein, rehired and fired again when I asked to design my own collection. Everything in life can’t be a plus. The minuses are equally important.” — Donna Karan, designer, visionary, failed typist

And with that, I bid you adieu.

– wm

On My Nightstand, Wednesday Edition: Kids’ Books Galore… “Pretty Minnie in Hollywood,” “Douglas, You Need Glasses!” & “Three Magic Balloons”

June 1st, 2016

2016-05-30_04-34-44

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Books for summer, people… Here they are, all for the 3-7 set, and all sweetness and light:

“Pretty Minnie in Hollywood,” by Danielle Steel (the Danielle Steel), with illustrations by Kristi Valiant, for ages 3-7. (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 32 pages, $17.99.) (A brief digression: Ms. Steel’s bio informs us that she has sold more than 600 million copies of her books, in 69 countries and 43 languages.) (Whoa.) This sequel to “Pretty Minnie in Paris” is pretty, pretty cute. I could have done with fewer! exclamation points! but I don’t think the kids will mind. Teacup chihuahua Minnie and her best friend, Francoise, travel to Hollywood with Francoise’s mommy, who is a dress designer. (Pretty clothes figure prominently in the book.) They meet the nasty, nasty Fifi. How will this end? Sweet, funny, reminiscent of the Eloise books, and the illustrations? They just couldn’t be more pink and sparkly. Darling book.

“Douglas, You Need Glasses!” written and illustrated by Ged Adamson, for ages 3-7. Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 40 pages, $16.99.) Doggie Douglas and his BFF Nancy love to watch TV. But he has to sit so close. Also? He sometimes confuses leaves with squirrels. And he walks into things a lot. So off to the optometrist they go. Funny story, cool illustrations, and a good way to talk with the littles about glasses. The publisher is doing a social media tie-in with this one: Use the hashtags #douglasyouneedglasses and #RandomHouseKids and submit pix of your kids wearing glasses. Ged Adamson also wrote “Meet the McKaws” and “Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser.”

“Three Magic Balloons, as told to Julianna Margulies and Her Sisters,” by Paul Margulies, for ages 3-7. (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 40 pages, $17.99.) Illustrations are by Grant Shaffer, who, by the by, is married to my boyfriend Alan Cumming. (Yes, I read every last word of the press release.) OK, this is a cool project. Ms. Margulies, who recently broke my heart when her show “The Good Wife” ended after a seven-year run (yours truly watched every damn episode omg i loved that show)… Anyway, my heartbreaker has a cool story to share with us. Her dad, Paul, was a writer (and an ad exec) who published two kids’ books in his lifetime: “Gold Steps, Stone Steps,” and “What Julianna Could See.” Ms. Margulies and her sisters, Rachel and Alexandra, found this manuscript after he passed, wanted a friend (Mr. Shaffer) to illustrate, and voila!

This is a magical little book about three sisters who love their trips to the zoo with their dad. One day, they’re gifted with three balloons. What happens next? Get a copy of the book and see :) I love the story, I love that the author doesn’t talk down to kids, and the illustrations fit in so well, I thought at first the author was also the artist who drew them.

Nice work.

Best, bon appetit, babies, and talk more soon.

– wm

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