Music to Engage Kids Physically and Mentally Great children's music should make kids want to dance and sing while also empowering them with witty lyrics and insightful messages. These brand new CDs showcase richly textured rock-n-roll with feel-good themes and inspirational, worldly-yet-fun …Read more. A New Breed of Empowering Fairy and Princess Tales These new picture books offer young princesses and fairies who take charge with lots of strength and sweet spunk. "Princess April Morning-Glory" by Letitia Fairbanks; Sandramantos Publishing; 60 pages; $7.09. A genuine lost treasure from …Read more. Teacher Gifts to Show Appreciation These books, and a set of Magic Tree House tales on DVD, make fantastic teacher, librarian or school friend gifts that the whole class can enjoy. "Rocket Writes a Story" by Tad Hill; Schwarz & Wade; 32 pages; $17.99. Teachers often …Read more. April Is Poetry Month Poetry Month is April. But rhyming words should be enjoyed every day. These new books full of poems and wordplay for children are classically and uniquely appealing. Imaginations and whimsical fun abound. "Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: …Read more.more articles
Creature Books to Inspire Awe
From a sparsely drawn, sophisticated "funny little bird" to amazingly "Weird Sea Creatures," these new picture books are wondrous and fantastically artistic, and they're worth every penny.
"Weird Sea Creatures" by Erich Hoyt; Firefly Books; 64 pages; $9.95.
With an appropriate black deep-sea background, 50 of the oddest animals ever are presented in up-close, uber-clear format, many with transparent bodies and toothsome wide-opened jaws. The lantern-carrying, deep-sea dragonfish, jewel squid with giant eyes, and the carnivorous comb jelly are just a few of the extraordinarily weird ocean creatures starring out at readers. Brief text, enough to introduce the animals and describe their sizes, ways of defense and proper names, is placed in small white text so as not to detract from the fascinating photographs.
Weirdest of all in my opinion? The frightening Sloane's Viperfish, or the transparent, glowing sea cucumber with light-producing organs. Kids and adults will be amazed that these odd beings exist.
"Octopus Alone" Divya Srinivasan; Viking/Penguin; 32 pages; $16.99.
A gentler, cuter look at the undersea world, Srinvisan's lovely picture book stars an Octopus who just wants to be alone, watching clown fish, sea horses and little butterflies swimming by. But one day she swims far beyond the familiar reef to another cozy cave, perfect for awhile, until she realizes the importance of her friends and returns home, happily reunited with her seahorse buddies.
Wondrous retro/vintage illustrations bring to mind 1960s Disney art, with appropriately sea-worthy, vivid colors of turquoises and oranges that make this ocean life groovy. And the tale's theme — that it's OK to be by yourself in a safe and quite place — is sometimes just what we all need.
"A Funny Little Bird" by Jennifer Yerkes; Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky; 38 pages; $15.99.
This funny little bird is invisible — almost. As he wanders about, he goes mostly unnoticed, but also gets made fun of, until he starts collecting "souvenirs," feathers and leaves, from other birds and plants. Now he can be seen, but that comes to an end when a cat ruins those plans.
The truly beautiful, mostly white pages present an appealingly modern, uncluttered look not seen often in children's books. And Yerkes' gentle tale celebrates differences, friendships and finding one's way in life.
"Hank Finds an Egg" by Rebecca Dudley; Peter Pauper Press; 38 pages; $16.99.
Adorable, tiny little plush bear Hank is placed in a whimsical forest in this precious, wordless tale. Created and photographed by Dudley, who meticulously designed rich, outdoorsy dioramas in which to place Hank, the book is unique and tells a richly detailed story. When Hank comes across an egg in the forest, he tries to return it to its nest, but is too short to reach it. He then sets about rolling a log to stand on, then building a ladder, neither of which does the trick. Most adorable is when Hank lights a small fire to keep the egg warm as the two slept for the night.
Eventually Mama Hummingbird uses her beak to lift her egg back to its next, using a basket Hank makes out of natural materials. If there ever was a time I'd wish for a photograph for this column, it's now. "Hank Finds an Egg" has to be seen to be appreciated. Enchanting and sweet as can be, Dudley's debut is a wordless wonder.
"Bluebird" by Bob Staake; Schwartz & Wade/Random House; 40 pages; $17.99.
Another gem of a wordless picture book, Staake's mod, retro artwork adds freshness to this emotionally moving tale of a lonely boy, a little bird, and of a timeless friendship. The tale of a boy who befriends a beautiful blue bird, comes to a tragic moment when a group of bullies throws rocks, killing the bird as he tries to protect his friend. Here the book moves from its blues, grays and blacks to bright colors, as a group of helpful birds helps the lonely boy carry his friend up towards the skies.
Staake worked on this book for over 10 years, and he succeeds in creating a beautiful book designed to help young children understand the harshness of bullying and the comfort of a meaningful friendship, no matter what it looks like.
Guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye and a happy glow to your heart, "Bluebird" is simple and elegant, visually stunning and emotionally satisfying.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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