Good Night, Mouse! by Jed Henry (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16.99, 32 pages)
Some children’s storybooks rely on clever illustrations to capture their audience and others rely on rhymes. Jed Henry’s adorable picture book, Good Night, Mouse!, gently brings his audience into a softly illustrated tale of Mouse, a fellow who can’t fall asleep. The characters, all of whom are friends of Mouse, take turns using their own method of falling asleep while encouraging Mouse to drift off to sleep.
The book is not too big and not too small. It is right-sized for cuddling on a downturned comforter. The wording is a blend of beautiful and caring sounds. Rabbit says, “I know how to wear him out. Tripping, skipping, tired tumbling. Good night, Mouse!” Noting that Mouse has become all wound up in Rabbit’s jump rope, Frog suggests, “A bath will soothe his weary bones.”
And so it goes, as each of Mouse’s many friends take a turn at putting him to bed. The book has long been a favorite of this reviewer’s little granddaughter. The book lives at grandma and grandpa’s house. It makes an appearance as the last book to be read before lights out. Funny how it lulls the reader and listener so that by the end of the story everyone is ready to say, “Good night.”
This book is recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry is also available.
Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 29 pages)
Little Woodpecker is learning to peck. Once he starts, he just can’t stop!
Fans of Lucy Cousin’s colorfully illustrated children’s action books, especially the Masey series, will delight in Peck, Peck, Peck. A young woodpecker is kindly prompted by its father to pursue his natural vocation, pecking a tree. After warm and enthusiastic encouragement from daddy, the little woodpecker proceeds to practice on everything he finds, including a gate, a blue front door and nearly the entire contents of the house inside!
Following the Lucy Cousins tradition, the book pages are ready for her little reader’s fingers. This time even the cover is part of the action. Holes created by the woodpecker are strategically placed to follow the text. The book resembles Swiss cheese!
Does this sort of playful encouragement engage the adult reader and her small avid listener? You bet. This reviewer’s granddaughter insisted on having the book read aloud to her three times before she said it was OK to move on to another story. Unlike the Masey books, there’s no chance for torn action tabs which is a big plus.
This book was purchased by the reviewer.
Coming up next, a review of Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins.
No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Ridge (Candlewick Press, 32 pages, $15.99)
This is a novel children’s book written by Meg McKinlay, and illustrated by Leila Ridge. It’s about a girl named Ella. Ella loves books but is tired of reading stories that are filled with bears. As she says, “I’m tired of bears. Every time you read a book, it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS…” So she designs a story with pretty things, a princess, a castle, a monster and a giant. Oh, and also a fairy godmother with magical powers that might be needed to save the princess from the monster.
This 32-page Candlewick Press book is wonderfully illustrated, and throws in a lot of cool, sneaky references to well-known children’s tales (young readers will have fun discovering such things as the Owl and the Pussycat). It’s a great early reader because it includes standard phrases such as Once upon a time, Happily ever after, and The End. And it’s relaxing and unique especially because there are said to be NO BEARS in it. Not even one!
Written for readers aged 3 and up, and a few bright 2-year-olds. Toddlers who love animals will appreciate it; especially as they find that there are actually a few loveable bears hidden in its pages.
A review of the children’s book No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Ridge.
Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 32 pages)
Author and illustrator Chris Van Dusen has fashioned a children’s book that should be quite popular with male children, ages 4 and above. It will especially appeal to those kids – male or female – who are just being exposed to the game of baseball, either Pee Wee League style or softball.
Randy Riley is a boy who would love more than anything to be the Ted Williams of his Little League team. But while he’s a very smart whiz-kid when it comes to science and space, he’s not able to hit a baseball no matter how hard he tries. In this story set in the 1950s, Randy uses his powerful telescope to determine that a meteor fireball is on its way toward earth, and it will destroy the town where he lives.
Randy is unable to convince anyone – including his absolutely clueless parents, that the meteor is on its way. So he has just 19 days to find a solution; a way of destroying the fireball before it touches down. Our hero Randy winds up getting the greatest hit of them all, in a tale that tells children that their own, unique personal strengths are priceless.
Beautifully illustrated and highly recommended.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit will also appeal to boys who are fascinated with robots. It is available as a Nook Book download.
Homer The Cat by Reeve Lindbergh, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 32 pages)
Any child that lives with an indoor cat is likely to both love and identify with this story of Homer the cat. Homer’s a contented feline… Although he does not go outdoors, he’s got toys to play with and birds to watch and is well fed by a nice, quiet lady who lives in a quiet house. Then one day, as the quiet lady is off at work (at a place unknown to Homer), a window suddenly falls out of its housing and Homer finds himself out in the world. It’s a place that – to his sensitive ears – is loud and frightening, and no matter where he goes in town, he can’t find the “cozy, cat-size space” that he craves.
Homer visits various locations on his unplanned journey, and has a few near-misses with bad consequences before he discovers “a quiet building across a quiet floor.” This turns out to be the public library where his quiet lady owner is reading books aloud to several children. Quiet lady and Homer are ecstatic to see each other, and the children naturally love seeing and petting the great orange cat. So Homer decides to make the library his new second home, a plan approved by the library kids as being “purr-fect!”
This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, which will make a fine addition to the library of any young reader aged 4 and above. The moral of the rhyming tale (or is that tail?) seems to be that no matter what happens, a splendid place to call home can always be found. This should prove reassuring to any socially nervous young ones.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
The Sniffles for Bear: A Bear and Mouse Children’s Book by Bonny Becker; illustrated by Karly MacDonald Denton (Candlewick Press; $16.99; 32 pages)
“Bear was sick, very, very sick… Bear was sure no one had ever been as sick as he.”
This terrific book in the Bear and Mouse children’s book series is perfect for teaching a sensitive child that a transitory illness can have a bark that’s worse than its bite. In this finely illustrated tale, Bear (and he’s a big one!) is down with a winter flu and he’s sure that he’s dying – so sure that he decides to draw up a will to give away his worldly possessions. Mouse (the far smaller of the two friendly animals) helps Bear to keep his grip on this mortal coil by nursing him through his illness with the benefit of some hand-holding and Nettle soup. A congested Bear says of the soup, “Dat was just the thing.”
Eventually, Bear comes to feel better and – wouldn’t you know it? – Mouse winds up catching the flu and all he wants to do is rest. So the tables are turned, and its Bear’s turn to take care of Mouse; some Nettle soup and Mouse goes happily, snuggly to sleep.
The colors in this book are subtly relaxing, and the story is told with such humor and irony that your child will likely plead with you to read it before catching 40 winks. Highly recommended.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. The Sniffles for Bear is recommended for children ages 3 and up. The first book in the series, A Visitor for Bear, was a New York Times Bestseller and an E. B. White Read Aloud Award Winner.
A review of The Sniffles for Bear: A Children’s Book by Bonny Becker; illustrated by Karly MacDonald Denton.