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“Puff: All About Air” and some other excellent new reads

February 27th, 2024

mist over the trees

(Photo by Rawley/use with permission only, please)

Emily Kate Moon’s new science-themed picture book, “Puff: All About Air,” is a fun one. (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House, scheduled for release March 19, 2024, all ages, $18.99.) Puff and his friends surround our planet with air:

“Like tiny shields, they protect us from dangerous things, like space rocks and radiation. And like puffy little blankets, they hold in heat and keep out cold.”

Great illustrations and an approachable, deft style. Moon also wrote “Drop: An Adventure Through the Water Cycle.”

“The Great Puptective” hits the shelves on March 19, too. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ages 6-9, $12.99.) Author and illustrator Alina Tysoe brings the kids a fun pair of adversaries in Truffles the cat and Poppy the Puptective. Truffles wants her “me time” back, but what will she do to retain the status quo? Sweet illustrations and a frolic of a tale.

And now one for the big kids: “Daughters of the Lamp,” a new book by Nedda Lewers, is book one of two of a new series. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin Random House, 2024, ages 8 and up, 336 pages, $18.99.) Cool mystery starring Sahara Rashad, who travels to Cairo with her dad for a family wedding. A bride-to-be (who might be a witch? What?), a glowing necklace, and Ali Baba’s treasure… and that’s just a little bit of what readers can expect with this well-written and entertaining novel.

And now for one of my favorite subjects: Mariposas. There are so many lovely words in Spanish, but mariposa (butterfly) is one of the best. “A Flicker of Hope: A Story of Migration,” was written by Cynthia Harmony, with illustrations from Devon Holzwarth (Viking, 2024, ages 4 and up, $18.99). Las monarcas (the monarchs) are traveling north, as they do every year, and so is Lucia’s papa, to look for work. This is a sweet, wistful story that will speak to anyone who is anxious, hopeful, and struggling with change.

Great new reads, and more to come. What are you reading this week? Talk soon. All titles used by permission.


“Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover” and other new titles

February 26th, 2024

moon over cedar tree

(Pic by Rawley, use with permission only)

“Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover” is kinda a great title ever, eh? I love it. Say it five times fast, woot! (Written by Lucy Ruth Cummins, illustrations by Pete Oswald, Flamingo Books/Penguin Random House, 2024, ages 3 and up, $18.99.) Sweet little picture book that helps kids get used to the idea of staying over at someone else’s house. It can be a little much, aight?

You know what’s cool? Sleepovers are fun, sure. Well, unless you don’t want to stay anywhere but in your very own bed, which is the case for a lot of us. Copyright laws! Yeah, you never saw that coming, did ya? Many publishers are now including copyright notes in with their Library of Congress info. Here is Peguin’s (used with permission, of course):

“Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.”

And now, for five brand-new board books:

“One,” an awesome little book, was written by Ruth Forman (“Curls,” “Glow,” “Bloom” and “Ours,”… I love this series) with beautiful illustrations by Katura Gaines. (Little Simon; 2023; ages infant and up; $8.99.) Counting/friends/community/love, perfection.

“My Little Lamb” is a puffy little board book from writer Hannah Eliot and illustrator Jennifer A. Bell. (Little Simon; 2024; ages infant and up; $7.99.) Vintage feel to this one, which stars a wee lamb who is happy to venture out… and happy to return home to mama, too.

“’90s Baby” is a second cute new release from Hannah Eliot, this time with art by Alyssa Nassner (Little Simon, 2024, ages babies and big kids, $6.99). Wicked, fly, iconic as can be, as the kids used to say. (I’m not old, you’re old. Now get off my dang lawn and get out of here.)

“Hey, Little Night Owl” was written by Jeffrey Burton, with illustrations from Joy Hwang Ruiz (Little Simon, 2023, ages baby-baby and up, $8.99). “Hey, little night owl, up with the stars. These hours are perfect, all quiet and ours.” Awwww… and the art is warm, amber-colored and happy. Sweet.

Double-down! “Easter Bunny, Where Are You?” is another darling one from Jeffrey Burton, with art by Juliana Motzko (Little Simon, 2024, for babes in arms and older, $8.99). Get a copy of this lift-the-flap book for the Easter baskets, and remember… “Easter Bunny, here we come hopping down the trail. I think I see some bunny ears behind the shiny pail.” Now I’m ready for spring. And candy.

Bon appetit, babies. The titles in this post were all reviewed with permission.


poem of the day — Merwin

February 18th, 2024

For the Anniversary of My Death


“Every year without knowing it I have passed the day   

When the last fires will wave to me

And the silence will set out

Tireless traveler

Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer

Find myself in life as in a strange garment

Surprised at the earth

And the love of one woman

And the shamelessness of men

As today writing after three days of rain

Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease

And bowing not knowing to what”

W. S. Merwin, “For the Anniversary of My Death” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.

Source: The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

Spring books, on the way…

February 17th, 2024

Spring Books 2024

  • Chickens! Bok. “Family is Family,” written by Melissa Marr, with lovely, vibrant art by Marcos Almada Rivero, is a sweet delight about Little Chick, who is becoming aware of other families. (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House; skedded for release 3/5/2024; picture book for all ages, $18.99.) He’s confused when the first-day-of-school-letter from Miss Walrus says to have your mom/dad/big brother or/big sister walk you to school. “First days can seem scary!” But all Little Chick has is his two moms? No dad, no siblings, hmmm… Thoughtfully written and most definitely inclusive.
  • “Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough,” is a new gorgeous picture book from the author-illustrator team of Hayley Rocco and John Rocco. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House; scheduled for release 2/27/2024; all ages; $19.99.) “If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us,” Attenborough said. This British biologist, naturalist, broadcaster and documentarian has been doing the astounding work he does for seven (7) decades. SEVEN DECADES. This is thrilling. Here’s some more info about him. Happy reading, happy viewing, and what a great story. “We must rewild the world,” he said, “If we act now, we can yet put it right.” Please, and thank you. (Includes author’s note, photos, bibliography and more. Peace.)
  • Hello, beauties. “Sourgrass” is a sweet and delightful book about the friendship between two little girls, Sofia and May, who share a love for each other, their homes, playtime and sourgrass. (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster; skedded for release 3/26/2024; $18.99.) Written by Hope Lim, with illustrations by Shahrzad Maydani, this is an ethereal, delicate and powerful picture book. Highly recommend all three of these titles.

Bon appetit, babies. Enjoy your weekend.



February 11th, 2024

“A time it was, and what a time it was, it was/ a time of innocence/ a time of confidences…” — “Old Friends/Bookends,” Simon & Garfunkel

Steve and I split up a few years ago and I still can’t really write about it, wrap my head around it. So I won’t.

(All photos by Steve P. Rawley/use with permission only, please)

Apple Blossom time


Keeping a watchful eye

A little help from our friend

berry patch

Onion bed Work in progress work in progress North Portland transplant Chicks and hens Planted!! Progress Florette Getting established Finally ripening World's smallest watermelon? Columbine Stepping out granny smith

and sometimes…

February 10th, 2024

Then & Now

“Miaow” (Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley/2023/use with permission only, por favor)

…I just want to read, not review. So that’s what I’m doing. What’s on the coffee table today?

Bon appetit and have a superfine weekend.


“Go Forth and Tell” and other new picture books

February 9th, 2024

Spring Books 2024

  • I reviewed “Mazie’s Amazing Machines” awhile back, and wanted to give it another shout-out. It’s a heck of a picture book. (Written by Sheryl Haft, with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes; Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House; 2023, all ages, $18.99.) Whether she’s building a Roly-Ramp, a Pulley-Lifter, or a supercool Waker-Upper Rocket Machine, Mazie McGear is always getting creative and helping others at the same time. Woof, Doodle! Love this one for bringing STEM and STEAM to life. (In honor of National Engineering Week, Feb. 18-24.)
  • “God’s Little Astronomer,” is science and theology from writer/elementary teacher Tina Cho, with sweet drawings by Spanish illustrator Marta Alvarez Miguens. The littles are given Bible verses along with info on the constellations, dwarf planets, and all 100 billion galaxies in the universe. (WaterBrook, scheduled for release Feb. 20, 2024, 40 pages, all ages, $12.99.)
  • “Go Forth and Tell: The Life of Augusta Baker, Librarian and Master Storyteller,” is the newest release from Breanna J. McDaniel and April Harrison. Augusta Baker’s story needs to go in all the school libraries, asap. You know how I feel about librarians, especially the ones with big personalities and huge spirits. This was Baker, who was the first Black coordinator of children’s services at all branches of the New York Public Library, and a champion of books, always. Beautiful work from McDaniel, who also wrote “Hands Up!” and “Impossible Moon,” and Harrison, who is a 2023 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award winner.
  • “Algo, algun dia” (“Something, Someday”) is a lovely new book by Amanda Gorman, author, and Christian Robinson (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2024, ages 4 and up, $18.99). The translation was done by Jasminne Mendez, and the book is also available in English. The Presidential Inaugural Poet has a done a deft job, with a light hand and confidence, in giving us this tale of a child, who with the help of his friends, sees hope and growth where others see brokenness and trash.