New books from old favorites By Judy Belanger
WEMBERLY'S ICE-CREAM STAR, by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, 2003, $6.99; ages 5 and under.
On a hot summer day, Wemberly the mouse is given an ice cream bar shaped like a star. She tries to figure out how to share the ice cream with her stuffed rabbit. Patiently she waits while the ice cream melts. Then, she divides it into two bowls so they both can enjoy ice cream soup. Henkes' new board book presents a way for even very young children to understand the concept of sharing. I am glad many popular authors are making their books available in the board book format for the very little ones to enjoy.
MY OWN VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR COLORING BOOK, by Eric Carle, Philomel Books, 2003, $5.99; ages 4-8.
There are many ways to enjoy this book about a caterpillar. It can be read to help children learn the names of the days of the week. For slightly older children, it serves as a science lesson on butterflies. And, of course, Carle's wonderful illustrations are always perfect for art lessons. He paints white tissue paper a variety of colors then cuts out the shapes he needs to fit the picture. Children can experiment with his method in their own book or color the pictures any way they want. What fun to create and design your own book.
JIMMY'S BOA AND THE BUNGEE JUMP SLAM DUNK, by Trinka Hakes Noble, pictures by Steven Kellogg, Dial Books, 2003, $16.99; ages 4-8.
Jimmy and his playful, oversized boa are back. Noble introduced us to the boa in 1980 when Jimmy took him on a class field trip to a farm. This friendly pet continues to amuse us in this fourth book enhanced by Kellogg's imaginative illustrations. The story is told through the eyes of classmate Meggie as she relates the events to her mom. The day nearly was a disaster when the students show up for basketball practice and find the gym has been turned into a dance studio. But Jimmy's boa saves the day when he becomes Jimmy's dance partner. Soon, the children have gone from dancing lessons to basketball and the boa's bungee jump slam dunk. ON NOAH'S ARK, by Jan Brett, G. P. Putnam, 2003, $16.99; ages 4-8.
Jan Brett tells this traditional story through a non-traditional voice: Noah's granddaughter. The girl finds it difficult to sleep because the boat is so crowded. So she moves some of the animals around to make them more comfortable. Before she wrote this book, Brett visited Africa to see animals and birds in their natural settings. There, she saw papyrus plants along the roadside and got the idea to use papyrus paper as the borders around her wonderful pictures. Brett's books can be enjoyed on various levels as she tells part of her stories in the surrounding frames. This time she encloses them in animal shapes and it is fun to name those animals. Also look for the dove that appears on almost all the pages. Visit www.janbrett.com. It's a great Web site for children. You will find pictures to color from Brett's many books, a calendar to be printed out and e-mail cards to send to friends—just a few of the pages available.
CLORINDA, by Robert Kinerk, pictures by Steven Kellogg, Simon & Schuster, 2003, $15.95; ages 4-8.
While Clorinda the cow is in town to vote, she decides to go to the ballet. She loves it and finds she can't stay down on the farm when the dance is calling. She goes to Manhattan to try to get into a show. Clorinda works as a waitress while waiting for her big chance. In the right place at the right time, Clorinda overhears an agent say one of his dancers is indisposed and she gets the job. Everything goes well for Clorinda until she has to leap into her partner's arms. You know what happens next: The cow lands and the partner gets squished. The audience applauds anyway, but Clorinda realizes ballet isn't for her. She heads home and opens a dance studio in the barn for the farm animals. Kinerk presents his story in rhyme while Kellogg's illustrations bring the characters to life. The book points out that we may not always succeed but it is important to give it a try.
OH, LOOK, by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 2004, $16.99; ages 4-8.
When three little goats find the gate to their pen open one day, they can't resist the lure of an adventure. So off they go—over a bridge, up a hill and through the water on their way to the fair. Once there, they ride the carousel and look into some mirrors before they see a big green ogre that scares them. They retrace their steps and find the way home, safe and sound. This is the second book Polacco has written about goats. They're her favorite animals; she has a family of them at her Michigan home. Her Web site, www.patriciapolacco.com, includes quizzes from her stories, puzzles, bookmarks and coloring pages.
THE WHALE, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Preston McDaniels, Simon & Schuster, 2003, $14.95; ages 6-10.
In the lighthouse lives a family composed of a cat, a dog and three mouse children. One day, as they are walking along the beach, they find a lost baby beluga whale. They tell the whale to wait in the lagoon and they will find his mother. Relying on their bird friend, Mom is found and the family makes more friends who will visit them. This is the second book in the Lighthouse Family beginning chapter series by Rylant. She has several other beginning chapter books for this age group including her very popular Henry and Mudge series.
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