April Daze

   April Daze! There are a plethora of things to celebrate in April, from libraries to pets, humor, baseball, religious holidays, diversity-and yes, even frogs!. Take your pick with these books.Web links to additional information and activities about April follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson

Reviews

Ah Ha!

Jeff Mack

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Reprising the ultrasimplified storytelling of Good News, Bad News, Mack uses just a few interjections (and just two letters)-“AH HA,” “AAHH,” and “HA HA”-to capture an impressive range of emotions while telling a story that’s as funny as it is fraught with incident. Frog just wants to kick back and loll in the sun, but no one else got the memo. A kid tries to take him home in a jar, and Frog’s fellow ecosystem inhabitants (a turtle, gator, and flamingo) want him for a snack. “AH HA” can evoke the joy of finding the perfect snoozing place, the triumph of outfoxing a predator, or the apparently imminent triumph of said predator; “AAHH” can be a sigh of relief or Mack’s version of the Wilhelm scream. Read-alouds ought to be gripping performances, with ample opportunities for audience interaction. But this is more than just a great script: it’s gorgeous, too, with lush and tightly composed images, hypersaturated colors, and textures reminiscent of midcentury printing. 2013, Chronicle, Ages 3-5, $16.99.

REVIEWER: *Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781452112657

April Fool, Phyllis

Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

Punxsutawney Phyllis, Weather Prophet Extraordinaire, returns. When she tells her groundhog family on April first that they will have to cancel the Spring Treasure Hunt because a blizzard is coming, no one will believe her. They figure it’s an April Fool’s joke, and they try to trick her accordingly. Although Phyllis worries that people will be endangered by the weather, the treasure hunt begins. The searchers follow the clues, from one to the next. By the time they reach the last, a real puzzler, it is snowing too heavily to see their way home. Clever Phyllis has them follow the sap line from maple tree to maple tree to the sugarhouse. Thus, the April Fool tale has a happy ending. Acrylic paint offers naturalistic details of the active anthropomorphic family; note the stacks of breakfast pancakes swimming in butter. There are touches of melodrama in this otherwise amusing tale. 2011, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95.

REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780823422708

Baseball AnimalsChristopher Jordan

Which MLB team shares its name with a songbird that loves acorns?
This blue, black and white bird is thought to be responsible for spreading the oak tree across North America.

If the beautiful photograph of my favorite bird on a stark white background doesn’t give you the answer, just turn the page to reveal a full-page action shot of a Toronto Blue Jays batter. (Sorry that I don’t know which one. Since they beat the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, I refuse to pay attention to the Blue Jays. We fans have long memories.)
Each baseball page features the team’s logo, a full-page action photo taken at the ballpark, and some team uniform trivia. Did you know that the Cardinals (often called the Redbirds) were not named for the beautiful bird, but rather for the color of their original uniforms? Their uniforms were cardinal red. So, presumably they are named after the traditional color of a Catholic cardinal’s cassock. Now that’s a great baseball trivia question! Fun and informative, this is a must-have for little baseball fans. I don’t know why someone didn’t think of it earlier! An Appendix of MLB Teams and Logos rounds out the book – featuring all of the teams – even those sans animals on their logos. 2014, Tundra, $12.99.

REVIEWER: Lisa Taylor (Shelf-employed and Nonfiction Monday blogs).

ISBN: 9781770494749

A Bus Called Heaven

Bob Graham

A bus breaks down and is abandoned on Stella’s street. The bus’s destination sign says “Heaven,” although Stella, a pale, quiet girl, takes her thumb from her mouth and notes, “Mommy, that old bus is as sad as a whale on a beach.” Neighbors push the bus off the street into Stella’s yard and everyone pitches in to help clean it up. It soon becomes a neighborhood gathering spot, sporting a portable soccer table, goldfish, comics. Snails leave silver trails as they crawl up the bus’s side. A pair of birds builds a nest in the engine. People gather to play games and share stories. And Stella? She plays table soccer. A lot. So on the day a tow truck arrives to haul the bus to the junkyard (the bus obstructs the sidewalk, and that is “against regulations”), she challenges the junkyard boss to a game: winner take all. Bob Graham’s idea of heaven is community in this unabashedly uplifting look at a multicultural, multigenerational neighborhood. Graham’s lyrical storytelling inhabits every word of the narrative and every line and brush stroke of the delightfully detailed illustrations. CCBC Category: Picture Books for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers. 2012, Candlewick Press, Ages 3-7, $16.99.

REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2013).

ISBN: 9780763658939

Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs

Theresa Smythe

Smythe follows Snowbear’s Christmas Countdown with an Easter-themed introduction to color, as Chester the rabbit decorates and hides six eggs for his friends. Chester embellishes each egg according to its planned hiding spot: a red egg is made to look like a bird and hidden in a nest, while an orange egg is adorned with daisies and hearts to match the tea set in which it’s hidden. All the patterning and the detailed indoor and outdoor scenes allow Smythe’s cut-paper artwork to shine; Chester is “tickled pink” when a rainbow highlights his eggs after they are found, and readers should feel much the same. 2013, Henry Holt, Ages 2-5, $12.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780805093261

Earth Day, Birthday!

Maureen Wright

Illustrated by Violet Kim

All the jungle animals are ready to celebrate Earth Day, on April 22, by doing things good stewards of the earth do: planting seeds, cleaning up litter, recycling, using cloth bags, and composting. All the while, the silliest little monkey ever seen keeps protesting, “It’s not Earth Day! It’s my birthday.” Although he helps everyone with their projects, he’s more than ready for his own celebration–and finally gets it when his mother shows up with a birthday cake for all ecologically savvy critters to enjoy. The story is told in rhyming couplets; Kim’s bright and spritely illustrations match the tone. Young children are likely to thoroughly enjoy the way this book makes the point without preaching–they certainly will appreciate that while we should be responsible for the earth, our very own birthday is definitely an important day! 2012, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 4 to 7, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780761461098

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Chris Grabenstein

Librarians and English teachers will happily recommend this adventurous romp from Grabenstein (the Riley Mack books), which pays playful homage to books and libraries while engaging readers in a fast-paced competition involving research and reasoning skills. Twelve seventh-graders win a chance to spend an overnight lock-in previewing their town’s new public library-it’s a marvel of technological delights conceived by Luigi Lemoncello, the Willy Wonkalike founder of Mr. Lemoncello’s Imagination Factory, which is a source for every kind of game imaginable. During the lock-in the winners, who include game-lover Kyle Keeley and a group of multicultural classmates with a mix of aptitudes and interests, are offered a further challenge: “Find your way out of the library using only what’s in the library.” The winner will become spokesperson for the Imag-ination Factory. Book lovers will relish the lavish sprinkling of book titles and references while puzzle fans will enjoy figuring out the clues. A lighthearted parody of reality survival shows, the book reinvigorates the debate over the Dewey Decimal system and traditional library skills while celebrating teamwork, perseverance, and clever wits. 2013, Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 9-12, $16.99

REVIEWERS: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780375870897

A Galactic Easter

Ray O’Ryan

Illustrated by Colin Jack

When Zack Nelson lived with his family on Earth, Bert was his best friend. Now that Zack’s family lives on the planet Nebulon, he and Bert keep up with each other via hyperphone. This phone lets the two boys see each other as they talk about their activities and the changes in their lives. It is almost Easter and Zack and Bert are remembering what it was like on Earth to decorate eggs and play fun games together. This year, Zack is not even sure they will celebrate Easter on Nebulon. There are no eggs on Nebulon except the eggs of the rondo bird, and those eggs are the size of a softball. They would be difficult to hide. At the dinner table, Zack’s twin sisters ask dad how they will celebrate Easter. Will there be baskets and chocolate bunnies? Dad is prepared for their questions and tells them about the surprise he has planned for them. They will visit the planet Gluco, better known as the candy planet, for Easter. The planet of Gluco is shaped like a giant jelly bean and its streets run with golden caramel. There are all kinds of games and contests to play on Gluco, and Zack really wants to win the games. He will have to decide if winning is so important that he will cheat. This is a delightful fantasy for young readers and will pique their imagination about living on other planets, even if they are not made of candy. 2013, Little Simon Books/Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 7, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Joyce Rice (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781442493582

Heidi Heckelbeck and the Tie-Dyed Bunny

Wanda Coven

Illustrated by Priscilla Burris

Heidi’s teacher makes an important announcement the week before Easter. One student will get to bring Maggie, the class rabbit, home over the weekend. When Heidi’s selected, she cannot believe her luck. It is also a big responsibility. Maggie comes with a set of “rabbit rules,” a list of guidelines Heidi must follow to care for her. Heidi’s eager to do a good job. Even so, it is hard sticking to the rules. Heidi’s not supposed to take Maggie out of her cage without an adult. When she does, Maggie leaps from Heidi’s arms onto a table filled with colored eggs and bowls of dye. Paint speckles Maggie’s fur. Despite a bath and a magic spell to remove the paint, Heidi cannot manage to return Maggie’s fur to its former state. Luckily, Heidi’s mom and aunt Trudy are the best witches she knows. When Heidi confesses to them, they give her a hand with Maggie. Heidi’s learned her lesson and happily returns Maggie, with a clean coat of fur, to the school. The tenth book in the “Heidi Heckelbeck” series, fans will enjoy this Easter adventure with the endearing little witch. The pacing, large print and volume of illustrations make it a good choice for readers looking for that first chapter book to read without an adult. 2014, Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 7, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Katie Kemple (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781442489387

Here Comes the Easter Cat

Deborah Underwood

Pictures by Claudia Rueda

An unseen narrator converses with a disgruntled cat, who holds up his end of the communication with signs, props, and with facial expressions, about the cat’s jealousy of the Easter Bunny’s popularity. When the narrator suggests that the cat become “the Easter Cat” and hand out goodies as well, the cat takes to the notion, planning to travel by motorcycle in order to beat the Easter Bunny at finishing his rounds and to wear a sparkly suit and top hat to trump the E. B.’s vest ensemble. Before the cat can zoom off, however, the Easter Bunny himself kindly shows up with a chocolate egg for the cat. The Easter Bunny’s evident tiredness inspires Cat to add a sidecar to his motorcycle, allowing the bunny to nap while Cat delivers the rest of the eggs. In each spread, Underwood’s streamlined text, humorous in its slightly parental tone, faces Rueda’s ink and colored pencil drawings. Cat’s nonverbal communication will intrigue the same kids who like cracking the picture-talk code of Runton’s Owl and Wormy books; Cat’s signs and facial expressions are cheekily amusing, sometimes contradicting the narrator (he holds up a poster of hearts while sticking out his tongue in disgust as the narrator states, “Well, of course everyone loves the Easter Bunny”). Pair this with Shea’s Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (BCCB 7/13) for a silly story session about jealousy, add it to an Easter or cat storytime lineup, or tuck it into a cat-lover’s Easter basket. Review Code: R* — Recommended. A book of special distinction. 2014, Dial, 80p.; Reviewed from galleys, $16.99. Ages 5-7 yrs.

REVIEWER: Jeannette Hulick (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9780803739390

Just Joking 5

National Geographic

The fifth book in the “Just Joking” series contains three hundred jokes, tongue twisters, and riddles, most of which are connected to animals in some way. The jokes are often accompanied by educational facts about members of the animal kingdom, along with photographs of different animals. The illustrations are bright and colorful. The answers to the riddles are printed upside down on the same page. This gives readers who want to guess an opportunity to do so, while those who want to know the answer only need to flip the book upside down to find out. The jokes are silly, funny, and innocent, and are designed especially for youngsters. There is an index of jokes at the back of the book, so if one is looking for a chicken-related knock-knock joke, it is easy to find one. This joke book would be a handy resource to have for a children’s party. 2014, National Geographic Society, Ages 4 to 10, $7.99.

REVIEWER: Leona Illig

ISBN: 9781426315053

Library Lily

Gillian Shields

Illustrated by Francesca Chessa

Once Lily’s mom gets her a library card of her own, Lily is unstoppable! She reads everywhere (in bed, in the bathroom, at the dinner table) and about everything! Her wide-ranging taste is illustrated both by short “excerpts” from the books as well as illustrations which show snakes, galaxies and monsters emerging from the pages. Her reading spans all seasons as well until, eventually, Mom tells Lily she needs to go outside and play–where she meets Milly, who hates to read. But Milly invites Lily to share in the things she likes to do: “Playing. Climbing. Exploring.” Lily and Milly share adventures all summer long, both the outdoor and literary kind, because sharing with a friend is best. Milly even gets her own library card, and Lily writes down all their explorations in a book. This is text that begs to be read aloud from the alliterative title to the last page. Vibrant two-page illustrations convey the excitement of both worlds and this is a book that can easily appeal to bookworms as well as tomboys. Be ready to follow up with some good book recommendations for the latter. 2011, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Ages 4 to 7, $16.00.

REVIEWER: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780802854018

Little Chick

Lauren Thompson

Illustrated by John Butler

Larger than life animals peer down at the fuzzy newborn chick, amazed at its tiny stature. Even with small legs and a little peep, the lively chick is ready to impress. This sturdy board book, previously published as “Wee Little Chick,” emphasizes the classic message that size does not matter. The illustrations of the goat, piglet, goose, and calf coming face to face with the plump yellow chick invite the child to do a size comparison. The curiosity and fascination in the animal’s faces are nicely captured in the vibrant artwork. Throughout the book, the other chicks and Mama Hen stand nearby for moral support. This is a nice read-aloud. The words roll off the tongue, like: “tiny and tall,” “little peep,” and “plump piglet pink.” A wonderful addition to any toddler’s day, this book gives the positive message that tiny can become tall, little legs can definitely run fast, and size does not matter at all. 2014, Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, Ages 2 to 5, $5.99.

REVIEWER: Lorraine Donohue Bonzelet

ISBN: 9781442493117

The Little Gray Bunny

Barbara Barbieri McGrath

Illustrated by Violet Kim

In this Easter-themed retelling of “The Little Red Hen,” a little gray bunny is the one trying to get his lazy pals a lamb, a turtle, and a duck to help out with Easter preparations, primarily the collecting, boiling, dyeing, and hiding of a multitude of eggs. His requests for help are continuously refused with increasing disdain on the part of his friends. When his last-ditch effort fails to goad the trio into action, the bunny tries another tactic. After his pals eagerly fill their baskets with the colored eggs (which the little gray bunny collected, boiled, dyed, and hid by himself) and then demand more treats, the bunny promptly presents them each with an egg (which is visibly and portentously cracked). The eggs quickly hatch into obstreperous red chicks, which are last seen pestering the life out of the lamb, turtle, and duck while the bunny sits in the shade eating his well-earned cupcakes. McGrath’s narration is pithy and droll, making this a pleasure to read aloud, and the “Little Red Hen” connection makes this particularly useful at storytime or in the classroom. Kim’s cartoonish watercolor, pen, and gouache art is a bit on the bland side, but the cheerful springtime tones and cute animals keep things visually appealing; her little gray bunny, with his inverted-heart-shaped head, long, droopy ears, and bright red t-shirt, is an endearingly friendly-looking little guy. Tuck this one in the Easter basket, or use it as an amusing readers’ theater piece. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2013, Charlesbridge, Ages 4-7 yrs, $16.95

REVIEWER: Jeannette Hulick (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9781580893947

Lotsa Matzah

Tilda Balsley

Illustrated by Akemi Gutierrez

Just when you thought there couldn’t be another Passover board book, author Tilda Balsley makes a charming contribution to the category with Lotsa Matzah. Told in rhyming couplets, Balsley does a remarkable job covering the basics of why we eat matzah to hiding the afikomen to culinary variations on the “lotsa matzah” we eat throughout the eight days of Passover. “So Moses drew his people near. / Good news! We’re getting out of here. / Hurry take the dough for bread. / No time to let it rise, he said.” The colloquial language is easy and inviting. The watercolor and pencil illustrations are lovely. This is a recommended purchase for home, school, and synagogue libraries with a preschool population. Category: Board Books. 2012, Kar-Ben, Ages 2 to 5, $5.95.

REVIEWER: Rena Citrin (Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews).

ISBN: 9780761366294

Malcolm at Mdnight

W. H. Beck

Pictures by Brian Lies

At the Pet Emporium, Mr. Binney purchases Malcolm as a pet mouse for his fifth grade classroom. Malcolm is actually a rat but he struggles with keeping that information a secret from the Midnight Academy, an organization of classroom pets at McKenna School. Aggy, the iguana, leads the group whose mission is to protect the school. Some of the members of the Midnight Academy do not approve of rats due to their poor reputation and Malcolm struggles with revealing his actual identity as a rat. Over the weekend, Aggie is discovered missing and Malcolm is the chief suspect. He set out to find Aggie and prove his innocence, along with improving the image of rats. Readers will find lots of intrigue, excitement, and adventure that keep the plot and subplots moving at a quick pace. Malcolm must deal with Snip, a very bitter cat living on the upper floor, and a mysterious ghost on the clock tower floor. There are a few illustrations that support the story which relies mainly on the text. In addition, there are footnotes that define words used in the story, providing additional information, or to share some anecdotes. This book makes a great addition to a mystery collection. 2012, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Ages 8 to 12, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Carrie Hane Hung (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547681009

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile

Gloria Houston

Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

This is the true story of a woman named Dorothy Thomas, whose gravesite is unknown today, but whose legacy lives on in the children and adults she served throughout her life. “Miss Dorothy,” as she was known, was raised in Massachusetts, educated at Radcliffe College, and trained to become a librarian. After her marriage, however, she found herself living with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, without a job, and in a region bereft of libraries. She began a book campaign modestly: first, by sharing her own books with her neighbors, and then by collecting her friends’ books and storing them in a central repository in her basement. Her community worked hard to raise funds for a bookmobile, and soon Miss Dorothy was driving the vehicle and delivering books to everyone, to people who worked on remote farms, in factories, and in towns, and in all kinds of weather. Eventually, enough money was collected to establish a real mortar-and-bricks library, with Miss Dorothy as its head. The story of Miss Dorothy’s life is written with feeling but without sentimentality. The illustrations are lovely and realistic. Unlike many picture books with flat drawings, this artist has taken the time to create pictures with perspective. In an age and era in which we hear too little about real heroes, not to mention female ones, the story of Dorothy Thomas is both inspiring and entertaining. 2011, HarperCollins Children’s Book, Ages 6 to 9, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Leona Illig (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780060291556

On This Night: The Steps of the Seder in Rhyme

Nancy Steiner

Illustrated by Wendy Edelson

In this simple but pleasant poem, children learn the order of the Passover seder. A brief explanation of one to four lines is devoted to each of the fifteen steps of the traditional holiday meal, beginning with Kadeish, saying a blessing over the wine, and concluding with nirtzah, singing the final songs of the evening and expressing wishes to spend next year’s holiday in Jerusalem. The name of each stage of the festive meal is written only in Hebrew, although the poem itself is in English, and a page of transliteration and translation is included at the end. The sweet, brightly colored illustrations feature a Hasidic multigenerational family at the seder table, partaking in the Passover rituals with joy and enthusiasm. Fully laminated papers brilliantly invite children to turn the pages while also keeping the book clean, even during the seder itself. This cute introduction to the seder should engage the youngest readers. 2013, Hachai, Ages 2-5, $10.95.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781929628513

One Dog and His Boy

Eva Ibbotson

All Hal has ever wanted is a dog. His busy parents, hoping that he’ll tire of the idea, rent a dog from Easy Pets, run by the heartless Mr. and Mrs. Carker. Hal and Fleck, the dog he chooses, bond immediately, and they are both heartbroken when Hal’s mother, realizing that Hal’s interest isn’t waning, sneaks the dog back to Easy Pets. Hal decides to get Fleck back and run away to his grandparents, and he is joined in his quest by ten-year-old Pippa, the little sister of the kennel maid at Easy Pets, and by four other dogs whom feisty Pippa frees as well. Ibbotson thoughtfully picks apart the pet-rental business, characterizing dogs fittingly by breed (waiting around is agony for a working collie, for instance). While some of the adults are a bit exaggerated, the young characters are honest and real, and Hal’s longing will resonate with many kids: “Often and often when you wanted something and then got it, it was a disappointment. . . . But having a dog was completely different. He’d wanted it and wanted it and when it happened it was even better than he’d thought it would be.” Ibbotson’s evocation of the emotional bond between humans and dogs and her descriptions of the dogs’ personalities are especially strong. Animal lovers will lap this up, of course, but they also might walk away with a fresh perspective on pet ownership. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2012, Scholastic, 282p., $16.99. Grades 4-6.

REVIEWER: Jeannette Hulick (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9780545351966

Saving Arm Pit

Natalie Hyde

Clay and the rest of the Harmony Point Terriers baseball team are used to losing. Their coaches have never known anything about baseball, they have mismatched hand-me-down uniforms, they lose every game. Their situation seems appropriate for their small town, which has also lost its fire and police departments and even the local government — all now amalgamated into the city of Holmesville. No one has even bothered to fix the town sign where April Fool’s pranksters painted out most of the letters so that HARMONY POINT became ARM PIT. It seems miraculous to the Terriers when the new postmaster turns out to be a knowledgeable baseball coach with a bag of real equipment. However, as the Terriers slowly improve, it looks as if Coach Blackmore’s post office may be lost to the city, too. Clay and his friends devise a plan to keep the post office busy and open — writing to summer camps for brochures, to magazines for fudge recipes and to any government department they can think of to report potholes, sightings of rare birds, unsafe playground equipment and more. But it looks as though their efforts may be in vain. Author of several non-fiction books, Natalie Hyde presents a fun and engaging read for baseball and non-baseball fans alike (with a convenient glossary at the back of the book for those who need to brush up). The thoughtful and observant Clay, base-stealing Sophie, statistics-crazy Scott and the rest of the Harmony Point community are drawn with humour. Hyde writes with real affection for small town life and cleverly punctuates the chapters with newspaper clippings, emails among Canada Post employees and responses to the Terriers’ letter-writing campaign. Grades 3 to 6. 2011, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, (pb) $9.95. Ages 8 to 12.

REVIEWER: Gillian O’Reilly (Canadian Children’s Book News).

ISBN: 9781554551514

Signed by Zelda

Kate Feiffer

Set in New York City, Feiffer’s (The Problem with Puddles) fantasy-tinged mystery follows two 11-year-olds-Indian-American Lucy, a recent transplant from Savannah, Ga., who “planned on becoming the world’s leading expert on handwriting,” and Nicky, Lucy’s upstairs neighbor, a boy who has no trouble getting into trouble. Along with a talking pigeon, the pair tries to figure out what happened to Nicky’s grandmother, Zelda, who disappears on April Fool’s Day. Initially, Lucy and Nicky spar with each other, but the friendly presence of Pigeon and a cryptic note left behind by Grandma Zelda bring the children together. Handwriting samples, letters, and clues help build tension, and Lucy’s rules about handwriting and character offer humor and insight (“Confused people have confused writing”). With the exception of Grandma Zelda, adult characters don’t get much attention; Nicky’s father’s villainy is hard to take seriously, and the book’s parents and teachers largely come across as clueless. Concluding sections include a recipe for Grandma Zelda’s Zeldaberry pie and additional information about handwriting, which should pique the interest of budding graphologists like Lucy. 2012, Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, Ages 8-12, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781442433311

The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero

Barb Rosenstock

Illustrated by Terry Widener

Rosenstock tells the suspense-filled story of Joe DiMaggio’s amazing hitting streak as the spreading war in Europe distracted the country. Starting quietly with a single to left field on May 15, 1941 in a losing game, the streak continues game after game, week after week. With his treasured bat, “Betsy Ann,” DiMaggio raises the number of games in which he hits until he ties the previous record of 41 in June. Then suddenly, in the second game, Betsy Ann disappears. Is his streak dead? With a borrowed bat, Joe manages a hit. He is “America’s hero.” Betsy Ann is finally found; DiMaggio’s streak goes to 56 games as the Yankees win the World Series. Widener uses acrylic paints to produce double-page scenes focusing on DiMaggio’s effectiveness as baseball player, particularly as a hitter. Naturalistic images demonstrate his skills rather than produce a sequential narrative. A scene of DiMaggio at rest in the locker room portrays his character as more than just a “slugger.” Notes add information about the streak, give sources for the many included quotations, include other statistics, and add a bibliography. 2014, Calkins Creek/Highlights, Ages 7 to 10, $16.95.

REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781590789926

A Tale for Easter

Tasha Tudor

Fans of Tasha Tudor will be familiar with her delightful illustrations of days gone by, depicting many of her own memories of growing up amidst nature. The text describes a sense of wonder a-waiting Easter, “You never can tell what might happen on Easter.” She tells about having to stand still while her mother “…fits a new dress on…” As the days progress we see a little girl feeding the chickens and asking them to lay plenty of eggs. Later she dreams about meeting a “wee fawn” who takes her on a nature tour introducing tiny mice, little lambs, “Easter ducklings,” and “If you have been especially good and done nearly everything you have told, she [the fawn] will take you up, up over the misty moisty clouds, where the bluebirds dye their feathers, and the robins find the color for their eggs.” Easter morning the little girl wakes to discover that “…you are just you again. But often there are colored eggs in your shoes or in your best bonnet. Or a basket of ducklings beside your bowl of porridge. There might even be a bunny in Grandma’s rocking chair.” Tudor’s lovely drawings are the perfect accompaniment for the charming text. Together they give twenty-first century children a glimpse into the life of a nineteenth century child. Reading this one aloud will afford many opportunities for discussions of the differences in “then and now. 2014 (orig 1941), Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 mo to 4, $7.99.

REVIEWER: Sheilah Egan

ISBN: 9781442488571

Updated 04/01/14

To stay up to date on new books on this topic, consider subscribing to The Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. For your free trial, click here.

If you’re interested in reviewing children’s and young adult books, then send a resume and writing sample to emily@childrenslit.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Read & Shine